When Bad News is Good News
New England contractors who deal primarily with new construction may be feeling the pinch as the new housing market drys up in some parts of the six state, (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT and RI), region.
Besides counting people and where they live, the U.S. Census Bureau also keeps track of home many privately owned new housing units are being built.
By collecting data on building permits, (when they are approved and when they are completed), the bureau can paint of good picture of how many and where new homes in the U.S. are being built.
The bad news? In New England states, new building starts are off by 20 to 30 percent from area to area over last years figures. The worse news? Home valuations in New England are falling, and the residential real estate market is flooded with homes for sale.
The good news? When new home construction slows and many homes are for sale, contractors can find plenty of work doing remodels, updating kitchens and bathrooms, and otherwise fixing up existing real estate inventory.
Many homeowners opt for adding a room, or a large addition when they find they can't afford to sell the home they are in and move. On the other hand, anxious sellers are willing to invest the cost of a new kitchen or bath if that's what it will take to sell their house.
Whether a new person buys the home, or the current owner chooses to stay --- siding, painting, roofing and landscape contractors can keep busy either making a house easier to sell, or making it more livable for existing or new owners.
If you operate a local contracting company keep your eye open for "For Sale" signs and drop off a card or flyer to the real estate agent -- they may refer you to the existing owner, or to the new buyer.
Most real estate sales people like to have a list of local contractors on file -- sometimes an emergency comes up -- a repair that needs to be done to meet a closing condition or otherwise satisfy a customer -- you may be just the person they need for another property!
If a home has a "For Sale by Owner" sign, and you can see the the house needs work, contact the property owner directly. If you decide to stop in and look at the house, be sure to introduce yourself and mention that you are a contractor. If they don't need the type of services you offer, refer a friend. Any good contractor knows that networking with other tradesmen is one of the best ways to keep busy.
More good news for contractors! There are many great fixer-upper properties on the market -- some of them are steals. If you have even considered investing in property, this may be the best time to invest in the past decade. While a property may seem like a bottomless pit in need of expensive repairs, a contractor can save on materials, and invest sweat equity into a low priced property and either sell it, rent it out or live in it. There are opportunities on every corner.