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Top Four Changes in Home Design Due to the Pandemic

Oct 14, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership


There is a belief by many that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated America’s march to technology by as much as a decade and that this dramatic change over the last six months is just the tip of the iceberg of change forthcoming. The pandemic is forcing builders to rethink residential home design, because the belief just a year ago that millennials have no interest in owning a home has been destroyed by the two-month stay-at-home orders issued across the country.

Here are my forecasted top four changes in home design in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Offices are being relocated to home offices. Yes, the phenomenon of working from home will only expand and what companies lose in worker productivity is more than made up by not having to provide brick and mortar areas for their employees to work from. Home office space will be a must like a kitchen for most new homes. It is a sure bet the home office will become larger, nicer, and fully efficient.

Most developments do not allow homeowners to construct a detached storage shed. For that reason, expect garages to grow larger. With more items being shipped in and out of homes, there will be a need for additional storage space. Plus, a bonus storage area above the garage will be a premium. When there was a shortage of toilet paper in April, how many homeowners wished they would have had more storage space in the garage? Larger garages will be a must.

The price of land is skyrocketing in Central Florida and with the exodus of frightened renters from the major cities because of the pandemic, expect this trend to continue. With higher land pricing and the need for more square footage, expect to see the exponential growth in two-story homes. If you cannot go wide, you go up. Although multi-story homes have not been popular in a market driven by seniors, the new surge of younger buyers will change this paradigm.

The final change will be the need of generational or communal housing to accommodate those who do not have the means to purchase a home by themselves. It is commonplace in many countries for families to live together because of housing availability and price. This will come to America, unless the market resets to levels that allow entry level homebuyers or wages increase to a point which makes current housing numbers affordable. With the massive debt load of the country, both scenarios seem unlikely.

In the same vein, for homeowners who live in an area which allows detached accessory dwellings, expect to see a huge number of mother-in-law suites constructed as families look for lower cost housing options. This goes back to the push that every square foot of land is utilized to provide housing.

Because of the pandemic, there is forecasted to be a huge eviction and foreclosure cliff facing the country at the end of 2020. If this materializes, this could force a blunt trauma change in how housing is viewed in America as suddenly millions could be out on the streets.

There is one thing for sure—change is coming to housing designs and how Americans utilize their homes.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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Housing Costs, Sales, and Starts Are Creating Uncertainty

Jul 22, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership, COVID-19


The housing market has one of the farthest and deepest reaches into the American economy because it dictates where people live, how much wealth they can accumulate, and their ability to be mobile for work or changes in life. Additionally, because housing is onsite local construction, the impact on job creation is significant. Because so much is tied directly to the health of housing, everyone always asks me, “What is going on in construction and the housing market?”

The best word to describe the current housing market is “uncertain.”

First, it depends where you own your home. For instance, after the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, the housing markets in the big cities are almost toxic. Indications are there is a seismic shift in housing paradigms as it relates to urban housing, and the millennials who just six months ago wanted their tiny apartment and condominium adjacent to their coffee shop and place of employment are scrambling to evacuate the big cities.

Home demand in the suburbs and country is picking up significantly, especially if reliable internet service is available. Large home offices in the metropolitan areas will give way to working from home, which can be done anywhere. In Central Florida, once the COVID-19 issue is resolved with either a vaccine or treatment, or both, expect a housing boom with much higher pricing. The only caveat would be if the country drops into an economic depression.

In summary, if you are an investor in commercial housing real estate in a large metropolitan area—I am sorry for your loss. On the contrary, if you have a home in the suburb or country that is near a major city— the price of business is picking up.

According to the United States Census Bureau, in May 2020 housing starts in America were down a whopping 23.2 percent to 974,000 starts versus one year prior. However, the median home price remained high at $317,900. This indicates that while starts are down, many people think this is temporary and that is the reason why median home prices have not cratered.

New home sales for May were up 12.7 percent from the prior year. Although that number is good, it potentially shows slower demand because pent-up business should have driven these numbers higher. The next few months this summer will determine where the housing market is rebounding as it relates to the prior year. The job market will need to vastly improve if housing is to grow beyond the current levels, and the data points are not encouraging.

Since April 2005, RoMac Building Supply has charted monthly the price of a 2,200 square foot home. Each month, the company releases a report to builders on the wholesale movement of pricing. This is the best snapshot in America on the true cost to build a home and allows builders to prepare future pricing. The RoMac Building Supply Whole House Commodity Index for June increased 3.1 percent from the prior month and is 8.0 percent higher from the prior year.

On paper, these numbers do not make sense. Housing starts dropped 23.2 percent versus the prior year, yet the price to build a home went up by 8.0 percent. The question is, “Why?”

The reason is simple—the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly reduced inventory production capacity as manufacturers and mills adjust outflow for the huge decline in business. A lot of companies have been hit with the coronavirus outbreak, which has significantly hampered production. Curtailments in production because of the coronavirus outbreak and economic shutdown in factories are creating spot shortages. While material prices will eventually moderate, do not expect significant drops until the coronavirus issue is resolved and after hurricane season.

Tossed into all these factors is the uncertainty of COVID-19. The recent spike in cases is creating fear and may delay or subdue the rebound in the housing market. Now is the time for home buyers and sellers to have patience and not panic, because the markets will stabilize.

One thing is for certain—nothing is for certain.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

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Grass, Bushes, or Flowers?

May 6, 2020 1:30:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership, landscaping


There is an old business adage which says, “In business you can offer two of the three following strategies without going bankrupt—lowest price, highest quality, or best service.”

For most Americans, this same two-out-of-three strategy applies to their yard. Do you have manicured grass, nice bushes and trees, or beautiful flowers? The homeowner must decide which is more important to them and their lifestyle without busting the family budget. Other issues to consider are the soil, environmental issues, and upkeep.

The first question is simple but hard to answer by many homeowners. Of the three— grass, bushes and trees, or flowers—what is most important to you? Men tend to lean toward grass because they normally operate more of the power equipment keeping it tidy. Women are usually more visual, and they enjoy the flowers along with the privacy and shade from bushes and trees. After looking at your resources, soil, environment as well as your wants, wishes, and vision—make a plan for your yard. Once again, most Americans cannot afford everything. Do not try and do too much, causing you to skimp on areas.

When it comes to investing in your lawn you should consider three important aspects—watering, upkeep, and neighbors. If you pay for water, having a lawn that requires a lot of watering can be expensive. Plus, keeping the lawn mowed, fertilized, and treated for weeds and pests can be costly. You should take your neighbor’s yard into consideration, because a neighbor who doesn’t care for their yard will constantly contaminate your grass with insects, weeds, and fungus. A lot of money can be wasted on St. Augustine grass because of neighbors who do not care for their lawn.

Some people are flower killers. They buy beautiful flowers online or at their local garden center with no regard to climate, sunlight, or soil conditions. After a short time, they die. If you have sandy soil and your flowers will be in full sun, make sure the flowers you purchase can handle those conditions. Plus, every year or so there are freezes and frost in Central Florida. That is when all the beautiful tropical plants and flowers are destroyed. Unless you like throwing away money, be sure your plants and flowers can handle the freezes and frost that occur in Central Florida.

As for bushes and trees, the problem goes back to the homeowner making bad choices without understanding the soil and sunlight conditions. There are reasons why trees in New York do not do well in Florida and many of our northern winter residents do not understand the effects of Mother Nature. If you want to see which shrubs and trees perform the best in Central Florida, go for a drive. Most experienced homeowners and landscapers have figured out what works.

When considering bushes and trees for your yard, size and maintenance are very important. It is not uncommon for homeowners to purchase regular species when they really want dwarf varieties. This is especially true with crape myrtles. It is also important to understand the hardiness of shrubs and trees, because some of them are more susceptible to fungus and mites. If you are a set it and forget it homeowner, you want to buy a very hardy and more bland species.

As you plan your home’s landscape for spring and summer, choose which aspects of the landscaping that are most important to you. Then create a budget and decide how much effort you want to put into the upkeep. By taking time to consider these factors, you will reduce stress, enjoy your home, and have more time for what you like to do.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Television Show which is hosted weekly on Lake Sumter Television.

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2020 Housing Forecast Looks Weaker

Dec 17, 2019 12:07:23 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership, first-time homeowner, New Home Construction, The high cost of building


Each year, I write a short housing forecast for the upcoming year. Before discussing the 2020 housing market, let us see how I did on the 2019 forecast.

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9 Things to Check If Your Garage Door Won’t Open

Aug 10, 2016 1:00:00 PM / by FLHomeSupply posted in homeownership, Garage Door, first-time homeowner, household features


Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a seasoned veteran at homeownership, sometimes there are problems with household features that aren’t always easy to fix. Sometimes they involve a little investigating. And when it comes to something like a garage door malfunctioning, there could be a variety of reasons why it might not be working properly.

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