‘Ready, set, own!’ a new program to assist first time home buyers TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) By Maria Hechanova There is a new free community program that will be geared toward helping first time home buyers, sponsored by Radian Group, Inc.    The program is sponsored by Radian, a provider of private mortgage insurance, which enables homebuyers to purchase a home with less than a 20 percent down payment. Tucson was selected as the pilot city for the Ready, Set, Own! program, which may expand to additional communities across the United States. Ready, Set, Own! brings together local housing, lending and credit counseling resources to develop a personalized plan for successful homeownership for those wanting to purchase a home. Participants in the free program will be paired with local credit counselors and mortgage lenders to create a team of three to work hand in hand on the road to homeownership. Guidance will include the qualification process, possible credit and debt issues and a down payment savings plan. “Tucsonans considering buying a home need good information,” said Mayor Rothschild, in a release on Tuesday. “I’m very pleased that Tucson will be the first city to launch the Ready, Set, Own! homebuyer assistance program.” “The American dream of owning a home is the cornerstone of vibrant, healthy and happy communities,” said S.A. Ibrahim, CEO of Radian, in the same release. “At Radian, our goal is to help people from all walks of life and all financial backgrounds to responsibly achieve that dream, but we know it isn’t always easy. Potential homebuyers sometimes need resources and guidance to help them on their way, and the Ready, Set, Own! campaign is designed to empower them with the knowledge and preparation they need to turn homeownership into a reality.” “The decision to buy a home is one of the most important financial decisions a person can make,” said Ray Desmond, President and Founder of NOVA Home Loans. “We’re proud to serve as mentors for the Ready, Set, Own! program and believe this campaign will provide clarity and opportunity for anyone considering homeownership in Tucson. We know that by helping more people own their own homes, our entire community stands to gain as homeownership has been tied to significant economic, social and civic benefits.” Tucson was selected by Radian, according to officials, due to the city’s being hit hard by the recent housing crisis; homeownership fell to less than 50 percent, a historic low for the area.  A long term goal of the program is to raise it to 55 percent, what it was before the crisis.  The national homeownership average is at 64.7 percent. Ready Set Own is open to everyone; current partners include the Primavera Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Tucson, Family Housing Resources, Chicanos por la Causa, Nova Home Loans and V.I.P. Mortgage; with endorsements from America’s Homeowner Alliance, Pepper Viner Homes, Keller Williams Realty, La Frontera Housing, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, the Southern Chapter of the Arizona Association of Mortgage

Smartphones first gained a mass audience in America back in 2006, when Blackberry became hugely popular. While Blackberry has faded into the background, today smartphones are outselling traditional cell phones, with the gap widening every year. Its not just smartphones that have taken off, though. Computerized versions of all sorts of devices are becoming increasingly commonplace. The natural progression of this, then, would be the computerized home — which integrates all of these devices into a single platform. In other words, a smart home. A smart home can mean different things to different people. In general though, they all incorporate some form of integration of their various systems, allowing homeowners more control over their home, even while away. Certain homebuilders throughout the country are attempting to get ahead of the curve by offering new homes with smart features either as standard or as an option. What does a typical smart home contain? Some of these homes are designed to just make life easier for the homeowner. Pepper Viner Homes is offering new homes with built in Wi-Fi, which will let homeowners control audio systems, thermostats, lighting, and security, all from an iPad mini. This should be seen as just the tip of the iceberg for what smart homes are capable of. Homebuilder KB Home envisions a smart home being an efficient home, actually a net-zero home. They go beyond computer-controlled thermostats to include solar power with battery storage for electricity production. Drain water is recycled and sterilized for use in toilets and irrigation. Energy-efficient appliances and lighting are also used throughout the home. Electricity and water usage can even be monitored in real time on smart TVs. Of course, these homes also allow homeowners to control lighting, temperature, locks, and more through a smartphone app. Currently, this is a concept home KB calls the Double ZeroHouse 3.0, but the company has plans to implement this system in the future. Other homebuilders like Lennar Homes have already been implementing solar power with continuous monitoring as standard in all new homes in select communities. There is no extra cost for the solar system, and homeowners can buy the power at a 20% discount from prevailing electricity rates for 20 years. These homes will also include a Savant Systems home automation system, which includes security cameras, thermostat and lighting controls, the ability to open and close shades, and controlling audio and video equipment. With so many builders starting to offer different options for smart homes, and a new generation of tech-savvy home buyers, it’s only a matter of time until these systems become as commonplace as smartphones are today. And with so many smart homes incorporating solar power, it’s only a matter of time till clean energy from the sun becomes not an option but a standard feature on all new homes.

EASTON, Mass.–(Business Wire)–When we buy a new car, we expect it to be fundamentally better than a 10-year-old car. We expect technology that delivers higher performance, lower maintenance — innovations that deliver more convenience and safety. New cars really are new, different and better — and it makes us want to buy them. This mass consumer expectation hasn’t resonated in the purchase of a new home — until now. The affluent have enjoyed the technologies that make their homes smarter, more convenient, more efficient, more secure and more entertaining for some time. Today, the masses are demanding these technologies — causing a fundamental shift in the way homebuilders envision the standard home. Homebuilders like Tucson, Ariz.-based Pepper Viner Homes, are now thinking beyond granite countertops to smart home automation systems that set their homes apart. “We wanted to find the next big thing,” says Pepper Viner’s COO, Chad Williams. The company found it at the TecHome Builder Summit last March, when it struck a deal with home control provider Clare Controls. Pepper Viner will offer these home automation systems with Wi-Fi routers as standard in its Stonebridge in the Foothills subdivision and likely others. The home automation systems operate two zones of stereo speakers for multi-room audio, two lighting dimmers, thermostats, and they connect to door contacts on exterior doors. They are controlled by iPad minis and include optional upgrades for lighting, entertainment and security packages. And Pepper Viner is just one of many. In the past couple of years, builders have been jumping on the high-tech standardization bandwagon. Other major homebuilders are looking to offer technologies such as solar, home automation, and ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity as standard. Lennar Homes, Taylor Morrison and regional builders like Frankel Building Group in Houston, Texas, Copperleaf Homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Landmark Homes USA in Scottsdale, Ariz., offer home automation systems as standard. KB Homes offers energy monitoring in its homes as standard and Meritage Homes has added basic home control as standard in its high-amenity communities. Even modular builder Irontown Homes plans to offer home control in standard packages. Lennar’s Landmark development in South Florida will feature boomerang baby suites and Savant Systems’ Smart Series home systems that cater to the younger generation’s interests in technology. Early adopting homebuilders are seeing strong take rates on the standard smart home — growing their businesses, by differentiating themselves as forward-thinking technology advocates. But, the door on this opportunity to lead is closing. As homebuyers of all economic backgrounds grow hungry for the tech-rich smart home — soon builders won’t have a choice.

Standing between the centralized smart home and the “new normal” is a barrage of hardware, software, and integration options. Installing integrated smart home packages—which put security, entertainment, and comfort controls in a homeowners pocket—seems like an obvious next step for new-home builders. But it remains a challenge for companies looking to future-proof their operations with a repeatable, profitable process. For Tucson, Ariz.-based Pepper Viner Homes, the ClareHome Builder’s Program offered a predictable model to bring into the builder’s high-performance homes. The integrated hardware, software, and business solution from Clare Controls will be installed as standard in every new home in the builder’s Stonebridge community outside Tucson, Ariz. Clare Controls was started in 2009 with a direct-to-builder marketing strategy. “We’re not selling gadgets, we’re selling solutions,” says Clare Controls’ founder Brett Price. “We apply discipline to the smart home integration process to create packaged solutions for builders. It’s about sanity and structure.” By communicating tiered pricing, purchasing, and profit levels clearly, Clare Controls sells home automation systems in the same way other manufactures might sell appliances. Homeowners select packages to add comfort, convenience, security, and entertainment features to the integrated system. Connecting the system is a cloud-based user interface designed with simplicity in mind. Price says Clare Controls specified middle-aged women as their test market. “The woman is the gate keeper,” he says. “Make her comfortable, then it’s sold.” Chad Williams, Pepper Viner’s director of operations, said the Clare system aligned with his company’s mission of providing high-performance homes that do the right thing for buyers and the environment. Clare Controls works with integrators across the country to install its hardware. Pepper Viner partnered with local electronics engineering and consulting firm Area 51 to bring Clare Controls into every home in its Stonebridge community. “The efficiency of the cloud-based Clare system makes it ideal for this type of project,” said John Cento, owner of Area 51, in a statement. “We can deploy with unbelievable ease, even cloning system configurations for a quick start on every project. And using Clare’s secure remote access for maintenance and system updates is a win-win-win: we roll fewer trucks and both our end users and Pepper Viner get a whole lot of peace-of-mind.” Each home in Pepper Viner’s Stonebridge community will include Clare’s CLIQ controller—the “brain” of the automation solution—plus a programmable thermostat, whole home Wi-Fi, several circuits of automated lighting, and other features. Homeowners may then select package upgrades to add to their homogenous user interface. Pepper Viner will include an iPad mini and charging dock station with each home, though Clare’s lifestyle applications can also be accessed securely through the homeowners’ personalized interface on additional iOS and Android devices.

Homebuilders looking to distinguish themselves as forward-thinking leaders are finding new friends in high-tech home systems. When Tucson-Ariz.-based homebuilder Pepper Viner Homes wanted a way to distinguish itself beyond the green and sustainable features it touts, it looked to smart home automation systems, and will offer the systems as standard in its Stonebridge in the Foothills subdivision and likely others. “We wanted to find the next thing, and felt we were already the leader in green building in Tucson,” says Pepper Viner Chief Operating Officer Chad Williams. Pepper Viner isn’t the only homebuilder looking to offer technologies such as solar, home automation and ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity as standard. In the past couple of years there has been a bevy of homebuilders jumping on the bandwagon to high-tech standardization. Quick Hit: Green Home Builder Offers Home Automation as Standard The Solar Also Rises Homebuilding giant D.R. Horton is offering 1.5kw solar arrays as standard in its 80-home Orchid development in Milpitas, Calif. Regional Bay Area builder DeNova Homes is doing the same for 92 lots at Edgewater at River Islands in Lathrop, Calif., with upgrade options to 3kw or 6kw systems. At the mid-century modern Murano community in Palm Springs, Calif., Far West Industries is offering 42 homes, each with 4kw solar systems, for an estimated annual energy savings of about $1,980 a year. These builders and others are joining the ranks of KB Home, SummerHill Homes, California Home Builders, City Ventures and more in offering solar as standard. KB offers solar as standard in 30 of its communities. California Home Builders offers solar as standard through leasing options. When a customer purchases a home, they also purchase the lease at a monthly rate that saves them on utility bills. Yes, the great majority of standard solar offerings are in California, where energy efficiency incentives and mandates inspire it, but the movement is likely to extend more to other states that offer good incentives as well. The Smart Home Standard Sure, Toll Brothers is offering Control4 home control systems in its higher-end homes, and reported to TecHome Builder’s earlier this year a 34 percent sell-through of Control4 systems in Amalfi Hills development in Yorba Linda. Calif., where we’re talking about home prices in the $1 million-plus territory. Some savvy regional luxury builders are going all in. Frankel Building Group in Houston and Copperleaf Homes in Colorado Springs offer up basic, high-end Crestron home control systems that operate several lights and thermostats in the house, giving homebuyers the option to add multiroom music, home theater control and integrate other systems like security into a home automation package. Home control isn’t just for the higher end of luxury homes. Lennar Homes’ Landmark development in South Florida will feature boomerang baby suites and Savant Systems’ Smart Series smart home systems that cater to younger generations’ interests in technology. Meritage Homes has added basic home control with Nexia Home Intelligence as standard in its high-amenity communities. Green-thinking KB Home offers a standard package of Schneider Electric’s Wiser Home Management System. The Wiser Power Monitor and Internet Gateway are now installed as standard in

SARASOTA, FLA., Aug. 7, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Pepper Viner Homes advanced its reputation as one of the nation’s most forward-thinking homebuilders by announcing today that it is including home automation lifestyle packages in the homes it will build. The technology initiative kicks off with every new home in its Stonebridge in the Foothills community, located in the beautiful Sonoran desert near Tucson, Arizona. The Pepper Viner packages will be delivered through a partnership including Area 51, a local custom electronics engineering and consulting firm; Clare Controls, a manufacturer of high-performance automation solutions noted for offering scalable lifestyle applications ranging from lighting and climate controls to video surveillance and multi-room audio; and Pepper Viner Homes. Each Stonebridge home will include Clare’s CLIQ controller – the “brain” of the automation solution – plus a programmable thermostat, whole home Wi-Fi, several circuits of automated lighting, and more. Homeowners will then select packages to add comfort and convenience, safety and security, and audio/video entertainment to the unified automation solution. Each home will come with a control interface utilizing an iPad mini and charging dock station. They will control all of Clare’s lifestyle applications securely through a single, personalized interface on their iPads, iPhones, and Android phones, whether they’re at home or away. “We quickly recognized that the Clare system aligned perfectly with our mission to build high-performance homes that do the right things, both for our customers and for the environment,” stated Chad Williams, Pepper Viner Director of Operations. “While adding measurable quality to customers lives, the Clare system’s One-Touch Scenes make energy consciousness easy…practically a second thought. Plus, putting system management in Area 51s hands gives us confidence that our customers will find immediate and ongoing high levels of satisfaction.” For Area 51, John Cento said, “The efficiency of the cloud-based Clare system makes it ideal for this type of project. We can deploy with unbelievable ease, even cloning system configurations for a quick start on every project. And using Clare’s secure remote access for maintenance and system updates is a win-win-win: we roll fewer trucks and both our end users and Pepper Viner get a whole lot of peace-of-mind.” Brian Dietsch, Clare’s National Director of Business Development, added, “We are unique in our ability to deliver luxury-level automation performance in systems configured and packaged specifically to distinguish homes in communities like Stonebridge in the Foothills. We are especially pleased that our system has helped add value to the relationship between Area 51 and Pepper Viner. We are confident that this program will be beneficial to Pepper Viner Homes,” he concluded, “and will result in an unrivaled homeowner experience.” About Pepper Viner Homes Pepper Viner, builder of high performance / high design homes, is the creator of DESIGNflex, a unique program that lets homebuyers customize the interiors and exteriors of their new homes, and to provide certified energy savings while protecting natural resources. Pepper Viner was named Southern Arizona Home Builder of the Year in 2013, the fifth time it has earned

Results of a new survey from Trulia indicates that 41 percent of Americans would strongly or somewhat prefer to buy a new home, compared with 21 percent who would strongly or somewhat prefer an existing home. Of those respondents who indicated they would strongly prefer a new home, only 46 percent would be willing to pay 20 percent more for one; 36 percent of respondents who would somewhat prefer a new home would pay the increased price. Trulia notes the median price for a new home is $290,000, compared with a median existing home price of $198,000. The survey reveals that those between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most likely to prefer a new home and would pay at least 20 percent more for one, but Census data shows that this is the age group least likely to buy a new home. In 2012, only 5.5 percent of homebuyers who bought a new home were between the ages of 18 and 34. Alternatively, those over the age of 65 are the least likely to prefer a new home and be willing to pay more for one (11 percent). This age group represented 6.9 percent of homebuyers who bought a new home in 2012. Trulia also examined why respondents prefer new or existing homes. The top three reasons respondents indicated they strongly prefer a new home are (1) modern features, (2) to customize the home before it is built, and (3) to spend less on maintenance and repairs. Those who indicated they strongly prefer an existing home named (1) traditional features, (2) established neighborhoods, and (3) lower home prices as the top three reasons for their preference. Based on analysis of 2013 Census building permit data, Trulia listed the top 10 housing markets with the most new single-family construction: Raleigh, N.C. Houston, Texas Charleston, S.C. Austin, Texas Charlotte, N.C.-S.C. Oklahoma City, Okla. Colorado Springs, Colo. Nashville, Tenn. Jacksonville, Fla. Greenville, S.C. The 10 housing markets with the least new single-family construction are: New York, N.Y.-N.J. San Francisco, Calif. Detroit, Mich. Los Angeles, Calif. New Haven, Conn. Ventura County, Calif. Springfield, Mass. Long Island, N.Y. Chicago, Ill. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) – The former Wrightstown Elementary School is once again up for possible development after Tucson Unified School District closed it four years ago. Tuesday night the governing board unanimously approved the plan, which still hinges on the city changing the zoning for the area.  Pepper Viner Investment will buy it for $1.3 million, with the plan to build no more than 55 single family homes on the 9.2 acre site.  At least three quarters of the land will be single story residential development. This is the third potential deal for Wrightstown.  Neighbors opposed a previous plan that would have had denser, rental housing.  In another previous deal, the developer determined that it wouldn’t be able to make enough profit. The district has had as many as nine empty properties after it closed schools to save money, and those locations can attract trespassers and vandals.  The district reported that juveniles were arrested inside the boarded up Fort Lowell Elementary School earlier Tuesday. “We started to board them up and so, they’re less of a nuisance for the community, they’re more protected and that kind of reduces vandalism on them.  But we do want to move them forward into a community benefit and a vacant building, boarded up, even if it’s securely boarded up isn’t a community benefit,” said Bryant Nodine, director of student assignment and planning for TUSD. The deal still hinges on rezoning by the city, and the community is supposed to be a part of that process.  Closing wouldn’t be for another nine months.

  The Tucson Unified School District is hoping the third time will be a charm when it comes to the sale of the now-closed Wrightstown Elementary School site. Tonight, the Governing Board will consider selling the 9.2-acre site after two previous offers fell through. The latest offer comes from Pepper Viner Investment Company II, LLC, which is looking to turn the east side campus into a residential subdivision. The sale price would be $1.3 million — about $300,000 less than the previous offers that the Governing Board has approved in the last two years. In December, the Governing Board approved a sale to Mahalo Development LLC that called for up to 80 single-family homes at the site, 8950 E. Wrightstown Road. That offer was withdrawn when the company determined that the $1.6 million project wasn’t financially feasible, said Bryant Nodine, TUSD’s director of planning and student assignment. Before that, in 2012, a group of Tucson developers planned to build luxury homes at the site but stopped the project, citing concerns by neighbors over traffic issues and home values. The Pepper Viner sale, if approved, is contingent on a successful rezoning of the property. The final number of homes would need to be determined through meetings with neighbors and approvals by the City of Tucson. TUSD has not discussed the latest deal with the Wrightstown neighborhood, Nodine said. It will be the responsibility of the developer to meet with residents. While Pepper Viner’s offer is lower than the two previous agreements, it is still higher than the appraised value, Nodine said. As part of the contract, TUSD will require that for a period of two years from the closing Pepper Viner would be prohibited from using the property for a charter school.