That’s why today we’re starting an occasional feature called Market Insight, where we will interview people who have a unique perspective on the real estate market and who can tell us where we are and where we are headed.
This feature is one of several fresh voices I plan to introduce to The Washington Post Real Estate section. Since taking over as Real Estate editor in September, I’ve focused on making the section more local and more relevant to homeowners, local residents, prospective homebuyers and the real estate community.
We’ve started a new Twitter account, so please follow us at
. We will have more exciting features to share in print and online in the coming months. Stay tuned.
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Despite the gloomy real estate market, Glen Burnie, Md.-based Window Nation has seen its business grow by at least 20 percent this year and expects to continue steady growth and hiring next year.
Why isn’t it seeing a downturn? Call it the “recession investment,” but improvements such as new windows are seen by many homeowners as an expense that can also pay off by lowering utility bills in the long run. The federal government offered a $1,500 tax credit to homeowners who installed energy-saving windows in 2010. Although that tax credit has expired, other federal tax credits are still available for homeowners for $200 for replacing windows and up to $500 for replacing doors and windows.
I asked co-owners and brothers Harley and Aaron Magden about their business and the outlook for 2012.
You say your revenue was up 70 percent last year. How is that possible in our weak economy? Why are people buying windows?
Harley Magden: Obviously, last year with the big federal tax credit certainly helped to drive our business up. It’s been changed to a much smaller $200 to $500 tax credit this year. [www.energystar.gov]
We’ve talked to a lot of our suppliers and we know 90 percent of companies are down this year. There’s a lot of uncertainty.
Ninety percent of our business is windows. When people can’t sell their houses because they’re underwater [on their mortgage] or for whatever reason, they tend to stay in those houses and fix them up. If you’re $100,000 or 20 or 30 percent underwater, you’re not moving for a while. You’re thinking, “What can I do for my home to make it easier for me to live here?” There are very few things you can do to maintain the value of your home.
What’s the average amount of money that customers spend with you to install new windows in their home?
Aaron Magden: The average sale is about $6,500.