SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The rate of new home construction reached a nationwide 13-year-high last month. More homeowners are choosing to break ground rather than buy ready-built homes.
Across the country, new home builds jumped nearly 17% in December, hitting a record the U.S. hasn’t seen since 2006.
The HBA Home Show in Springfield showcased contractors, cabinet specialists and other vendors from across the Ozarks this weekend.
Home builders in the Ozarks said business has been steady over the last few years, and that has led to some construction challenges.
“The business is booming right now,” said Dusty Essick, of Essick Builders.
Essick said it’s cheaper to buy a home than build one, but Southwest Missouri builders have stayed busy as people in the area want to break ground on their dream house.
“We have people come to us who say, we’ve been looking, we find the location we like but we can’t find a house, or vice versa, we found the perfect house but we don’t like the location.”
Essick said the high demand has pushed back construction schedules.
“Compared to four, five, six years ago, it’s about six to eight weeks longer to complete a house than it used to take just due to everyone being so busy and everyone trying to get subs in,” he said.
Ryan Green, with First Choice Custom Homes, is stacked up, too.
“Yes, we do have a backlog,” Green said.
Both said a lengthy list of clients is not a bad problem to have. According to Green, the biggest challenge he’s facing is a shortage of skilled trade workers to complete the projects.
“We’re having labor challenges right now so finding people to work in the trades is an issue that we’re trying to overcome,” Green said.
Both Green and Essick said, right now, new home construction can take about eight to ten months. Even though building a dream house can sometimes be a nightmare, these busy builders said having the right contractor can make all the difference.
“Keep that in mind, when you are building, it is stressful but it can be an exciting, rewarding experience, too,” Green said.
Essick added homeowners should protect themselves by making sure their contractors are insured, which is a requirement to be a member of the Home Builders Association.
The HBA Home show will continue through Sunday at the Springfield Expo Center from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Democrats slam White House’s ‘dangerous incompetence’ on coronavirus response; reaction and analysis on ‘Outnumbered.’ #FoxNews
FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News Headlines 24/7, FOXNews.com and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, FOX Nation. FOX News also produces FOX News Sunday on FOX Broadcasting Company and FOX News Edge. A top five-cable network, FNC has been the most-watched news channel in the country for 17 consecutive years. According to a 2018 Research Intelligencer study by Brand Keys, FOX News ranks as the second most trusted television brand in the country. Additionally, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey states Fox News is the most trusted source for television news or commentary in the country, while a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that among Americans who could name an objective news source, FOX News is the top-cited outlet. FNC is available in nearly 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape while routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre.
Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live:
Watch full episodes of your favorite shows The Five: Special Report with Bret Baier: The Story with Martha MacCallum: Tucker Carlson Tonight: Hannity: The Ingraham Angle: Fox News @ Night:
Follow Fox News on Facebook: Follow Fox News on Twitter: Follow Fox News on Instagram:
The annual income of older Americans could drop significantly from one year to the next for a variety of reasons. It might be retirement or the death of a spouse, perhaps, or the sale of a business.
Yet it might take Medicare — which charges higher earners more for premiums — a couple years to adjust when income falls below the threshold.
If you’re paying more than the standard amounts for Medicare Part B (outpatient services) and Part D (prescription drugs) through so-called income-related monthly adjustment amounts, or IRMAAs, the difference can reach into the hundreds of dollars per month. And, the surcharge is often based on your tax return from two years prior — which may not accurately reflect your current financial situation.
“We see it all the time,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits in Fort Worth, Texas. “They end up having to contact Social Security and show they’re not earning that amount anymore.”
More from Personal Finance: Tax scams are in full swing. Here’s how to protect yourself These high-income taxpayers are getting a visit from the IRS 44% of adults admit to keeping money secrets from a partner
Of Medicare’s 62 million beneficiaries, about 7% — 4.3 million people — pay those monthly surcharges, due to various legislative changes over the years that have required higher-earners to pay a greater share of the program’s costs.
For individuals, IRMAAs kick in if your modified adjusted gross income is more than $87,000; for married couples filing joint tax returns, they start above $174,000.
The standard monthly premium for Part B this year is $144.60, which is what most Medicare beneficiaries pay. (Part A, which is for hospital coverage, typically comes with no premium.) The surcharge for higher earners is from $57.80 to $347, depending on income. That results in premiums ranging from $202.40 to $491.60.
For Part D, the surcharges range from $12.20 to $76.40. That’s in addition to any premium you pay, whether through a standalone prescription drug plan or through an Advantage Plan, which typically includes Part D coverage. While the premiums vary for prescription coverage, the average for 2020 is about $42.
As mentioned, the Social Security Administration relies on your most recently filed tax return — which often is from two years prior — when determining whether you’ll be charged the extra amounts. In other words, for 2020, that would have meant your 2018 tax return was used.
“They did the adjustment late last year and, at that point, they only had your 2018 tax return because you hadn’t prepared your 2019 return yet,” explained Roger Luchene, a Medicare agent with Hammer Financial Group in Schererville, Indiana.
The process to prove that your current income is lower involves asking the agency (either over the phone or in writing) to reconsider their assessment. You also have to fill out a form and provide supporting documents. While it depends on your situation, suitable proof may include a more recent tax return, a letter from your former employer stating that you retired, more recent pay stubs or something similar showing evidence that your income has dropped.
The required form includes a list of “life-changing” events that qualify as reasons for reducing or eliminating the IRMAAs, including marriage, death of a spouse, divorce, loss of pension or the fact that you stopped working or reduced your hours.
As long as you meet one of the qualifying reasons, “most of the time it gets adjusted,” said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans.
If it doesn’t, you can appeal the decision to an administrative law judge, although the process could take time and you’d continue paying those surcharges in the meantime, Roberts said.
Additionally, the SSA reevaluates your situation every year, which means the IRMAAs (or whether you pay them) could change annually, depending on how volatile your income is.
Roberts said she’s seen some Medicare beneficiaries who take no medications simply decide to not sign up for coverage, in order to avoid paying so much for a Part D plan that they think they’ll never use.
Be aware, however, that the decision could leave you financially vulnerable if your long-term health unexpectedly changes or a one-time health event requires prescription drugs. You also could face late-enrollment penalties, as well, if you don’t qualify for an exception. (The same goes for enrolling late in Part B.)
“You’d be caught without coverage and have to pay out of pocket,” Roberts said. “And, you’d have to wait until the next [enrollment] period to get into a plan.”
Companies that sell subscriptions to products—everything from razors and high-fashion clothing to pet products and meal kits—are locked in fierce competition.
To make their wares more appealing to customers, some companies are executing a counterintuitive twist on that strategy: They are making it easy to quit.
ClassPass Inc., which has a monthly subscription service that gives users access to exercise classes at a variety of gyms and studios, is phasing out a live-chat feature that customers have had to contend with when they cancel.
The chat was partly designed to encourage customers to find a better plan that they might not have been aware of before signing off for good, according to
Hill, director of global customer experience at ClassPass.
But the company is rolling out technology to automate its cancellation process, Ms. Cowher Hill said, with the goal of making it available to all global consumers in the coming months.
“We know the ability to pause or make changes to a membership is something our members deeply value,” Ms. Cowher Hill said. “And this isn’t just true for ClassPass. Globally, there is a growing desire for a frictionless cancellation flow, especially for subscription services, and we’re proud to be making strides to deliver that.”
ClassPass is using what it learned from the live chat process to inform its automated cancellation system, she said.
Many companies have used onerous policies and processes to keep customers past trial periods and discourage them from canceling later, according to Robbie Kellman Baxter, a consultant specializing in membership models and subscription pricing and author of a forthcoming book, “The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave.” But that isn’t a winning long-term strategy, she said.
“If you’re trying to have a long-term relationship with your customer and you’re kind of sneaky with the terms, you’re not going to be generating trust,” Ms. Baxter said.
Some companies have also been called out for difficult cancellation rules.
The Honest Co., a consumer-goods company co-founded by actress
was criticized in 2016 for making subscribers call on the phone before they could cancel. It changed its policy that December to allow cancellation online.
Last year, Rent the Runway began letting subscribers to its fashion service immediately pause or cancel memberships by sending a single email. It previously required members to call or email a “Membership Concierge,” which had drawn complaints for sometimes replying slowly.
The company made the change to make things easier for members, but a representative noted another benefit as well: It lightened inbound calls to the customer service team.
Easy cancellation policies could actually help businesses lure in more subscribers and encourage more customers to come back if they have left, said Peter Fader, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Such policies, he says, make the subscription experience more personal by making customers feel fairly treated.
That could help the subscription companies’ broader efforts to make recurring shipments and automatic charges feel less transactional and more like membership in a club.
Harry’s Inc., the subscription razor service that also sells products in retail stores, last May launched what it describes as a “core membership” program that costs $15 a year, giving customers discounts when they shop online as well as free engravings and access to limited-edition products. It started the program because customer feedback indicated a desire for specialized services, according to
head of digital product at Harry’s.
The company has converted 57% of subscribers to its basic monthly plan to the new membership program, Ms. Ganti said.
Harry’s said customers can cancel either through Harrys.com—by clicking a button on their profile—or by getting in touch with the customer support team via phone or email.
Personalized services and other membership touches help companies connect with customers who are increasingly subscribing instead of making individual purchases, said
founder and CEO of Zuora Inc., a provider of software for subscription companies. Companies that offer membership services are trying to project a broader lifestyle that will appeal to customers and add value beyond the product itself, Mr. Tzuo said.
Brightly marked, easy exits could become an essential feature of membership models, according to
founder and CEO of the subscription software company OrderGroove Inc. His company’s clients include
GNC Holdings Inc.,
which upgraded its interface last May to make it easier for customers to modify or cancel their subscriptions.
Making quitting simple could even become the law. A 2018 California regulation began requiring companies that let consumers subscribe online to also let them opt out online. “We think this is a precursor to more consumer protections to come,” said
chief executive officer and co-founder at Brightback Inc., which offers automated customer retention software for subscription companies.
“Subscription businesses are in the midst of exploring how to best transition their cancel experiences online, reflecting both the shifting consumer expectation and new regulatory requirements,” Mr. Marion said.