The pandemic has shined a bright spotlight on housing in general. Residential real estate has become both more functional (move-in ready is critical to most buyers today..close the sale, get the keys, move in and start living!) and more emotional. Consumers aren’t just searching for a house; they’re seeking “home.”
While the pandemic has confined us to our homes to the point where we’ll do anything for a change of scenery, it has also pointed out how many things a home can be for us:
Home is shelter.
Home is safety.
Home is family.
Home is school, the gym, the movie theater, the best local restaurant.
Consumers appreciate “home” more than ever, and they have a more three-dimensional view of what they want their homes to be. Even with the low inventory levels, buyers do not want to compromise the picture they have of what they want in their next “home”.
...especially ones that eliminate some of the clutter that quietly becomes “a new normal”!
Use microwave minutes to stay organized
Disorganized homes are often the cause of constant procrastination. If you keep saying “I’ll deal with that later”, then you’ll end up with things dotted around the house, waiting (and waiting!) to be put away. Put an end to this by using “microwave minutes”. Microwave minutes refer to small pockets of time of around 5-10 minutes that can easily be squeezed into your day. These time blocks mean you can complete a few tasks that you would be able to fit in while waiting for your microwave to ding, or your kettle to boil. Some examples of tasks you can fit in during these time blocks include:
Identify danger zones
Every home has a hotspot for clutter, where things are most likely to dumped, ready to be sorted “later” (ALERT: “later” rarely comes around). Do you have a mass of mail, keys and bags dumped near your front door? Is there a spot on your kitchen worktop that has a permanent pile of items dumped on it? Take a walk around your home and look for clutter clusters. It can sometimes help to take a video on your phone that you can then watch back, as you’ll probably notice clutter that you’re normally oblivious to!
(excerpted from Wren Kitchens, Rhi- “Mummy of 4”!)
Inventory turnover – the total supply of homes for sale nationwide as a percentage of occupied residential inventory – was low prior to the pandemic, but began to drop precipitously starting in April, 2020. Since 1991, on average, 2.5% of the stock of homes are for sale in any single month. Throughout 2019 and preceding the pandemic, average inventory was 1.65%, but the pandemic-induced supply contraction further reduced average inventory to nearly 1.4% Since then, average inventory has steadily declined to 1.3%. That means only 130 homes in every 10,000 are for sale, compared with almost double that amount in normal times!
Existing-home sales make up approximately 90% of all home sales and in October the seasonally-adjusted months’ supply for existing homes hit a historic low of 2.5 months ( most recently described as 2.2-2.3 months of inventory). As existing homeowners have withdrawn supply, average tenure length – the amount of time someone lives in their home – has soared to a historic high of approximately 10.5 years. Ultimately, rising tenure length means there are fewer homes on the market and as demand has surged the competition among home buyers for the small amount of homes for sale drives prices up.
Excerpted from Mark Henry, Chief Economist for First American Title Company
Enjoy Your Home More than Ever!
Protect entryway flooring. With tracked-in wet from our rains and cold weather, entryway floors can really take a beating in the winter. Increase the longevity of your flooring by using floor mats both inside and outside each entrance to your home. Provide a boot scraper or brush outside for removing excess mud and debris, and a waterproof tray inside for placing wet shoes and boots.
Stop cold air from getting in. Feel a cold breeze? Take action as soon as you notice the problem. Boost your home’s energy efficiency and stop cold air in its tracks with these tips:
Remove window screens. Removing screens from windows can boost natural light and improve solar heat gain.
Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This is especially important during winter, when we keep windows closed and use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces more often.
Have your fireplace cleaned. If you haven’t done so yet, have your fireplace cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Regular cleaning is a necessary safety measure for wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves, since buildup of creosote (from past fires) inside the chimney can potentially cause a house fire. Gas fireplaces should be checked too — even though gas is a clean-burning fuel, there could be an old nest or other debris blocking the chimney. (This one will probably have to wait until after the new year, but put it on your "Must Do List" for January!
Easy tips that can help you bring peace and joy back into the Season by Laura Gaskill Houzz Contributor.
The holiday season is often a mix of joy and stress, and due to the current challenges, this year may be more difficult than most. But with a few self-care routines in place, you can regain your center and enjoy a peaceful, joy-filled season. Here are 3 easy self-care ideas to try during the holidays.
Soothe Your Soul With an Aromatic Bath: Essential oils can completely transform a bath into a blissful sensory experience. Try a few drops of eucalyptus oil to open the lungs, or soothing lavender to relax before bedtime. Add the essential oils to your warm bath when it’s about half full, and the whole tub will be fragrant by the time you’re ready to get in. ( I did this last Sunday…not only did I feel refreshed, but so relaxed, too!)
Bundle Up and Get Outdoors: Even on a cold day, if the sun is shining…going outdoors can be a real mood booster. Find a neighborhood park or nature area. There are many choices in our area! Breathing the fresh air for 15 minutes can be a wonderful way to decompress and regain your center in the middle of a busy holiday season.
Warm Up by the Fire: If you have a fireplace or wood stove, now is the time to put it to use. Light a fire, pull a cozy throw over your lap, and settle in with a hot drink and a good book. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than this. AND you don’t have to wait until evening to do this. Create a space for this in the middle of the day!
PPG’s 2021 paint color and design trends reflect on well-being, sustainability and human connection. The feelings they evoke are designed to help us move past fear, transcend our limitations and aim for a more balanced world by connecting with our fellow humans in compassion and kindness. Both natural and serene, PPG’s 2021 Paint Color Palette of the Year was chosen by the design and color experts to bring warmth, lightness and a sense of calm to a space. They are made with versatile tones that can be used as either the supporting OR dominant color in the room. They are:
Transcend: a mid-tone oatmeal-colored hue that draws on “earthy” influences. The antidote to an era of cool greys, Transcend emulates the feeling of a warm latte on a cool morning, or warm sand on a sunny summer day.
Big Cypress: a “shaded ginger with persimmon undertones” is PPG’s equivalent of a big, comforting hug or your home!
Misty Aqua: a watercolor that simulates a deep blue sky, provides an unexpected feeling of freshness against the 2 other warm, earthy tones.
Other themes for Paint Palettes from PPG include
BE Well: “creating space for comfort, support and joy”
BE True: “vintage-inspired colors with recycled and contemporary touches”
BE Wild: “bright and playful paint colors”
Go to https://www.ppgpaints.com/color/color-collections/2021-paint-color-trends to view all colors online.
The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage once again hit a new all-time low, clocking in at 2.71%, according to data released 12/3/2020 by Freddie Mac. But even with a new historic low for the 14th time this year, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater believes home sales are hitting a wall.
“While homebuyer appetite remains robust, the scarce inventory has effectively put a limit on how much higher the number of sales can increase,” Khater said, in a statement. “Unfortunately, the record low supply combined with strong demand means home prices are rapidly escalating and eroding the benefits of the low mortgage rate environment.”
The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.71%, the lowest number ever recorded by Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of rates, which dates back to 1971. This time last year, the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.68%. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage meanwhile average 2.28%, below the 3.14% average for the same week in 2019.
While low interest rates have been fuel for the blazing housing market in 2020, double-digit price gains over the past three months have chipped away at affordability gains for Americans, according to Ratiu. And while contract signings were still up more than 20% year over year, the month-to-month decline shows signs that sales are slowing down.
Defying high unemployment and an economic recession, the housing market has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. That isn’t likely to let up heading into the winter months, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®.
“This winter may be one of the best winters for sales activity,” Yun said. “It won’t match summer or spring sales numbers, but on a winter-to-winter comparison, this could be one of the best breakout years just based on the fact that pending contracts are at such a higher level.”
Mortgage applications also are up 20% year over year, which reflect buyers in the pipeline that have been approved for mortgages and are ready to buy. Home prices are up too.
What’s next for 2021? A persistent housing shortage will likely keep home prices elevated, while new- and existing-home sales will continue to rise as record low mortgage rates and a work-from-home trend give housing markets a boost, Yun said. Low mortgage rates are key against higher prices: One major factor contributing to the hot housing market has been record-low mortgage rates, under 3%, said Yun. He predicts rates will continue to stay low into 2021. Mortgage rates are helping housing affordability balance against rising home prices.
Here’s Yun’s forecast for the housing market heading into 2021, and how it fares against his 2020 end-of- year forecast:
Health and wellness are more important to homeowners than ever before, especially as many cities and states aim to progress into the next phases of re-opening. These days, there is a high demand for antimicrobial materials in the home. Buyers are seeking finishes that are easier to clean such as unique stone surfaces rather than porous, delicate wood floors and cabinetry.
Also, we’re seeing a new trend with people desiring an “Amazon” room or “Package room” – a dedicated room to store online deliveries in large single-family homes. This functions both as storage space and a separate part of the home in which packages can sit for a few days and become “decontaminated” before any of the residents come into contact with them (coronaviruses can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours)
The demand for an Amazon room is centered around a desire to keep the home as healthy and safe as possible, and these days, that starts from the entrance of the home. Additionally, people are seeking out higher-grade filters, for both air and water, as well as smart lighting to better mimic our natural environment. With the home being our sanctuary, it is important to make it as healthy as possible.
4 Elements That Support Wellness at Home by Becky Harris, designer and blogger @ Hatch: The Design Public Blog
At fall October, 2020’s High Point Market, a keynote talk informed designers on how to help their clients promote health at home. The Intersection of Wellness and Home Design was one of the educational keynote talks. Experts on the panel for design professionals discussed ways to improve health, wellness and comfort with style, and they shared their perspectives on the best approaches. Here are 4 key points they focused on for promoting good physical and mental health through home design.