Little chores can add up to big results in your home, just taking one small task at a time can keep your house in check. Here is a great plan to follow that will help accomplish this.

Weekly Home Maintenance

 

Here are some great tasks to tackle each week. Floors are a big area of your home. Vacuuming your carpet or dusting your hardwood floors each week can make a big effect. Taking about 30 minutes a week on small tasks in your yard can do wonders for your curb appeal. Pruning your shrubs or trees, blowing or raking leaves up, cleaning up debris from your sidewalk, and painting your mailbox are examples of a few of these tasks.

Bathrooms are a big traffic area in your home and can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Along with cleaning your bathroom, take time to also make sure your drains are cleaned and not clogged. A good tool to use for this is a Zip-It tool. Along with cleaning your shower, renewing or repairing dingy or damaged tile grout can also help with your bathroom’s esthetic looks. Something that is not thought of is the build-up in your shower head. This can hinder your flow of water. Cleaning the mineral sediment out of the showerhead will help with water flow.

They say the heart of the home is the kitchen. This is another area that can use some weekly maintenance. Freshen up your garbage disposal each week to eliminate odors. A good way to do this is to take a tray of ice cubes, baking soda or lemon rinds and run them through the disposal. Cleaning the outside of your appliances can freshen up the kitchen. Take it a step further and clean the insides each week as well. Take one appliance a week in the kitchen. For instance, clean out your refrigerator one week and then your dishwasher the next and the following week could be the oven.

Monthly Home Maintenance

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some projects can be done monthly and still keep a house clean and organized. The range hood in your kitchen can get really dirty. Every month check the filter and clean the hood. Grease and dirt can build up and cause a thick layer which is hard to clean but cleaning it monthly can help resolve this. A good way to help with utility bills and keep the air quality up is by changing your furnace’s filter each month. Dust collects overtime around the house. Dust is not healthy for you or pleasing to the eye. A quick fix is to polis wood furniture, dust light fixtures and wipe down your home’s baseboards each month.

Safety concerns can also be addressed each month. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure the batteries are good and they function. Another thing that can be overlooked is your fire extinguisher. Check to make sure it is fully charged each month. Take some time each month to also inspect the outside of your home. Make sure there are no problems or issues that need to be resolved. Things to look for are loose shingles, damaged siding, insect nests or overgrown trees or shrubbery.

Yearly Home Maintenance

Bigger tasks that can be done once a year can be done in one or two days each year or during each change of season. Typical projects include cleaning and organizing your garage, basement or attic. Get rid of unwanted items and find some treasures that you had forgotten about at the same time.
Springtime is a great time to wash your windows and screens. This will let more light into your home. Clean your gutters and make sure it is clean under the eaves. Remove ways for pests to enter your home. Remove shrubs or trees that encroach your home. Also, make sure there are no holes to let litter critters in and if there are install wire grates over the holes.

Each season you can choose a room to freshen up. A great way to do this is to give it a “mini-makeover.” Do this by repainting a room, moving furniture around or adding new plants and knickknacks. In just a few years, your whole house will be done!

Remember that keeping it simple and smart is the way to go.

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The Fed has determined that rates will stay close to zero for several years to come due to the long recovery ahead from the pandemic. The key short-term rate was close to zero after the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting last Wednesday.

American consumers and businesses are struggling because of COVID-19 and will continue to struggle if Congress, the White House and the Fed do not do more to help stimulate the country’s economy.

The Federal Reserve has already slashed the interest rates and started many lending programs as well as other stimulus efforts to support the national economy. It will continue to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

“Economic activity and employment have continued to recover but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year,” the Fed said in its statement.

The Fed believes that the course of the virus can determine the path the economy will take. There is hope from the American people with the COVID-19 vaccines becoming available. People will begin to go back to normal spending habits and activities.

The country’s gross domestic product is anticipated to a 4.2% rebound next year. The Federal Reserve also predicts the unemployment rate will go back down to 5% in the year 2021.

“With vaccines on the horizon, the Fed’s economic projections for the next few years all got an upgrade, but don’t gloss over the immediate challenges still confronting the economy,” said Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride in a report after the Fed announcement.

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September 2020 brought a 10.2% increase over September 2019 in single-family permits issued year-to-date (YTD) according to the U.S. Census Building Permits. In fact, the report shows that over the first nine months of this year, the total nationwide climbed to 713,286.

As for each region of the country, the year-to-date ending in September varied. For single-family permits the Southeast saw the highest increase at 12.4%, the Midwest came in at the second-highest with a 10% increase, the West had a 6.3% increase and the Northeast saw the smallest increase at 6.2%. Multifamily permits did not fair so great. Every region saw a decline with the biggest decline in the West at -9.4%, the Northeast had a decline of -7.5%, the South at -5.6% and Midwest had a decline of -2.7%.

Among the states, only 42 states had a growth in single-family permits while the remaining 8 states and the District of Columbia resulted in a decline. The record highest growth was seen in South Dakota from 2,186 to 2,885 making this a 32% increase. The District of Columbia saw the steepest decline with a 22.2% drop from 126 to 98.

The multi-family sector was not so lucky. YTD only 18 states showed growth while the remaining 32 states and the District of Columbia showed a decline. Mississippi had the biggest increase from 246 to 588 while New Hampshire had the largest decline from 1,148 to 386.

The top 10 metro areas with the highest number of single-family permits were:

Metropolitan Statistical Area Single-family Permits: Sep (Units #YTD, NSA)
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 35,309
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 31,631
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 22,566
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 20,013
Austin-Round Rock, TX 15,327
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 13,258
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 11,683
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 11,367
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 10,429
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 9,933

The top 10 metro areas with the highest number of multifamily permits were:

Metropolitan Statistical Area Multifamily Permits: Sep (Units #YTD, NSA)
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 31,160
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 15,967
Austin-Round Rock, TX 15,294
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 12,095
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 11,994
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 11,862
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 10,717
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 10,580
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 8,256
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 7,881

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Realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Trends Report said this October saw close to record levels in sales in the U.S. housing market. In fact, this October houses sold faster than September for the first time since 2011.

“In the fall, we normally see homes sell more slowly and prices pull back from peak levels. But this October, we saw a drop in the time it takes to sell a home even while home prices remain at their summer peak,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.

According to Realtor.com in October homes sold in 53 days which was 13 days faster than October of last year. For home prices, the median listing price rose 12.2% year-over-year to $350,000.

The numbers for the newly listed homes by U.S. metropolitan area were very different. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California had the highest new listing count year-over-year at 30.6% with a median listing price of $1,199,100.00 with 34 days on the market while Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin,
Tennessee had the lowest new listing count year-over-year at -27.5% with a median listing price of $400,000 with 32 days on the market. Within the country’s 50 largest metros, homes sold in a record 45 days.

As far as the nation’s regions, the Northeast had the highest gains at 11.4%, next the West had 10.1%, followed by the Midwest with 9% and the South came in last at 7.3%.

Here is a look at the number of newly listed homes by metropolitan area:

Metro New Listing
Count YoY
Median
Listing
Price YoY
Median
Listing Price
Median
Days on
Market
Active
Listing
Count
YoY
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. 30.6% 8.1% $1,199,100 34 -18.5%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 28.2% 15.1% $639,100 58 -6.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. 25.9% 11.6% $1,049,100 35 -4.2%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif. 17.2% 16.9% $995,100 49 -22.9%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. 15.9% 7.1% $300,000 41 -31.3%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. 15.1% 13.9% $669,100 33 -29.4%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. 12.5% 6.4% $625,000 35 -31.6%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. 11.3% 12.3% $549,100 35 -48.4%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. 9.9% 2.4% $348,000 37 -30.1%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-
Md.-W. Va.
5.4% 4.6% $502,100 36 -36.7%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. 0.4% 7.9% $345,300 41 -7.8%
San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. -0.6% 11.2% $795,100 24 -25.4%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. -1.2% 16.7% $349,100 48 -41.8%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. -2.0% 5.0% $520,000 36 -44.2%
Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. -2.4% 1.7% $260,000 51 -36.1%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. -2.7% 9.1% $510,100 49 -44.0%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. -3.8% 14.6% $470,100 41 -53.6%
Rochester, N.Y. -3.9% 12.9% $228,700 31 -43.3%
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. -4.4% 10.3% $248,000 56 -38.4%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-
N.C.
-4.9% 6.9% $320,600 39 -46.7%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. -7.3% 4.6% $340,000 43 -51.4%
Raleigh, N.C. -7.3% 6.8% $390,000 49 -45.4%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. -7.6% 3.8% $300,000 42 -39.2%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas -7.6% 7.8% $334,100 52 -32.8%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. -7.9% 9.5% $345,000 43 -32.6%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y. -8.2% 7.5% $215,000 52 -46.7%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. -8.2% 10.0% $308,000 48 -43.0%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla. -8.8% 2.5% $410,100 93 -15.6%
Austin-Round Rock, Texas -9.0% 15.9% $413,200 46 -47.7%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. -9.2% 1.6% $325,000 59 -20.9%
Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio -9.3% 3.2% $200,000 47 -48.2%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. -9.3% 7.7% $415,600 36 -41.8%
Pittsburgh, Pa. -9.4% N/A $245,100 57 -36.8%
Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. -10.3% 6.1% $400,000 42 -52.5%
Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. -11.1% 10.1% $330,100 47 -48.7%
New Orleans-Metairie, La. -12.8% 15.7% $329,100 64 -39.1%
Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. -13.7% 16.3% $310,000 39 -44.9%
Oklahoma City, Okla. -15.4% 6.6% $270,000 48 -40.5%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas -16.0% 3.6% $300,000 53 -40.8%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas -16.1% 4.1% $356,000 47 -46.8%
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind. -17.4% 2.2% $258,100 35 -50.2%
Columbus, Ohio -17.5% 9.0% $305,100 35 -47.8%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. -18.8% 10.6% $355,100 46 -45.5%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. -19.8% 5.7% $275,000 43 -47.8%
Jacksonville, Fla. -20.4% 2.6% $318,100 55 -45.5%
Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. -21.7% 14.0% $263,800 45 -49.3%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich -21.7% 12.4% $269,100 38 -47.4%
Richmond, Va. -21.8% 11.7% $357,000 45 -48.2%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C. -22.9% 9.0% $365,400 43 -48.7%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin,
Tenn.
-27.5% 8.1% $400,000 32 -43.6%
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The COVID pandemic is still causing uncertainty in the world today. A person’s home has become their essential safe haven. The NAHB has learned from a two-part presentation lead by the Leading Suppliers Council (LSC) there are two building trends that have become essential to buyers in the housing market. Buyers are more concerned about purchasing a smart home and a healthy home.

Homeowners are spending more time than ever at home during the pandemic. People are living, working and playing all at home. Utility costs are on the rise. Potential homebuyers are interested in smart technologies that can make their home more convenient, secure and energy-efficient. Smart devices are becoming the norm in newly built and renovated homes.

Two-thirds of consumers say they want a connected home. According to Stephen Embry, a partner with the law firm of Frost Brown Todd, in approximately 3 years around 43% of homeowners will have some sort of connected devices in their homes. She says that a home that does not have technology will not be worth as much as a home with technology.

Builders have also seen a trend in homeowners stressing the importance of a healthy home. What does this mean? Consumers want a home with good indoor air quality, plenty of sunlight and the use of non-toxic building materials.

Eco Pulse reports that 66% of Millennials are concerned about indoor air quality. According to the report, in one year six rooms can collect around 40 pounds of dust. There is a possibility that the dust collected could have close to 45 toxic chemicals in it. This is in the air homeowners breathe in their homes on a daily basis.

When building or remodeling a home to improve the home’s health there are many things to consider. Always use clean, renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Use paints that do not contain VOC that will emit harmful chemicals into the home. Use sound insulation and lighting that adapt to circadian rhythms in the bedroom for improving sleep. Install sensors that monitor air quality. Use double-glazed windows to reduce noise and create better insulation, also make sure your windows provide maximum views to allow natural light in. Most importantly use energy-efficient systems that are easy to control and monitor.

Today more than ever, homeowners want to be able to depend on their homes for their safe place away from the stresses of the pandemic. These two trends are a great way to create a better, healthier environment for families to live, work and play in.

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The home has definitely turned into the live work and play of 2020. COVID-19 has caused many to rethink rooms and turn them into home offices and exercise rooms. The overall need for our home has changed due to shelter-in-place.

Energy usage has also gone up as we are staying home more than ever. According to Freddie Mac, March saw a 22% higher household electrical usage than March of 2019. The biggest consumption was midday between 10 am to 3 pm. Shelter-in place caused the nation to live work and play in their homes 24/7. On average there was a $25 increase to monthly utility bills the month of April.

COVID-19 will not be going away anytime soon, and shelter-in-place could be a likely possibility for us in the near future. Homeowners are looking for ways to cut back on energy consumption.

Energy-efficient appliances are a good way to conserve energy and cut down on the cost of utility bills. Other options to reduce energy consumption are updated HVAC units, new windows, and new doors. Sealing around entryways can also help with insulation. Solar panels and geothermal heating are other good solutions.

If the cost of upgrading is an issue, energy or green mortgages might be the solution. Green mortgages can offer homeowners an opportunity to purchase homes that utilize these technologies through mortgages that permit higher debt-to-income ratio requirements. Freddie Mac states that purchasing a home that is green-building certified will not only help decrease utility bills but will also increase the house’s market value.

If you are not planning on moving anytime soon, there is a type of energy (green) mortgage that is specifically for energy improvements to existing homes. Homeowners are able to finance through this mortgage to help increase their home’s energy efficiency.

Green mortgages have many advantages such as greater purchasing power, affordable energy-efficient upgrades and an increase in home values. If you are looking to purchase a home or update your current home to make it more energy efficient a green mortgage is right for you.

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The U.S. labor market saw 1.4 million jobs added in August. The unemployment rate dipped to 8.4% which shows a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s The Employment Situation for August shows total nonfarm payroll employment jumped by 1.4 million. This increase comes after a 4.8 million increase in June and a 1.7 million increase in July.

The summary indicates that in the past four months, the country has seen 10.6 million new jobs created. This is good news after 22.1 million jobs in March and April were lost due to the pandemic.

Government employment rose in August which added up to 25% of the gain in total payroll employment recorded for the month. The 344,000 new jobs were due mainly to the hiring of temporary positions for the 2020 census.

Retail trade, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and health services and temporary health services all saw an increase in jobs in the six figures. Health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, goods-producing, financial activities, manufacturing, nondurable goods, construction, information, wholesale trade, durable goods and utilities fell under the six-figure mark while mining and logging lost jobs.

August also saw an 8.4% decline in the unemployment rate which dropped 1.8 percentage points. Those that were unemployed declined by 2.8 million and those looking for a job or already with a job (labor force participation rate) rose to 61.7%.

As far as the housing industry goes, residential construction employment went up 27,700 to 2.9 million in August. The breakdown shows 820,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors.

The unemployment rate for construction workers also dropped 9.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. This shows a drop in the unemployment rate for construction workers for the past four months.

Along with the data, the Household Survey indicated 24.3% of employed teleworked or worked from home due to COVID-19. The Household Survey report comes from questions added to the Current Population Survey (CPS) since May 2020.

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If you are a homeowner and are thinking about selling your home, now is the time. Homeowner equity is increasing because the average time a homeowner stays in their home is longer than in the past. According to the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the median tenure for sellers was 10 years in 2019. After the recession in 2008, the median tenure in a home started to increase yearly. Now is the time to change the trend and sell with buyer demand high and inventory low.

Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to the first quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity,” explains CoreLogic.

To sum it up, the longer a homeowner stays in their home, the home price rises and more equity is gained. This is a form of forced savings that can go towards the purchase of a new home. This increased equity will increase the homeowner’s profit on the sale of their home.

According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, the second quarter of 2020 saw a gain of $75,971 on a typical sale of a home. This was a huge difference from just the year before in the second quarter which saw $65,250 in a typical sale.

If you are considering selling your home, now is the time to make that move. It is important to determine how much equity you have in your home if you decide to sell. A local Realtor can help you determine your equity, selling your home and purchasing a new home.

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There are many steps to follow when purchasing a new home. One you should never skip is your final walkthrough. If you do skip this step, you might unwittingly take on large financial burdens that you had not planned for.

“It allows the buyer and their agent to check the property for any new signs of damage, inspect appliances and systems, and ensure that the home is reasonably clean and in good condition,” says Baruch Silvermann, CEO and founder of The Smart Investor, a free online academy for investors, and a real estate investor himself.

It is a good idea to always take your Realtor to the walkthrough. If there is a problem your agent can make a huge impact when addressing the problem. Take your phone to take pictures, videos and notes. Here are some additional tips you should follow during your final walkthrough.

Check the electrical system. If one switch or outlet does not work, that could be a sign of a bigger problem with the wiring. Go through your home and check the security system, doorbell and garage door as well as the outlets and light switches.

Run the AC/Heating. This should be one of the first things to check in the home. The HVAC is a very important unit and one of the most vital systems in the home.

“The big problem with heating systems is that part of the unit could be outside – the compressor, coil, electrical components, and fan – making it difficult to find the fault,” says Silvermann. “Other common problems can be related to lack of gas, corrosion, or a faulty compressor.”

Look for wet spots. Leaks can cause things such as mold and rotten wood. The repercussions can be termites and even worse foundation issues which can be expensive repairs.

“Visually look around for wet areas on the ceiling or discoloration from leaks by windows,” says Jeff Lichtenstein, owner of Echo Fine Properties in Florida.

Run anything mechanical. Go through and flush all the toilets, run the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and all the fans (including ceiling fans and exhaust fans). It would be a disappointment to move into your home and then find out that the dishwasher is not working after you have closed.

Inspect the bathrooms. According to Remodeling Magazine, bathroom remodels retain their value at resale. It is important to check the toilets to make sure they are not running, and turn on all the faucets to make sure they work correctly.

“Check that bathrooms are free of water damage, standing water, and mold by the shower, sink, and base of the toilet,” says Silvermann, who says mold can develop within days, so it’s worth taking a close look after the inspection.

Take a look around outside. Make sure all the exterior doors and windows are properly sealed.

“Any small leak can cause the heating and air conditioning system to operate at higher power and raise the electricity bill,” says Silvermann. “And check wood and concrete around the exterior of the home for cracks and water damage.”

Following these six tips can help with the walkthrough process. Make sure to take give a copy of your inspection to the seller so the items will be corrected before closing.

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What most homebuyers today are looking for in a home will be completely different than what a homebuyer pre-pandemic saught in a new house.

“The pandemic has brought about a seismic shift in people’s perspective on housing,” said Jordan Ayan, an agent who leads the North Scottsdale Luxury Real Estate Team at the Lifestyle Collection, under Keller Williams Realty in Arizona. “They are thinking more about where they want to be and what kind of environment they want to be in.”

People want to live in a less congested area now. Many homeowners work from home more because of the times so traffic is not a problem anymore. Homebuyers are looking for a more laid-back lifestyle, where they can both work and decompress.

Homebuyers will be looking for very efficient spaces such as tucked away home offices. Home offices have become very popular since the pandemic.

“The office was somewhat of a flex space, previously,” said Laura Powers of the Laura Powers Property Group, part of Compass in Houston. “Maybe it was also a guest bedroom or more of a library. Function has become much more critical.”

Homebuyers want a separate living space from their home office. When working from home, you need a quiet space with privacy. Ideally, the home office would have built-in shelving, space to move around, and good natural lighting.

Homes have become the live, work and play of 2020. Homeowners are taking formal living rooms and updating them to a comfortable place to relax. Many are “tech-free zones” where homeowners can get away from screen time.

Many Realtors have found that homebuyers are seeking larger garages, extended foyers and mudrooms. They are also interested in LEED-certified homes that are environmentally friendly and built to the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Outdoor covered areas such as patios, porches, decks, and outdoor kitchens are another must. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has been stuck at home. A nice area to enjoy the outdoors is a must during these times. In Florida, Realtors have reported that access to the water has become more popular along with docks, pools, expansive decks, covered patios, fire pits and outdoor kitchens.

In urban areas, homeowners use public parks and greenspace for their outdoor living, however, with the pandemic many of these spaces are restricted. Homebuyers are now seeking an outdoor space included in their urban home.

“Any other time, we would talk about parks and the neighborhood. But now, they might not even be able to use it,” said Patrick Ryan, owner and managing broker at Genuine Real Estate in Chicago. “So outdoor space at home has become huge.”

Homebuyers in the suburbs are seeking homes on a golf course with views of the greens and larger lots. Many even want extra acreage where they can have distance between their neighbors. Others have emphasized a guest house or in-law suite for multi-generational living.

“They want space. They don’t want to be cooped up,” Ryan said. “But they also want community and to be able to connect with their neighbors.”

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