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The COVID-19 pandemic has made 2020 a challenging year in regards to real estate. Agents, buyers, and sellers have all had to be flexible this year to various social distancing guidelines. In a year that has brought much uncertainty, we can still anticipate some remaining trends as we continue through the pandemic and look forward to the upcoming season.

Continued reliance on virtual home tours 

The health and safety of buyers and sellers remains the top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The real estate industry as a whole has successfully adapted to various social distancing measures this year. Many real estate agents and buyers have opted for virtual home tours as an alternative to in-person showings. Additionally, many buyers now prefer touring homes virtually out of convenience. Buyers are able to rule out listings from their home search without needing to set foot inside. In what has been an extremely competitive market, buyers have been able to rely on virtual tours to aid them in their home search. Virtual tours may even be here to stay after the pandemic subsides.

Low mortgage interest rates

Many people are still unaware that mortgage interest rates have remained at historic lows for the last several months. One of the greatest benefits of searching for your next home this winter is that the rates should remain fairly low for at least the next few months. According to Freddie Mac, as of November 25, 2020, the US weekly average on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 2.72% and a 15-year fixed rate mortgage is at 2.28%. This makes this winter an especially ideal time to buy.

Changing buyer wish lists

Because many buyers can afford more due to lower interest rates, they have been able to alter their wish lists more this year. Not only can many people afford larger homes, but they are also looking for more rooms to accommodate their work-from-home needs.

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Due to various social distancing measures, sellers and agents are turning to video as an alternative method for showing homes this year. Although video tours already had a strong presence in the real estate industry, they have become increasingly popular in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, here are a few tips for hosting successful home video tours.

Monitor the length of the video

The vast majority of homebuyers will not want to sit through a long video tour with an agent speaking about every single feature of the home. Generally speaking, it is best to focus on the most important features of a home that will appeal to the greatest number of buyers, such as storage space, new appliances, and granite countertops. Buyers with short attention spans may lose interest if your video tour is over five minutes in length. With this, it's best to keep home video tours to just a few minutes.

Plan your tour prior to filming.

Be sure that you begin every video tour with a calculated plan for showcasing the home. Additionally, it is important that you know your way around the home, as well as which features of the home you want to highlight, prior to starting the video. Whether you choose to start at the front door, driveway, or a specific room, it is important to have a plan for progressing through the property in a way that makes it easy for the viewer to follow along.

Ensure that you have sufficient lighting.

One of the best steps you can take before filming a video tour is to walk around the home and ensure there is ample lighting in each room. In most cases, you want to rely on natural daylight whenever possible, so be sure to open all curtains and  window treatments. Poor lighting can ruin your video tours by making the home seem dark, dreary, and generally uninviting.

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In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the real estate industry. Real estate agents are continuing to adjust their day-to-day practices as a way of accommodating buyers and sellers with social distancing measures in place. At the same time, buyers are adapting to newly implemented safety standards and real estate trends, which is also leading them to alter their wish lists this year.

Multiple individuals in a family are now working from home. 

Because many Americans have transitioned to working remotely, many have decided that they would prefer their home to feature rooms that are structurally separated from one another. This trend only seems to be growing in 2020. With multiple family members now working at home together, it can be challenging to find a quiet space during the day. Below are some additional commonly asked questions:

  • "How can I attend my virtual meeting in this room?"
  • "How can my child focus on their homework in this room?"
  • "How can my family members and I get our work done in a home that features an open-concept?"

Many schools are conducting remote classes until 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are hosting remote classes through the end of the year. As such, parents are working to accommodate the needs of their children from within their homes. 

Homebuyers may buy with the pandemic in mind.

Homebuyers today are asking the same questions when they are touring homes this year. Because there is much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, people want their homes to be functional for work-from-home purposes. While home buying trends seem to change yearly, the growing disinterest in open-concept type homes may be one to continue for years to come as more companies are offering work-from-home options.

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Are you currently searching for your next home? Have you considered the foreclosures in your desired location? Besides the opportunity to land an excellent deal, there are various other benefits to buying a foreclosure. Your dream home may be a foreclosure that is currently sitting on the market as you are reading this blog. Read on and discover three important factors to consider when buying a foreclosure.

Estimate any future repair costs 

A common mistake that people make when purchasing a foreclosure property is failing to estimate future repair costs. With any home purchase, you want to ensure that you aren't investing in a property that will present significant repair expenses in the long run. Since many foreclosure homes are vacant for extended periods of time, condition issues and a need for minor repairs is not uncommon. With this, it is important to understand that you will need to budget for any major repairs if you plan on making an offer on a foreclosure.

Understand the market.

What is the price range of similar homes in the area? This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself during a home search. In most cases, you should be able to roughly determine an average price based on factors like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage of the property

Invest in a thorough inspection of the property.

To ensure that you fully understand the condition of a home, it is equally important to invest in a home inspection. This is especially important for foreclosures because many of them have been vacant and neglected for long durations. Be sure to do your due diligence and hire a reputable home inspector who will identify potential problems with the property. Significant issues, such as damage to the foundation, could influence your decision of whether or not you decide to place an offer on the home. It is also important to realize that the seller of a foreclosure is under no obligation to disclose potential issues with a property. With this in mind, it is critical to learn more about the true condition of a home by utilizing the expertise of a licensed contractor. 

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In what has been an unprecedented state of the industry, real estate agents are adopting digital platforms to conduct business virtually. While there is a learning curve, agents who have not already done so should embrace various digital platforms to improve their day-to-day operations. Consider the following reasons why virtual communications are here to stay in the real estate industry.

Buyers, sellers, and agents are adjusting to the change.

For many years, meeting face-to-face was the predominant way of conducting business in real estate. However, this has not been the case in 2020. Even the most experienced agents today are realizing that newer video communications tools can be successfully paired with traditional real estate practices to communicate with clients. Platforms like Zoom and Skype have been well-received overall from buyers, sellers, and agents. They are easy to use for people regardless of skill level.

Online platforms promote efficiency.

People are always looking for efficient and cost-effective alternatives or solutions. This year, virtual communications platforms have been a solution for real estate agents needing to communicate with clients in a time of social distancing. Even after the pandemic comes to an end, virtual communication will be seen as an effective alternative to in-person meetings.

Virtual communications enable connection from anywhere. 

While nothing can replace the experience of meeting in person, virtual communication platforms enable buyers, sellers, and agents to connect from anywhere at any time. Additionally, online communications allow agents to increase their availability for client support. With this added flexibility incorporated into the process, agents can remain open to additional opportunities.

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The ongoing pandemic has impacted almost every industry in 2020. The real estate sector is one of the best examples of this new reality. Although modern technology was already changing the way buyers research and purchase homes before this year, COVID-19 has further strengthened the need for tech advancements, altering the industry as a whole. Consider the following tips on how real estate professionals can successfully adapt to technological changes moving forward.

Understand industry tools and trends.

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve is to pay close attention to what other professionals are doing in the real estate industry. After doing some research, you may realize that the local competition is now using a superior way for obtaining leads, interacting with clients, or automating stages of the home buying process.

Only utilize technology that fulfills your specific needs.

Do you have a niche when it comes to real estate? Are you a listing agent? If so, you want to invest in tools that are made for home listings before anything else. If you are an agent who primarily serves buyers, you may consider new digital tools that help buyers research homes.

Always calculate your return on investment.

If you are struggling to rationalize the cost of a new tech tool, understand that return on investment is a more important number to you. After crunching some numbers, you may find that a few new innovations may increase your overall income. It is easy to get caught up in the expenses associated with tech tools. However, it is necessary to have a long-term outlook when considering new technologies.

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