Real Estate Technology
Article | July 25, 2022
More than just reducing carbon emissions from building operations will be required to decarbonize cities.
As communities commit to ambitious net zero objectives, the most forward-thinking are increasingly thinking about how to better plan building lifecycles, from construction through maintenance and, eventually, destruction.
The real estate business generates the most garbage in the world. Construction and demolition trash accounts for around one-third of total garbage in the EU and nearly 40% of solid waste in the US.
If cities want to attain a net zero future, this must alter soon. This is why circular economy philosophy, which strives to minimize waste, is gaining traction. It has far-reaching implications for decarbonizing cities because it considers whole-life emissions - the carbon emitted from the production and transportation of goods all the way to their usage and disposal.
However, this is only a portion of the solution. For example, in North America and Europe, almost 80% of buildings that will be in use in 2050 already exist today and will fall significantly short of future carbon reduction objectives. However, demolishing an old structure in order to construct a new, greener structure is not a viable strategy.
Regulations On the Horizon
Incoming rules in large cities are increasingly on developers' minds. By 2030, Amsterdam will have cut its usage of new raw materials in half, on its way to being totally circular by 2050.
Los Angeles aims to be the largest city in the United States to reach zero waste by 2025, with a 90% garbage diversion rate, while Melbourne is likewise on a similar path.
With Design for Reuse Principles, Paris is paving the path for 50% of building projects to send no trash to landfill by 2030. These urge developers to focus on facilities that can support several purposes over time - residences, workplaces, hotels - without requiring large modifications or improvements. By 2030, 30% of its office stock will be required to be flexible.
Real Estate Advice, Asset Management
Article | May 9, 2023
For first-time homebuyers, making the transition from renter to homeowner can be exciting, overwhelming, and scary all at once. Yet as Gary Keller and Jay Papasan write in the second edition of Your First Home, “Those who live the most fulfilling lives base their decisions on facts, not fears.”
Below, we’ve outlined four powerful facts from Your First Home to help move anxious homeowners toward the fulfillment and abundance Keller and Papasan nod to. Delivered with empathy, care, and your expertise – these facts can help ease fears and move clients closer to experiencing all the bounties homeownership brings.
Fear 1: “I can’t afford to buy a home now.”
Fact: Until you do the math, you don’t know what you can or can’t afford.
If you are currently paying rent, generally you can afford to buy. From a financial point of view, in the United States, the tax savings on mortgage interest alone usually make up most of the difference between your rent and mortgage payments – the tax write-offs you get at the end of year will generally help you save a lot of money.
Additionally, depending on your credit score, you can end up affording more than you realize. Note: The credit scores used for mortgage lending tend to take on a much larger picture of your overall credit score.
Finally, although there may be a higher initial cost to buying a house, if you’re planning on staying in one place for a few years, the equity you build can end up being a financial boon.
Fear 2: “I should wait until the real estate market gets better.”
Fact: There is never a wrong time to buy the right home.
Whether “right” means the right price or the right property for you, waiting for the perfect market timing seldom works to your advantage. If you don’t believe us, look back to the Great Recession when the bubble around the housing market burst, GDP declined 4.5% and unemployment rose to around 9.5%. Everyone still feels the impact of this incredible financial event. But, like those who endured the Great Depression, the people who lived through the Great Recession made it through, and benefited from an era of financial growth. In fact immediately following the Great Recession, the United States entered the longest period of rising prices and general prosperity since World War II. The fact of the matter is, even the biggest economic downturns are, well, normal. Even when there were some events that threatened to dampen the economy, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market still continued to thrive.
In the end, there are two ways to make money in real estate: timing and time. That is you happen upon the right moment to purchase your home before the price appreciates, or you hold it for a long enough time so that appreciation makes your purchase investment right. If you miss the first, you can most certainly count on the second.
Fear 3: “I don’t have the money for a down payment.”
Fact: There are a variety of down-payment options available to you.
While many people believe that making a home purchase requires a substantial down payment, as as much as 20%,, this is seldom true. Options are always available to you that require much less than this number, as low as 5%, some even less. Moreover, most states have down-payment assistance programs that can help you afford to buy.
House-hacking can also be a great way to make homeownership a more affordable option. House-hacking is when you purchase a piece of real estate and lease out one of the bedrooms or units. This rental income can then be applied toward your mortgage. Or, you can participate in home rental programs like Vrbo or Airbnb. While it may not be ideal all of the time, you could always make your month’s mortgage payment by renting your place while you’re on vacation.
Fear 4: “I can’t buy a home because my credit score isn’t good.”
Fact: A less-than-perfect credit score won’t necessarily prevent you from buying a home.
Although it’s valuable to have a good credit score, a poor one shouldn’t necessarily prevent you from talking to lenders to explore your options. You can expect that a good loan officer (or mortgage specialist) will be able to help you resolve your credit challenges, often simply by showing you how to move or consolidate your debts, or by referring you to a credit counselor who will put you on a plan.
If you’re facing the challenge of having no credit history because you are new to the workforce or have not made regular purchases on credit, there are still possible solutions that you may want to explore. One is to secure financing with the help of a cosigner, such as parents or a close relative, who is willing to stand by your ability to make the payments. Another can be finding a lender who is willing to use alternative forms of history such as student loans, rent, and utilities.
Looking For More Homeownership Resources?
Head over to the Your First Home webpage for freebies, including information on how to build out your real estate dream team and for your clients, a resource on how to determine their homeownership criteria.
Real Estate Technology
Article | July 12, 2022
As the global social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic emerge, indoor air quality, for example, has emerged as a top priority for keeping building occupants safe and healthy. Workplaces and remote work arrangements are being reimagined by business owners, while retailers and restaurant operators continue to convert their physical spaces for social distancing or, in some cases, for an entirely new use.
In this context, the expectations of asset owners from office, retail, hotel, and residential users have grown exponentially, and there is no shortage of new challenges and opportunities for commercial landlords.
Sustainable environments with ergonomic furnishings, biophilic elements, natural daylight, and living green walls are meeting demands for lower operating costs, increased performance, and improved occupant well-being, as are healthy buildings with natural ventilation, enhanced thermal comfort, improved air quality, and green purchasing policies. One of many innovative examples is a manufacturer of smart windows that tint automatically based on outdoor and indoor conditions, improving people's health and wellness while lowering energy consumption.
The digital twin — essentially a virtual copy of a building — is another example of how technology is being used to transform the real estate industry. By leveraging data analysis, building simulation, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, digital twins have the potential to help building owners and operators bridge the physical and virtual worlds. The digital twin's resulting assessment, calibration, modelling, and scenario planning capabilities enable more efficient operations, reduced maintenance, increased energy savings, and real-time decision-making support for the physical building. The health of a building will be considered an amenity by its occupants as landlords take steps to improve air quality inside their buildings through smart building.
Overall, healthy buildings improve occupant satisfaction, leasing rates, and building value. Buildings with better air quality and more natural light have lower absenteeism and, as a result, lower turnover and higher worker productivity, resulting in financial savings and increased value for the business. The same advantages apply to retail and residential buildings.
Landlords and commercial tenants are discovering that recognized standards, such as WELL and Fitwel, are enabling an effective framework and leading practices in the ownership, occupancy, and management of their physical environments as they develop, implement, and manage healthy building efforts.
A sustainable and healthy building prioritizes resource efficiency (energy, water, and materials) while enhancing positive building impacts on human health and the environment. Building owners and occupiers who are proactive in furthering these efforts are not only building resilience now, but also preparing for what comes next and beyond.
Home and Design
Article | August 26, 2021
Considering a remodeling project? Before getting started, establish a list of return on investment (ROI) goals, because not all home improvements are created equal. Some add value to the home that can be recouped when selling, while others may be nice to have but are unlikely to raise the home's asking price. Anyone who wants to focus on home improvements that will pay for themselves when selling the home should know which projects to avoid. Read on to learn about three home improvement projects with a strong return on investment.
For homeowners looking for a better price when they sell, it's hard to go wrong with landscaping. This is one of the few home improvements that typically yields a positive return when selling the home. On average, homeowners can recoup 150% of what they spend updating a home's landscaping.
Since curb appeal is a huge factor in selling a home, choose improvements that can be seen from the road for the best return. Resodding or reseeding a lawn is a project that typically provides good returns. In an arid climate like Nevada, consider landscaping with native plants, xeriscaping, and other eco-friendly desert landscaping options to reduce water usage and maintenance requirements.
Adding new trees to the landscaping can pay off now and at the time of sale. Trees provide shade and natural cooling, which can take a chunk out of power bills. When selling, trees add between $1,000 and $10,000 to the selling price of a home.
Creating a Dazzling Entryway
Continue the strong first impression by creating a welcoming space in the entryway of the home. Upgrading to manufactured stone veneer has a return on investment of around 96%. The improvement is relatively simple but makes the front door and the surrounding area more dramatic.
Even small improvements can have a big impact. Upgrade to a metal door or one with small windows that let in additional light. Find upgraded house numbers that are visually appealing and easy to see. This often costs less than $100 but can improve the look and feel of the entry area and practically pay for itself when it's time to sell.
Minor Kitchen Remodeling
The kitchen is the heart of the home. This is the room that is one of the top choices for home improvement projects. However, contrary to what one might expect, huge kitchen overhauls don't always yield a high ROI. In fact, less costly improvements typically have a better payoff. Small projects that can dramatically improve a kitchen include:
Refacing the cabinets and adding updated hardware
Upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances
Choosing more energy-efficient appliances is an upgrade that can start repaying itself right away. Other improvements are likely to increase the price of the home when it sells. However, on average, kitchen remodeling projects only bring in 77% of their cost when it's time to sell. Because of this, homeowners should focus on upgrades that improve their quality of life and what they are likely to get back for their investment.
Some common mistakes can reduce what a homeowner will get back from a kitchen remodeling project. Investing large amounts of money on items that will need to be replaced again in a few years is unlikely to provide a positive return. Choosing items that are too high-end can cause them to clash with the look and feel of the rest of the home, which could turn buyers off.
Improve Daily Life and ROI With These Home Improvement Projects
Most home improvement projects do not pay for themselves in full when selling the home. Rather, they are changes that make the home worth more to the owner now, that have the bonus of a price increase when you sell the home. The right home improvement project can make any house feel like a new construction home.
Homeowners should look to areas that will give them the most mileage when picking updates for their homes. For instance, old kitchen cabinets can make the room feel dull and uninviting. Refacing with a bright new finish can make the kitchen feel like a brand-new room. Adding low-maintenance shrubs to the front yard adds visual interest that can be enjoyed right away. Projects that require special permits could raise questions during a home inspection and potentially reduce the home's value—but properly permitted additions may let homeowners list a home with an extra bedroom or bathroom.
Choose the updates that will provide the most meaningful benefits, both now and at the time of sale. By making the home inviting and attractive, sellers are more likely to be able to name their dream price.