Real Estate Technology, Asset Management
Article | May 10, 2023
There’s no escaping the importance of sustainability in any investment sector. Globally, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing is worth $30 trillion in assets under management each year, around a quarter of all professionally-managed assets. It is more relevant than ever as the ‘high impact, low probability’ shock imposed by Covid-19 has strengthened the case for prioritising people and planet alongside profits, and illustrated the power of collective action to tackle global problems.
Many investors are unaware how significant this trend will be. If you are an investor, you need to consider why sustainability will be important, what sustainable property investing actually means, and what the major issues and opportunities are, as these will affect your risks and returns.
Why is sustainability so important for investors?
The UK’s legally-binding commitment to achieve net carbon zero by 2050 means that sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’. Our legal obligation is showing up in the form of new rules, regulations and best practices affecting all sectors that contribute to emissions.
40 per cent of UK emissions come from households, which makes the chance of more regulations and policies around the environmental performance of property more likely than not. These regulations will not only affect your ability to operate in a way that is compliant, but fundamentally change the value, performance and risk associated with your investments.
Real Estate Technology
Article | July 12, 2022
According to a recent Bankrate survey of prospective buyers, the down payment was unanimously considered the biggest hurdle to buying a home. Saving for a down payment has hampered the home-buying journey for approximately 36% of those polled, in addition to the economic slowdown.
The good news is that there are many down payment assistance programs that empower home buyers and mitigate the financial burdens they face on their way to becoming a home owner. Many home buyers are not aware of these programs. Those who do know, have several misconceptions. The key is to understand the options and how down payment assistance programs operate.
Who Qualifies for a Down Payment Assistance Program?
One of the misconceptions that many have is that down payment assistance is only offered to first-time home buyers. Although, modern first-time buyers have multiple options at their disposal, many programs also cater to repeat buyers. In fact, according to the Homeownership Program Index, about 38% of down payment assistance programs in the Q1 of 2022 weren’t availed by first-time home buyers. This implies that repeat buyers can access as many as one third of homebuyer assistance programs even if they have bought a home before.
In addition, repeat buyers can take advantage of first-time homebuyer assistance programs depending on the definition set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which states that an individual can qualify as a first time home buyer if they:
haven’t owned a primary residence in three years
are a single parent who has owned a home only with a former spouse
Location and Profession-based Eligibility for Down Payment Assistance Programs
Over and above the multiple options available to first-time and repeat home buyers, individuals in a specific location or profession could also be eligible for down payment assistance. The National Realtors Association says that a number of local and non-profits provide down payment grants and loans that are aimed at area borrowers or those with a specific borrower requirement.
Plus, individuals who work as teachers, doctors, nurses, and veterans can avail of the assistance programs offered by local, state, and federal lenders based on their profession.
Buying a home doesn’t have to be a financial burden. There are many down payment assistance solutions available today to empower prospective buyers fulfill their dream of becoming a home owner. Connecting with a local real estate, and using buyer proptech could help to find trusted lenders and a range of assistance programs.
Real Estate Investment, Asset Management
Article | May 25, 2023
Florida’s real estate market is on the up amidst a COVID-driven boom. But, as homebuyers flock to the Sunshine State, they are bringing with them a checklist that consists of more than just sun, shores and southern fun.
In recent months, there has been an average of 1,000 people moving to Florida each day, resulting in more than a 50% increase in home sales in some parts of the state.
Alistair Brown, CEO of Alistair Brown International Real Estate (ABIRE), an international real estate sales and marketing company that has particular expertise in the Florida market, explains the cause of the boom.
“The pandemic has shifted behaviors and ways of life in more ways than one and, as a result, our living arrangements have had to adapt.
“For example, the rise in remote working, restrictions on leisure activities and social distancing guidelines have all caused a spike in demand for homes that are outside of crowded cities, have more space and COVID-safe amenities on offer. Many of Florida’s high-end houses provide just that.”
The migration has been particularly popular among families who, pre-COVID, resided in densely populated cites. But, with virus risks significantly higher in these areas and a threat of future outbreaks still looming, a rural escape seems to make perfect sense.
But, while some favor a permanent move to the state, a vacation home is an attractive investment opportunity for others – whether that is for domestic getaways, as travel restrictions remain in place, or a sense of home comfort, as you enjoy an extended stay with self-isolation periods.
However, no matter what the reason may be, the root motivating factor is an interesting one, and one that Alistair believes has inspired a new list of requirements among home buyers.
“The pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate the way they were living. We all have visions and desires for how we want our lives to play out and at no point have these been more magnified than during the virus outbreak.
“While the threat to our health and livelihoods has been worrying, the thought of a life with unfulfilled aspirations, confinement and heightened risk has become another significant concern.
“Many have accepted that the virus is not going away any time soon and the chances of returning to what we knew as normalcy are slim. So, rather than living a life of regret, it is time to adapt and fulfil those wishes while we still can, as well as inspire new ones in the wake of our current reality.”
But what exactly do these new desires entail? Well, Alistair explains they have a lot to do with the architectural design of homes.
“For those who experienced lockdown restrictions in confined living spaces, particularly in populated cities, the need for a home with room will be stronger than ever.
“Home buyers will be looking at the size and space available in specific areas of the house. For example, kitchens will need to have ample room to cater for an increase in cooking at home, as well as a dining area that is fit for the whole family.
“Outside space will also become a priority. Whether that is a private backyard, decking area or a communal garden, families will be looking for homes with outdoor living spaces in which they can enjoy the Sunshine State to its fullest, no matter what COVID-restrictions are in force.”
“One of the biggest enabling factors of the migration trend is the rise in working from home. While this was a requirement during the peak of the pandemic, many companies and employees will choose to make the switch permanent.
“Consequently, home buyers will be seeking properties with purpose-built home office spaces. These will also need to be spacious rooms that can accommodate everything from desks, filing cabinets and high-speed connectivity.
“Home offices need to be areas that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Not only does this provide privacy and minimize distractions when working, it also allows people to properly switch off after a long day.
“Balancing both home and work life can become incredibly difficult, especially when both are contained by the same four walls, so homes that allow for the separation of the two will be favored much more.”
“An incidental effect of the pandemic has been the reduced environmental impact of our restricted movement and new, minimalist lifestyles. Having recognized this, many will be seeking ways to continue going about their lives with greater awareness of their actions.
“At home, this will include things, such as efficient energy usage or growing their own food. Of course, this will require homes to have modern heating, plumbing and electricity systems in place, as well as gardens in which fruit and vegetables can be grown.”
“While it would be wrong to assume people were living in unclean conditions prior to the pandemic, the threat of the virus’ long-lasting existence on surfaces has only heightened people’s hygiene concerns.
“Therefore, homes that can be easily cleaned, or better, self-cleaned, will be more sought after than those in which risk prevails. Take for example, voice activated technology that can turn lights on and off or stop-start electrical appliances, without the need for manual intervention. And, while air conditioning units are a common feature of Floridian properties, they can be updated with smart technology solutions, such as those provided by RespirTech.
“As well as cooling the home, the new system will be constantly cleaning the air and surfaces using photocatalytic technology, which emits small parts of hydrogen peroxide. Such equipment will be increasingly at the forefront of consumer’s minds, as they seek to minimise physical interaction with products and systems.”
“With risks and restrictions remaining in place at many entertainment venues, leisure facilities at home are becoming a must. This may include bar areas, private swimming pools and home gyms to name but a few.
“While community amenities are still important in fulfilling our innate need for social contact, buyers are seeking properties which have more on offer at home than out.
“As well as protecting them against any of the risks associated with shared facilities, more home entertainment options will ensure any quarantine periods or future lockdowns cause little disruption to people’s daily routines.
“Ultimately, post-COVID living will focus more on maximizing comfort while minimizing the potential impact of any future chaos. And, like most things in life, that starts at home.”
Notes to editors
About Alistair Brown International Real Estate
Alistair Brown International Real Estate (ABIRE) is a boutique real estate consultancy and creative agency that brings together the most distinguished properties from around the globe. Offering a diverse portfolio focused exclusively on the world’s most desirable locations, its specialist team is committed to providing nothing but the very best in high-end property.
Under the direction of founder Alistair Brown – who has more than thirty years’ worth of experience in the sector – the firm has attracted some of the finest real estate professionals in the business today.
Laying a primary focus on Florida and the Caribbean, ABIRE has acquired an in-depth knowledge of the real estate market in each of these areas. Successfully navigating the complexities of premium real estate through creative thinking, worldwide networking and a distinct marketing approach, ABIRE’s longevity in the industry is a direct result of its ability to exceed the expectations of its clientele.
Real Estate Advice
Article | June 7, 2022
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.