Disable Mobile View

Moving Out of the City? Pros & Cons of Rural Homes

As a trend we talked about in this blog, people with work-from-home situations are considering moving away from larger metropolises. Beyond moving away from the hustle and bustle of cities, there are other positives to moving further away to smaller communities. However, if you’ve lived in urban areas most of your life, there are important things to consider and factor into your decision. Today we’re going to talk about a few pros and cons to moving to a rural area.

Pro: Property Prices

If you are comparing the cost of city rent or suburban living, moving to a rural area is often significantly less expensive. This means that not only can you find a similar housing situation with less, but you can afford more land or living square footage in rural areas. If you are happy with the amount of space that you currently have, you can look forward to lower costs on your monthly payments. People who are working-from-home and looking for houses with extra bedrooms or a dedicated office spaces will be able to more easily find properties within a similar-to-lower price range than in the city. In addition, families and people who want more space to enjoy will love the idea of finding larger properties!

Con: Utility & Maintenance Costs

Keep in mind that along with mortgage payments that you’ll want to consider average utilities and taxes as part of your monthly expenses. Larger properties may require higher utility usage, and rural areas may not have the same conveniences of cities such as public water & sewer. There may be a limited amount of providers for services like cable and internet as well which may make the pricing less affordable compared to urban service providers. More land and living space means higher maintenance costs such as lawn mowing, repairs, cleaning, snowblowing, and more. Usually the savings from property prices and/or monthly mortgage amounts outweigh the costs of utilities and maintenance, but it is important to keep these expenses in mind.

Pro: Calmer Locations

Compared to apartment complexes and suburban neighborhoods, rural areas are usually quieter and peaceful. There is less traffic and neighbors tend to have more land in between them. This provides more privacy and usually translates into less noise and lower crime in these rural areas. In addition, if you love outdoors, rural areas tend to be more connected with nature and you can enjoy night skies with much less light pollution.

Con: Remoteness

Extroverts are more likely to feel isolated in these more remote locations with neighbors spread out. Active city dwellers might feel hampered by the limited amount of choices they have for shopping, restaurant, and entertainment options that can usually be found in urban areas. While people who love privacy will find the remoteness to be a positive, rural living can be a huge adjustment for people who are not used to it.

Pro: Local Communities

The communities in rural areas tend to be smaller and more tight-knit. Many people love these closer friendships, and each community carries a unique feel. These communities may be a little more difficult to join into as a newcomer, but they build strong relationships where community members can rely on each other. This is a reason that people often “move back home” to an area they are familiar with and are already integrated into.

Con: Culture Shock

Without experience living in a rural area, urban dwellers may feel a culture shock when moving out of the city. However, with some diligent research preparation and research, people looking to buy in rural areas can get a better idea of the culture they are planning to move into. Looking up local news, studying google maps, and researching local stats can help you get a better understanding of moving into any kind of new area. Using websites like Niche and Area Vibes can also provide information about average pricing, stats, and local reviews from people who have lived or are living in the area.

With work-from-home jobs and remote-learning options on the rise, many individuals and families are able to take out the factor of commute time from their search options. With the prospect of finding less expensive properties and moving away from the busy city, home buyers have more flexibility to move into new areas.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Buying and Selling Your Home at the Same Time

If you are thinking about selling your home or buying a new home, trying to sync up timelines between both your current and future home can be daunting. Plus, stumbling blocks can arise that disrupt the timelines of either property. With a little planning, you can be prepared to deal with any possible scenarios and ideally close and purchase on the same day.

Before Market

As you start to plan to put your home on the market, make sure it is ready! Having your home cleaned and ready for staging photos will help draw in potential buyers in. Make sure to have any home projects done and finished before putting on the market. In addition, it may be a good idea to do a pre-inspection to catch any issues that might need to be resolved. This will save you time in negotiations after inspections and/or potential repairs that will delay your timeline.

Placing An Offer

While your home is on the market, you should begin to also do your own house shopping if you are planning to move within the same state. Once you have an offer on your home, if there is a house that you like now is the time to put an offer on it! If you are worried that your preferred property might go under contract before your home does, there are contingencies that can be put in place that allows the seller to accept your offer on the condition that your home goes under contract as well. These ways will help you sync up your timelines so that both properties can close around or on the same day.

While Under Contract

One of the most stressful times for a home buyer/seller is the under-contract process. One or more parties can drop out of the deal and throw your timeline off. As a seller, doing pre-inspections as we mentioned before can save you headaches down the line in re-negotiations or buyers backing out. If a buyer runs into an issue after the inspection, instead of negotiating the seller to do the repairs first (which can take time), it might make sense to negotiate a credit back to have the repairs done after the sale. Once you know of an issue, try to get a number of estimates for the repairs as soon as possible to keep your timeline on track.

Title companies within the same state should be able to work together to avoid delays in funds clearing. However this can add stress if something comes up at the last minute for one or more of the parties involved in each transaction. Some buyers are able to qualify for buying a new home as a second home, which can be a huge relief in needing to sell/buy in the correct order. However, this also means that you can not us the equity of your current home as a down payment.

Closing Day(s)

Ideally, if the closing day for the properties that you are buying and selling are on the same day, you can sell your current home in the morning and close on your future home in the afternoon. This is a common occurrence, and most homeowners are able to do same day selling and buying without running into any issues. However, something could come up at the last minute that could potentially delay your timeline so you should make some contingencies. Part of your back-up plan should include a place to temporarily sleep such as with family and friends, or local hotels. You should research also places where you could store your boxes & furniture temporarily, although if you are using professional movers they may already offer some storage solutions.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Alternatives to Traditional Open Houses

During the current situation, showings are still being kept limited. Everyone attending private showings are still required to wear masks and gloves, and limit the amount of people at the showing to only the decision makers. Between showings, surfaces such as door knobs and other common places are re-sanitized for both the safety of potential buyers as well as sellers who may occupy the space. Traditional open houses would be difficult during these times, but people in real estate businesses have adapt to create new types of open houses that keep all potential parties safe.

Virtual Open Houses

Virtual open houses are an option that many listings are using to show houses safely. This involves either creating a 3D-rendering, video, or virtual tour program of the home which is being shown. Virtual open houses can add special functions such as measuring tools to calculate room size/furniture placement, 360 degree room visuals, and walk-paths to understand the spatial layout of the home. In addition, virtual open houses can utilize a chat box to answer common questions about the property as well as relay more complicated questions over to the real estate agent to answer.

Live-Stream Open Houses

Utilizing social media and programs such as Zoom, live-stream open houses bring back the human touch by creating a live event of the real estate agent performing a walkthrough of the property through video. The real estate agent can answer questions via live chat with other people watching, or show things that viewers request. This allows people to participate in an open house without leaving the comfort of their home!

Curbside Open Houses

Want to take a drive around the neighborhood? Curbside Open Houses allow you to go out and view a place in person from the comfort of your vehicle. You can drive up to the curb and an agent will come around and answer questions about the property. If you are interested, you can schedule a private showing, provided that you have brought masks and gloves. Then while you are waiting, you can take a drive around the neighborhood to see what they have to offer locally. In a way, this a great way to preview a home before going to a private showing!

As real estate businesses monitor the situation, rules may change in the future to expand to more traditional-style open houses once it is deemed safe. In the mean time, these different opportunities for open houses provide ease of mind for the safety of buyers, sellers, and agents alike. Plus the technology and resources around these alternative open house options can be used to create a more convenient environment for home shopping/advertising.

Posted in Uncategorized

Diversifying your Retirement Savings through Real Estate

Saving for retirement can be stressful, especially considering the current economic situation. Experts recommend diversifying your savings across different types of accounts, but there are other ways to create additional security when you retire through real estate investments. With lower mortgage rates and legislature passed in the CARES Act, now might even be a great time time to start diversifying your retirement plans. Today we are going to examine the ways that real estate investment can help you in retirement.

What does a real estate investment do?

Real estate investments create passive income, which can help stretch out your retirement savings, and even create more security if economic situations change. Some people who create enough passive income streams can rely solely on that for the majority of their monthly income and save their retirement savings for emergencies or other purposes. Being savvy about creating passive income through real estate can help you utilize additional property you may already own.

Types of real estate investments

Most people may think of renting out a traditional single-family residence for creating passive income, but there are multiple types of rentals. You can create more stable, long-term rental passive income through commercial buildings, retail properties, multi-family units, and apartment complexes. You may also be able to utilize smaller properties or pieces of land in prime vacation areas to create passive income through short-term rentals, although keep in mind that this income tends to be higher risk (although high reward), seasonal, and more involved unless you use a property management company.

Creating two or more streams of rental units through passive income helps mitigate missed income from repairs, renovations, and vacant properties between renters. As you can imagine, the more streams, the more stability comes with your passive income. While apartment complexes and multi-family units might offer you the best stability, you can still look at ways of converting larger single family residences into multiple units following local guidelines. You may also want to keep in mind the cost of utilizing a property management company, especially so that you can enjoy the best years.

Current mortgage rates and the CARES Act

Right now, mortgage rates are the lowest they have ever been, which may make buying a multi-family building more reasonable. Especially if you are willing to live in one unit and rent out the rest, this could be an opportunity for first-time homeowners to step into retirement diversification and passive income streams early on.

The CARES act also gives provisions to allow people to withdraw money from their 401(k) or IRA’s before the appointed age with the traditional 10% penalty being waived for the rest of 2020. In addition, you have three years to pay income taxes on your distributions. In addition, you can also take a loan out of these accounts, allowing you to borrow 100% of your account up to $100,000 vs the usual 50% up to $50,000. While normally touching the money available in your 401(k) or IRA is considered a poor financial choice due to the restrictions in place, this temporary loosening could be a potentially smart decision if utilized towards creating a means of passive income.

Where do I get started?

Interested in learning more about diversifying your retirement investments through real estate? Talk to your local Real Estate Agent about your goals and needs. They can help you find the best properties, connect you with property management companies, and aid in calculate best mortgage plans. Your local real estate agents can also help you navigate the new laws in place to figure out what works best for your situation.

Live in the Southern Maine area? You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Future of Contactless Rentals

As we’ve talked about with Work-From-Home business styles might affect the future of home buying, we think that digital age and the current events will affect the future of rentals. From marketing, to tours, to property management, there may be a stronger emphasis on “contactless” rentals where the entire process of finding and attracting tenants will be remote. Managing properties may rely more on third party companies as well as even securing payment. Today we’re going to talk about a few aspects that may change as rentals move towards being contactless between tenants and property owners.

Contactless Marketing

Much like with regular home-buying, property owners can take advantage of video/virtual tours, allowing future tenants to explore the layout and size of the space. Using a phone or desktop, some virtual tours allow for a 360 degree walkthrough and even take measurements of the space to comfortably see if furniture will fit from the comfort of home.

In addition, AI-driven rental apps can help property owners free up valuable time while advertising. Chatbots with AI learning are able to answer common questions and inquires from potential tenants, as well as receiving valuable feedback on their experience. These apps can then keep track of rental logistics to help manage potential interest, advertisement systems, as well as help schedule in-person appointments that coordinate with a property owner’s or property manager’s calendar.

Application Process and Screening

Finding and screening for qualified tenants is always a struggle between contacting references and getting appropriate documentation. With some of the same AI-driven apps that can answer questions for potential tenants, they can help manage the application process by reminding those that have applied to turn in required documents. They can send missing document notifications to potential tenants on your behalf and let you know once all the proper documentation in ready.

These same apps may be used to check references by texting or emailing previous property managers about a potential renters. This once again helps property owners free up valuable time in checking references. In addition, much like what we see on AirBnb and other short-term rental sites, longer-term rental properties may give property owners the ability to see ratings/reviews that other property mangers and left about potential tenants from previous rental experiences in the future.

Property Management and Payments

For existing or new tenants, many of these apps may even be able to help with property issues, scheduling maintenance, and managing tenant communication. Many property owners already use property management companies that help with common issues, but the growing use of these kinds of apps can be appealing for the younger generation as well as those who are practicing physical distancing. Plus it allows property owners who manage their own properties to have their communication centralized to one app managing texting and emails.

In addition, tenant payment can be more centralized using apps to help tenants pay deposits, rent, and other fees associated with the property. Apps can set up automatic payments and send notifications to tenants to either remind them of upcoming payments or notify them of late payments. These notifications can then be set up to let property managers know if payments have been received or not.

For future generations, contactless rentals may become more and more the norm as technology becomes more advanced. Hopefully these new apps help not only protect people during times when physical distancing is important, but also for added convenience of both potential tenants and property owners.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more about real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Moving Between States with Restrictions in Place

With some restrictions lifting and travel opening up, people are beginning to look at moving again, some even out-of-state. However navigating the move can be incredibly challenging, especially as there are still restrictions in place in many states. We’re going to outline a few guidelines today to help navigate moving through states.

Moving Into Maine

The State of Maine has a great FAQ for visitors that can be applied to people moving or planning to move. A basic breakdown of the current restrictions/allowances are:

  • Visitors and Maine residences coming in from most states must either:
  1. Getting a recent negative COVID-19 test. -or-
  2. Maintaining Compliance with a 14-Day self-quarantine upon arrival in Maine.
  • Visitors from New Hampshire and Vermont or Mainers returning from these states are exempt from these requirements.
  • These restrictions may change as potential outbreaks may affect these. Everyone is highly encouraged to get a test before traveling and check for updates whether or not you are required to do so.

With these things in mind, if you are planning to move into Maine (or other states with similar restrictions), you want to keep these things in mind as far as travel goes.

Remote Viewing

With many states adopting similar restrictions to the ones listed above, you will want to consider how this might affect your moving process. If you are planning on moving to state with an extended self-quarantine upon arrival, you might want to consider using remote viewing options when house shopping. You can reach out to a local real estate agent to start curating some homes based on your needs and desires, as they can give you expert advice on the area. An agent can also preview homes for you to help answer any questions pictures and videos can’t.

Quarantine Lodging

You can also look into short-term/medium-term rentals to give you the time to quarantine in the area before shopping for homes. Many short-term rentals and hotels that are normally geared towards tourist season and resort locations are offering special rates and services during these times to accommodate people staying in quarantine. Some are even offering reduced rates for medium-term and long-term limits if you want to give you and your family more time to settle in and find the right home in your new area.

Moving Storage & Other Considerations

If you need to utilize a moving company, check out the tips we offer in this blog , and also take a look at what storage options they have to offer. With quarantines in place, it may take more time to officially move into a new home, so consider the costs of monthly storage rates along with lodging in a new area. Make sure to do some research into having meals and groceries delivered during the quarantine, and make sure you have plenty of safety supplies on hand like hand sanitizers and masks. Transferring of utilities is generally handled without anyone having to come on site, but internet/ tv/ phone may require an installer to come out. Try to schedule this well in advance of your arrival to avoid having someone need to enter your home while you self-quarantine.

Reminder: Be Flexible

As much as planning ahead can help mitigate many issues, it’s important to understand that at any point in your home buying and selling process, someone may fall ill or be inadvertently exposed to COVID-19. This not only includes people in your own family, but your buyers and sellers as well during this process. Timelines can easily be moved out, which is why having all parties signing the new COVID-19 Addendum to any contract can be incredibly helpful to protect all parties and handle it extensions automatically.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more about real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Progressing into Reopening Phase 3

With traffic slowly returning to pre-COVID-19 levels and business reopening, it is clear to see that Mainers are eager to return to normal. However, with cases of COVID-19 still increasing in Maine daily, precaution still needs to be observed as Maine begins to reopen. In real estate, we are still navigating how we plan to return to normal while observing the best precautions for our agents and clients.

Current Status

At this time we are still holding off on open houses. We are starting to allow home-buyer appointments as long as all parties are in agreement and following safety protocols set by both the sellers and agents. Especially when viewing homes that are still occupied, we are recommending mask wearing, sanitation, and limited visits to keep all parties safe. We also are still recommending that people utilize as many remote features as possible when home-buying.

Appraisers and inspectors will still be using remote practices when possible, but may begin performing home visits while respecting everyone’s safety utilizing masks and hand washing. Agents are encouraged to continue utilizing Docusign and other remote methods for signing documents throughout the entire process. Other real estate businesses, such as title and mortgage companies, will still be utilizing remote document signing and separate closing rooms to reduce groups sizes as well to keep all parties safe.

Future Phases

While remote home-buying features and technology are not likely to ever go away, we will continue to wait-and-see how COVID-19 is progressing before we go back to more in-person appointments. As we enter Phase 3 of Maine’s Reopening and gatherings of less than 50 people will be permitted, we may possibly see open houses being allowed with some agencies. However, we still recommend avoiding in-person open houses, and opting instead for virtual open houses or scheduled appointments instead. You can check out all the information about what will be reopened for Phase 3 of “Restarting Maine’s Economy” .

There is no doubt that the way we conduct real estate will be changed forever. Becoming more reliant on remote viewing a document signing has allowed us to improve our practices to the benefit of both our home buyers and sellers. Hopefully our “new normal” will ultimately lead to more convenient, safer means of conducting real estate for both our clients and agents in the future.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reopening Guidelines for Businesses

In the next few months, many businesses in Maine will begin to allow employees to return to their offices, stores, and buildings following the Maine Reopening process. However, with COVID-19 cases still increasing daily, we must keep in mind the safety of our employees. With the help of information through the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), we’ve created some general guidelines to help businesses reopen along with Restarting Maine’s Economy plan.

Organizational Plans

For an owner of a smaller business, you can use the information from the organizations above to create a COVID-19 Response Checklist or Plan that is personalized to your business. While the information we have can be used for general workplaces, keep in mind that there may be certain intricacies of your industry that you will want to keep in mind while you are reopening~ especially if that includes keeping the safety of your clients and visitors in mind.

For larger businesses, consider creating a COVID-19 Response Committee or Task Force with people throughout the various sections of your business. This can include representatives from human resources, facility operations, administrative, and legal departments to help delegate the planning process for reopening, as well as monitoring the progress and protocols once reopened. These representatives can also be tasked with keeping up to date on news and updated methods to inform and implement as the environment around COVID-19 evolves.

Before Employees Return

You’ll want to make sure you have your building/workspace prepared before employees:

  • Identify and procure sanitation supplies as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees as well as any visitors.
  • Place these supplies in locations that are easily accessible and readily available.
  • Post signage and information posters that elaborate on the cleaning procedures as well as personal hygiene protocols from the CDC. Also include signage that helps locate where supplies can be found easily.
  • Restrict access to larger common areas (such as cafeterias, break rooms, meeting rooms, shared work-spaces, gyms, etc.), and/or change the layout of these rooms to encourage social distancing.
  • Use floor decals or stickers to mark out social distance spacing in areas with high traffic, as well as signage that expresses a room’s occupancy limit for safety.
  • Decide on the ideal points of access to your building that can easily be monitored so that all employees and visitors can be accounted for.
  • If possible, update high-touch areas such as light switches and plumbing fixtures to have a hands-free alternative. Also if possible, consider high-efficiency air filters for your HVAC systems.

Maintaining Safety

Once employees are back in the workspace, you’ll want to establish protocols to maintain safety:

  • Make sure employees aware of the ongoing protocols and locations of supplies, updating as needed, and giving any training as necessary.
  • Have a plan in the event of a local outbreak. Keep track of the news in case
  • Encourage the use of remote technology to help reduce exposure and employee contact.
  • Stagger scheduled breaks to minimize the number of employees in break/common rooms.
  • Decide on regular cleaning guidelines that correspond with the CDC’s recommendations, including guidelines before the building is open, throughout the day, and after the building has closed.
  • Establish regular scheduled supply checks to make sure all sanitation items are fully stocked.
  • Make sure any in-person meetings are limited in size.
  • If an instance of an employee contracting COVID-19 happens in the workplace, have a protocol in order to have them sent home immediately, cleaning and disinfecting the office/workspaces, and informing others who have had potential exposure. Remember throughout this to keep the identity of the individual with COVID-19 completely confidential.
  • As any new laws or updated protocols change in the workspace, remember to update or add any signage that addresses these changes, along with reaching out to employees via meeting, email, or other messaging systems.
  • Restrict non-essential travel in and out of the office to reduce exposure.

Employee Value and Protection

Along with safety protocols in relation, keep in mind the needs of your employees navigating through these times.

  • Establish a contingency plan if employees are feeling possible COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, including testing in accordance with medical guidelines.
  • Hold regular, virtual meetings that gain your employees feedback throughout this process. Be open to critique and feedback.
  • Prepare for leaves and absences in accordance to federal, state, and local laws. Follow the 14-days free of COVID-19 symptoms (at least) for any one experiencing symptoms, and
  • Keep in mind that employees that contract COVID-19 in the workplace may file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Review and implement reasonable accommodations for employees with ADA-qualifying disabilities as well as pre-existing mental conditions that might be aggravated by COVID-19.
  • Remind employees of their value, safety, and security, as well as your commitment to their privacy.
  • Do not ask employees if they have any underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19. At the same time, if an employee with higher susceptibility offers that information, provide accommodations and more flexibility for them, while not compelling them to stay at home.
  • Keep track of whether schools or daycare facilities are open for employees with family, providing flexibility for employees with child or elder care responsibilities.
  • Also be aware of the availability of safe public transportation for employees who might need this.

These guidelines are by no means a complete list, and depending on your business, you may need tailor some of these to fit your needs. We hope these can help you keep in mind the protection and well-being of your employees as businesses begin to reopen. And remember to review the sources through WHO, CDC, EEOC, and OSHA for updated guidelines as the situation changes.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Challenging Bias in Housing

In light of current events surrounding racism and being Pride month, we want to discuss the obligations of the real estate businesses in overcoming bias in regards to housing and home-buying. With information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we are going to take a look at the history of discrimination and what realtors are doing to work towards overcoming bias in regards to fair housing.

Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) and Redlining

Inequality in housing opportunities existed for a long time before the Great Depression, but redlining is seen as one of the greatest impacts on racial disparity in the United States. After the Great Depression, the New Deal helped people find “relief for unemployment and poverty, recovery of the economy back to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression” frequently referred to as the “3 Rs”. One of the programs under this act was the Home Owners Loan Corporation. On the one hand, it focused on providing low-interest/long-term refinancing to home owners facing foreclosure.

However, this program also created maps of neighborhoods that were defined by “socioeconomic” status in order to influence who would receive assistance or not. Neighborhoods that were defined as “high risk” or “hazardous” were color coded in red, and with the racist attitudes that were pervasive in the HOLC appraisal sheets and maps put the majority of African American neighborhoods in the red zone. This meant that people in these neighborhoods had great difficulty getting any kind of financial support of relief during the end of the Great Depression. The impact of the redlining done under the HOLC program affected the institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation that can still be seen even today.

The Fair Housing Act

Over thirty years after the impact of HOLC’s redlining practices, the Fair Housing Act was enacted to help combat the effects these discriminatory maps. At the time, this act outlawed discrimination in the sale, lease, or rental of housing because of race, color, religion, and national origin, but has been expanded to have other protections. While this act was a step in the right direction towards overcoming racial discrimination in housing, there are still issues that face BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) in real estate. “Real Estate Steering” was still a common practice after the passing of the Fair Housing Act that steered prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on race. U.S. Senator Cory Booker has a compelling story about the racial discrimination his parents faced after the passing of the Fair Housing Act.

While the Fair Housing Act has added many additional protections since its inception, sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet protected under the Fair Housing Act. Twenty two states, including Maine, have stepped up and passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued regulations to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally assisted housing programs in order to keep these the programs open to all eligible people. These laws and regulations move in the direction towards better equality, but there is still work to be done in many states.

Facing these Problems Today

While there is some legal protection in the face of discriminatory bias, there is more work to be done. As individual realtors and businesses, we have an obligation to challenge hidden biases. The National Association of Realtors worked with the Perception Institute to create both a training video “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing” as well as an Implicit Bias Test to help identify hidden biases that people may have. Tools like these can help us understand and work towards a better future in real estate.

Continuing to understand the past and understanding its affects on the present are important in challenging the biases that still exist present day. We also want to continue being proactive in being the change that we want to see in the future. Supporting laws and action plans that give legal ramifications for discrimination in real estate helps us create an environment that supports all potential home-owners and renters in the best way possible.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized

Work-From-Home and the Future of Home Buying

As more and more companies are embracing the work-from-home model in light of the current events, we think that some of the parameters that normally drive home-buying decisions will change. As people are making plans to buy new homes, a number of new factors are going to affect the types of homes people buy as well as their locations. This could potentially create a new market for home sellers to take advantage of when advertising their homes. Today we are going to speculate on some of these qualities that may affect home-buying in the future.

The Home Office

Where once having a office space or spare bedroom was considered more of a luxury, people may be more and more drawn to requiring a dedicated home office area in their new home. They may even need multiple rooms to function as usable office spaces if partners have work-from-home jobs.

If this is something you are looking a dedicated office space for in a new home, you may want to keep these questions in mind:

  • Is this room wired for internet and phone?
  • Is this room located away from distractions such as TV, kids, street noise, etc?
  • Is there enough space for your equipment, files, office furniture, etc?
  • If you are meeting with clients in your home, is there easy access to the space from the entrance or is it possible to install a dedicated entrance? Zoning rules might be a factor if you’re having frequent business visitors.
  • If there is not a spare bedroom/office, are there spaces in the home with enough room to multi-function as an office? Maybe a space in the basement or above a garage could be finished to gain additional space?

Home sellers may also start featuring extra rooms as potential office spaces and using in-person or virtual staging to showcase this more often.

City, Suburbs, or Rural?

One of the biggest factors for choosing a new home often times is the job commute. However, with more work-from-home options, people are able to open up to the possibilities of choosing places further away as on-site job work become more optional/flexible. Especially with the motivation to having a dedicated home office space, people may look further out of major cities and towns for larger yet more affordable homes. Families may also be able to focus more on moving into desirable towns/communities or places located closer to preferred schools without having to triangulate work locations. One unique consideration in Maine especially, is access to reliable high speed internet as you get in to more rural areas.

At the same time, younger professionals who may not need a vehicle to commute back and forth to work may be more drawn to finding new homes in the city. Saving on car payments, insurance, and car maintenance, they may be able to utilize these funds towards affording better apartments and condos within city limits. Enjoying the city life and being within walking distances of major shopping, venues, and attractions may be a draw for young professionals with the ability to work from home.

Personal preference will be a greater drive towards how people look at locations for their new homes, which means sellers have a great opportunity to sell their homes in a way that caters more towards work-from-home opportunities vs convenient commutes.

Cross-Country Locations

We are seeing entire companies and industries emerging that are exclusively based online or as a work-from-home model. With these kinds of jobs, more and more people may be focused on moving to places based on desire instead of convenience. Often people have been drawn to major cities across the country as a matter of finding more job opportunities, but in the future, people may choose to stay closer to their families, friends, or familiar areas. At the same time, people may feel they have more freedom to move to new places driven by factors such as cost of living, climate, crime rates, educational access/quality, and community as opposed to work locations.

With home-buying tools like virtual tours and document signing, people who work for these kinds of online companies may feel more confident about taking the plunge of buying a home in a new state. Especially with their job still waiting for them once they move, buyers may have more freedom to research and consider many possibilities for new areas and regions.

While we speculate on how work-from-home jobs may affect future home buying and selling, we still believe there are always going to be jobs that require working in a physical office, building, or job-site. Most people will probably still make considerations on their regular job commutes and convenience as a part of their home buying journey; however, we think that the work-from-home culture may create a new marketing opportunity and strategy for home sellers who may not normally be able to benefit from easy access to major cities or companies.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Uncategorized