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You Can Still Find Your Dream Home During The COVID-19 Pandemic

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is our new normal—and could continue to be the norm for the foreseeable future. But staying at home and keeping a safe distance from others isn’t preventing real estate agents from helping their clients or potential buyers from exploring and finding their dream homes—they’re just having to get creative.

Thanks to video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, virtual tours are becoming the go-to method for real estate agents to show their properties—and for would-be buyers to continue to explore homes while they’re social distancing at home. Just how popular are these video walkthroughs? According to recent data from Redfinbb, requests for agent-led video home tours increased a whopping 500 percent last week.

The Takeaway:

What does this mean for you? The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t have to put your home search on hold. Thanks to technology, you can continue to tour properties and find the right home for you and your family—all from a safe distance.

Mortgage Relief Options Available During Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is causing uncertainty across the nation—and for many, that includes financial uncertainty.

Luckily, there are options for homeowners impacted by the coronavirus. In a recent statement, Mark Calabria, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks) called attention to options homeowners may have if they struggle to pay their mortgage during this time of crisis.

“To meet the needs of borrowers who may be impacted by the coronavirus, last week Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (‘The Enterprises’) reminded mortgage servicers that hardship forbearance is an option for borrowers who are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment,” Calabria said in the statement. “For borrowers that may be experiencing a hardship, I encourage you to reach out to your servicer.”

The Federal Housing Administration also chimed in to remind homeowners of their options in a written statement last week: “The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is reminding mortgagees of FHA’s loss mitigation program options, particularly in light of the recent reports on the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As with any other event that negatively impacts a borrower’s ability to pay their monthly mortgage payment, FHA’s suite of loss mitigation options provides solutions that mortgagees should offer to distressed borrowers – including those that could be impacted by the Coronavirus – to help prevent them from going into foreclosure. These home retention options are located in FHA’s Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 Section III.A.2.”

The Takeaway:

What does this mean for you? If your finances are being impacted by the coronavirus and you’re worried you won’t be able to make your mortgage payments, get in touch with your lender. There are supports in place to help guide you through this difficult time.

5 Home products designed with your worst germ fears in mind

   

We’ve all become a lot more sensitive to germs and being cautious about what we touch—even in our own homes. Try as you may, it can often feel impossible to keep your home clean and germ-free for long. If you’re someone who flinches at the very thought of bacteria-laden surfaces inhabiting your abode, you may find comfort in knowing there are products designed to put your mind at ease.

No matter how much and how often you clean, sometimes the best solution is to minimize what you touch, and how often you touch them. Well, these gadgets ensure that you can do just that, and give you an edge on staying healthy.

1. Hands-free soap dispenser and faucet

Sure, you’re washing your hands frequently, but what germs are you leaving behind on your soap dispenser and faucet handles before you lather up?

With a sensor soap pump, you can wave those worries goodbye. This hygienic and hands-free solution has a sensor that dispenses the right amount of soap without requiring even a gentle touch. Simply wave your hand and voila! It’s perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. Plus, it’s easy to refill. By soaping up your hands before you touch your faucets, you’re minimizing the spread of germs.

If you want to go the extra mile, install a touchless faucet, which senses your presence, and even shuts off automatically when you remove your hands to reduce water waste.

2. Self-sealing, voice-activated trash cans

Taking out the garbage has to be one of the grimiest household chores out there. But with a self-sealing, self-changing trash can, you can breathe a little easier on garbage day. The Townew garbage can was created, not surprisingly, by a founder with a slight case of germaphobia. This self-sealing and self-changing trash can uses infrared sensors to prevent overfill, and most importantly, seals in odors.

Or, opt for a voice- and motion-sensor trash can which recognizes three commands, including “open can,” “stay open,” and “close can.” If your hands are full or covered in bacteria from touching raw meats, this prevents the spread of germs and saves you from cleaning yet another surface. And, hey, if nothing else, you know at least something in your home will listen to you.

3. Washable keyboard

If you spend large amounts of time at your computer (and possibly even eat any or all of your three meals beside it or over it), you may be wondering what nasty germs are lurking beneath and between those keys. A washable keyboard can put your mind at ease. Designed to be hand-washed or even submerged, these officemates are ideal for anyone who’s not only worried about germs but may have also dropped a drink or squirted ketchup between the keys. And if you’ve ever dreamt of typing from the tub, here’s your chance.

4. Smartphone sanitizer

A smartphone often feels like a lifeline, but in addition to storing tons of contacts and information, it may also be storing plenty of germs. To ensure your phone is getting the deep clean it needs, consider a UV sanitizer that kills up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses without the use of chemicals or mercury. Rid your phone of germs in just one minute with the help of two UV-C germicidal LEDs. Then dial, text, and swipe with confidence.

5. Touchless toilet flush

Not only is an automatic flush toilet more sanitary, but if you have kids and you’re expecting guests, you’ll never be embarrassed by an unpresentable surprise in the powder room again. It’s easy to install and you won’t have to worry about germs coating that handle any longer.

You’ve got enough to think about and worry about, let items like these cut down on some common germ-catchers in the home.

The Biggest Landscaping Trends of 2020

It’s a new year, and with every new year comes new design trends—including in landscaping.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals recently released their picks for the top landscaping trends of 2020. Some of the biggest trends poised to take over lawns across the US this year include:

  • Multi-season landscape design. As homeowners become more cost and environmentally conscious in 2020, expect to see more versatile choices in landscape design—including choosing plants and other elements with multi-season functionality and the ability to thrive in a variety of temperatures and climates.
  • All things blue. With different shades of blue being chosen as the color of the year by a variety of design outlets (including Pantone and Sherwin-Williams), the hue is going to be everywhere in 2020—including in landscape design. Expect to see pops of blue (think sculptures and water features) to show up in on-trend outdoor spaces in the upcoming year.
  • One-click irrigation systems. Properly irrigating your lawn used to be an expensive, time-consuming process. But thanks to new technology and more high-tech irrigation systems, in 2020, homeowners have the ability to control their irrigation system remotely, delivering the perfect amount of water at the perfect time with the click of a smartphone app—saving time, money, and water in the process.

What does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about selling your home in 2020, you want to make sure your landscaping feels timely and on-trend—and now that you know the top landscaping trends for 2020, all that’s left to do is get outside and get your yard up to par!

Why is every lender and real estate agent on my timeline talking about rates?

If you follow any lenders or real estate agents on social media you’ve probably seen lots of posts about rates being low. But what does that mean?

To answer this you will first need to know what rates are. They are the amount of interest or amount of money you pay to borrow money. Every month a portion of your mortgage payment goes towards the interest owed on your loan. So the lower your interest rate the lower your monthly payment

In the 1980’s the average interest rates for a home loan were in the teens. So when we say current rates are historically low, we mean it! 

To put this in perspective, if you were to purchase a home for $200,000 in 1980 the average interest rate was 18%, so if you were to put 3.5% down on your loan your monthly payments would be $3200.

Now take the same $200,000 loan, same 3.5% downpayment, but use today’s rates of 3.5%. The monthly payment is $1150. 

This is why today’s interest rates are such a big deal. Even if you purchased your home a few years ago you can still take advantage of these rates by refinancing your current loan