Electric vehicles are increasingly popular, and many EV owners enjoy the fact that they don’t have to hit the gas station every week to stay on the road. These cars still need fuel, however, and that means that access to a charging station is very important. While there are adapters available that let you charge an EV using a standard outlet, the charge takes a significant amount of time because the adapters provide current at the lowest level that the cars are able to accept.
Because of this, an increasing number of EV owners are installing their own charging stations in their homes. This allows for a much faster charge, getting them back on the road sooner and making it much easier to top off a charge in between trips to town. If you own an electric vehicle or are even considering one for the future, it’s important that you understand the potential benefits of a home charging station to determine if one is right for you and your home.
Home Charging Basics
Unlike the standard outlet adapter that you would use to charge your EV from existing electrical receptacles, a home charging station contains a specialized charging cable and the technology that’s needed to perform a quick charge of your vehicle. Depending on the vehicle you have, the charging station may have a generic EV connector on the charging cable or might have a specialty connector designed for a specific make or model of vehicle. When choosing a charging unit, it’s important to consult your vehicle’s documentation to find a unit that will charge at the highest possible speed for your EV.
In most cases, home charging units are installed in the garage and connected to the home’s electrical wiring. This allows you to park your car, plug it in, and have it ready to go without worrying about weather or other issues that might affect your charging connection. For homeowners who don’t have a garage or who have other vehicles or items within their garage space, charging units connected to the side of the home are also somewhat common.
An increasingly popular option for homeowners with electric vehicles is to set up a solar-powered charging station by installing solar panels and batteries that connect to the charging unit directly. This keeps the EV from running up the electric bill while still ensuring that there’s plenty of juice available to top off your car when the charge is running low. Even homeowners with no other solar equipment on the home sometimes opt for this sort of charging, installing the solar panels on the garage roof and mounting the solar battery units on an interior wall of the garage.
This can also be a good starting point if you are interested in cutting down your overall dependence on the electrical grid and shifting to solar. Once you set up a solar system to power the EV charging unit, it can be expanded to provide additional power to the house as well. When doing this, it’s typically best to set up separate home batteries to ensure that your home and EV aren’t competing against each other for power.
Charging Station Installation
In order to make sure that a home charging station is properly installed so that it won’t damage your home or your vehicle, it’s important that you bring in professional help to get the unit connected to power and set up. This is especially true if you plan on using solar energy to power the charging station, since the solar system will also need to be set up and connected to the charging station. Finding an electrician who’s experienced with charging station installation can make a big difference in getting a unit installed quickly and correctly.
HomeKeepr can help with this. Our app can assist you in connecting with pros that have experience with home charging units in your area. Best of all, creating a HomeKeepr account to find electricians and other pros is free. Sign up for your free account today to get started on your EV charging station installation as quickly as possible.
The ongoing commission battle has a recent report calling for some major changes in how commission rates are determined, but is that the right choice?
How much commission agents earn for selling a home has been a hot topic for some time now. Some say it’s not right that homebuyers end up paying toward these commissions as part of the purchase price and that there’s no room to negotiate since the agent’s commission is generally set by the sellers.
Calling real estate commission rates just “one step below fixed,” a Consumer Federation of America report recently called for some changes. Among them is the uncoupling of both seller and buyer agent compensation, something the report says will help spur price competition, reduce the commissions consumers are paying and align agent compensation to a much greater extent with agent service.
The report recommends federal agencies and courts prohibit the tying of listing agent and buyer agent commissions, so buyers can negotiate buyer agent compensation rather than having it set and paid for by listing agents and sellers.
But the National Association of Realtors says the uncoupling of both agent buyer and seller compensation could be detrimental to first-time, low- and middle-income buyers. NAR officials told Boston Agent magazine that many consumers may not be in a position to pay the extra funds that would result from uncoupling broker commissions.
“Uncoupling broker compensation would require buyers to come out of pocket to pay real estate broker commissions, and that could freeze out many from the homebuying process,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s VP of communications, told Boston Agent. “Or could lead to those going into the homebuying market without representation.”
This isn’t the first time the issue of commissions has raised its head. The Justice Department was involved, investigating commissions, and President Biden in July signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to adopt new rules to address unfair or exclusionary practices.
“The American real estate system is set up to create a win-win for both buyers and sellers,” Williams said. “The buyer benefits because they do not come out of pocket for real estate services, and the seller benefits because the proceeds from the sale — which comes from the buyer — pays for the seller’s representation.”
Williams added that the current system creates more competition because it allows all types of buyers (first-time, low- and middle-income buyers) the opportunity to participate in the homebuying process. “And in addition, that would result in the largest pool of buyers for the sellers,” he said.
Last November, the National Association of Realtors, took steps to ensure transparency for buyers by approving several MLS recommendations including listing the broker’s compensation on each active listing on consumer-facing websites and in MLS data feeds.
NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith told Boston Agent the NAR believes the guidance regarding cooperative compensation that appears in the organization’s Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy serves the best interests of both consumers and brokers. She says it gives consumers and listing brokers the freedom to choose how much commission to offer the buyer broker, including as little as one penny.
“This broker cooperation keeps local marketplaces from fracturing, which would be paralyzing to consumers and small businesses,” she said. “It also encourages buyer and seller brokers to share their information in their local, independent broker data hub, enabling maximum options for consumers and allowing even the smallest brokerages to compete with the largest brokerages.”
Because of this policy, Smith said the result is the largest, most accessible and most accurate source of housing information available to consumers. “Without it, the lack of complete, transparent and accessible data for all would mean smaller brokerages have to piecemeal information and couldn’t offer as many options to sellers and buyers,” she said.
So far, the start of 2022 has given us a heavy dose of deja vu. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on. Mask mandates have returned. “Joe Millionaire” is back on TV. (We did a double take, too.)
With everything seeming bleakly the same, it makes sense that you might want to make something in your life look different—even if the world outside continues to feel rote. That’s why we consulted with our stable of designers and tastemakers to get the scoop on the home trends they anticipate will be huge in 2022.
And trust us—this is the makeover you deserve. Here’s what to watch for:
1. Vintage and craft furniture
Photo by Sean Litchfield Photography Perhaps the only phrase we’ve heard more the past few months than “omicron” is “supply chain.” The shortage of ordinary household goods and building supplies has affected us all in one way or another. And if you’ve been looking to furnish your home or give your living room a makeover with a new sofa, you know what we’re talking about.
With supply chain issues and shipping waits stretching to months, many homeowners (and designers) are turning toward vintage items they can find locally.
“Unique pieces that can only be found in thrift stores and secondhand are sure to be a hit,” says Stephanie Hearn Purcell, owner and designer at Redesigned Classics.
“We are seeing some remarkable items using leftover scraps of materials to create something completely new,” Purcell says.
“Did you inherit Granny’s old dresser or armoire? Then coat it with a glossy new paint color, fill the interior with a funky wall covering, add new hardware, and voila—c’est tres chic,” says Ana Cummings, owner of ANA Interiors Ltd.
The vintage trend is also having a moment as consumers want to shy away from big-box stores and shop handmade—or even go the DIY route.
“From handmaking furniture to creating artwork, everybody knows somebody that is turning their passion for DIY into a real income,” says Justin Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. “Supporting your fellow artisan may be a great way to get an original piece with a great story behind it.”
2. Houseplants galore
Photo by Kit Republic Speaking of vintage, in 2022 Riordan says we’ll be time-traveling to the days of disco with our houseplant obsession.
“I have not seen a drive for houseplants like this since the late 1970s and early 1980s,” he says. “Along with those plants will come crafty homemade pots, macramé plant hangers, and DIY reclaimed wooden plant stands.”
Why the gusto for greenery? You can thank the pandemic for that.
“With more and more people working from home, we as a society are looking for any way to connect with nature in our living and working spaces,” Riordan says.
3. No curtains (and extra windows where possible)
Photo by Crisp Architects In order to keep all those plants alive and healthy (and us, TBH), our homes will need an influx of light. So in 2022, break free from the curtains and embrace the naked window.
“Heavy draperies, color roller shades, and blinds have been popular for a long time, but we are going to see a push toward removing all window coverings and allowing the light to come in,” Riordan says. “We are seeing a sacrifice of privacy in order to have more and more light in our homes. New construction will see a push toward larger windows and lots of extra light sources in the home.”
4. Pet-centric design
Photo by Home Design & Decor Magazine Quick straw poll: Who didn’t get a new pet during the pandemic? Whether you added a furry new family member or you’re just worried about leaving the little guy (or gal) behind as you return to the office, our homes in 2022 will be centrally focused on our pets.
“We are catering to our beloved furry friends in over-the-top ways, incorporating food dishes and water taps into the millwork and at floor level, full-on washing stations with ramps in mudrooms, and custom pet beds,” Cummings says. “It’s a lot of fun—and guess what? Those kinds of clients will never complain!”
“Mixed and interesting fixtures can bring character to a home,” Williams says.
Photo by CLB Architects Curvilinear furniture began taking the design world by storm a couple of years ago. Think circular couches, shell-shaped armchairs, and round mirrors.
And that trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Designers say 2022 will have us embracing curves in not only our furniture and accessories but also in our built-in features such as kitchen islands, bath and shower walls, windows, doors, and entryways.
“If you can build it with a rounded edge—even a kitchen island—it will be unique and different from your neighbor,” Cummings says. “These undulating designs will have you swooning. There is something very playful yet comforting about them.”
We can’t all be blessed with a full chef’s kitchen with storage galore. If you’re sick of digging to the back of your cabinets to find the colander, consider adding deep pull-out drawers for pots, pans, and large bowls.
“Instead of playing pot-Tetris in a cabinet, deep pull-out drawers make finding the right pot a cinch,” Williams says.
8. Woven furniture and accessories
Photo by Jody Brettkelly What was once considered only for outdoor use, woven and wicker furniture has made its way into kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, and more. Cummings has seen everything from sideboards to headboards “incorporating unique and unexpected woven elements on them.
“From artisan baskets to light fixtures, the woven element has taken the design world by storm. … It’s not just for the porch rocker anymore,” Cummings says. “The nautical and beach aesthetics boosted this look, along with the boho, vintage, and “jungalow” looks—it all vibes so well together. We love the natural colors and organic feeling of it all.”
9. Sensual moody bedrooms
Photo by In Detail Interiors With everything still seeming meh outside, we definitely need a sanctuary inside. In 2022, we’ll bring the magic back to the bedroom with moody decor schemes reminiscent of luxury boutique hotels.
“I am seeing more and more bedroom designs using asymmetrical proportions, unique mirrors, statement and strip lighting, and bed frames worthy of conversation,” Cummings says. “Feature walls are showcasing a number of different cladding materials for layering effects, dimension, and drama. Closets have glass doors and are meticulously compartmentalized and designed.”
10. Luxe laundry rooms and pantries
Photo by Cambria We spend so much time doing laundry and organizing our pantries—or at least some of us do. But in 2022, we’re realizing these don’t have to be joyless, soul-sucking activities. Wouldn’t these mundane chores seem lighter if you’re in a space that is light, bright, and fun?
“We are realizing that we should take joyful inspiring moments wherever we are and whatever it is we are doing,” Cummings says.
That’s why designers say that 2022 will see us giving the same consideration to the laundry room and pantry as we do to the kitchen and other rooms in the house. Today’s luxurious laundry rooms include built in-storage, slide-out drying racks, washing machines and dryers built into colorful millwork, wallpaper, high-end faucets and sinks, and ambient lighting, Cummings says.
For pantries, Cummings predicts we’ll see beautifully organized food and cookware storage, and possibly even a small pocket office to manage the household.
11. Laminate vinyl plank flooring
Redoing your floors can be exorbitantly expensive. But in 2022, folks have caught on to a much cheaper option that looks just as rich as tile or real hardwood: laminate vinyl plank flooring.
“It’s even cheaper than carpet sometimes,” Williams says. “It’s a great way to update a room without blowing the budget. Plus, it’s durable, water-resistant, affordable, easy to install, and there are tons of options.”
Even though we’re bingeing our favorite shows on all kinds of devices (I’m not the only one watching “Succession” on my phone in bed, right?), most of us still prefer to consume the never-ending deluge of content on a big-screen TV.
But not everyone wants to see an 80-inch screen in their everyday living and entertaining areas.
“We live in a market that loves their TV time,” Cummings says. “It only makes sense to have a room for it.”
So in 2022, make the theater come to you. Turn the basement or an unused room into your own stylish cinematic lounge, complete with plush, deep-seated sofas.https://6e236a8bf86663712c9b07bc84188ab9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“If you can have a power nap on them, even better—you may even spend the night if you can’t make it to your bedroom,” Cummings says. “Ambient lighting is nice, along with a rich, dark color on the wall [to] give you that luxurious feeling. Throws to curl up in or a place to put your feet up and maybe a small table for your snacks is all you really need.”
Rachel Stults is the managing editor at Realtor.com and co-host of the Realtor.com podcast “House Party.” She covers all things real estate, including buying, selling, home decor, renting, moving, and more. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to redoing the various rooms in your home, the bathroom is often overlooked. Some homeowners won’t even touch the bathroom unless a leak or some other problem makes it necessary. This is a really poor way to look at it, however, especially given how much time we spend in the bathroom, between bathing, getting ready to face the day, and a few other things. Your bathroom is just as deserving of attention as any other room in your home.
Of course, the why doesn’t really matter; whether you’re remodeling your bathroom because you want to change its look or you’re doing it because you’re already making repairs, the time to start is almost here. The question is, how do you get ready to remodel your bathroom? Here are some things that you should keep in mind before the remodel actually starts.
Prepping for the Remodel
The first thing that you need to do is get the bathroom ready for the remodel. This means getting all of your stuff out, and that may end up being a lot more than you expect. Set aside all the things that you use daily, then start packing up less-common items and organizing them by category. This way all your makeup, your hair care products, your bathing products, and everything else that you use in the bathroom will all be kept together so that you can put everything back up more easily when the remodel is done.
This is also the time when you should make plans for what you’re going to do while the bathroom is inaccessible. If you have another bathroom in the house then you can obviously use it, but if you don’t, then you might have to talk with a neighbor about using their bathroom, or even rent a portable toilet until the remodel is finished. Not all bathroom remodels will make the room completely inaccessible, of course, but it’s good to keep in mind just in case your plans will take the bathroom offline for a day or two.
A Clear Remodel Plan
Once you’ve packed everything up and done any contingency planning that you require, double check your remodel plan to make sure it’s all in order before the work starts. This includes choosing paint colors, showerheads and fixtures, countertops, and anything else that might be needed for the remodel. The last thing you want is to have to spend even more time halfway through because you realized that no one had decided whether to replace the bathroom wallpaper or not.
This is also when you should decide if you want any construction changes or bathroom additions so that they can be planned for accordingly. This can include anything from new cabinets or additional closet shelving to built-in shower nooks or other accents that will be built directly into the walls. These items generally aren’t that big of a deal if you plan for them in advance, but deciding that you want to make big changes to your bathroom closet halfway through the job can be a major inconvenience.
Remodeling Your Bathroom
Depending on the specific plans you have for your remodel, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need some help. Maybe you’ll require a plumber to implement your plans, or need to get a contractor involved because you want to make major changes to the interior. You might even need an electrician to help change up the lighting in your bathroom and make sure that all of the wiring is safe for a more humid environment. No matter who you need, HomeKeepr is here to help.
You can connect with contractors, plumbers, and other pros through the HomeKeepr app to find just the talent that you need to make your remodel come off without a hitch. Best of all, creating a HomeKeepr account is free. Sign up today and get that remodel underway.
When most people talk about curb appeal, at least part of what they’re talking about involves landscaping and other greenery to make your home look inviting. That’s great during the spring and summer, and even the fall to an extent. What happens when the icy winds of winter sneak in, though, and a lot of that greenery is taken out of the equation until spring rolls around again? For some reason, it seems acceptable to just abandon curb appeal and making your home look inviting once the days grow short and the temperature drops.
This doesn’t have to be the case, of course. There are ways to make your home seem warm and appealing throughout the year, making it look like a place that friends and family really want to visit. If you want to increase your home’s curb appeal throughout the winter months, here are a few things to keep in mind that should help you accomplish your goal.
Make Your Porch Stand Out
One way to increase your curb appeal during the winter is to find ways to make your porch stand out and really draw the attention of visitors. There are several ways to accomplish this, with one of the most basic being a good use of color. Add some red to your front door, either by painting the entire door or by adding red trim or decorations, as red really draws the eyes and puts a visitor’s focus on the entry to your home. Tasteful, colorful statues or other decorations on the porch will also help to draw the eyes and make your home stand out from the rest as well. Adding a colorful wreath during the holiday season, a season-appropriate decorative flag, or some similar decorative piece can make a big impact.
Replacing your old worn house number (or adding a house number if you previously didn’t have one on your home itself) can also make a big impact. Use large, easy-to-read numbers to make the biggest impact. Opt for numbers that are 6 inches tall or larger, and ideally use plastic or metal numbers instead of stickers or decals to give them some depth. Be sure to place the number near enough to a light source to make it easy to read.
Good Use of Decorations
There are multiple holidays that come during the winter months, so you should have plenty of opportunities to decorate around your home. Keep your decorations tasteful and avoid clutter, but be sure to always have something that will create a visually appealing look for your home. Avoid overly large decorations that will block the view of your porch, and choose lighting and decoration options that complement the colors that you use on your porch. Add some garland around your door or other matching decorations on the porch itself to really tie everything together.
If you don’t feel like decorating for various holidays, there are still options available to you. Add large, mirrored orbs or other reflective ornaments in spaces where your greenery might have previously stood out, creating some visual appeal even without the lush greens that you were used to using. Other decorations such as decorative lamp posts and lighting, tasteful statues, or even a revamped modern-styled mailbox can all help to carry the weight of curb appeal until the greenery comes back in the spring.
Winter Curb Appeal
Maximizing your curb appeal during the winter is a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable with a bit of planning. If you aren’t sure exactly how to tackle it, consider consulting a landscaping or decorating pro to help answer any questions you might have. HomeKeepr can help you find one to give you the assist you need. Creating a HomeKeepr account is free, and you can use our app to locate professionals in your area that can get the job done. Sign up today and start revamping your home’s winter curb appeal!
A good set of cabinets is all but essential in the kitchen. Not only do they keep your plates, bowls, and assorted other implements organized, but they can also provide easy access to dry goods and other items that you need to use frequently while cooking. The more cabinet space you have, the less clutter you’ll have in the kitchen itself, because you can store your various kitchen gadgets until they’re needed while still having them close at hand.
Corner cabinets can be a bit of a problem, however. While these cabinets tend to provide the most interior space, a lot of this space isn’t easy to access because of the narrow opening that the corner cabinet provides. Fortunately, this isn’t an issue that you just have to accept. There are a few different ways to address this problem so you can make better use of all that space without having to contort yourself in the process.
Install a Lazy Susan System
One of the most popular ways to make better use of corner cabinets is to install a multi-tiered Lazy Susan system inside the cabinet. You’ve likely seen one of these before as they’ve enjoyed significant popularity over the years. The assembly is made up of two or three large round platforms connected by a central spindle around which the platforms can easily rotate. You place items on the platform, turn it, then fill it up all the way around; when you need something, you simply turn the platform until it becomes available.
A lot of these systems use two platforms, one at the bottom of the cabinet and one near the center of the cabinet’s height. You may occasionally see Lazy Susan systems that have three platforms, however, or possibly different configurations as well. Keep in mind that there’s a trade-off as you add more platforms; while you have more storage space with each platform that’s added, the amount of vertical space you have available for your items decreases with each addition.
Add Pull-Out Shelving
Another option that’s increasingly popular is pull-out shelving. These shelves either pull out straight or rotate out from within the cabinet on tracks, letting you gain full access to the shelf’s contents and then slide it back into your cabinet space while done. Some may even feature complex sets of hinges and tracks to maximize the amount of shelf space that you can have in the cabinet; these setups typically have one shelf attached directly to the door and others being pulled along after it for easy access.
Regardless of the specific configuration of the shelves, the idea is to bring the shelves to you instead of making you reach into the cabinet to try and access items at the backs of the shelves. This makes using the entire space within your corner cabinet much more convenient, since the shelves can fill up that space when not in use, then be easily pulled out when you need them.
Revitalizing Your Cabinets
There are other ways that you can make use of corner cabinet space, including replacing your existing cabinets with new cabinets that have corner cabinets with an angled interior for easier access or a set of L-shaped drawers that make better use of the available space than a standard cabinet might. You might even consider eliminating the corner cabinets altogether and adding a floor-to-ceiling corner pantry instead. Depending on the layout of your kitchen, there may be other corner options available to you as well.
If you do decide to redo your cabinets to optimize your corner options, HomeKeepr can help. Our app can easily connect you with cabinet makers and installers in your area so that you can find the right professional to get the job done. Creating a HomeKeepr account is free, so sign up today and get to work on making your corner cabinets exactly what you want them to be.
Homes that would allow the construction of up to 79 homes in an undeveloped area at the ends of South Cobb High School Road, Linda Vista Drive and Leila Streets. The approval follows several proposals and subsequent revisions from Traton, the first of which called for the construction of 145 townhomes.
In addition to agreeing to develop single-family houses instead of townhomes, Traton agreed to set the minimum size of the homes at 1,800 square feet. The development will have a 20-foot landscaped buffer between it and adjacent neighborhoods, and affected lots will have a minimum front setback of 15 feet and a 20-foot setback in the rear, according to documents filed with the county.
Other stipulated features of the community include an “active amenity area” with, at a minimum, a pool and cabana, a homeowners association and a designated school bus waiting area.
You may not be aware of it, but many paint and pigment companies choose colors that they think will be hot in the coming year. Shades of green seem to be an overwhelming favorite for 2022, with almost every company choosing some green hue as either their top pick, or part of their overall range of choices. In fact, green is so well-represented this year that there’s really only one company that seems to be bucking the green trend entirely, but it’s a big one.
Pantone Color Institute, the company that actually manages color standards, broke from the pack with a significantly different choice for color of the year. Before we get to what that choice actually is, though, let’s take a moment to consider the rest of the color of the year choices from other companies. This will help you to appreciate just how big of a break with industry trends the Pantone choice really is.
Something in a Shade of Green
Usually, different paint companies offer up a pretty wide range of shades when it comes to choosing color of the year options. For 2022, however, there’s a pretty rare consensus among most of the big players in the industry that neutral shades of green are where it’s at. This isn’t just a couple of companies, either; take a look at some of these selections:
Benjamin Moore: October Mist, a light green with touches of grey and yellow
Sherwin-Williams: Evergreen Fog, a soft green close to olive
PPG: Olive Sprig, another soft green with a hint of yellow
Behr: Breezeway, a soft, light green
Dutch Boy: Cypress Garden, a somewhat stronger green
Glidden: Guacamole, another strong green with a hint of yellow undertone
Other popular companies such as Valspar and Dunn-Edwards offered up multiple color of the year choices, and green shades were included in the offerings of both.
Pantone’s Color of the Year
With green being so well represented by other companies, you might expect Pantone to have chosen something similar. That’s not the case, however, as Pantone’s selection for 2022 is a periwinkle blue offering known as Very Peri. It’s a pretty well-rounded periwinkle shade, falling in between blue and purple without being overwhelmingly either. Looking at it, it’s pretty easy to see why Pantone believes the color is really going to take off in the coming months.
According to Pantone, the color was chosen because of how well it reflects the changes that the world is currently going through. Pantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman stated that the classic blue color with violet-red undertones “displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression.” It’s a cool, calming color and could see use in just about any room in the home as well as the exterior.
Using These Choices in Your Home
Whether you’re going with one of the green options offered up by the paint companies or Pantone’s choice of Very Peri, there are a number of ways that you can use these colors in your home. They can be used as accents in bedrooms, living rooms, or kitchens, as door and shutter colors to accent your home, or even coatings for islands or other large wooden furniture pieces to really make them pop. They may need other colors or some strong woodgrains to add some warmth or contrast, but if you put in the work to find the right shades, then you’ll have color combos that will leave people talking.
If you need a bit of help with that, HomeKeepr is here for you. Using our app, you can find painters and interior decorators to discuss your plans with and find the perfect accents to go with your color of the year choices in your home. Signing up for a HomeKeepr account is free, so create your account today and get to work on bringing your Very Peri-colored dreams to life.
Omicron has indisputably put a damper on early 2022—and as COVID-19 infection rates continue to climb, many may wonder whether we’re headed toward another nationwide shutdown of schools, businesses, and other #lifegoals that may have just begun sputtering back to life.
Meanwhile, homebuyers who’ve vowed that this is the year they’ll finally buy a house might feel as if a wrench the size of a Mack truck was thrown into their plans. Will open houses even be allowed? Will home sellers pull their listings, thinking it’s not worth the risk?
In an effort to shed some light on the year ahead, we surveyed real estate experts on what homebuyers and sellers should expect in the coming weeks and months.
How omicron will affect the housing market
Before the omicron variant of COVID-19 appeared on the scene, the 2021 housing market was rebounding healthily from previous waves of the pandemic and turned downright bullish as the end of the year approached. In spring 2021, a Realtor.com® survey found that only 10% of homeowners planned to sell within 12 months. By fall, that number had ballooned to 26%.
These factors had portended a tidal wave of home sales in the new year. And then the new omicron strain hit in November, followed by a December dip in new listings.
Was this sudden drop due to omicron, or just the typical holiday season lull?
George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com, isn’t sure, but feels optimistic that omicron won’t halt the housing market’s momentum, particularly since this variant appears milder than its predecessors.
“We are not through it yet, but so far, this virus seems to be a lot more contagious, but also a lot less negatively impactful in terms of sickness and death,” Ratiu says. He also points out that data from epidemics in 1918 and the 1950s have also shown that viruses become more contagious but less severe over time.
Indeed, indications from South Africa, where the COVID-19 strain was first detected, showed a steep surge in cases followed by a rapid decline. So there’s some reason to expect that this latest wave of the pandemic in the U.S. will follow suit.
Omicron doesn’t seem to have hit the economy as hard as previous waves, either.
“The GDP and economy have survived fairly well,” Ratiu explains. “We’re seeing housing weather the variant so far. Retail sales, consumer confidence, and other indicators show guarded optimism in the road ahead.”
Bottom line: Even as COVID-19 infection rates climb, most experts aren’t bracing for a shutdown like we saw during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020.
“I do not believe that omicron will have much impact on the selling season,” says Cara Berkeley, a personal financial expert at Penny Polly. “The delta variant did not seem to slow things down here [in Tennessee], so omicron should not either. The number of homes sold in Nashville in November of this year was higher than the number sold in November of last year. The upwards trend both in sales and in the median price per home is continuing.”
Why omicron isn’t stopping home sellers from listing today
Even in the face of high COVID-19 infection rates, many home sellers are still eager to list in the new year because, frankly, they’ve been waiting long enough.
“My husband is already retired, and we’ve been dreaming of moving to Maine for a while,” says Meg Rooney, 63, of Fairfield, CT. “But we’ve felt paralyzed by the pandemic. The time didn’t feel right in the middle of the crisis. But I think omicron will be the last surge, and our real estate agent says people are ready to tour and buy despite this current uptick in cases. So we’ll finally put our house on the market.”
Most listing agents we spoke to see no shortage of buyers in their respective markets—particularly with more people taking on remote jobs than ever before.
The take-home lesson for sellers: Those who list should expect plenty of offers—although only time will tell whether we’ll see a repeat of the frenzied bidding wars of 2021.
Why omicron isn’t scaring off homebuyers
Meanwhile, omicron doesn’t seem to be deterring homebuyers much.
“I will be hitting the open houses hard this month,” says Alison Levine, a mom of a toddler and a 6-year-old in Cleveland. “I know how high the infection rates are. But the pandemic has also shown me that our apartment is too small for remote learning plus working from home—and I need a backyard.”
Many of today’s homebuyers, much like Levine, have put their house hunts on hold for the past two years of the pandemic. By now, they’ve had it with their cramped quarters, and are willing to take a few calculated risks to upgrade to a place that better fits their lives today.
“Younger parents may be having a first or second child and need a bigger house, or a different school district,” explains Ratiu. “I see a bright future for the suburbs in 2022.”
In addition to outgrowing their homes, homebuyers have another urgent reason to hazard some home tours right now even with omicron lurking: Mortgage interest rates are expected to rise soon.
“Buyers are acutely aware that the current mortgage rates are just above 3%,” says Ratiu. “While they have been flat, rates are expected to rise, so people are in a hurry to capitalize on this.”
Homebuyers this year should brace themselves for plenty of competition.
“There is huge demand, [but] there’s still short inventory,” says Bonnell. “I believe the first half of the year will be tighter with more bidding wars than the second half.”
One reason omicron likely won’t slow down homebuyers is that so much of home touring today is happening virtually rather than in person. In 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19, video and virtual tours were more of a novelty that certain buyers and sellers resorted to when in-person viewing wasn’t safe. By now, though, virtual tours have matured into a far more sophisticated and commonplace experience
“We’ve had a year and a half to practice virtual tours and marketing,” says Norman Miller, a real estate and finance professor at the University of San Diego. “We’ve taken some of the fear out of the process.”
To succeed in early 2022, buyers will need to bring their A-game and start preparing now. This means making sure you have a current mortgage pre-approval (they expire over time), watching interest rates closely, and getting ready to pounce once your dream house appears.
“My agent and I frequently text about what she’s seeing in the market, things like how quickly things are selling and where the winning bid is compared to the asking price,” says Levine. “That way, I know how high to bid.”
Real estate in the wake of omicron: What’s ahead?
While many experts anticipate that omicron will be more of a blip than a bomb on this year’s real estate forecast, the one real wild card is whether more variants are on the horizon.
“It’s hard to project, but on broad balance, we’re likely to see continued variants in 2022,” says Ratiu.
Yet putting our lives on hold forever just isn’t something humans are meant to do, a fact that homebuyer Levine keeps in mind as she forges ahead.
“Omicron isn’t softening things so far,” she says. “So I am getting my ducks in a row.”
Janet Siroto is a journalist, editor, and trend tracker. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and other publications.