5 Things We Learned About Real Estate This Week
Winter has truly arrived—hello, snowstorm Jonas! It’s time to hunker down with some hot cocoa and a newfound appreciation for the roof over our heads. To further warm your hearts for the cozy abode you call home, here are some highlights of what happened in real estate this week. From “leaky” Nest thermostats to what’s better than a big backyard, these are the stories that caught our eye.
Lesson No. 1: Anyone’s water could end up like Flint’s
The high levels of lead in the water in Flint, MI, has sparked national outrage—but how many Americans know what’s in their own water?
“The Flint water crisis can absolutely happen anywhere,” Lee Wasserman, an environmental remediation expert and authority in lead, pointed out to realtor.com®. In fact, a study of the water qualityin 19 U.S. cities by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that spikes of contaminant levels are becoming more frequent due to out-of-date plumbing.
Wasserman’s advice if you’re worried: “Test the water where you live or where you’re thinking about moving.” Hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lesson No. 2: Playrooms are the new backyard
Homes with big backyards are so 2015. These days, homebuyers are willing to sacrifice a huge yard to have a play room for the kids instead.
“Buyers today—especially millennial buyers—want everyone to have a private space of their own to decompress under one roof, and the playroom outweighs a large yard in their buying decision,” Patty Blackwelder, an agent with Twins Selling Real Estate, told MarketWatch. And we kind of get it: Once you’ve got kids, who has the time for lawn upkeep, anyway?
Lesson No. 3: Home security systems aren’t always secure
Sure, the Nest Thermostat makes it easy to monitor your home from afar, but you may not be the only one “monitoring” what’s happening inside.
A new study from Princeton University found that the Nest device has been leaking homeowners’ ZIP codes online, which could enable thieves to “find out what you’re currently doing inside your home,” according to researcher Sarthak Grover. And the Nest device is hardly an anomaly; the study found that numerous “smart home” devices aren’t encrypting data and could compromise safety—all of which means their IQ still has a way to go.
Lesson No. 4: Real estate transactions really do drag on
It really does take forever to buy a home. According to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors®, one in three real estate transactions encounters delays—and one in 16 falls through completely. The main reasons: 46% are triggered by “financing issues,” 21% by appraisal-related problems, and 14% by hitches with the home inspection.
The good news is that these delays are often preventable. For example, to avoid financing snafus, buyers should avoid any major purchases such as a car or furniture that could tarnish their credit score; they should wait until after their home loan comes through.
Lesson No. 5: Moving is a pain for football players, too
Two professional football franchises—the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers—are moving to Los Angeles. That’s great news for NFL fans in the area (and real estate agents who are scrambling to find them places to live) but not necessarily for the players.
As former Ravens kicker Matt Stover pointed out to ESPN, when his team moved in 1996, he lost thousands selling his house due to closing costs and Realtor® fees. That’s why he’s now arguing that these players get compensated for the inconvenience of moving, particularly due to L.A.’s high cost of living. Who knows whether that will happen, but nonetheless it’s nice to see a football player fighting for his fellow players off the field. Go, Stover!