As the nation adheres to stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, what homeowners desire in a home is changing, according to a new consumer survey from realtor.com® and Toluna Insights. Of the 1,300 homeowners surveyed, a large number say they’re struggling to work, live, and parent in small spaces, and many say they appreciate quiet neighborhoods and a backyard.
“After more than a month of stay-at-home orders, it’s safe to say Americans are really getting to know what home features work and don’t work for their families,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer of realtor.com®. “Our survey data shows that a great neighborhood, outdoor space, and large square footage are some of the most desirable home features during the COVID-19 crisis. As we move forward, we expect the shelter-in-place experience to have a significant influence on home buying trends and how buyers prioritize home features, neighborhoods, and home improvement projects.”
What Homeowners Love About Their Home
The following are the home features that topped the list of what owners like the most about their spaces during this time:
What Homeowners Wish They Could Change About Their Home
To make a home more livable while sheltering in, respondents most often cited the need for more space. Here are other features high on their wish lists.
Respondents said their “must-have” features for their next home after sheltering in place would be to purchase a home with more space (16%) and an outdoor area (14%). The other must-have features for their next home would be updated kitchen (13%); more/better technology and faster W-iFi (13%); and more separation from neighbors (10%). Eleven percent of respondents say they wouldn’t change a thing and are happy with their current home.
Home Improvement While Sheltering
Many homeowners have already undertaken home improvement projects in response to sheltering and making their homes more comfortable now. Thirty-two percent of respondents say they’ve already undertaken home improvement or small around-the-house projects; 15% more say they plan to do so. The most common projects are:
Real estate was deemed essential under the statewide stay-home order, allowing many home sales that were in process to close as scheduled. This minimized the short-term impact on sales that we might have otherwise had.
When looking at the monthly statistics for March, it’s important to keep in mind that 70% of the homes that closed last month went under contract between November and March, well before any of the restrictions went into place. With that said, March 2020 showed an increase in sales, median sales price, and some improvement in inventory (typical for the spring selling season) compared to March of 2019.
Pending sales, or the number of homes under contract, were down compared to the same month last year, which may impact the number of sales in future months; however, much of that can be attributed to record low inventory in January and February, down 19.7% and 23.4% respectively year-over-year, not necessarily a decrease in homebuyer demand.
We will continue to watch the market regularly, but until we are a bit further out from the stay-home order going into effect, we cannot say what impact this may or may not have on our local housing market.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday the Federal Housing Administration will offer a tailored set of mortgage relief options to those with FHA-insured mortgages who are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and who are unable to make their payments.
Mortgage servicers may extend deferred or reduced payment options to FHA borrowers facing financial hardship for six months, and also extend options beyond that to an additional six months of forbearance, if requested by eligible borrowers.
The FHA guidelines are part of the stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. That law requires banks to extend to borrowers with federally backed mortgages up to 12 months of forbearance if facing a coronavirus-related financial hardship.
“The last thing any of us wants is for Americans to lose their homes unnecessarily while we continue to fight this invisible enemy,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “If you’re struggling, immediate help is now available. The FHA will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that the loss mitigation options that are offered for both forward and reverse borrowers are appropriately tailored for the present situation.”
The FHA also announced it is offering a new program that will allow borrowers who do take part in the forbearance to hold off on paying the full amount from their forbearance period until the mortgage is paid off. Its COVID-19 National Emergency Partial Claim is an option that can take effect when the forbearance period ends. The partial claim will help eligible homeowners who have been granted forbearance reinstate their loans by authorizing servicers to advance funds on behalf of homeowners. Borrowers who are given an interest-free subordinate mortgage will not have to pay it off until their first mortgage is paid off.
The FHA also announced changes to its reverse mortgage rules, allowing borrowers to delay making home equity payments for six months and possibly an additional six months as well if facing a coronavirus-related hardship.
Homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments are urged to contact their mortgage servicer to discuss options.
2019 McCall Winter Carnival Event Schedule. We are just starting to add events for 2019 – please check back soon for a more complete list of events planned!
Now the summer has passed and it’s time to turn your thoughts to the winter season. Dependent upon your location it could be as little as making sure your heating system is functioning properly.
Wintertime in the Northwest means cold temperatures and the possibility of snow. What should you do to prepare the house for the change?
Following these steps should make a warmer and more enjoyable winter!