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Your Pet Can Increase Your Home’s Value

Imagine your dream home for a moment. Does it have a fireplace, eco-friendly bamboo flooring or maybe a spa-like master bathroom? What about a catio? A custom-built space for your felines to frolic and lounge. Sounds a bit silly, but pet customizations are becoming a standard wish-list item for many prospective homeowners.

The Houzz.com article, How to Design Your House Around Your Pets, mentions that in an American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, “architecture firms reported that client interest in built-in rooms or kennels devoted to pets spiked in the past year, with 30% of respondents reporting interest in comparison to 20% last year.” The stereotype of a doghouse in the backyard no longer holds true as Americans want their pet’s needs and comfort to be integrated into their home’s interiors.

Much of the demand has to do with the fact that the newest wave of homeowners own more pets than their predecessors. The CNBC article Millennials put pets first when buying a home reports the following statistics;

  • A full 73% of millennials currently own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association.
  • A whopping 89% of millennials who bought a home so far this year own a pet, according to Realtor.com.

However, the trend isn’t just about the quantity of pets that come with millennial homeowners. The article also shared that of the demographic mentioned above, “79% of pet-owning homebuyers who closed on a property this year said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets, according to a Realtor.com survey.”

The success of pet-centric businesses like Chewy.com, an online pet retailer with a $14 billion IPO, is a great indicator that investing in home upgrades that would appeal to future buyers with pets may be advantageous.

Despite some market fluctuations after the initial IPO, Nomura analysts are still advising tech investors to look to Chewy.com because “the demand for pet products has shown to be resilient during recessions.” In fact, the pet industry generally has a reputation for standing strong during market slumps. Perhaps another reason, adding a catio or integrating a pup bed into your kitchen island might be a savvy move for homeowners who want to add value to their home.

The Technology That’s Making Buying and Selling Your Home Easier

It doesn’t come as a surprise to most that technology has become a standard part of the home buying and selling process. It would be hard to imagine a house hunt that didn’t involve combing through online listings that contained virtual tours, or at least photographic slideshows.

But did you know that according to a Redfin survey 35% of homebuyers in 2017 purchased their house without even setting foot in it beforehand? That number jumped up to 45% when they looked exclusively at millennials, the most recent generation of homeowners.

“5% of homebuyers in 2017 purchased their house without even setting foot in it beforehand.”

In the Realtor.com article, I Bought My House ‘Sight Unseen,’ and Here’s What Happened, buyer Audrey Ference writes about her experience, “This is it,” I said, and turned the key in the lock, praying we hadn’t made a very expensive mistake. The door opened. We walked inside to find … exactly what we’d expected. Our new home was cavernous compared with our Brooklyn apartment. In fact, everything looked even better than in the few photos and video footage we’d seen.”

The advances in real estate technology are a big reason why homebuyers like Audrey are getting more comfortable making one of the largest and most expensive decisions of their lives from their laptops. REALTORS® are now able to do things like using drones to take aerial photographs – giving prospective homeowners a virtual birdseye view of potential properties and neighborhoods.

Below, are three innovations that are making virtual home shopping a reality for buyers and the process of putting a home on the market easier for sellers.

AI, Artificial Intelligence

While you won’t have to give your real estate agent a Turing test anytime soon, AI actually has been used in real estate for a while now. Some of the websites you may have visited in your home research, or let’s be honest, just for fun, like Redfin and Trulia have automated their property recommendations using AI.

According to readwrite’s article, Where Will AI Take the Real Estate Market in 10 Years? Redfin’s matchmaking AI knows what you want more than you do since users “click on the matchmaker’s suggestions more often than on properties that fit their own search criteria.”

The company Zenplace is working to make it even easier to buy your home sight unseen. “The startup developed a bot that comes with a tablet attached to a pole on wheels. It streams a live feed of a real estate agent who conducts the tour and steers the robot.”

VR, Virtual Reality

Up until recently, an online real estate listing would typically have either a photographic slide show or a 360 degree virtual tour. If you aren’t familiar with what a 360 degree tour would look like, imagine standing in the center of the room and turning in a circle to get the full scope.

Listings that use VR allow you to leave the center of the room and actually “walk” around rooms, providing a more immersive experience. Opendoor’s article, 5 technology trends that make buying and selling a home easier states that VR tours “can feel almost as real as being physically present in the space. Users can virtually look up and down, zoom in and out, spin around, climb stairs or walk from one room to the next.”

The article mentions that the San Francisco based Matterport is one of the leaders in the VR real estate field. If you own a pair of VR glasses, or want to DIY a cardboard pair for yourself, you can take a tour on Matterport’s website of a luxury home in southern California or a loft in Chicago’s west loop.

AR, Augmented Reality

Trying to sell an unfurnished home can be tricky as you are completely dependent upon the potential buyer’s imagination. Some prospects will be able to mentally fill the space up with their furniture, while others are more likely to buy if the house is staged with furniture and accessories.

But staging does not come cheap. According to Realtor.com homeowners can expect to spend $300 to $600 just to meet with a professional home stager – and then an additional $500 to $600 per room for staging. The budget for staging a room using AR is much less expensive, averaging $40 to $50 per photograph.

There are quite a few virtual staging companies out there, some will only work with your REALTOR® and others like Virtual Staging Solutions will work directly with homeowners. The type of services that companies like Virtual Staging Solutions provide can also be useful for buyers who want to visualize what a house for sale would look like with renovations before deciding to extend an offer. They can virtually knock down a wall or switch out the kitchen cabinets to glimpse at future possibilities.

There is no “right way” to buy or sell a home. If you’re not comfortable using technology in your home search or sale, your REALTOR® will work with you in whichever manner you prefer. But if you’re too busy to physically view every home you’re considering, or need to decorate an empty house without a furniture budget, the options to do so virtually are there for you.

The McMansions Are Empty

An article written about the McMansion housing style used the phrase, “crown-moldings-of-death.” While this word choice is a bit dramatic, it does reflect a very real trend – the death of the suburban architecture style known as the McMansion.

If you’re not familiar with the term “McMansion”, Business Insider defines a McMansion as “a cookie-cutter suburban home of between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, the McMansion was considered the ultimate sign of affluence in the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, before the crash of the housing market in 2008.”

McMansions have been around since the 1980’s but it was in the 2000’s, when banks were readily handing out low interest home loans that they really saw an uptick. Couples who coveted the McCallister family property when they took their small children to see the movie Home Alone – suddenly had access to those same sprawling closets and granite countertops. Retirees who envisioned a full house of visiting grandchildren moved into multiple bedroom homes instead of downsizing.

Unfortunately, the difficulty in maintaining a large home and the housing crash translated into an inordinately large number of McMansions being put onto the market. The Sunbelt states, a favorite of retirees, currently has the largest number of empty homes.

The Wall Street Journal writes, “The area around Scottsdale, Ariz., also popular with wealthy retirees, had 349 homes on the market at or above $3 million as of February 1—an all-time high, according to a Walt Danley Realty report. Homes built before 2012 are selling at steep discounts—sometimes almost 50%, and many owners end up selling for less than they paid to build their homes, said Walt Danley’s Dub Dellis”.

While lower energy costs are encouraging the new generation of home buyers to look at the suburbs where these McMansions are located, the price is still too high. Business Insider stated that “Millennials buying their first home today are likely to pay 39% more than baby boomers who bought their first home in the 1980s.” Millennials also hold more student debt than the baby boom generation did, and contend with a stricter lending environment. All of which means that there will be an echo in many McMansions for a long time.

Top Halloween Safety Tips to Make Your Home Less Scary

Every year my husband and I assemble a fake graveyard on the front lawn as part of our Halloween display. We use those Styrofoam tombstones they sell at big box stores and have plastic skeletons emerging from the grass beside them. The problem is the tombstones are lightweight and the plastic spikes they sell with them are just not strong enough to keep them anchored. So before Halloween even arrives most of the display is knocked over.

I asked my husband to try and come up with a better solution this year. He’s an architect and I figured he would be better equipped to figure out how to stabilize everything. Once he was finished, he called me out to take a look at the final results. “Check it out! Go ahead and give the tombstones a kick!” he said, “They won’t tip over!”

So I looked, and I kicked. And then I realized the reason they wouldn’t be tipping over is because he had used rebar poles to secure them. If you aren’t familiar with rebar, it’s a twisted steel bar that’s usually used to reinforce masonry projects. He had hammered one end into the ground and had about 6 inches of the pole spiking up from the ground and into the bottom of the tombstone.

I had to wait until I was able to get the image of trick-or-treaters impaling themselves on our front lawn out of my head before I could explain that although the tombstones were indeed more stable, this wasn’t a safe solution. Now my husband is a very intelligent man who did exactly what I asked – made the display secure. However, he forgot to take into consideration that if there is a way for children to hurt themselves, they will find it. Especially if they are all fired up on miniature candy bars.

In the end, we took our display down and opted to regroup next Halloween with a new decorating idea. We also questioned what else we needed to make safer – and what would our homeowners insurance cover if someone got hurt despite these precautions. Here’s what we learned.

How to Make Your Home Safer for Trick-or-Treaters
  1. Look for sharp edges and trip hazards. Obviously, avoid using rebar. But also, make sure that your decorative display doesn’t have anything that might snag a costume. Or if it could, be certain there is a soft landing beside it and no nearby sharp edges. Assume that excited kids will be cutting through your yard when you’re giving everything a once over too.
  2. Switch out live candles for battery operated ones. Doing this eliminates fire risk, and because the battery-operated candles don’t blow out – you won’t have to put your hand inside a cold, slimy pumpkin more than once. Also, there are some really fun LED lights out there that can change colors and are operated via remote control.
  3. Put your pets away. Even if your dog is gentle and your cat is mellow – they need to be put in their crate or locked in another room before trick-or-treaters start arriving. Halloween can be a stressful time for even the best-behaved animals. The constant doorbell ringing and all these new and exciting small people coming over to play can make pets unpredictable.
  4. Make sure stairs and pathways are cleared and well lit. You don’t have to make your lighting so bright that Halloween visitors feel like they are walking into an alien abduction, but the path to your door should be easy to see. Putting temporary, solar stairway lighting on the steps makes things safer and keeps the spooky mood. Be sure to put them out a few days before so they have time to charge in the daylight.
If There is a Halloween Mishap, Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover it?

I reached out to our insurance agent Jack Buoscio, of State Farm, to find out what kind of protection most homeowners have. Jack explained that how much coverage people have depends on whether they have an umbrella policy. “Most, standard homeowner’s insurance will cover accidents, and the liability that might come with them – but only up to a certain dollar amount. Typically, that coverage is around $300,000 but homeowners should check with their personal agents to be certain.”

In short, if an accident happens on your property or in your home, the property damage, associated medical costs and potential liability is covered to a large degree even without an umbrella policy. Here are a few scenarios that would be covered by typical home insurance.

  1. A trick-or-treater is injured. If a small witch or superhero is hurt, whether it is your fault or theirs, the costs associated with it are covered, up to your limit, by your homeowner’s insurance.
  2. Your property is damaged. If overzealous Halloween revelers hurt your property by accidentally breaking a window or dinging your siding during a friendly egg bombing – it’s covered. Acts of intentional vandalism and damage are also covered.
  3. There is a fire or water damage. If fire or water damage occurs because of things like a Halloween candle, decorative lighting or a zombie fountain – your standard home insurance policy has you covered.

If you do have an umbrella policy, you will be covered for all of the above – plus any damage and associated medical and liability costs that occur outside of your property. Your coverage limit will also be considerably higher than it is with a standard policy alone.

Jack urges homeowners to consider umbrella policies if they host Halloween gatherings, especially if they involve teenagers. “A local family had a backyard bonfire that went out of control after someone poured gasoline on it. Several teenage party goers were injured, and their parents sued the homeowner. The medical and court costs quickly exceed the homeowners $300,000 standard coverage limit.”

More than likely, your Halloween will be uneventful and the only regret you’ll have is how much extra candy you bought. But do strongly consider taking the time to do a quick property safety check. It may also be a good idea to give your insurance agent a call to confirm your coverage if you plan to host a party or just want extra protection.

California Is Making Net-Zero Homes The New Standard

The term, “Net-Zero Home” sounds as if it came straight out of a sci-fi novel – but it’s actually an energy efficient building concept that may soon become the standard. California is leading the way with legislation created to help the state become as energy efficient as possible. The California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan requires all new homes be constructed in a way that makes them net-zero by 2020. According to CNBC, “The U.S. has an estimated 5,000 net-zero energy single-family homes today; California could add 100,000 a year.”

So what exactly is a “net-zero” home? The Zero Energy Project explains that net-zero, or zero energy, homes “are regular grid-tied homes that are so air-tight, well insulated, and energy efficient that they produce as much renewable energy as they consume over the course of a year, leaving the occupants with a net zero energy bill, and a carbon-free home.”

An average non net-zero home, in the United States uses about 10,399 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year. Because a typical home doesn’t have solar panels that generate energy, those 10,399 kilowatt hours are considered wasted. EnergySavvy, puts that data in perspective. “The energy contained in the biggest oil spill in U.S. history is equal to the energy that just 75,000 homes waste in a single year.

Energy Waste

California may be setting the standard, but other states are following suit. A CleanTechnica article reported that, “According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts have incorporated net zero-energy construction into long-range plans.”

You don’t actually have to live in California, or construct a new home to live in a net-zero house. The Zero Energy Project is a great resource for homeowners who can’t afford to outsource a net-zero renovation, or just prefer to do it themselves. They also have a list of home builders who specialize in new construction as well as retrofitting older homes for zero energy consumption.

Harvard University retrofitted a pre-1940’s house on their campus to make an experimental, converted zero energy home. They did so with the understanding that the construction of new, net-zero homes alone isn’t the singular answer to our energy problems. The goal of this “living laboratory” is to learn how to efficiently retrofit a home so that it can produce more energy than it consumes.

Cannabis Dispensaries Create Profits For Homeowners

There was a time when seeing a Starbucks or higher end grocery store like Whole Foods appear in your neighborhood meant the area’s economy was thriving and property values were headed in the right direction. These were companies that sought out customers with the discretionary income necessary to order Iced Dirty Chai Lattes and premium cuts of grass fed organic beef – so seeing one in pop up in your area was a positive sign.

Today, it’s legal cannabis dispensaries that are acting as a beacon – indicating that a neighborhood’s property values are, or soon will be, on the rise. Forbes magazine actually calls cannabis “the next real estate disrupter.” The publishing giant also shared research that showed how legalizing the sale of marijuana in Colorado “increased home values by about 6% – or an average of $15,600 per house.”

In 2018, The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) put out a study called Marijuana and Real Estate: A Budding Issue. The organization surveyed close to 8,000 REALTORS® who were doing business in states where cannabis was legalized either recreationally or medically. They found that a large number reported a jump in both residential and commercial property values.

If you are having a hard time wrapping your head around how a cannabis dispensary could elevate your neighborhood it might be because you are picturing the “head shops” found in strip malls back in the 1980s and 90s. Poorly lit, dusty storefronts that were stocked with rolling papers, tie dyed t-shirts and scented with patchouli.

But now that there is money to be made in this legalized industry, dispensaries want to attract the kind of customers who enjoy calling out their custom order, and shopping organic. Many of these new shop interiors and packaging are beautifully designed and well marketed.

dispensaries

The Architectural Digest article, “Designing for the New Culture of Cannabis” talks about companies like Lowell Herb Co, “a California-based farm, which brings a bucolic farm-to-table concept to its brand. Their Instagram-worthy, organic products are wrapped in rustic-chic packaging, while their one-ounce cannabis bouquet is a charming mix of eucalyptus, greens, and still-on-the-stem pot flowers.”

A real life example of this in an urban setting would be Dispensary 33, a cannabis shop that first opened in Uptown Chicago, on the corner of Clark and Argyle, in 2015. The modern, well lit shop has geometrically designed tables, light wood and clean white packaging. Their arrival just so happened to coincide with an overall revitalization of the area, leading to property value increases. Homes in that area went up 12.9% in this past year alone.

For rural and suburban settings, the increase in tax revenues that dispensaries bring can be transformative to communities. For example, PEW magazine calls garden City Colorado “The Little Town That Pot Built”. Prior to the arrival of the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary they collected approximately $360,000 in business tax revenue each year. Once pot became legalized for recreational use, that number increased to well over $2 million annually.

Thanks to the massive tax revenue increase Garden City has “been able to spend more on public works such as the new sidewalks and crosswalks along Eighth Avenue, the street outside Empire State Pizza. The city also provides grants of up to $8,000 to help local businesses pay for property investments such as facade improvements.”

The reality is that not all homeowners welcome legal dispensaries into their community. The good news, is that when they do come they are proving to raise property values and their target market requires that they deliver an aesthetically attractive and discreet storefront.

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Homebuyers Recognized In New Report

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has published a profile of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Home Buyers and Sellers for the first time in it’s history. NAR added a question about sexual orientation to it’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers study in 2015 in preparation for the report – waiting until they had four years of data before publishing.

“The number of home buyers and sellers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has remained steady at 4% since we first included the question in our HBS survey in 2015,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Given that Millennials now make up 37% of homebuyers and attitudes regarding sexual orientation continue to shift even among Generation Z, we expect to see this percentage increase in future surveys as younger generations are more likely to self-identify as LGB.”

So why was it important for NAR to distinguish what the buying habits and preferences of LGB homeowners were? The most obvious reason is of course to help REALTORS® better serve their clients by helping them understand the market they are working with. NAR will include questions regarding the transgender market in a future study.

But we also have to look at the significance of large-scale organization like NAR publicly recognizing the importance of LGB homebuyers at a time when it is still legal to deny housing on the basis of sexual orientation in 28 states in America. (A statistic that NAR hopes will soon be outdated.)

NAR President John Smaby states, “The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society – including sexual orientation – and Realtors® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so.”

While the dream of homeownership is universal, the report did find that there were differences between LGB and heterosexual homebuyers and sellers – as well as significant differences for those who identified as bisexual. The full report is publicly available, and a few of the findings are highlighted below:

  • Bisexual home buyers were the most likely to indicate they were first-time homebuyers (58%), followed by lesbian and gay buyers (36%) and heterosexuals (32%).
  • More than one-third of bisexual buyers identified as single females (38%), while a quarter of lesbian and gay buyers identified as single men (25%).
  • While heterosexual buyers were the most likely to have children in their households (38%), bisexual buyers were nearly three times as likely to have children in their households compared to lesbian and gay buyers (29% to 11%).
  • Bisexual buyers purchased the smallest and oldest homes, with a median square footage of 1,840 square feet and median year built of 1966. Lesbian and gay buyers followed with a median square footage of 1,900 and a median year built of 1974, while heterosexual buyers purchased the largest and newest homes (2,060 median square feet, 1985 median year).

REALTORS® Urge Congress to Pass LGBT Protections

This past April, thousands of REALTORS® and housing professionals gathered in our nation’s capital to advocate for the LGBT community’s right to pursue the American Dream without fear of discrimination. This determined group gathered at the third annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit –  held at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center in Washington, DC and hosted by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).

The primary objective of the summit was to address the recently reintroduced Equality Act, which if passed would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system. This was no small objective since at the time of the summit it was legal in 28 states to deny housing to potential homebuyers and renters because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

“Housing discrimination exists, and it lowers the amount of homeownership within the LGBTQ community. This diminishes our community, our power and our voice.” said Berger.

NAGLREP founder and West Palm Beach REALTOR® Jeff Berger surveyed homeownership data and discovered that housing discrimination was helping to keep LGBT homeownership rates 16% below the national average. “Housing discrimination exists, and it lowers the amount of homeownership within the LGBTQ community. This diminishes our community, our power and our voice.” said Berger.

The collective hard work and collaboration paid off, because on May 17th the Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives. If the bill continues to move forward, it will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964.“This is a monumental step for the LGBT community in our continued fight for equality,” said Berger.

NAGLREP will continue to actively promote the bill as it moves through the process. Most recently, broker/owner John Graff was invited to attend a working breakfast hosted by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. The breakfast meeting topics encompassed LGBT home ownership topics like fair and affordable housing.

Berger shared that the National Association of REALTORs (NAR) has been a key supporter of the Equality Act since day one. Their Chief Lobbyist, Shannon McGhan was on hand at the summit and NAR continues to be vocal about the need for housing equality. NAR supports this legislation because it advances NAR’s policy supporting fair housing without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  This commitment is embodied in the NAR Code of Ethics.

NAR President John Smaby stated, “The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society – including sexual orientation and gender identity – and Realtors® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so.”

Best Podcasts for Homeowners in 2019

When we scroll on our phones or tablets we often go at breakneck speed – absorbing as much information and entertainment as possible before moving on to the next part of our day. Our handheld devices are tiny escape hatches that contain an endless stream of information. But sometimes, the pace at which we use our devices can make it harder for us to dive deeper into the subjects that interest us.

But podcasts? The modulated voice of the podcast show’s host often sets a comfortable pace – one that can feel more conducive to absorbing the information they are laying down. Best of all, they can play in the background while we tend to other things.

It can be inspiring to listen to podcasts that align with the task that you’re working on while listening. If you’re a homeowner or prospective homeowner who is ready to tackle an overgrown garden, take on the repair jobs you’ve been side-eyeing all winter or are just focused on the topic of homeownership, the following podcasts are for you.


Best Podcast For First-Time Homeowners

Young House Love

Back in 2007, Sherry and John Petersik started a blog to chronicle the ups and downs of buying and renovating their first home. Since then, the couple has gone on to renovate a total of 5 homes, publish a book, create home products for major retailers like Home Depot and Target and start their own podcast.

They remodel with realistic, affordable materials and furniture (think Ikea) and have a sense of humor about the whole process. Their podcast has great guests and offers tips on purchasing your first home as well as coping when things go wrong after you buy.

Some great episodes to get started with are:


Best Podcast(s) For Home Improvement

It was too hard to pick just one podcast for this category, especially since homeownership is pretty much synonymous with home repairs. If you own a home, something is breaking or about to break at any given point. These two podcasts tell you how to do everything from removing squirrels from your attic to installing recessed lighting.

The Money Pit

This nationally syndicated radio show and podcast is hosted by the very pleasant Leslie Segrete and Tom Kraeutler. They are extremely knowledgeable and have a way of explaining repairs that instills confidence in the novice homeowner. The show has a call-in format, so the episodes are always full of unexpected home repair questions.

Some popular episodes to get started with are:

Fix It 101

This NPR podcast is well loved by both homeowners and professionals. It’s a great place to learn how to do some basic home repairs as well as determining if it’s time to call in outside help. The show is based in Mississippi but covers home repair topics relevant to homeowners across the US.

Some fan favorites to begin with are:


Homeowner Advocacy

The Holistic Housing Podcast

The Holistic Housing Podcast is created by the National Association for County Community and Economic Development (NACCED). Hosts Sarah and Laura have a great banter and aren’t afraid to inject humor into their episodes. Show topics include; urban revitalization, placemaking, the American Dream and more. The duo also bring on thought leaders and lawmakers to talk about how current policies affect homeowners and their communities.

Here are a couple of good episodes to get started with:

The REALTOR® Party Podcasts

The REALTOR® Party was created in order to promote the candidates and public policies that support homeowners and their property rights. Though their podcasts are not regularly scheduled, the episodes they have up are worth a listen as they cover policy issues relevant to homeowners.


Best Podcast For Homeowners On The Move:

Real Estate Today Radio

For most of us, our homes are the biggest investment we’ll ever make, so loading up a podcast that give homeowners a competitive edge is worth it. Real Estate Radio maintains fast pace and sticks to relevant and critical information. The host, Stephen Gasque, of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is well suited for the job with a background in both journalism and real estate.

Technically, this is a live radio show, but all the episodes are available podcast style as well. So it’s your preference.

Here are a couple of solid, past episodes to get you started:


Homeowner FinancesAfford Anything

While host Paula Pant has some great expert interviews, the best part of her podcasts is how actionable each of them are. She often breaks down the numbers that are put before her by callers who need help purchasing a home or getting out of debt.

For example, in her May 27, 2019 podcast she helps Amy decide whether or not she should downsize to a smaller home. She also helps Katherine create a budget so she can househack her duplex. (Househacking means buying a multi-unit property that you plan to live in as well as rent out.)

Here are a few of Pant’s podcasts that are most relevant to homeowners:

A New Housing Community In Texas Gives Autistic Adults An Independent Home Life

Clay Heighten and Debra Caudy wanted their son Jon, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to be able to live in his own home one day. As they edged closer to retirement, the idea that Jon might not be prepared, or able, to live in his own home became an increasing concern for them.

The couple realized that there was a big gap in the existing housing market – they were unable to find homes built with the specific needs of autistic adults in mind. There was also little to no education in place to help autistic adults learn how to transition into an independent, home-based lifestyle one day. There were certainly independent living facilities, but nothing that gave residents the full experience of home living.

The couple decided to spearhead their own solution by launching a non-profit with a $750,000 investment of their own money. The money was used to purchase 29 acres of land in 2015 with the long term goal of raising additional funds in order to build a housing development exclusively for adults with ASD on the property.

The couple’s vision was to build a housing community called 29 Acres – a development built specifically to support the safety, independence and spatial needs of ASD adults. Because Autism occurs on a spectrum, the couple wanted to make sure the development was set up to support residents who needed additional assistance and also empower the high-functioning residents who would go on to purchase or rent their own homes outside of the community one day.

Groundbreaking

Once it is fully completed, the community will have 15 homes, and provide the experience of independent home living to 60 ASD adults. This shared home setup creates a healthy mix of social and private space for residents. It also means that ASD adults who need day-to-day support will be able to have caregivers live with them. Plans for the housing complex include beautiful grounds and an activity center. The activity center will serve as a social gathering place as well hosting the 29 Acres residential Transition Academy.

The academy is an integral part of the couple’s vision. It is a 2 year, tuition based, residential transition program for high-functioning young adults on the autism spectrum. One of the academy’s goals is to set residents up for success should they decide to move out and become homeowners or renters outside of 29 Acres one day.

As of today, 29 Acres has broken ground and Phase I of their construction process, eight homes, the community center, a pool and walking paths, are underway. Residents should be able to move into the community the summer of 2020.

However, the organization didn’t wait for construction to finish in order to begin their mission of empowerment. They rented homes in Little Elm, Texas so they could begin offering independent living to eight ASD adults as well as providing them with a trial run of their residential Transition Academy.  Eight more students will begin in 2019 and by 2020 there will be 32 students enrolled in the program.

The organization is also providing education outreach services to ASD adults in surrounding communities. Currently they are offering a summer, day program called Enrich 29 and host a weekly club called 29 Friends that helps adults with autism share meaningful experiences together.