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While most of us are familiar with new-car smellâthat distinct scent of a brand-new automobileâhome buyers might have caught a whiff of another scent entirely during their home-shopping spree: new-house smell.
What exactly is new-house smell? Also known as new-construction smell, it’s essentially a combination of smells given off by the many materials that go into building a houseâthings like fresh paint, carpet, wood, and adhesives. If thereâs any new furniture in the home, that could be contributing to the smell as well.
But is new-house smell unhealthy to breathe in, day after day? Here’s a closer look at what new-house smell is made of, and how to get rid of it, too.
What is new-house smell?
Before we dive deep into new-house smell, letâs take a step backâway backâand look at what causes anything to smell in the first place.
Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University, says all smells come from molecules in the air that your nose can detect. The molecules must evaporate to get into the air, and the more likely they are to evaporate, the more volatile they are and the easier they are to inhale and detect as odors.
âIf you can smell it, itâs because of a molecule in the air,â Carroll says. âThe fact that itâs in the air means that it is a volatile compound at least to some extent.”
As scary as “volatile” sounds, it doesnât necessarily mean a substance is dangerous or explosive. Carroll says it simply means that something can easily evaporate into the atmosphere, thus releasing an odor. For example, he says metals arenât very volatile, which is why you probably donât smell much (hopefully) if you sniff your stainless-steel refrigerator. Other materials like paints, adhesives, and plastics, however, are more highly volatile.
Are VOCs dangerous?
While new-house smells aren’t necessarily dangerous, there is some concern about certain types of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that exist in some building materials (e.g., paint, carpet, and furniture). Some have been linked to health issues, including cancer and central nervous system damage in people (e.g., construction workers who don’t wear face masks) exposed to high quantities of such materials.
“When you talk about VOCs that raise health concerns, that goes more to a substance’s inherent toxicity or reactivity,” Carroll says. “Itâs the difference between smelling a banana and smelling paint stripper, for example. They’re both volatile, but they have very different toxicities.”
“Regardless of odor, the ability of some of the VOCs emitted from any of [building] products and materials to cause health impacts or create other dangerous conditions varies greatly, depending on several factors,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “These factors may include the type and amount of VOCs emitted, the toxicity of the individual and combined VOCs, the ventilation rate in the space, the type and amount of other materials in the space, occupant level of exposure and length of time exposed, and the health of the exposed occupants.”
However, this is definitely not to say that a new-house smell will make you sick.
Watch: Get Smoker’s Smell Out of Your House for GoodâHere’s How
The good news is that because of concerns raised over certain dangerous VOCs in the past 40 to 50 years, thereâs a been a strong movement to reduce them. Carroll says thatâs most apparent in regard to paint. While oil-based paints used to emit high levels of VOCs and the odor would linger for a long time, todayâs paints contain virtually no VOCs and their odor dissipates more quickly.
In general, that means new houses today have much less of a pronounced smell than they did a years agoâand are less hazardous. For the overwhelming majority of the population, the odor is at worst a nuisance.
To reduce any potential indoor airârelated health impacts from VOCs, the EPA recommends using low-emitting products and building materials and increasing ventilation. The agency also offers further information on VOCs and indoor air auality.
How to get rid of new-house smell
âIf you like new-house smell, thatâs OK,â Carroll says. âIf you donât, itâs important to remember that the solution is dilution.â
He says for an empty house, that means opening the windows to air things out, and usually in a matter of days that new-house smell will disappear. Another solution is to âbakeâ a new home. Since some VOCs evaporate more quickly at higher heats, this technique has a homeowner turn up the heat in the unoccupied house for a few days while running fans to push them out the windows. Running exhaust fans and using an air purifier may speed things up, too.
Carroll says what’s more concerning than new-house smell, however, is what you bring into your place on your own.
âThe greatest source of VOCs is the stuff you bring into your house,â Carroll says. Items such as furniture, cleaners, waxes, and fragrances expose people to far more VOCs over the course of a lifetime.
Know this: If youâre moving into a new home and get a whiff of that telltale new-house smell, it will eventually wear off, even if you do nothing. Promise.
The post What Is New-House Smell? A Reality Check on the Risks, and How To Get Rid of It appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Utahâs real estate market has been hot nearly the whole year. How did it perform in November? Homie has your update!
Data from Utah MLS from November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
According to data from the Utah MLS, Utah had 4,335 sales from November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020. Of those sales, 75.6% were single-family homes, while 24.4% were multi-family residences.
The sales this month are slightly lower than the 5,602 sales in October of this year, but itâs a +18% increase from November 2019, which is an even larger percentage increase than the year-over-year comparison we saw in October. This means the market is following the usual end-of-year slowdown, but the market is still quite strong compared to a year ago.
Even though monthly sales saw the usual end-of-year slow-down, sale prices continued to rise. At $379K, Utahâs median sale price rose +2.4% from October of this year and 16.8% from November 2019.
List Price (Per Square Foot)
List prices in Utah rose during November along with sales prices. Novemberâs median list price per square foot was $175.92, which is up from the previous monthsâ median of $170.25 per square foot.
Days on Market (DOM)
Homes in Utah continue to sell quickly. The Average Cumulative Days on Market (DOM) during November was 9. This is a 72% decrease from November of last year. Prospective Utah homeowners will need to act quickly to get the homes theyâre interested in.
Number of Homes Listed With Homie
A total of 182 homies listed their homes with Homie during the month of November. This number is up from 154 during the same time period last year.
Turn to a Homie
Homieâs local real estate agents can help you navigate Utahâs hot housing market and find your ideal home. Work with a Homie to get an amazing deal whether youâre buying or selling. Click the links to get in touch with your dedicated agent.
The post Homieâs Utah Housing Market Update November 2020 appeared first on Homie Blog.
Courtesy Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
We are African-Americans and want to retire to a diverse area with moderate population, warm, beach, culture. We can afford a better-than-average lifestyle and want to feel accepted in our new community â hopefully somewhere with high walkability and homes with character. And maybe near a major airport…. for lots of traveling.
Let me know what you come up with.Â Thanks.
We all know there are plenty of beach towns in the U.S., but finding one with personality is a bigger challenge.
Iâm going to leave out some obvious places, like Miami Beach and, though less diverse, Hilton Head. On the West Coast, no Southern California. Too obvious. Plus, while you can afford a better-than average lifestyle, home prices there are so high that they could hamper your travel budget. The same goes for Sag Harbor and the Hamptons more broadly (plus youâd still have winter on Long Island).
Instead, Iâll look for some off-the-beaten path possibilities. Iâm sure readers will have their own suggestions.
As always, explore the area in all seasons, and be realistic about the retirement budget. When you find your dream place, ask which areas are susceptible to flooding during hurricanes and other storms.
The Atlantic: Wilmington, North Carolina
Check out the Cape Fear region, which includes Wilmington as well as beach towns like Carolina Beach and the more upscale Wrightsville Beach.
WilmingtonÂ is growing quickly and at 123,000 people has more than half of New Hanover Countyâs population. The share of those 65 and older are roughly in line with the U.S. average. Look for a place where youâll catch a breeze off the Intracoastal Waterway or the ocean to counter the summer humidity â so not too far inland.
Youâll have no shortage of cultural offerings, starting withÂ Thalian Hall, theÂ Cameron Art MuseumÂ and theÂ Wilson Center. The University of North Carolina Wilmington, which has 17,000 students, lets those 65 and olderÂ audit classes for free, while itsÂ Osher Lifelong Learning InstituteÂ offers shorter courses to those 50 and older.
Be sure to explore theÂ Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which stretches from Wilmington to Jacksonville, Fla., and is home to cultural groups descended from enslaved peoples from West and Central Africa.Â Poplar Grove PlantationÂ is one local site.
Winter days get into the 50s, with average lows in the 40s. Average highs in July are in the 80s.
Hereâs whatâs on the housing market now inÂ WilmingtonÂ and inÂ New Hanover CountyÂ using Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.).
As for travel, whileÂ Wilmington has an airport, youâll have more choicesÂ flying from RaleighÂ two hours away.
The Gulf of Mexico: Gulfport, Florida
Floridaâs popularity with retirees is no secret, in part because itâs affordable and has no state income tax. But all too often, home means living in a high rise or a gated community.
Gulfport, though, is described asÂ how Key West was before it became overrun with tourists.
This town of 12,000, just west of St. Petersburg, is your artsy, funky, walkable spot in the middle of the Tampa Bay metro area and its 3 million people. Youâll also find plenty of retirees; 30% of Gulfportâs residents are 65 or older.
Gulfport comes with sunset views from its own (man-made) strip of sand over Boca Ciega Bay so, yes, itâs on the Gulf side of Florida but technically not on the Gulf of Mexico. But opposite the bay is St. Pete Beach, whichÂ gets raves from TripAdvisorÂ (a local says head to the Pass-A-Grille section at the southern tip). When you tire of that, there are more white-sand beaches to sink your toes in, including Siesta Beach in Sarasota an hour south (andÂ Dr. Beachâs pick in 2017 for best beach in the U.S.) as well as Caladesi Island State Park (No. 6 on Dr. Beachâs list this year) an hour north.
And if you just want to walk, donât overlook theÂ 45-mile Pinellas TrailÂ that stretches from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs and goes through the northern edge of Gulfport.
For bigger getaways, thereâsÂ Tampa International Airport.
To get a sense of the local housing market,Â hereâs whatâs for sale now, again using Realtor.com.
As you explore the Tampa area, also check out Safety Harbor, a town of 18,000 on the western side of Tampa Bay with its own walkable downtown, and Dunedin (pronounced Duh-nee-din) north of Clearwater thatâs also popular with retirees. You know thereâs plenty of cultural offerings in a metro this size. One that might be easy to overlook: theÂ Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American MuseumÂ in St. Petersburg.
The Pacific: Oahu, Hawaii
If year-round pleasant weather is the priority, Hawaii canât be beat. Average highs are in the 80s year-round, and average lows bottom out in the mid-60s. Of course thereâs no shortage ofÂ beautiful beaches.
When you tire of water, take advantage of wonderfulÂ hiking opportunities. And while the focus of your international travels might shift toward Asia, you may want to spend more time just staying, discovering Hawaiian culture andÂ exploring some of the national parks.
You admittedly wonât find a big population of African-Americans here, butÂ Hawaiians have a much more open and fluid view of race and diversityÂ than many of us on the mainland.
Start your search for your retirement life on Oahu Island. About a third of the islandâs million residents live in Honolulu itself,Â one of the countryâs most diverse and affluent citiesÂ and the birthplace of President Barack Obama. Curious aboutÂ sites associated with himÂ in some way?Â Here are even more.
Youâll find plenty of cultural offerings in Honolulu (including some ofÂ Hawaiiâs best festivals, as voted by readers of Hawaiâi Magazine), plus the state university (those 60 and older can audit classes for free).
Thereâs even Costco, if thatâs your thing. Oh, andÂ that Elvis statue…
Yes, thereâs the cost of getting everything to Hawaii â some things will be even more expensive than parts of California. HereâsÂ what the local housing market looks like.
If Honolulu is too pricey, consider some of the smaller towns on the island. Or check out the less-populated (and cheaper) Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island. Start with theÂ Kalaoa area.
The post We Want a Diverse Area With Moderate Population, Warm, Beach and CultureâSo Where Should We Retire? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Real estate borrowers who are already struggling to pay the mortgages on their Manhattan retail properties have also been hit with a sharp cut to those properties’ assessed values. So reports MarketWatch.
The values for Manhattan retail properties for which lenders ordered new appraisals since July—often done when borrowers seek debt relief or fall behind on their payments—were down 53% from their value at the time of securitization, according to data from real-estate data platforms Trepp and CompStak.
Trepp and CompStak, which looked at $5 billion of Manhattan retail property debt, said that the lion’s share of those properties were in “the Chelsea/Clinton and Greenwich Village/SoHo neighborhoods.”
Read the full article from MarketWatch.
Think two seasoned certified financial planners would have an easy time buying a house? Tony and Barbara Matheson would beg to differ.
In fall 2019, these empty nesters found themselves itching to downsize from their large rental in the ultraexpensive San Francisco Bay Area. Hoping to buy a reasonably priced house within walking distance of restaurants and other amenities, they set their sights on Sacramento, CA. Armed with a healthy income, solid credit history, and a deep knowledge of personal finances—plus they’d owned property before—they figured they would sail through the home-buying process.
Six months and three lost bidding wars later, they realized that Sacramento’s real estate market was far more cutthroat than they’d imagined.
In March, the Mathesons finally purchased a three-bedroom, one-bathroom 1926 Tudor on a tree-lined street. With the closing papers signed, they figured they were home-free—but COVID-19 was about to throw another curveball into the picture.
Here Tony shares their story, and his hard-won lessons for aspiring first-time home buyers and others who want to learn what buying real estate is really like today.
Location: Sacramento, CA
House specs: 1,225 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
List price: $550,000
Price paid: $580,000
Why did you decide to move?
We’d been living in the Bay Area and were looking to downsize since both of our kids had moved out. We wanted to be near downtown Sacramento, close to restaurants, bars, museums, and coffee shops.
I’d think home buying would be a breeze for two finance pros. How did it go?
I was really surprised by how tough the market was. After five months touring homes, we made an offer on our first house. This house went into a bidding war; we had to raise our bid five times before tapping out.
Next, we fell in love with a second home. This time, we offered the sellers $30,000 over the asking price. The sellers had so many other bids, they never even bothered to counter our offer.
We found a third home, and once again bid over the asking price. But after five tries, we lost out again. It was heartbreaking.
How awful! Why do you think these homes sold to other buyers?
We came prepared with what most consider strong financials for making an offer on a single-family home: great credit scores, a significant down payment, pre-approval for a mortgage. We offered good earnest money and 15-day escrow, didn’t include an appraisal contingency, and probably had a few other bonuses to the seller that I’ve forgotten. So we were doing everything “right.”
What we were finding is that we were up against some other buyers who were making all-cash offers, sometimes $50,000 above the asking price. How does anyone compete with that?
So how did you finally get an offer accepted?
We were extremely fortunate that we had a great real estate agent who was able to find a home that hadn’t been listed yet. We could negotiate one on one with the seller without having to compete against multiple offers.
The sellers had planned to invest $30,000 to $40,000 on home improvements before putting it on the market. We offered to buy the house as is, without the improvements. After going back and forth a few times, the sellers took our offer.
What did you like about this house?
We knew within 5 seconds of walking into the house that this was the one. It was the perfect neighborhood. We were close to everything, within walking distance to plenty of bars and restaurants. The outdoor area is gorgeous. Beautiful trees surround our house, and the house is the perfect size for us.
So once your offer was accepted, what happened next?
The sellers weren’t prepared to move immediately. They needed time to prepare. So we rented the house back to the sellers for a month after closing. We closed on Valentine’s Day, but we didn’t move in until mid-March.
Little did we know what was about to happen.
March is when the coronavirus really hit. What was it like moving during that time?
It was difficult and terrifying in the beginning. We moved in ourselves without hiring movers. Then, after we moved in, it was quite an adjustment. Simple things like calling an electrician or completing other minor home projects were enormously difficult.
Did you make any renovations to your home?
We put $10,000 to $12,000 into the house so far. The major issue after moving in was electricity—it needed to be completely reconfigured. For example, the second bedroom, which became my office, only had two plugs. Between my monitors for work, computers, Peloton, cellphones, and other devices, I needed 12 plugs. We also wanted to put in a tankless water heater for more space, and install a security system.
How did quarantine affect these repairs?
It was horrible. We couldn’t get anyone to come out to do any work for at least three months. For the first month, no one was booking. Then, when we could finally get through, the businesses were overwhelmed with requests.
What was it like when you finally settled in?
It was exhilarating, exciting, and weird. Exhilarating because we got the house we wanted. Exciting because we were beginning a new phase in our lives. And weird because we moved in at the beginning of the pandemic. We wanted to have a housewarming party, but of course, we couldn’t.
What is your advice for aspiring home buyers?
Even if your finances are completely buttoned up, be prepared that buying a house may be a difficult and even painful process.
Emotionally it does get hard. As much as you try not to get attached to a house during the negotiation process, you can’t help it. And there is a competitive drive that kicks in when you are in a bidding war with others. It’s draining.
Still, in the end, knowing that you’ve overcome challenges along the way just makes you more appreciative of the reward at the end. We have a place to call home amidst all this craziness. It’s all worth it.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued two final rules easing mortgage-lending rules about a borrower’s repayment ability. So reports Reuters.
The move by the consumer watchdog aims to expand the mortgage options for lower-income borrowers by lowering the liability risk to lenders.
One of the CFPB’s new rules substitutes a price-based limit for the current 43% debt-to-income ratio limit in the definition of a general “qualified mortgage.”
Read the full article from Reuters.
You hear these terms thrown around all the time: Second home, investment property, vacation home, rental property. But is there any real difference among them? And does it even matter what you call it?
As it turns out, there are some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are financing it.
“Both are fantastic ways to build wealth over time by capturing the appreciation of a real asset,” says Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate in Denver. However, “both come with inherent risks and expenses that should be carefully considered when making a purchase.”
As with any real estate transaction, you’ll want to do your homework and make a smart choice for your wallet, no matter which path you go down. We chatted with experts to get the scoop.
What is a second home?
A second home is just that: a second property where you and your family spend time, away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days each year on Airbnb or VRBO, but you primarily use it yourself.
Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels or Airbnb when you can own your own piece of paradise that will hopefully appreciate in value over time?
“Let’s say you live in San Francisco, but you are an avid skier in the winter and like to hike in the summer,” says Rachel Olsen, a real estate agent in California. “If you spend many weekends and vacations in Lake Tahoe, it may make sense to purchase a second home there.”
What is an investment property?
An investment property, on the other hand, is one that you purchase with the explicit intention of generating income. The investment property could be right next door to your own home, or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home.
“Never forget that an investment property is all about the Benjamins,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of financial services firm Noel Taylor Agency. “The entire point is to turn a profit. No emotions, no affection.”
Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants (e.g., access to public transportation, good schools, parking, and low crime rates).
How to finance a second home or investment property
If you’re paying cash, you can skip this section. But if you need a mortgage for your new property, you should know that financing a second home or investment property is very different from financing a primary residence. And, while mortgages on second homes and investment properties have some similarities, there are also some key differences.
- Interest rate: You can expect to see a higher interest rate for both second homes or investment properties than for primary homes. Why? Because lenders view those transactions as riskier. If you get into a tight spot with money, you’re far more likely to stop paying the mortgage for your second/investment property than for your primary home.
- Qualifying: Whether you’re buying a second home or an investment property, you might need to do some extra legwork in order to qualify for that second loan. Your bank may require you to prove that you have healthy cash reserves (so it knows you can afford both mortgages). It’ll take a long, hard look at your overall financial situation, so be sure everything is on the up and up before you apply.
- Down payment: Depending on your situation and the lender, you might also need to bring a larger down payment to the table for an investment property or second home, typically 15% to 25%. Again, this is because the bank wants a bigger cushion to fall back on in case you default.
- Rental income: If you’re buying an investment property, your lender might allow you to show that anticipated rental income will help cover the mortgage payments. However, proving how much rental income the home will generate can be complicated. Prepare to pay for a specialized appraisal that takes into account comparable rents in your area.
- Location: Your lender may require a second home to be 50 to 100 miles away from your primary home. An investment property, however, can be anywhere in comparison to your primary home, even next door.
- Taxes: Federal income tax rules are different for vacation homes and investment properties. Generally, you’ll treat your second home just as you would your first home when it comes to taxes—if you itemize, you can deduct the mortgage interest you paid up to a certain limit. (The rules vary if you rent out your second home for part of the year.) If you own an investment property, you get to deduct the mortgage interest, plus many of the expenses that come with operating a rental business, but you also have to report your rental income, too.
Why it’s important to not confuse the two
It’s important that you’re totally clear about the difference and not use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this.
If you lie on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense.
Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. They’ll take the big picture into account when deciding what loan terms to offer you, says real estate attorney David Reischer.
“A single-family residence by a lake that is located in a completely different state from the borrower’s primary residence is much more acceptable to be categorized as a second home by a bank underwriter,” he says. “A multifamily-unit property with rental income in an urban area is likely to be treated as an investment property.”
Bottom line: Keep everything aboveboard, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.