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Real Estate Associations

Fresh NAR report reveals the housing and lifestyle trends of COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) This latest NAR report on housing and lifestyle shows some interesting trends based on COVID-19 and overall cultural changes.

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Open housing with large kitchen and backyard more desirable.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – the nation’s largest trade association – typically conducts a report called the Community and Transportation Preference Survey on migration and lifestyle trends every two years to inform the realty and transportation trends of the current moment. Due to the unprecedented cultural shifts as a result of COVID-19, NAR has decided to conduct two reports this year; one pre-pandemic last February, and one in July. Here’s some of their most interesting findings about housing wants:

  • What’s the group most affected by the pandemic? Young people – specifically young people with children. As a young person without children, my heart goes out to all of you raising the next generation right now.
  • People under 40 are the most likely to say that their life has been negatively impacted during this time. Perhaps that’s because people over 40 tend to be more settled in their lifestyles, have steady careers and have already bought their homes. Young people just aren’t set up for pandemics the way older people are. *sigh*
  • Overall, people in the survey noted a reduced need to live near highways, their place of employment, or public transportation. Because, where would you be going anyways? And why in such a hurry?
  • The desire to be near public transportation is down 8% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Similarly, the desire to be near the highway is down 5%. I’m guessing this is because getting in your car and going on the highway is less of a risk than taking public transportation.
  • There is substantial demand for walkability across the board. You truly can pace around your apartment too much, and the masses are craving a change of scenery and some fresh air.
  • Those who are 55+ and higher income folks also report an increased desire for walkability.
  • That being said, those who live in areas where there are a lot of places to walk nearby reported an 8% better quality of life.
  • Families with children in school reported an increased desire for detached houses (no thank you, cramped apartment buildings!) and BIG yards. This is especially interesting, as back in pre-pandemic February, it was a smaller yard with a walkable neighborhood that was these same families found more desirable.

Some of these findings seem obvious – of course everyone wants a bigger house and bigger yard when you can’t go anywhere else. However, I think there is something to be said about the merit of having a formal survey with real data to validate our feelings about housing and lifestyle during such a strange and unprecedented time.

For some background, NAR conducts these housing and lifestyle surveys every 2 years, polling 2,000 individuals from the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country. They have been conducting these surveys for two decades, the purpose being to track or predict what housing and transportation might look like for investors.

Besides the trends that were anticipated during this era, I think it’s especially important to note the increased desire to own homes in walkable yet non-urban settings (the possibility of owning a spacious home in the city is inherently not as viable as owning one in the suburbs or the country). I think what we’re going to see is young people aspiring to be homeowners again (hear that, millennials?), as a mass exodus from dense city life ensues.

As someone who loves the city and never wants to leave, I personally hope to take advantage of this cultural shift, which I hope will be reflected in increased rent drops. Fingers crossed!

Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

Real Estate Associations

NAR and AARP partner to create livability index for house hunting

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCATIONS) The National Association of Realtors® and AARP integrated the AARP Livability Index scores across the Realtors Property Resource® platform.

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A neighborhood with close-together houses, with different livability factors.

When you’re searching for your dream home, there are a lot of things to consider besides what you can afford from a financial standpoint. Factors such as being able to have a short commute to work, living in an area with a good school district, or being close to nearby entertainment and restaurants are all things you might take a look at. These are all considered livability factors — the measure of how various community characteristics play into where you choose to live.

Having access to all this information can be difficult to come by, especially if you live out of state and aren’t familiar with the area. The information you do have access to is what is available in the home listing and answers you get from your realtor or seller, but not much else.

So, where can you go to get that information? Well, the National Association of Realtors® and AARP are making it less of a hassle to acquire that information. In a joint effort, the two are integrating the AARP Livability Index scores across the Realtors Property Resource® platform.

“One of AARP’s goals through this collaboration with NAR is to help people better understand their housing needs over their lifetime and address the barriers that prevent people from living in their desired communities as they age,” said Rodney Harrell, VP of Family, Home & Community at AARP. “We are thrilled about the AARP Livability Index integration as it will provide homebuyers and other movers with the necessary information to make informed choices that meet their needs for today and into the future.”

To assist and give property buyers a chance to make “age-friendly decisions and purchases for the home”, the Index will offer insights on community factors. The tool will access these 7 categories of livability:

  • Housing (affordability and access)
  • Neighborhood (access to life, work, and play)
  • Transportation (safe and convenient options)
  • Environment (clean air and water)
  • Health (prevention, access and quality)
  • Engagement (civic and social involvement)
  • Opportunity (inclusion and possibilities)

The tool will score each neighborhood between 0 to 100, with an average score being 50. Communities with more diverse features that appeal to all ages, incomes, and abilities will score higher than those that are not.

Although a total livability score is based on the average of all 7 category scores, the Index lets you customize your score based on your personal preferences. If transportation is more important to you than housing or the environment, the tool will take into account what you set as most important.

The AARP Livability Index will give Realtors® access to “robust national data” that can be broken down by address, ZIP Code, city, or county to share with buyers. This data will have information on updated metrics and policies. You’ll also be able to compare up to three community performances side by side and even share a score on social media.

What is considered “livable” is different for each person. It can be that affordable home right in the middle of town or that spacious house removed from the bustling city. Whatever your form of livability is, the AARP Livability Index score aims to help you find the right home in just the right community.

This story first appeared here in May 2021.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR updates code of ethics – here’s why it matters

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION) The NAR amended their code of ethics to cover hate speech online – a decision for which we’ve been waiting for years.

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A welcome sign inside of a home that cannot be removed thanks to updated code of ethics

The National Association of Realtors voted to amend their realtor code of ethics in November 2020, leading to a crucial addition that will change the way realtors approach off-duty interactions and behavior—for the better.

This motion passed on the heels of several reports regarding disturbing speech and actions from realtors. While the comments in question were allegedly restricted to social media, some other members of the NAR went so far as to do things like remove property (e.g., Black Lives Matter signs) from neighbors’ yards. This clearly constitutes an ethical violation, but the line isn’t always so clear-cut—hence the updated code of ethics.

According to the revised code, any kind of hate speech or dissenting behavior toward protected classes from realtors will constitute a violation; this includes comments or harassment based on race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, and much more. Should a realtor be found guilty of making such comments, they could face severe penalties.

Changing the code of ethics to reflect common decency is a part of this decision, but it isn’t the most important component. By adopting and enforcing these changes, the NAR gets one step closer to fair housing for all—something that many realtors consider to be of paramount value.

“[Fair housing] is something near and dear to my heart, and most Realtors’ hearts,” says Jennifer Stevenson, president of the New York State Association of Realtors and board member for the NAR.

Some may view this addition as meddlesome—after all, what one says in their private life and on social media has a certain impervious air to it. But the fact remains that realtors really are public servants; by that logic, they should be held accountable for their words whether they are on-duty or off—just like all other public servants.

Furthermore, realtors represent real estate as a whole; the institution itself deserves to be able to eradicate the member status of anyone who violates the ethics held by that institution. It’s a simple concept: Society is—or should be—moving towards greater acceptance and support of protected classes, and that support includes fair housing. Anyone who isn’t on board with that, even if it’s “just in their personal life”, should jump ship now.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR supports economic inclusion for equal housing opportunities

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR is pushing to insure anyone who wants a home can get one through a combination of economic inclusion, and eliminating implicit bias.

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economic inclusion

The National Association of Realtors® is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity that addresses accessibility to housing based on economic inclusion. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said,

“We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing and opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to Fair Housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”

What is economic inclusion?

According to the FDIC, economic inclusion describes the efforts to bring underserved communities into the financial mainstream. This could include things like making sure consumers have access to bank accounts and financial services; protections against discriminatory lending practices; and other types of consumer protections. Although the FDIC’s efforts seem to focus on unbanked and underbanked consumers, economic inclusion reaches around to all financial transactions, including housing.

Research from the Brookings Institution cites barriers to economic inclusion as slowing economic growth in local communities. Giving underserved communities access to financial products and opportunities actually spurs the local economy. The government bears the weight of services for the underserved. For example, childhood poverty costs the U.S. economy about 4% of the GDP annually. Nationwide, that is about $500 billion a year. Economic inclusion gives people a way out. It’s not a hand-out, but education and opportunities to change the future.

The NAR is making real change for the underserved

Last week, it was announced that the NAR introduced tools that would reduce implicit bias. Goldberg said, “NAR has spent recent years reexamining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.” The NAR isn’t just talking about it. They’re putting their money behind inclusion, and preventing unfair housing practices. These kind of changes matter for everyone.

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