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Homeownership

American marriage is happening later and it’s not why you think

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Marriage is happening later and later with Americans and economists believe it’s not just about the changing face of relationships; it’s also about money and wanting to wait for financial stability.

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As we know, homeownership is a cornerstone of American family life. Homes provide long-term financial stability as a major investment for homeowners. Furthermore, they also provide a strong environment in which to raise a family; so many of us have fond memories of running around our backyards, or cozying up in the family room.

So, it stands to reason that homeownership and marriage are tied together; many couples will buy a home soon before or soon after they get hitched.

With all that said, some of the following statistics may be alarming, as it points to a trend that may play into the delay of homeownership.

Lots of data gathered over the past few years shows Americans are marrying later and later, if at all, according to a report from The Guardian. Today, Half of American adults are married, compared to 75 percent in 1960. The disparities are mostly consistent with class divisions.

Per the Guardian article, “26 percent of poor adults are married, compared with 51 percent in 1990.” That same study found 39 percent of the modern working class of adults are married, but that number was 57 percent in the 90s.

Education is closely tied with financial status, so an education disparity is also present. Today, 50 percent of adults with a high school are married; that rate was over 60 percent 25 years ago.

As the Guardian puts it, “Young people are increasingly seeing marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” event, a crowning achievement once other goals have been reached, rather than a launchpad for adulthood.”

That achievement is financial stability, and many more Americans are feeling a financial crunch.

There’s data to back this up, too. For example, a poll found “nearly half of never-married adults with incomes under 30k say being financially insecure is a major reason” behind their lack of marital commitment to a partner.

Part of steady income is a steady job, and past Pew Research found 78 of never-married women wanted a future partner to have a steady job.

A decline in manufacturing jobs is contributing to this as well, per some economic research on the subject, which may help to explain how the steepest drops in marriage rates come from the lower and middle class.

It’s not unreasonable to speculate that major living costs factor into that decision as well. For example, with real estate prices going up around the country, especially in major cities with strong job markets, the capstone that is owning a home is pushed farther away from the average American.

If marriage and homeownership are so closely tied together, the delay of one may also contribute to a delay in the other.

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

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Homeownership

Top 10 cities with the most immigrant homeowners

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) It’s no coincidence that the most exciting areas of our country are also the most diverse.

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immigrant homeowners

What do Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. all have in common? They’re all part of the top 10 cities with the highest number of immigrant homeowners. Other things they share include being hubs for culture, cuisine, tourism, which is perhaps why they’ve become homes to the United States’ most diverse and thriving economies.

What does this show us? Immigrants are pursuing higher-level jobs in urban areas and laying roots. Consequently, these areas are flourishing in part due to increased competition in every industry.

But it’s not just those cities, here is the full top 10 list of cities with the highest number of foreign-born homeowners:

  1. Miami, FL
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Riverside, CA
  6. Houston, TX
  7. Las Vegas, NV
  8. New York City, NY
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. San Diego, CA

Why is this important?

Given that so many of us immigrated or are children of those who did (shout out to my great-grandparents and their courage), the result is clear. While some consider immigration to be invasive and detrimental to the American way of life, here is the truth: people of other cultures are here; through contributing to a wide variety of industries, they are finding success (enough to buy a home), and we’re better off because of it.

Cities with the lowest foreign-born homeownership (Pittsburgh, PA; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; St. Louis, MO; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Columbus, OH; Kansas City, MO; Buffalo, NY; Indianapolis, IA) reflect a different result. Cincinnati, Louisville, KY, and St. Louis aren’t as strong economically as the booming economies in Texas and California.

Why is this immigrant homeownership cause for celebration? In an over-simplified example, consider food. Think of the least diverse city you’ve visited. Now think of the dining options regularly available there. How many of them are mediocre, boring, or flat-out unimpressive? In a diverse and dynamic area, the dining options are LIMITLESS. The competition is fierce and as a result, restaurants and vendors produce incredible work. No one in L.A. has ever said “There are no good places to eat.” Scale that up to every industry and the proof is in the pudding – immigrants are lifting up economies, and we are better for it.

To all the immigrants about whom this article is written — a tip of the cap. Keep living your dream.

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Homeownership

6 smart locks that will knock off your socks

(TECHNOLOGY) Smart locks are a growing part of the smart home – know these for yourself and/or your clients and you’ll be sock-less (get it?).

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Smart locks can offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience, but there are a few things you might want to consider before installing or recommending one to a client.

Smart locks give you and anyone you choose, the freedom to come and go without carrying a key, however, that’s also the first thing you may want to consider: in order for smart locks to be “smart,” they need power. This means you’ll need plenty of good quality batteries and the foresight to change them regularly; otherwise your smart lock won’t function. 



Also, renters will need to check with the landlord before making any changes to the existing locks, as some leases do not allow you to alter your locks in any way (although there may be a sneaky way around this if folks are so minded, but please bear in mind, you could be evicted or even be breaking the law by installing a smart lock, or any lock, without permission).

Aside from these few considerations, and the rare possibility of the lock malfunctioning, the benefits for most people, over using a traditional, physical key, outweigh the drawbacks. Here are seven of our favorite smart locks on the market:

1. Kevo Kwikset Smart Lock ($215)

kevo smart lock

The Kevo Smart Lock by Kwikset is a favorite for a few reasons. First, Kevo uses a Bluetooth-based close-range authentication system (which is more secure than the geofence auto-unlocking that many other locks utilize). Kevo also gives you several different options for controlling the lock: you can use a physical key, the smartphone app, or a wireless key fob (like the one you likely use for your car).

By accessing the app, you can control eKeys, as well who has access to the eKeys. Kevo also offers a “Kevo Plus” upgrade ($100), that allows you to monitor your Kevo when you’re away from home. This includes the Kevo Plus wireless gateway for monitoring. 

To unlock your door, simply tap the top of the door lock and it will communicate with your phone via Bluetooth and unlock; if your phone battery happens to die before you get home, you can use a physical key, the fob, or log in to your Kevo account from another smartphone and your eKeys will be transferred allowing you access.

The Kevo lock uses multiple levels of encryption to increase digital security and contains Kwikset’s patented SmartKey technology, which is tested to the most stringent lock picking, key bumping, and physical security standards. Nothing will be 100% secure, but Kwikset has been manufacturing locks for more than 60 years and the Kevo is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Grade 2. There are 3 levels, 1-3, with number 1 being the highest rated.

2. August Smart Lock ($200)

august smart lock
Remember when I said there might be an exception for apartment dwellers and renters? The August Smart Lock is the exception. It is a good solution (remembering the caveats mentioned above) for renters who want a smart home but aren’t explicitly allowed to change their locks.

The drawback to this lock is, you’ll need a gateway, the August Connect, much like Kevo Plus, for remote access. The August replaced just the interior plate and lever of your existing deadbolt, so the exterior hardware remains unchanged.

You can also add a few accessories: a keypad, the app, and a wireless connection bridge. In order for the August to be compatible with Echo/Alexa, HomeKit/Siri, or Google Home/Assistant, you will need the Wi-Fi Bridge which is not included. There have also been reports that this lock is particularly bad at draining batteries. While it does have a few drawbacks, it is a good choice for anyone happy with their existing locks, but still looking to add a lock to their smarthome setup.

3. Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt ($230)

schlage
The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt is the most unique smart lock on this list because you’ll never have to deal with a key or an app to use it. Instead, you use the digital touchscreen. Schlage’s lock integrates with several different home automation systems, including Amazon Alexa.

One of the most unique features about this smart lock is that if anyone tampers with the lock/door, you’ll be notified and if anyone pushes against the door too forcefully, a piercing alarm will sound and you’ll be alerted to help deter break-ins. Schlage’s lock is also the only lock in this list rated one by ANSI. If you’re looking for a lock that will still let friends and family in without giving out a code, this lock still has you covered. You can lock and unlock from nearly anywhere using Schlage’s Z-Wave® technology.

This technology was developed by Schlage in 1999 and uses wireless radio frequency (RF) communication for home devices allowing you to give access on-the-go.

4. Yale Assure Lock SL ($219)

yale smart
Yale Real Living Assure Lock SL is the slimmest smart lock on the market, and if purchased with a Yale iM1 Network Module, it is HomeKit-compatible, so it can be controlled using the Apple Home app, the Yale Secure app, and via Siri voice commands.

It’s available at major retailers, including Lowe’s, Best Buy, PC Richard & Son, and on Amazon. This lock has a reputation for ease of use and reliable integrations.

5. Lockitron Bolt ($99)

lockitron
The Lockitron Bolt is a great choice for users looking to try out smart locks, but are also a bit more budget conscious. The Lockitron is compatible with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

It can be integrated and automated through IFTTT (If This, Then That). If you’re not familiar with IFTTT, we’ve written extensively about it. Lockitron is introducing what they call Key Match, so this will be another great option for renters as this will allow you to keep your current set of house keys and still use a smart lock. Soon, they will also be introducing the Lockitron Bridge so you can control your lock from anywhere in the world, giving you gateway connectivity. The Bolt is more secure than you might think, given the price tag. They use robust encryption using open, published standards. It is secured at both the protocol and application layers and if you’re worried about security, you can check their security page.

The Lockitron Bolt gives you a basic, affordable smart lock, with a sleek, easily accessible mechanism that is still secure and functional. If you’re looking for a smart lock with all the bells and whistles, however, the Lockitron Bolt, may not be your best option.

6. Friday Lock ($249)

friday
Friday Lock is a true competitor for the August Smart Lock in a sleeker design. Friday Labs ambitiously bills itself as the world’s smallest smart lock at a mere 2.7”. It is ergonomic, small, and functional for everyone. Friday lock securely connects to your phone wirelessly, giving you the ability to lock or unlock your door as you leave or approach, as well as effortlessly share access with anyone you choose. You’ll also receive notifications on your phone for every action your lock takes (every lock/unlock).

Friday Lock comes in seven colors and can also be connected with the Apple HomeKit and Secure Remote Access. It works with all single cylinder deadbolts and can easily be installed with a screwdriver. Friday replaces the thumb latch on the inside of your door, so changing out the lock is simple.

It also has a rechargeable battery in the baseplate, saving you money on batteries. While this lock is a bit on the pricey side, Friday rotates 360 degrees, making it compatible with any deadbolt. If you’re looking to add a sleek, small smart lock to your home automation, Friday is a great choice. 



The takeaway?

While smart lock technology has come a long way, there are still several things to consider before recommending one to a client or installing one yourself: do you still want to be able to use physical keys? Do you need remote access? Should it be compatible with your home automation system? Are you going to be replacing batteries or recharging them?

And for most people, can you afford to switch out all your locks at once, or will you need to do it one at a time? Smart locks certainly offer a level of convenience that cannot be beat by physical key locks, but there are some drawbacks mentioned above.

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Homeownership

What does the fed’s interest rate hike mean for home sales?

(ECONOMIC NEWS) As the Federal Reserve increases rates today, what will happen to home sales, and what must Realtors know?

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As expected, the Federal Reserve announced today their decision to raise interest rates, for the third time this year. The rate was bumped from 2.0 percent to 2.25 percent after a unanimous vote by policymakers.

Unemployment rates remain low, inflation is stable, and despite uncertainty surrounding trade policies, the economy is growing by leaps and bounds.

Chairman Jerome Powell stated, “Our economy is strong. These rates remain low, and my colleagues and I believe that this gradual returning to normal is helping to sustain this strong economy.”

Most are in support of the expected fourth rate hike in December, after a summer of disagreement on the subject. It looks like three increases are expected in 2019, and one more in 2020. The strategy is to slowly increase rates to avoid an overheated market, while avoiding rapid hikes that could push the economy into a recession.

Powell continues to assert that the current method is the optimal way to balance these risks.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) Chief Economist, notes that the era of super low mortgage rates is over.

“These interest rate increases are occurring for the good reason of improving economy,” Yun said in a statement. “Therefore, the home sales should hold steady as the opposing forces of higher rates and more jobs neutralize each other.”

Yun said home price growth will slow and warns that higher interest rates will inevitably limit the stretching of home buyers’ budgets.

How should real estate practitioners fielding questions about the interest rate hikes respond?

Notifying consumers that the hike will impact home buyers’ buying power shortly is an honest way to express that there is some urgency in the market despite tight inventory levels (for both buyers and sellers).

Realtors should know that past and future client with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) will be impacted as the rates slide higher. The average 20-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.7 percent. Continuing to study lending trends makes any agent a better adviser.

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