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Homeownership

Start up creates online platform to make building homes easier

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Atmos wants to help simplify the dream home building process by moving it online. Their platform will help you find builders, designers, and financing options.

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Atmos homes

A start-up plans to bring together people, processes, and tools into one digital place for buyers to design and build their homes from start to finish. Co-founder and CEO of Atmos, Nicholas Donahue, grew up in a homebuilding family and always wondered what it would look like to use technology to rebuild the industry.

“Nearly everyone used to want to build a home; it was the American dream, but most people choose not to do it because of the complexity,” Donahue said, “While everything else has moved fully online, homebuilding is still the same in-person process. We are making the process simple enough that anyone can build the home of their dreams, modernizing and revitalizing the American dream.”

The way Atmos works is that they partner with local home builders that they claim to vet based on accreditation, reputation, proof (insurance + funds for construction loans), and pricing. Customers input their desired location and floor plan for the site on the platform. Atmos finds builders that best match the plan and coordinate the rest of the tasks to get the home built, including design, fixture packages, and financing. The company partners with local real estate agents to help sell a client’s existing home, or allows customers to use their own real estate agents if they prefer.

Atmos is participating in the California-based Y-Combinator accelerator, most known for launching companies like Airbnb, DoorDash and Instacart. The company has raised more than $2 million in VC seed round funding from Sam Altman of YC/ OpenAI, Adam Nash of Wealthfront, JLL Spark, and others.

According to Donahue, the rise in demand for housing in emerging cities coupled with low inventory makes building a more attractive option for buyers. He said “homeowners are converting from buying to building and when doing so are being forced to go online because of in-person restrictions. This has provided a huge opportunity for an online alternative to come into the space.”

Additionally, an increasing number of remote workers have come to envision their homes as combined office, schooling, and family spaces. In response, real estate agents report more requests for larger homes with outdoor space and dedicated offices, particularly for homes in the under $400k price range.

Atmos is currently focusing on Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte markets as they continue to refine their business model. Long-term, Donahue says the goal is to “redefine the way people live by enabling the next generation of homes and neighborhoods to exist.”

Yasmin Diallo Turk is a long-time Austinite, non-profit professional in the field of sexual and domestic violence, and graduate of both Huston-Tillotson University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. When not writing for AG she should be writing her dissertation but is probably just watching Netflix with her husband and 3 kids or running volunteer projects for HOPE for Senegal.

Homeownership

Get your DIY home renovations sent directly to your home with Outfit

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) The pandemic has inspired many to upgrade their home (now office) – and Outfit’s service sends custom DIY kits directly to your door.

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Home renovations in progress - person on hands and knees measuring out lines of walls with hammer.

Everybody’s home is feeling a little extra lived-in these days, so it’s no surprise that home renovations are seeing a spike in popularity. While the internet is a veritable stockpile of information, it can be hard to know where to start when making changes to your living space. It’s a problem that Outfit, a DIY renovation service, hopes to fix.

Outfit provides a self-proclaimed “DIY renovation in a box”, and, to their credit, that’s pretty much what their product is: A customized kit with everything you need to make your desired changes to your home. Purportedly, the “everything” aspect is pretty literal; you’ll receive anything from materials to tools depending on your needs, and a companion app guides each aspect of your renovation with tips, walkthroughs, and visuals.

The app is actually a wonder in and of itself. You’ll find the aforementioned walkthroughs and strategies for your space here, but you also have the option to reach out for renovation support from Outfit staff. Should you find yourself face-to-face with a wire you didn’t anticipate, for example, you can snap a photo of the culprit and send it off via the app for an all-clear before proceeding. It’s a delightfully simple solution to the problem of the amateur renovation process.

Incidentally, the lack of price range listed on Outfit’s website inspires trepidation. However, Ian Janicki, the CEO and founder of Outfit, confirmed that the service is priced based on your space and project parameters.

“We evaluate your space and then determine a quote,” says Janicki. Honestly, that’s probably for the best; with the sheer number of moving parts required for any renovation project, being able to pinpoint the necessary materials and resourcesand the appropriate cost thereofis a far better alternative to preset options.

Outfit stands as a cool solution for the average homeowner, but the implications of using this service to prepare or remodel a home for sale are especially intriguing. In theory, having a kit that contains everything one needs to dress up a room or make a house sellable could cut down on waste materials, and brokers might even be able to rope in deals contingent on the effective use of Outfit by the selling (or even purchasing) party.

In short, Outfit is a super cool concept that coincides perfectly with these turbulent times. If you’re interested in renovating any time soon, hit them up for a quote.

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Homeownership

Help clients calculate moving costs in seconds

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Thinking about skipping town? There are a dozen factors to make the decision, but this new tool can help predict whether moving is right for you!

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moving day

“Go where the money is.”

It’s good advice—after all, if you have a doctorate in gathering fruit, your childhood Alaskan home probably isn’t the best place to stay and utilize everything you learned interning in the watermelon industry.

But sometimes moving to earn/save money doesn’t work out.

I wouldn’t begrudge someone moving from NYC to Marfa, TX for following their dreams of a simpler life full of UFO-themed merchandise and X-Files references. If they left expecting to find the same level of public transportation in rural Texas, and didn’t factor in purchasing a car, paying for gas, insurance, and title fees, well. That’s a side-eye’in.

Obviously, no one can ever be 100% sure what’ll happen on big moves in life that don’t involve its conclusion, but realtors CAN help others to help themselves be a little more informed and much more confident.

Where information about the pros and cons of packing up and switching zipcodes for work is concerned; moving company, Move Buddha, has an app for that.

It’s a cute quiz that asks a few gently pointed questions about prospects’ networks, salary expectations, child involvement, spouse involvement, ect: all adding up to the big question made up of several little questions that you can’t ask yourself whilst maintaining your professionalism. That question is: Do you know what you’re doing?

P.S. According to the stats offered in their blog post about the app, if one half of a couple is moving to be with a partner for THEIR new job…there’s a 66% chance that the couple doesn’t know what they are doing.

P.P.S. It let me know that I wouldn’t be saving nearly as much money as I thought moving back to Fort Worth proper to keep up the game of ‘Let’s steal each others clothes and home goods’ I have going with my mother, so that’s definitely something to think/chew through a few pens about.

All in all, this tool, while definitely a promotional accessory for its parent company above all else, is pretty useful. It’s nothing anyone would expect to lay out every little possible outcome, but it does give users a valuable jumping off point to plan where they’re going.

If you’re considering partnering with more moving companies for promotion, formally or otherwise, this brings up a lot of salient points to address with new address seekers, especially the more painful ones that can bring your relationship a little closer and a little more likely to be profitable on both sides.

Verdict: Quiz away!

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Homeownership

How to inform clients about scams that continue to victimize homebuyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Real estate scams continue to victimize people, but Realtors are in a position to better protect homebuyers. Here are some tips.

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home buyer

Despite warning after warning and news story after news story, homebuyers keep getting their money stolen in real estate wire transfer schemes. Some blame the mortgage and real estate industries for not doing enough to educate and protect their clients. Others say the people committing these crimes are getting more and more sophisticated. No matter who’s to blame, there’s no arguing that this crime is on the rise.

What exactly do these real estate scams look like? These criminals usually hack into a business’s emails, often a title company, and get all the pertinent information they need. They then steal and copy that company’s letterhead, and the email addresses, signature blocks and any other relevant information they will need to fool the homebuyer. The homebuyer then gets an email that appears to be from the title company, asking them to wire money, often tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, you’re probably wondering right now: What can I do? You want to know how to warn and protect your clients and keep your reputation intact (and avoid costly lawsuits). The following safeguarding tips can help keep cash out of cyberthieves’ hands:

1. Pick up the phone. If you’re closing on a home and receive an email with instructions on how to transfer money to your closing company or lender, take a few minutes to call your agent or broker to make sure it’s legit. Yes, this might be a bit annoying, but not as annoying as losing thousands of dollars in an email scam.

2. Be aware. These scammers usually send emails that look like the real thing. If you’re a homebuyer, look for weirdly timed emails (sent in the middle of the night) or spelling and punctuation errors. Is there a sense of urgency to the email?

3. Educate your clients. If you’re a real estate professional, make sure your clients know about this scheme. Not everyone is aware they could be a target (which is why it keeps happening). Set up a specific passcode for each client.

4. Consider using BuyerDocs and asking your title company to use this technology for all of their transactions.. What’s BuyerDocs, you ask? This tech startup provides secure document delivery for closing companies and homebuyers. The company says it has protected more than $5 billion in wire transfers in 2018 and works with big and small businesses across the country.

Scams will never be eradicated, but it is part of your job to know the current scams and how to protect transactions against shady folks.

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