2018 Luxury Market Report Q1-Q3
2018 Luxury Market Report Q1-Q3
Rewind a few years and most people shopping for a home would scoff at taking a virtual reality tour, applying for a mortgage on their mobile phone or purchasing a house without stepping foot in it. But millennials, the newest crop of homebuyers, grew up with a smartphone attached to their hip and are much more comfortable buying everything from clothing to a house over the Internet. According to a Redfin survey released earlier this year 45% of millennial homebuyers made offers sight-unseen in 2017.
And despite talk the younger generations aren’t purchasing new homes, the National Research Association found consumers aged 36 and younger represented the biggest share of home buyers, 34% of all purchases, last year.
Millennials, as well as their older counterparts, start their home searches online. But they are willing to take it a step further and the real estate fintechs know that. They are rolling out virtual reality tours, speedy online mortgage applications and live streaming open houses.
VR Tours Popular Among Buyers
Take VR tours for starters. In January Coldwell Banker Real Estate polled 3,000 U.S. adults to gauge their interest in virtual reality home tours. It found that 77% of survey respondents want to take VR tours of homes before visiting while 84% want to see video footage. They don’t just want to get an idea of the layout and condition of the home. More than two-thirds or 68% said they want to use VR to see how their current furniture looks in the home. What’s more 62% of survey respondents said they would go with a real estate agent who made VR technology available. Recognizing the demand, Sotheby's International Realty offers customers 3D and virtual reality tours of its properties. Sotheby's said on its Website that the 3D and VR Tours are made possible by placing cameras throughout the home. Users can view the 3D tour directly from the Sotheby's website and VR tours via a mobile device that is paired with a VR headset.
Real estate has also gotten more social with some real estate agents using Facebook to host real-time open houses via Facebook Live. RE/MAX, the real estate company, recently highlighted one agent in Winnipeg, Manitoba that uses Facebook Live for his open houses, giving viewers a real-time tour of the house and simultaneously answering questions from the comment section. The live stream is recorded automatically, turning the open house into a virtual tour that can live indefinitely online.
Mortgages Get Speedier Thanks To Tech
Technology isn’t only disrupting the home search process but it is changing the way people apply for and are approved for mortgages. Take Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage mobile service that enables a would-be borrower to apply for a mortgage in minutes. The loan closes in less than a month, something most traditional lenders can’t do. Rocket Mortgage is a pioneer in this area but it's not alone. Lenda, the mortgage lending fintech that’s been in the market since 2014, boasts the ability for borrowers to fill out the the application in minutes and for the loan to close in two weeks. The company told American Banker earlier this year the goal is for a mortgage transaction to take thirty minutes. Lendra is able to speed up the process by having the underwriting begin as the customer fills out an application. Lendra also automates as much of the work as possible including income and employment verification. It enables customers to log into their bank accounts from the platform to get the bank statements necessary for the mortgage, furthering speeding up the process. Other fintechs going after the mortgage market include Social Finance, otherwise known as SoFi and Roostify.
Voice Command Real Estate Searches Coming
Still in the early phases of deployment, a new technology making its way into the real estate market are chatbots. Thanks in part to Amazon.com’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri voice activated assistants, the ability to interact with the Internet and devices via voice is growing in popularity. That hasn’t been lost on a handful of technology companies that are working on apps to enable users to search real estate listing and get information via natural language commands. Ask DOSS, a startup out of Houston Texas, is working on an intelligent personal assistant that is said will be similar to Siri, but exclusive to the real estate market. Users will be able to ask the app questions about a property and get instant answers 24 hours a day. The company is developing the app for the residential real estate market but said on its website the next phase of development will be answering questions and displaying listings for commercial properties. A beta launch of the app went live in October of 2017. The company is working on a relaunch and is tight-lipped about when it will bring it to the market.
With all this technology at the ready, fintechs are transforming the way we buy homes. The older generations may not be ready for it, but millennials and those younger are. They have come to expect technology to drive all aspects of their lives including the home purchasing process.
LAWN TO LAKE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY
website by Lake Champlain Basin Program
GRAND ISLE – The good news from Lake Champlain is that no new invasive species have made their way into its waters since 2014, but the by now familiar bad news is that phosphorus levels in many parts of the lake remain disconcertingly high.
These were among the findings in the 2018 State of the Lake Report released on Friday. The report, a health check compiled every three years by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, covers water quality, aquatic species, and economics. The basin program, a creation of Congress, is a partnership of the states of Vermont and New York, and the Canadian province of Quebec, to monitor the health of the lake and its more than 8,000 square mile watershed.
“Without monitoring and assessing the results of all this work, we wouldn’t know if we were making progress,” said Melville Cote, EPA project manager, addressing those assembled for the report’s release at the basin program’s Grand Isle offices.
The emphasis on invasive species monitoring is so that Lake Champlain doesn’t suffer the fate of the Great Lakes, whose fisheries were devastated when the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 allowed the introduction of non-native species.
Vermont in recent years has ramped up efforts to stop invasive aquatic species from entering its own great lake. Boat greeters are stationed at access points around the lake, to educate boaters about invasive species and to remove plant material from watercraft entering and leaving the lake. Greeters have removed 4,782 invasive specimens from the 95,177 boats they have surveyed, according to the report.
As a result, the water chestnut that in 1999 choked more than 25 percent of the narrow south end of Lake Champlain, clogging boat motors and destroying fish habitat, has been significantly reduced. Removal may soon get more high-tech with the use of drones to detect any new spread of water chestnut all around the lake.
A long term sea lamprey management program has led to a significant decrease in the lake’s most notorious invasive species. Sea lamprey come equipped with a suction-cup mouth — and a ring of many teeth. They feed on freshwater fish by latching onto their smooth sides, and draining bodily fluids.
There has been a marked decline in the “wounding” of salmon over the last 15 years, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, the wounding of lake trout “has increased dramatically” in the past two years, Ellen Kujawa, technical associate for the basin program.
Even so, the juvenile lake trout population nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and for the first time in a century landlocked Atlantic salmon have begun to reproduce naturally in the Winooski River, Kujawa said. “For the most part, Lake Champlain sport fish continue to thrive,” she added.
The stubborn phosphorus problem is in part a result of the geography of the lake. For every square mile of water, 18 square miles of land drain into the lake, which is significantly more than the drainage into the Great Lakes, said Matt Vaughan, technical coordinator with the LCBP.
“Most nutrients come from sources on the land, so the relatively high land-to-lake ratio for Lake Champlain poses significant challenges in limiting pollution,” said Vaughan, who added that the lake’s tributaries deliver around 2 million pounds of phosphorus each year.
“Long term phosphorus loading trends have not improved for most Lake Champlain tributaries,” he said.
Phosphorus levels are highest in the Missisquoi Bay, the South Lake and St. Albans Bay — areas that face a potent combination of shallow water and heavy agricultural runoff. ANR Secretary Julie Moore said the northern bay areas have cyanobacteria blooms that “continue to be persistent despite all our efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution.”
Although 38 percent of the lake’s phosphorus load comes from agricultural lands, developed land contributes more than twice as much phosphorus per square mile, according to the report. The state is using edge of field monitoring to determine the effectiveness of agricultural best practices such as cover cropping and no-till planting in reducing sediment runoff into the lake, Lake Champlain Basin Program manager Eric Howe said. Moore called the ongoing effort to reduce phosphorus across the watershed a “sustained heavy lift” by partners around Vermont, New York and Quebec.
Lake Champlain generates $300 million in tourist revenue each year, and a decline in water quality could lead to a $16.8 million decrease in summertime business, the report warned. Speakers at the report release highlighted the importance of funding infrastructure, like boat access points and lakeside bike trails, that connects tourists and residents to the lake.
“Vermont’s crown jewel,” Gov. Phil Scott called the lake on Friday. “Water quality goes hand-in-hand with the growth of our economy,” Scott said, though he added, “From my perspective, we don’t have to choose between the environment and our economy — we can support both.”
This architect-designed timber-frame home, with a three-bedroom septic plan, was built for an airplane pilot who used it as a retreat. It sits on 98 acres, 45 minutes from Burlington, Vt. The Canadian border is about 40 minutes away. Lake Champlain is visible from the property, as are (on clear nights) the twinkling lights of Montreal.
Size: 1,424 square feet
Price per square foot: $491
Indoors: The house is warmed visually by custom cherry, maple and mahogany finishes and physically by radiant-heated floors. The centerpiece is a great room with a double-height ceiling and wood-burning fireplace. This level also has a kitchen with a built-in beer tap and cooler, a small library and a bathroom with a shower.
Upstairs, the main bedroom is part of a suite overlooking the great room that includes a bathroom with a soaking tub and a study that could be converted into a bunk room. A ladder provides access to a loft that sleeps an additional two people. The house also has a full basement with a workshop and a wine storage area.
Outdoor space: The owner personally hauled the rose-colored granite used for the path to the entrance and created several trails through the property. The land is divided equally between meadows and forest.
Contact: Kathy O’Brien, Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty, 802-343-9433; kathyobrien.com
There is much more than a lower rate and payment to determine whether to refinance a mortgage. Lenders try to make refinancing as attractive as possible by rolling the closing costs into the new mortgage so there isn't any out of pocket cash required.
The closing costs associated with a new loan could add several thousand dollars to your mortgage balance. The following suggestions may help you to reduce the expense to refinance.
? Tell the lender up-front that you want to have the loan quoted with minimal closing costs.
? Check with your existing lender to see if the rate and closing costs might be cheaper.
? Shop around with other lenders and compare rate and closing costs.
? If you're refinancing an FHA or VA loan, consider the streamline refinance.
? Credit unions may have lower closing costs because they are generally loaning deposits and their cost of funds is less.
? Reducing the loan-to-value so mortgage insurance is not required will reduce expenses and lower the payment.
? Ask if the lender can use an AVM, automated valuation model, instead of an appraisal.
? You may not need a new survey if no changes have been made.
? There may be a discount on the mortgagee's title policy available on a refinance.
? Points on refinancing, unlike a purchase, are ratably deductible over the life of the loan ($3,000 in points on a 30-year loan would result in a $100 tax deduction each year.)
? Consider a 15-year loan. If you can afford the higher payments, you can expect a lower interest rate than a 30-year loan and obviously, it will build equity faster and pay off in half the time.
A lender must provide you a list of the fees involved with making the loan within 3 days of making a loan application in the form of a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure Form. Every dollar counts, and they belong to you.
We all need to take personal responsibility for the health of Lake Champlain. That's why the Lake Champlain Committee has put together a list of actions, the Lake Protection Pledge (pdf), you can take to protect water quality around your home, in your garage, and around your community.
Fill out the online pledge form below to commit to taking personal action to protect the health of the lake.
AROUND THE HOME
AROUND THE YARD
AROUND THE GARAGE AND TOWN
Daydreaming about moving somewhere less populated, maybe to where you can ski in your down time and tap trees for maple syrup? If so, Vermont is beckoning, and might even pay you for your trouble.
On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signed into law a bill that will give a number of people who move to Vermont from another state up to $10,000 to help ease the transition.
The money — part of a grant program designed to draw tech workers and revitalize the state’s aging work force — is intended to help with costs like relocation, computer software and hardware, broadband access and membership in a shared professional space.
Those who relocate and take part in the program need to be full-time employees of a business based outside of Vermont and need to be able to work remotely. They also must become a full-time Vermont resident in 2019.