Inclusivity Matters: Making Real Estate Accessible

The internet and the smartphone help with all kinds of tasks. But can technology support accessibility at home?  

Property-related technology, or proptech, can indeed.

To start, tech innovations can make housing safer. They can monitor and improve indoor air quality. They can warn us about potential outages of basic systems in our homes. Smart tech can help people with audio or visual disabilities do more — or do it more easily — at home.

There’s so much innovation happening. We’ll take a look at just a few examples here.

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Insurers Hike Prices, Pointing to Climate. Investors See New Opportunities.

With climate change impacting more and more real estate, insurance keeps getting pricier. As we reported last year, mortgage lenders for coastal homes often expect 40% down payments, just to offset the risks. This year, the insurance tech company Policygenius published a study showing U.S. homeowners’ insurance rising at a remarkable 12%+ rate.

Among the top five reasons Policygenius lists for the rising premiums are “record catastrophe losses” and “severe natural disasters.”

Times are changing for real estate. And now, an industry is growing up around the concept of climate-resilient buildings. The largest investment fund in this area is being led by a firm named Fifth Wall.

Here’s the news on these developments.

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Could Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence Remove Bias From the Mortgage Process?

In 2017, a small business came up with a fully online mortgage tool. The founders called it an intelligent mortgage adviser, and named it Home Lending Pal. It’s meant especially for first-time home buyers. The platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help them become home buyers. Its application criteria do not include race, age, gender or sexual orientation, or other traits that could marginalize them. It’s all about the finances, and that’s that.

Based on Home Lending Pal’s business plan and two years’ worth of positive history, the IBM® Hyper Protect Accelerator team began its supportive collaboration with the company. Home Lending Pal integrated IBM® Blockchain and IBM® Cloud.

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We Compare Streaming TV Services Before Subscribing. What About Our Mortgages?

Homes are pricey. Mortgage rates are up. Borrowers are concerned, and mortgage companies have good reasons to work hard for new customers’ business. So, isn’t it time borrowers researched our mortgages before signing up?

Yet so few of us do. Zillow® says this could be costing homeowners hundreds of dollars each month. Let’s unpack this.

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The Truth About Buying a Home in Winter

December? January? February? It’s All Good.

Spring is high season for home sales. But buying in winter means settling down in time to watch the garden bloom in a new home. There’s a lot to be said for that.

In the northern latitudes, home shopping can mean weather-related holdups here and there. But winter is a great time to work with mortgage consultants and real estate agents. It’s also the perfect time to see how a place looks and feels when the comforts of home matter most.

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Can Tech Make Real Estate Affordable?

Owning a decent, healthful, attainably priced home should be possible for everyone. Buyers in the modest- and middle-income categories should be able to achieve homeownership. After all, buying a home is considered a key to building up a store of value and attaining financial safety.

Lately, though, the dream of homeownership has been fading for many. Can technology help our society provide real estate opportunities to all?

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When the Endangered Species Act Hits Home

Real Estate Agent Group Tells Feds: Pay the Landowners

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects at-risk species. Most everyone supports its mission. But when it impacts the property they own, developers and landowners may believe the law clashes with their 5th Amendment rights. Why? The law regulates their use of property — which sometimes amounts to a taking without payment to the owner.

In the interest of defending private landowner rights, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) wants law reform. NAR says landowners should get paid for assisting at-risk species rather than give up the economic value in their properties.

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New Fraud Fighter: The Good DEED Act

Deed fraud infects cities and counties all over the United States. This kind of fraud involves forging a deed, impersonating someone who holds a title to a home, or falsely authorizing a transfer of real estate ownership. It’s essentially a home-stealing scheme.

Now, lawmakers are taking action to make life harder for deed thieves. In October 2022, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, along with Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania, introduced H.R. 9192, the Good Documentation and Enforcement of Estate Deeds Act. The Good DEED Act, for short.

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Buying a House. How Much Do I Budget for Repairs?

Buyers of Newly Built Homes Spend Far More on Repairs

All home buyers have some repair work ahead of them. Sometimes, only finishing touches are needed. In other cases, major systems need replacement.

A new buyer should budget for significant costs in the first year. But the real kicker is just how much people who buy brand-new homes will likely spend. On average, a typical buyer of a newly built home spends $12K to $16K and more to spruce up the place. And that’s just in the first year of homeownership.

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