The pandemic is influencing home design in ways that are likely to continue for years to come. For example, garage space is getting more attention, and cleanliness is continuing to remain prominent, according to the America At Home Study, based on nearly 4,000 respondents nationwide and conducted in October and November.
“Disinfecting things more” remained at the top of the list of changes consumers said they’ve made during the pandemic. And they’re committed to keeping their homes clean. Eighty percent of respondents called this a lasting behavior change in their home.
Also, garage space is getting more focus as homeowners look to increase the utility of this space, the survey says. Adding space for storage topped the list for garage projects. Younger adults surveyed were more likely to say they made space in their garages for a home gym.
Among the survey’s other findings on lasting trends, since the pandemic began, consumers are:
Consumers expressed greater interest in additional storage; home gym and exercise area; home office and workspace; craft and game areas; and pet grooming areas.
They also showed interest in a laundry room off the garage for the sake of “safety,” the survey said.
The survey found only one feature that dropped in popularity from when the survey was conducted in April and then again in October: The interest in germ-resistant countertops and flooring declined by 5%. Nevertheless, this was still the third-most-requested feature in the second study in October, with 50% of consumers continuing to express interest and remain willing to pay more for it.
“America at Home Study Shows Pandemic Inspired Lasting Impacts on Home and Community Design,” BUILDER (Dec. 28, 2020)
Your anxiety over your privacy online can now come with a running score.
An update to Mozilla Firefox shipped last week augments the tracking protection enabled earlier in that web browser by adding a report card that tallies all of the tracking attempts blocked over your last week online.
The total in a copy of Firefox running in Windows 10 that had been used for five of the last seven days: 3,078 trackers.
Most, 2,678, came from online advertising networks and analytics firms. Another 287 came from social networks: Facebook and Twitter use embedded widgets on sites such as USA TODAY’s to profile their users, a tactic Apple began blocking in its Safari browser last year.
This copy of Firefox also caught 112 “fingerprinting” attempts, in which sites attempt to track users by collecting data points about their browsing configuration instead of dropping a “cookie” file. And Firefox blocked one case of embedded content that itself included some sort of tracking mechanism.
This update to that free, open-source browser also makes it easier to check which sorts of trackers populate any one site by breaking out those placed by social networks and those set by advertising and analytics firms. To see, click or tap the purple shield icon at the left of the address bar.
A copy of Firefox running in Windows 10 reported that USA TODAY’s home page unsuccessfully attempted to place three social-media trackers, two from Twitter and one from Facebook. It also counted 10 advertising and analytics trackers blocked.
But that second list also revealed that half of these trackers were standard-issue site-analytics tools from New Relic and Chartbeat that help site owners gauge visitor interest. Mozilla uses Google Analytics on its own site for the same purpose — and Firefox blocks that as well.
On a Mac, meanwhile, Firefox reported not 10 but 94 cross-site trackers at USA TODAY, including many set by such ad networks as Taboola and Google’s DoubleClick subsidiary.
Firefox’s primary competitor in the market for privacy-enhanced browsing is Safari, and with this update it sets up an interesting contrast.
Apple says it will err on the side of blocking all cross-site tracking — as determined by an algorithm each copy of Safari runs — even if that may break legitimate site functions. But Safari offers no hint of which trackers it blocks aside from the dialog it presents when interrupting social-media widgets like Facebook’s “like” and “share” buttons.
Firefox, meanwhile, relies on a list of trackers maintained by the web-privacy firm Disconnect and lets users see which ones it blocks at any site. Mozilla, a non-profit, also makes a point of saying it doesn’t want to break the ability of sites to make money from ads.
Analysts have worried that Mozilla and Apple will do just that by going too far in stopping anything that looks like surveillance, even if it’s standard site analytics. In August, Stratechery analyst Ben Thompson warned against “an absolutist approach” that would kill smaller ad firms and keep Google and Facebook atop the online ad industry.
What about the browser Google ships and which a large majority of the web uses, Chrome? Back in May, Google executives said they would add vaguely-described privacy controls to the browser but didn’t offer a shipping estimate beyond a blog post saying “We will preview these new features later this year.”
I thought this would be useful to those out there that are thinking of buying a new home and going to open houses.
If you want the home
1. Determine your best offer. Work with your real estate agent to identify your initial bid, look up the home's history and factor needed repairs to make your offer. If you don’t have an agent, give us a call.
If you're not sure about the home
2. Sleep on it. If you're not 100 percent sure, get a good night's rest and see how you feel in the morning.
3. Know your deal-breakers. Which features match up to your list or don’t?
4. Take a second look and bring a friend who can offer a fresh perspective and honest opinion.
5. Consider your lifestyle. When you imagine yourself living in the home, is it still a good fit?
6. Think about add-ons.Does the home need any updates or repairs?What will maintenance entail? Consider all the extras to see if the home still feels like a good deal.
7. Revisit at different times of day. Make sure the property & neighborhood suits you at all times around the clock.
8. Trust your gut. If your inner voice of reason is chattering away try to figure out what it's telling you.
You hated the home
9. Identify the issues you didn't like. Remember them when you visit new listings.
10. Broaden your horizons. Expand your search into areas or features you haven't yet considered.
11. Don't settle. There's a big difference between making a few small compromises and making a big mistake you'll have to live with for years
A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price—are a major added expense. Michael Hyman, a research data specialist at the National Association of REALTORS®, shares the charges that make up closing costs in a post at the association's Economists’ Outlook blog so that home buyers can be prepared. Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing. Origination fees. This is the fee charged by lenders for processing the application and underwriting it. The fee typically ranges from about 0.5% to 1% of the borrower’s mortgage. Sometimes, it’s higher for smaller loans because “the fixed costs are a higher percentage of a smaller balance,” Hyman notes. Service charges. These include items such as the appraisal, credit report, flood determination and certificate, tax status, pest inspection, title search and insurance, and survey fees. Appraisals and surveys can cost anywhere between $300 to $500 each. Title services can add up to about $2,000, so buyers may want to shop around for that.