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Top 10 home trends for 2021

As people rethink their homes’ functionality after spending more time in them, features we never knew we needed — such as a home gym or no-touch appliances — are more important than ever.

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Photo by @betagamma from Unsplash.com

We’ve all been there this year — toddlers interrupting Zoom meetings, daydreaming (or Zillow Surfing!) for more space, and shamelessly feeding sourdough starter kits. 2020 has changed the way we live in and outside our homes.

As people rethink their homes’ functionality after spending more time in them, features we never knew we needed — such as a home gym or no-touch appliances — are more important than ever. While public health precautions continue to keep us at home, these features will only become more popular to create spaces that keep our families safe, all while providing an oasis of comfort.

Driven by this new COVID era, Zillow shares top 10 home trends for 2021 that will not only add comfort, but might even add extra value to your home.

‘Zoom Rooms’

A Zillow survey found a desire for a home with a dedicated office tops the list of reasons why Americans working from home say they would consider a move, if they were to continue working remotely at least occasionally. In 2021, people will receive more clarity from their employers about the ability to telecommute moving forward, which could trigger a move to a home with more space.  And, as people tire of working from a kitchen table, they will be wanting a more permanent — and quiet — solution for their at-home desk.

As of November, the number of listings mentioned “home office” or “Zoom room” increased by 48.5% compared to the same time last year. Pennsylvania home builder Berks Homes also says requests for an at-home study in lieu of existing living space more than doubled this year.

‘Homecation’ Amenities

With lots of time and nowhere to go, homeowners are coming up with creative solutions to create vacation-vibes right at home. “Pool” was the top Zillow keyword search term in 2020. “Waterfront” and “dock” also landed in the top ten. Additionally, homeowners may be looking for big and small ways to create a luxury experience at home, from upgrading to a spa-like bathtub or relaxing rain shower. Zillow research shows home buyers paid more for amenities that make their home feel like a retreat. Listings that mentioned a free-standing tub typically sold for 5.5% more than expected, while the listing keyword “spa-inspired” contributed to a 1.8% price premium.

The rise of remote work will allow more homeowners to turn their favorite vacation destination into their hometown. Page views of for-sale listings in areas typically considered vacation destinations – such as Key West, the Jersey Shore and Cape Cod — are up nearly 50% compared to last year.

Intergenerational Living 

Intergenerational living will rise in popularity as young adults and grandparents alike find themselves moving in with family for financial and health reasons. According to Generations United, about one in six Americans currently live in multigenerational households, and this year, the share of young people moving back home reached all-time highs as more Millennials and Gen Z’ers than ever – particularly renters – found themselves packing their bags and moving back in with their parents.

Katie Detwiler, Chief Experience Officer at Berks Homes says this trend is manifesting in how people are designing new construction homes, with more requests than ever before for a finished basement with a full bathroom, and bedroom additions.

Gourmet Kitchens

This year inspired people to break out of their old baking habits and start new hobbies in the kitchen, and in 2021 homeowners will want to level-up from their sourdough obsession to create other culinary masterpieces. A previous Zillow survey1 finds 41% of people value a well-equipped kitchen more than before as a result of social distancing recommendations — and more people will want the space to show off their new culinary skills in the next year.

“We’ve seen an increase in requests for gourmet kitchens,” says Katie Detwiler, Berks Homes’ Chief Experience Officer. “This includes bigger cabinets and island additions so homeowners have the space they need to cook their gourmet meals.” Berks Homes has seen more than 100 more requests for alternate kitchens and island additions this year compared to last.

Backyard Oasis

A yard that is safe and functional has taken on renewed importance — a Zillow survey from the Harris Poll2 found that 41% of people say they value a large outdoor space more as a result of social distancing recommendations.

There are many easy upgrades to make a backyard a relaxing oasis the whole family can enjoy, and in tandem, increase the resale value of your home. Zillow research finds homes mentioning “firepit” in the listing sold for 2.8% more than similar homes, and “outdoor kitchen” sold for 4.5% more. Smart sprinkler systems and outdoor lighting are other features that add a contemporary flare to a backyard that also help your home sell up to 15 days faster than expected.

Smart and Safe Tech

It’s more vital than ever that our homes stay as germ-free as possible, and smart-home technology has come to save the day, with products like touchless appliances, self-cleaning toilets and bidets. And while a lot of these products are niche right now, they will evolve to become the standard in home design. Next year as homeowners can start welcoming guests back inside, they will increasingly seek out creative solutions to keep their spaces as germ-free and chic as possible. 

“Our tech-driven appliances, solid surfaces and smart fixtures have come to the rescue,” says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow home design expert and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. “Features like voice-activated faucets, robotic vacuums, and electronic-assistant controlled lights have updated the traditional tasks of cooking and cleaning by incorporating thoughtful innovation into home products.”

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly appealing to buyers. A Zillow analysis  found that listings mentioning a smart light in their listing description sold seven days faster than expected, and listings mentioning a smart thermostat sold 6 days faster than expected. Features like a shiny, new touchless faucet will rise in popularity as homeowners prioritize the cleanliness of their home to keep their families safe and germ-free.

Small City Living

Increased opportunity for remote work has pushed many home shoppers to reconsider how and where they want to live. Since there is less need to be close to urban job centers, shoppers in 2021 may opt for wide open spaces and smaller, more affordable communities. This trend is already playing out in search traffic data.

Small cities, such as Borger, Texas, Pierre, S.D. and Vernal, Utah, accounted for the greatest year-over-year growth in out-of-town search traffic, and a dozen markets such as Pierre, SD, Jackson, WY and Hudson, NY saw out-of-town search traffic double this year. Newly pending sales for small cities (population between 54,000 and 137,000) is up 34.3% since last year, and have seen positive year-over-year pending sales since July. Small city living will only continue to rise as telework becomes more permanent and open up homeownership opportunities for renters.

Health and Wellness at Home

People across the country quickly adapted to rapidly changing restrictions, creating fitness clubs or mental wellness spaces in their homes. In November, 4.1% of for-sale listings on Zillow mentioned health and wellness areas in the home. Listings that mentioned “health and wellness” increased starting in summer, peaking in November as lockdown orders resumed and daylight took away precious daylight hours for outdoor activities.

But it’s not just physical health homeowners are prioritizing. The isolation from social activities and loved ones will increase the need for more-private “feng shui” areas — spaces for reflection and meditation to stay mentally fit, as well. Berks Homes have seen floor plans adding an extra bedroom over a garage or in their basement increase this year. These additional private spaces may start to become meditation rooms, or a quiet room to escape the chaos of life.

Pet-Friendly Living

The flexibility of remote work gave many people the opportunity to be home all day, and in turn, made it easier to add a new best friend to their family. According to a Nielsen survey, 20% of respondents in July said they adopted one or more dogs or cats between March and June, up from less than 5% over the same time last year. An increase in furry friends joining families means “pet-friendly” rentals are on the rise, as landlords entice renters with added benefits. Zillow research3 found that 73.1% of rental listings allow pets.

As people welcome more furry family members, Zillow expects they will be looking for pet-friendly features in their next home. A 2020 Zillow analysis found for-sale listings mentioning a pet shower or dog wash in their listing description sold for 5.1% more than similar homes, while listings mentioning a fenced backyard in their listing description sold 6.8 days faster than expected.

Rise in Demand for New Construction

Traffic for new construction homes has increased significantly on Zillow4, up 82% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter a year ago, signaling an increasing number of shoppers interested in personalizing their home’s features and living in a new, clean space. A 2020 Zillow survey found5 more than a quarter of buyers who bought a new construction home did so to customize home features, while 37% chose new construction because everything in the home was new and never used.

Home Care

6 Solutions to safeguard valuables while moving

After moving into a new space, there’s an immediate need to keep valuables and important documents organized and secure in case of theft, fire or flood.

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Moving season means packing up valuables like tech devices, family heirlooms, jewelry and beyond and trusting they’ll make it safely to your new space. Ensuring a new home or apartment is properly secured is top of mind for many homeowners and renters, for both their personal safety and their most prized possessions.

After moving into a new space, there’s an immediate need to keep valuables and important documents organized and secure in case of theft, fire or flood. Whether or not a large security system is available on-site, Master Lock and SentrySafe’s DIY security and safety solutions equip your home with an extra line of defense and provide new homeowners and renters confidence.

Bar the Door

For instance, the Master Lock 270D Folding Door Bar is a reliable, on-the-go solution that’s perfect for securing entry doors during a move-in transition. It offers an updated design from the original – now more compact with a quick-release foldable design for ultimate convenience and portability. Folding to just 16.5 inches and extending up to 43.5 inches, it’s small enough to fit in a backpack but strong enough to prevent forced entry on hinged, patio and sliding doors due to the pivoting rubber grips.

Keep Your Property Secure

Look for those that feature expanded storage capacity to accommodate keys, fobs and cards, ensuring safety and convenience when accessing a home or apartment. The dials on the lock box are easy to read and grip, providing smooth operation. Built to last, the solid metal body with a rubber bumper protects against tampering while safeguarding surfaces from scratches and damage.

Turn to a Timeless Security Device

Keeping valuables secure can start with a tried-and-true classic solution. These versatile security devices can be used for a wide range of applications. Extend the security of your valuables during a move by using it on self-storage units and lockers, trailers, vans and moving trucks.

Fireproof and Protect Valuables at Home

Consider fireproof and waterproof solutions (e.g. SentrySafe FPW082HTC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe) as these could be your line of defense against fire, water and theft. The best-in-class fire and water protection solutions feature 1-hour UL-certified fire resistance at 1,700 F and ETL-verified protection in up to 5 inches of water for 24 hours. These could also have security built-in technology that offer an advanced, multi-point protection system that effectively resists physical attacks and lock manipulation while its pry-resistant hinge bar in the safe door protects against theft attempts.

Safeguard Documents and Files

Provide yourself an extra line of defense (for instance, with the SentrySafe FHW40100 Digital Fireproof/Waterproof File Safe) that safeguards important documents and records with a durable design and peril protection. Built to hold hanging file folders for easy organization, such a safe can be easily transported with its convenient carrying handle when moving into a new home or apartment.

Opt for Renter-Friendly Security

Renters who live in a small space may not be ready for a full-sized safe. Lightweight offerings – such as the SentrySafe 1200 Fire Chest – are affordable and convenient security solutions that safeguard precious valuables and electronics from theft attempts to keep items safe and sound. It’s convenient carrying handle allows users to easily move the chest from room to room and seamlessly pack and store their valuables at the end of their lease.

Get more information from MasterLock.com and SentrySafe.com.

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Home Care

How to check for bed bugs

Following these tips to check for the pesky insects while traveling and back at home.

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Bedbugs can make you itch just by thinking about them. These tiny, reddish-brown insects that feed on blood are notorious for infiltrating hotel rooms and luggage, hitchhiking their way back to a new home virtually undetected.

“Understanding what to be on the lookout for when checking for bedbugs is key,” said Danilo Del Campo, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago. “If you’re able to catch the infestation early enough you can avoid bringing a problem home, which can save a lot of frustration. However, these insects are tiny and that’s not always possible.”

Although bedbug bites are not usually dangerous, bedbugs can come home with you, infest your home, and cause a great deal of discomfort and anxiety. If bedbugs are present in your home, you will likely find bites on your body. These bites sometimes turn into itchy, red or purple welts and are often found in zigzag clusters of 3 to 5 bites.

To find bedbugs before they find you, Dr. Del Campo and the AAD recommend following these tips to check for the pesky insects while traveling and back at home:

1. Store your luggage. 

When you arrive at your lodging, temporarily place your luggage in a tiled area, like the bathroom, while you inspect your room. There are fewer spots for bedbugs to hide in bathrooms, so you can check your room without worry.

2. Check your furniture. 

Bedbugs often hide in upholstered areas. Carefully inspect your bedding, mattress, headboard, and any fabric-covered furniture for:

  • Rusty or reddish specks of blood.
  • Tiny, blackish dots that look like dots made by a marker—these may be bedbug feces.
  • Whitish, oval bedbug eggs the size of apple seeds.
  • Shell-like bedbug exoskeletons.
  • Live bedbugs.

3. Check your room. 

Make sure to check the seams of fabric, in dressers, behind wall hangings or wallpaper, in corners, and in between cushions. If a credit card could fit in a crack, a bedbug could fit, too—they are that small. 

  • After you check your room, you can bring your luggage in.
  • Place your bags on a luggage rack away from the wall.
  • If you find signs of bedbugs, request a new room.

4. Check your luggage when you get home. 

After your trip, look at your belongings before unpacking to make sure no bedbugs came home with you.

  • Use a flashlight to check the contents of your bags, including the seams of your clothing—look closely at your luggage to make sure no bedbugs are hiding inside.
  • If you find signs of bedbugs in your luggage, wash your clothes on high heat and use a hand steamer to clean your luggage.

If you notice any physical signs of bedbugs on your body or experience blistering, a skin infection (bites feel tender or ooze discharge, such as pus), or an allergic reaction (red or purple swollen skin or hives), make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.

You’ll rarely see bedbugs due to their small size, so many people mistake their bites for mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, or common skin conditions such as a rash or chickenpox.

“Unfortunately, bedbug bites can look similar to other insect bites,” said Dr. Del Campo. “A dermatologist will be able to help determine the cause of your bites and symptoms.”

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Home Care

7 Ways to reduce home energy costs

To help dial down your energy costs, consider these tips.

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When building your budget, utility bills – especially the electric bill – are likely one of your largest monthly expenditures. One of the biggest culprits: home heating and cooling, which account for more than half of the average household’s annual energy consumption, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration.

In fact, 83% of homeowners are concerned about the impact of energy bills on their household budgets, according to a survey conducted by Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), with 54% saying it cost “somewhat more” or “much more” to heat their homes this winter compared to last year.

To help dial down your energy costs, consider these tips from the heating and cooling experts at METUS.

Adjust the Temperature

While you’re sleeping or away from home, adjust your thermostat up 5-10 F in the summer or down 5-10 F in the winter, which can help lower annual heating and cooling costs if done consistently. A smart thermostat can monitor your energy use and behaviors then automatically adjust to make your home more energy efficient.

Look for Incentives and Rebates

Qualified homeowners may be eligible to save money on qualified home energy improvement projects. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) offers tax credits and rebates, including a credit of 30% (up to $2,000) for qualifying heat pump installation, an energy-efficient option to replace fossil fuel-burning furnaces. Other incentives under the IRA include offsetting costs of electrical panel upgrades and rebates for homes with energy usage reductions of 20% or more.

Switch to a Heat Pump

Among survey respondents, 54% ranked government incentives like the IRA as one of the top reasons they would consider installing a heat pump to replace a traditional air conditioner. Options like Mitsubishi Electric’s all-climate heat pumps use two units – an exterior heat pump, which replaces your existing air conditioning condenser, and an interior unit installed on your furnace – to deliver cost-effective, eco-efficient, year-round heating and cooling. These smart systems not only improve air conditioning efficiency on hot days, but also determine the best source of heat (gas or electricity) on cold days, so your HVAC system is always running at peak efficiency and comfort.

Have HVAC Systems Serviced Regularly

For best performance and efficiency, regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system is imperative. Keeping outdoor units free of debris and changing air filters are tasks most homeowners can handle on their own but bringing in a professional – usually in the spring and fall – can help ensure your HVAC system and all its components, including electrical and ductwork, are functioning properly.

Improve Your Insulation

Poorly insulated attics, walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces can lead to energy waste and increase costs by requiring more energy to heat or cool your home. Because air can escape through these spaces when your HVAC system pushes air through your home, adding insulation can help reduce losses and keep your home more comfortable.

Use Appliances During Non-Peak Hours

Rather than using your oven, stove or clothes dryer from noon-6 p.m., peak time for many electricity providers, consider doing so in the morning or later at night. Using these appliances outside of the peak timeframe, when conventional heating and cooling systems are often running full bore, can help lower energy costs. Some utilities may also offer plans that incentivize limiting energy use during peak hours.

Think Multi-Zone

Consider upgrading to an all-climate, multi-zone heat pump, which can seamlessly connect to multiple indoor units, revolutionizing the way you experience comfort in your home. By eliminating problematic hot and cold spots in your home, this system ensures personalized comfort tailored to individual zones and optimizes energy usage by directing it only to the areas requiring heating or cooling. Replacing an outdated HVAC system with a multi-zone solution can also help achieve cost and energy savings. By efficiently managing temperature in different zones, you can experience improved energy efficiency, resulting in a more sustainable and economical solution for heating and cooling.

Find more solutions for improving your home’s efficiency and increasing energy savings at MitsubishiComfort.com.

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