Mortgage Rates Reverse Course, Dropping For First Time In 2 Months

After 7 weeks of consecutive increases in mortgage rates, Freddie Mac’s most recent survey shows a decrease, giving borrowers the chance to refinance Mortgage rates reverse course, dropping for first time in 2 months BY KELSEY RAMÍREZ Today 7:53 A.M.

Mortgage interest rates dropped for the first time after nearly two months of upward momentum, giving some borrowers who haven’t yet done so the opportunity to refinance.

The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped to 3.13 percent for the week ending Apr. 8, 2021, according to the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac. This is down five basis points from 3.18 percent last week, and down from 3.33 percent last year.

“After moving up for seven consecutive weeks, mortgage rates have dropped due to the recent, modest decline of U.S. Treasury yields,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said in a statement. “As the economy recovers, it should experience a strong rebound in the labor market. Combined, these positive signals will continue to bolster purchase demand. The drop in rates creates yet another opportunity for those who have not refinanced to take a look at the possibility.”

The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also dropped from 2.45 percent last week to 2.42 percent. This is down from 2.77 percent last year.

On the other hand, the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage increased to 2.92 percent, up from 2.84 percent. This was still down from last year, when it averaged 3.4 percent.
Over the past seven weeks, interest rates have continued to rise consistently. This rise in rates slowed housing market activity and mortgage applications dropped as rates went higher. In fact, refinance applications dropped 5 percent from the previous week and 20 percent from last year in the Mortgage Bankers Association’s most recent report.

However, some experts also hoped that these rising rates would cool rapidly rising home prices, which are currently growing at their fastest rate since 2006. And while rates are still expected to continue rising throughout 2021, this week’s drop could give the housing market another boost in activity.

State of Commercial Lending……

Because we process through so many loans every month and we are constantly sending deals to numerous lenders every week, I get a real good feel for trends in underwriting. So here is the current state of commercial lending from an underwriters perspective……

SBA- SBA lenders have been steady throughout the pandemic as bailout legislation utilized the SBA heavily, but they scaled way back in certain asset classes like hotels and gyms. Which of course, makes sense since those businesses got shut down the hardest. However, those asset classes are beginning to be looked at again. In just the last week we have gotten approvals on 3 hotels and 2 gyms. Restaurants with drive throughs still had money available last year but normal restaurants are being favorably underwritten again. Although many businesses had down years in 2020 which may limit them, a well put together package, maybe with month to month P & L’s showing that most of the losses stemmed from the lockdown and that you are back doing well, can still get approved. There seems to be no fear of another lockdown in the underwriters at the moment so if you can show that you are past last year’s lockdowns, money is available. CAUTION: Lenders are still bogged down with PPP loans and banks are VERY slow. Although we do have a few new lenders that are NOT backed up and with them we can still close in the 45-60 day timeframe, that is not normal. So patience is needed on SBA loans…..

Conventional Loans- it is interesting, but even though banks are flush with cash, they have not significantly loosened guidelines on conventional loans. They almost will never do a cash out loan, and they are still steering clear of tough asset classes. Retail loans are still tougher to get done then Multi-family and industrial and often will have to put 5-10% more down with the exception of corporate NNN deals which are still aggressively bid on. Although they remain cautious, if a property or a borrower is strong, there is certainly money available and the rates, although edging up of late, are still very low. Competition for great deals is VERY hot with life companies, CMBS companies and banks all duking it out for the best assets and borrowers. Marginal deals are still generally not being done by the banks and need to look at private money or alternative lending sources.

Private Money Lenders- like conventional lenders, private money lenders are FLUSH on cash. There is NO SHORTAGE of money available in commercial lending right now-the #1 complaint of private money lenders is that there are not enough good deals. Private money guys are not stupid, they will not underwrite deals that make no sense. But they are aggressive and go after the deals that no bank will touch. I just got a $50 Million dollar approval on a land deal in FL and a $22 Million approval on a construction loan for an assisted living facility in FL at an LTV above 80%. So the money is out there….but the deal has to work for the lender. All lenders have different hot spots so it pays to use someone who has a lot of sources and knows what each lender likes. As a private money lender ourself, we understand private money and have great partners that can get a broad range of deals done…..

Alternative Lenders- Probably the biggest growth in the last 3 months has been in the alternative space. This is the space between bank and private money, just misses the bank qualifications, and too good for the private money lenders. This space almost got completely shut down back in Q2 of last year. But over the last 3 months, with vaccines and massive expansion of the money supply, these lenders are getting funded again and are getting aggressive with new players entering the space and old players opening up like they were before. We have a multitude of options now for deals that just miss the banks. We truly are THE PLACE TO GO WHEN THE BANKS SAY NO.

In summary, there is plenty of money available among all types of lending classifications. With lots of money available and lenders loosening restrictions, this bodes very well for continued economic expansion. The fact that there is not “stupid money” out there, meaning, lenders are still being prudent, also is BULLISH for growth. It is a good time to be in lending. As long as there is no disruptive economic event, the fundamentals look good for continued expansion. Businesses would do well to learn from the lenders-be aggressive, but under control. And if a disruptive event happens, be quick to respond. Do that, and you can have a successful year!

Connecting with Nature: Tips on achieving Biophilic Design….

The trend of “biophilic” design which is connecting to nature thru design is being incorporated in more homes in order to create more flow between indoors and outdoors with expanded living spaces. One of the places Tish Mills takes her initial cues from for a project, especially a ground-up, is from the surroundings, views, and nature.  It doesn’t matter if the house is contemporary or traditional.

What’s the best way to Bring Nature Indoors? 

Utilize the site and surroundings to pick up on color palettes, not just the greenery. There could be interesting tree bark, mushroom, the color of the dirt, that gives you a feeling for elements to bring into space.

Lighting is another area. Sometimes it’s the way it reflects on the property.  She did an entire space in Napa Valley based on the beautiful sunsets.  Windows, Slider, and French doors all can bring indoor/outdoor spaces together.

Textures are another great influencer that reminds me of a project in Sedona, AZ, and the beautiful red mountains that surround the area with the heavy rock formations.   Using stone and other natural materials can give an environment a grounded feeling.  The way that a stone can feel on bare feet makes an instant connection to nature.

And finally, climate.  For a beach house, she doesn’t use heavy materials given the light nature of the surroundings and the typical temperatures.  Fabrics need to breathe.

And with everyone staying at home, what kinds of things are you doing to extend outdoor living spaces?

This area is on fire right now.  “Pools are the new black” everyone has to have one.   Seriously, pool areas, walking trails on properties with destinations like benches at prime viewing have been a common request. Outdoor televisions on porches and near pools are another.  We had a client make sure their front yard could be used for Lacrosse practice if need be.  People are using every inch of their property since we’ve all spent so much time at home.

What’s new in outdoor living areas?

Comfortable seating areas are at a new level.  Thank goodness outdoor and performance fabrics have developed and been elevated to a new level with a plethora of colors, patterns, weights over the past few years.  We really can make an outdoor porch act like a living room at this point.  I also love the motorized retractable screens and Infratech heaters which can turn outdoor porches into year-round spaces regardless of what part of the country.    And the outdoor kitchens have been a thing for quite a while, but with ventilation now the outdoor kitchens can be much more inclusive and even include the drop-in countertop burners for cooktop burners in addition to grilling spaces.

Here is to nature!

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors, a preferred vendor of The Meridian Real Estate Group, is an award-winning interior designer who has been working with clients in their homes for more than two decades. She believes that it is essential to put together a cohesive plan for your home renovation before you get started that can be carried out by the team of experts you assemble.

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How House Floor Plans Help In Selling Homes

A real estate floor plan is a powerful tool that can make your property stand out, appeal to buyers, and give you an extra competitive edge. So, what makes the floor plan so powerful? A floor plan accurately expresses what the house has to offer. Real estate photos are great, but they are not enough. Homebuyers need a way to really understand a home beyond the photos, and a real estate floor plan can do that.

Some statistics that point out the importance of floor plans in real estate:

  • Adding a floor plan to a real estate listing can increase click-throughs from buyers by 52% (Rightmove)
  • According to Zillow, the floor plan is the 2nd most important feature on a listing and correlates highly with capturing potential leads
  • Research done by Rightmove showed that properties marketed with a floor plan created 30% more interest than properties without one.

Types of House Floor Plans

There are two types of floor plans: 2D floor plans and 3D floor plans.

  • 2D plans

2D plan is a flat layout that does not show the depth or height of objects, but it can communicate the technical side of the project, show the structure of the house clearly, and display the measurements of each room and the surface areas.

  • 3D Plans

A 3D plan shows the floor layout in 3D. 3D floor plans make it very easy to understand the size and layout of spaces. It effectively communicates the house design vision to the home buyer, provides a very clear understanding of the overall project, and shows a fully furnished project to visualize each room’s actual size.

Advantages of Floor Plans In House Sales

  • Saves time

Before people buy a house, they spend a considerable amount of time researching listings, making an appointment for a property visit, and then traveling to see the property in person. If they don’t like the house layout, they just end up wasting their time, money, and effort.

If there is a floor plan along with your listing, potential buyers will get to check the layout before making a showing appointment. This ensures that their time, as well as yours, is not wasted.

  • Keeps buyers engaged

When you provide a floor plan in your listing, potential buyers can visualize the house. A floor plan increases the buyer’s interest, making them more likely to book a showing appointment.

  • Provides an overview of the house layout

Real estate photos help sell a lifestyle by giving potential buyers the feel of the house, but they fail to portray how all the rooms in the house flow together. A floor plan allows the buyers to understand the house layout and how all the rooms in the house come together to become whole.

  • Helps recall the house layout

Most people forget the rooms or tend to overlook a portion of the house. But when you show the house in full on the floor plan, the potential buyer will get to see the whole house and its details, thus adding a perceived value.

  • Helps visualize spaces

Without floor plans, potential buyers will not be able to visualize the spatial arrangement and sizing of the home. If your listing is featured without a floor plan, many buyers are more likely to skip the listing.

  • Helps determine floor area easily

When the listing is with a floor plan, it becomes easy for the buyers to determine the property’s size and floor area. This will help the potential buyer determine whether the property is good value for money or not.

  • Highlights the best features of the property

If the yard is the big selling feature of the house, it needs to be on the floor plan. Whether it’s the pool, shed, entertaining area, or additional parking, adding this feature to the floor plan gives the buyers a better scope of the property and helps them focus on the features you want to highlight.


Author Bio:  

Rahul Agarwal is the Co-founder & Chief Business Officer at Styldod, where he has taught a computer to do interior design! Styldod provides the most hassle-free & inexpensive virtual staging solutions and other 3D rendering services for real estate agents so they can sell their listings faster, and for higher prices. Rahul was also a co-founder of Mebelkart (which is acquired by Ask Me). He’s your everyday IIT Kanpur nerd who pushes the boundaries with his innovative entrepreneurial stints and is also a sound startup investor & advisor. Rahul attributes his success as a professional to the discipline he has learned from his district hockey days, being a swimmer and a gym enthusiast.

Soaring Lumber Costs Cause Spike in Home Prices

In the 42 years Ricky Grubbs has been in the truss business, he’s never seen lumber costs so high.

This time last year, Grubbs said he was paying $8,000 for a truckload of two-by-four, number one-grade lumber. That same truckload today costs him about $30,000.

“People need to start paying attention to what’s going on,” said Grubbs, general manager of Duley Truss in Dunnellon.

Stacey Worthington, president of the Citrus County Building Alliance, said reports from her builder-members indicate lumber prices locally are up 40%-50% and adding $10,000 to $12,000 to the price of a single-family home.

Worthington said COVID-19 led to lumber yard lockdowns for a time, resulting in a lack of production in materials. That led to high demand and low supply so prices increased.

“Hopefully, as COVID restrictions are lifted across the country, it might alleviate the problem,” she said. “We have a lot of demand right now for affordable housing but no supply.”

Crystal River Mayor and homebuilder Joe Meek said higher lumber prices and other construction materials are freezing lower-income people out of the market. He said the lack of affordable housing — apartments, condos and multi-family housing — has been a problem in the county and this will exacerbate the situation.

“That is a concern,” he said.

As if lumber price increases aren’t enough, Meek said he got word this week that drywall prices are going up 20%.

Who’s to blame?

Grubbs blames much of the soaring prices to “greedy lumber mills” that are purposely keeping supply low to drive up costs.

Many in the public, he said, are unaware of how bad this situation is becoming. If gas prices went up $8 overnight, there would be mass protests, he said.

But rising lumber prices, he said, seem to fly under the radar except for those who work in the construction industry and folks who want to buy a home.

Grubbs said he knows of one builder who had to raise the price of one of his model homes from $180,000 to $229,000 just to break even.

Two years ago, a truss sold for $48. Today, it’s $90, he said.



Grubbs figures he’s had to eat $150,000 because of locked-in prices he quoted to customers last year.

Now, Grubbs said he only guarantees prices for 15 days in case he has to change an estimate. And for contractors, he’s quoting a price based on today’s cost but won’t give a final price until 30 days prior to fabrication — just in case.

What’s keeping the home-construction industry going right now are the low interest rates and pent-up demand for new homes, he said.

‘On the cusp’

It’s even worse throughout the country.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the average price of a single-family home has risen more than $24,000, and many clients are having to walk away because they can’t afford the increase.

“This fast-price escalation is having far-reaching consequences throughout the industry, and prohibiting home builders and partner organizations from providing much-needed housing to families across the country,” the NAHB said in a statement.

Bruce Kaufman, president of Bruce Kaufman Construction in Homosassa, said he’s holding up so far.

Kaufman said he limits himself to building 51 homes a year and that hasn’t changed due to higher lumber costs.

At least, not yet.

“I feel we’re on the cusp of it affecting things,” he said.

Kaufman said if the situation is not reversed, many in Citrus County will be priced out of the market.

For example, the lumber package it used to cost him to build a smaller home (about 1,200 square feet) was $6,500. Now it’s $15,000.

“I really feel for the younger first-time homebuyers or older people not as fortunate in their early lives to save a lot of money,” Kaufman said. “We really can’t fulfill those people’s needs.”

Kaufman said it might help to boycott the lumber industry for a week but doesn’t believe it will happen.

Impact at Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County’s goal is to build 21 homes a year for income-challenged families unable to qualify for conventional financing.

Despite lumber prices doubling in the past 14 months, the nonprofit organization intends to keep building at that pace, said President/CEO George Rusaw.

But there are definite challenges ahead.

Because of the hike in lumber and other materials — not to mention appliances — the local Habitat is about $225,000 over budget in construction costs. That translates to around $10,000 more for each home built.

“To address that, we’ve been working hard trying to raise more money to offset that,” Rusaw said. “Fortunately, we have capital reserves to where it won’t keep us from building those 21 homes. But we can’t keep dipping into reserves.”

The pandemic has curtailed fundraisers but, fortunately, other donations have been coming in at a healthy pace, he said.

Still, “we need all the help we can get,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, lumber mills and appliance manufacturers curtailed production, figuring home demand would halt.

“Just the opposite happened,” Rusaw said. “The buying public went out and they started buying existing homes and brand new homes at almost record paces,” he said.

It was the classic scenario: high demand, plus low supply equals higher prices.

Citrus County ‘well-positioned’

Meek said prices may be up but he doesn’t see a drop-off of new-home construction in Citrus County.

There is a nationwide trend now where folks are leaving the big cities and moving to rural areas and still be near amenities.

Citrus County fits the bill, said Meek, who owns Citrus Builder.

And even with higher local home prices, they are still a better buy than the metro areas, he said.

“I think that Citrus County, from a community standpoint, is extremely well-positioned in regard to growth and the future,” Meek said. “We are a community in demand with the lifestyle we offer and the amenities that we have.”


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Commercial Real Estate 2021: It’s All About the Recovery

The US economic outlook is improving as the number of coronavirus cases continues to decline and with the recently passed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill dubbed the American Rescue Plan. As vaccinations continue to be distributed around the country, economic growth is now projected to reach 7%, which would be the fastest rate in nearly forty years.

Locally the Atlanta commercial real estate market continues to rebound with the Industrial, Office, and Multi-Family sectors all performing well compared to other major US metros. The Retail sector, while showing signs of slight improvement, continues to face many challenges in the months ahead. Let’s take a closer look at the 4 major sectors of the Atlanta commercial real estate market.   




Atlanta’s industrial sector has buoyed the local economy for the entirety of the pandemic. Boosted by increased demand for e-commerce goods, warehouse space and distribution centers have seen high during the last year. 

Vacancy rates continue to hold steady for mid-size properties and have dropped significantly for both small properties (under 25,000 square feet) and larger spaces (over 200,000 square feet). Industrial developers are all in on the push to add new square footage to the market with over 8 million square feet already breaking ground in 2021 with nearly all of the projects being speculative in nature.  



Atlanta retail finished 2020 with a negative net absorption rate for the first time in over a decade. Retailers remain extremely cautious when it comes to committing to long-term lease agreements and renewals. Vacancies are expected to continue to rise in the coming months as more nationwide chains close locations. 

As leasing activity continues to slow to a crawl the specter of foreclosures and distress sales looms in the not too distant future. The deeds of both Town Center at Cobb and North Point Mall were both transferred to their lenders in early 2021.



The Atlanta Office market has proven resilient during the pandemic. While growth has understandably slowed, lease terms have not been significantly shorter than pre-pandemic levels. The average lease term is holding strong at 3.3 years.

While the office market is holding steady the rest of 2021 will be key in projecting the long term affects the pandemic will have on the office market as a whole. There has been a massive shift towards working from home, suburban office locales, and flexible lease agreements but it remains to be seen if these trends will be permanent in nature.



Atlanta’s Multi-Family market continues to perform well in 2021 a trend that has persisted since the middle of 2020. Rents are rising aided by the improving economic outlook and a slow supply pipeline. While most of the positive performance has been in the southern suburbs, even urban Atlanta and the northern suburbs are showing signs of steady recovery.

The long-term outlook for the multi-family market in Atlanta will be tethered to the demand for office space, so while all of the immediate signs are in the positive direction there is still much uncertainty in the long-term. As with the office market, the rest of 2021 should help to answer many questions concerning the long-term projection of the Atlanta multi-family market. 

Top 3 Reasons to NOT List Your Home Right Now

Are you considering taking advantage of this unprecedented, ridiculously hot seller’s market by listing your home? Wait!! The time might not be right for you. Don’t do anything until you have read this.

Top 3 Reasons to NOT List Your Home:

  1. You feel such an unfair advantage in this unprecedented seller’s market that it is almost like cheating, and you are NOT a cheater. With so few homes on the market right now, yours very well could sell within 24 hours and above asking price with multiple bids. If this feels like a participation trophy to you and not an actual victory you fought and sweat for, you should probably wait until more homes come on the market. As real estate trends always shift back and forth between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market, just sit tight. Soon enough you should have plenty of competition and then your home will not sell as fast or for as much money. Problem solved.
  2. The thought of multiple bids in a short amount of time seems overwhelming. How do you choose? What if you pick the wrong one? Who has time to sift through all that potential money being thrown your way?? If you are someone who prefers to have only one choice in things such as ice cream (vanilla), cable providers (Comcast), vacation spots (Florida), etc. so as to eliminate any potential disappointment associated with second guessing yourself, wait until there are more homes listed for sale. This way offers will only trickle in. Or instead of a trickle, maybe you’ll just get one. This will make it much easier on your conscience and you won’t lose sleep wondering if you picked the right one. Because you had only had one. Problem solved.
  3. You’re not a braggart or someone who has too high an opinion of themselves. And if your friends and family found out you sold your home for more than asking price (which is quite frequent in multiple bid scenarios), they may look at you differently. Should they refer to you as Sir or Madam now? Do they bow or just a slight curtsy as you enter the room? And let’s be honest, will they even want to hang out with you anymore? After all, you have shown an acumen on the genius scale when it comes to taking advantage of the real estate market and now they know you have made an even higher profit than imaginable which you can apply to the purchase of your next home. Which is REALLY nice by the way. That can be pretty intimidating to some. Avoid standing out. Blend in and list your home when everybody else does. Problem solved.

As a real estate professional, part of my job description is to solve problems for my clients. I offer the problem solving tips above to help with the decision of whether or not you should list your home right now. And I’m sure you have gathered they are tongue in cheek. We are representing a buyer who was recently one of 30 offers on a home over a 24 hours period. 30.

We have never seen a hotter seller’s market in my lifetime than we’re seeing right now. For the love of real estate, PLEASE call me if you’re unsure now is the time to list your home. Or I can save you that call and say YES. YES, NOW is a GREAT time to sell. So call me anyway. I look forward to serving you.

Holly Morris

The Meridian Real Estate Group with Keller Williams Realty

Virtual Offices are the Commercial Office Sector’s Biggest Threat

“The Oasis. It’s a place where the limits of reality are your own imagination. You can do anything, go anywhere,” Wade Watts says of the technology at the heart of the bestseller Ready Player One. The science fiction epic tells the story of a world living online, cut off from most human contact, living and working in the digital world. Sound familiar?

An entire virtual world with the complexity of The Oasis is still just science fiction, but the book’s vision of the future offers a glimpse of where the virtual spaces we’re creating could be headed. With office work already inextricably linked to the computer, virtual offices are more science than fiction. The implications of viable virtual offices will shake the commercial office sector down to its bedrock. There’s no bigger threat to the demand for office space than technology that can replace it. The future isn’t as far off as you think.

Our great pandemic-induced work from home experience is redefining the office faster than any time in modern history. Largely unable to access traditional office space, employees have been forced to be flexible, working from the couch, the kitchen counter, and even the closet, creating what little workspace they need where they can. Coffee shops, parks, hotels, and other public spaces with WiFi have become an escape for workers stuck at the office at home. For office workers, ‘workspace’ is wherever you’re using your computer. Creating a digital workspace is the future of flexible office design. Virtual 3D modeling that creates digital workplaces can already create truly flexible offices that go far beyond rearranging basic office components like desks, chairs, and conference rooms.

Watch a webinar from the top of a mountain, send emails from the Library of Congress, attend a meeting at the beach. The limits of virtual office design are your own imagination. Creating virtual spaces for people to gather is not new. Designers have been creating online meeting places with 3D modeling for over a decade. Right now the technology is being used to visualize build-outs and architectural designs but is quickly transitioning to render entire virtual offices inhabited by remote workers.

Outside the world of office space, the technology has been flourishing for nearly two decades. Second-Life, released in 2003, was a massive multiplayer online virtual world full of places for players to gather, connect and chat in an effort to create a digital replication of the modern world. Second-Life’s functionality pales in comparison to Ready Player One’s vision, but technology is quickly catching up.

Companies like Spatial and Spaceform are developing virtual spaces for people to meet through augmented or virtual reality and ‘shake hands’ with a coworker miles away, ‘no hand sanitizer required.’

“We’re working with gaming engine technology that allows you to create real time 3D models that we can all experience simultaneously,” Squint/Form Director Jan Bunge said. Bunge’s team is developing Spaceform into virtual conference room space. “At the moment there’s the most insane virtual spaces for having parties and social gatherings, all in a purely virtual setting. The need to create those settings in an office is there.”

It all comes down to the limitations of video chat. Nearly a year into this, we’re all acutely aware what Zoom and others are lacking. “Video chat is a tool that was basically good for two things: very personal conversations in small groups or big webinars where you don’t need to interact,” Spatial Head of Business Jacob Loewenstein told Wired. “But for anything in between it breaks down, and that’s where we see Spatial really being a much more interactive and much more personal collaboration solution.”

Virtual or augmented reality allows participants to move around a space, use their arms and head to gesticulate, interact with virtual objects in the space, share your screen, upload presentations and collaborate on documents or 3D designs in real-time. Workplace bias and harassment are nearly impossible in the virtual space, presenting a solution to issues drawing increased scrutiny. Studies show VR’s immersion increases attention span, meaning the new technology could be a solution to low employee engagement when working remotely. Imagine several 3D avatars in a board room around a model of a new building project, turning, expanding, and highlighting various parts of the model when collaborating on the design like Tony Stark working on his Iron Man suit prototype.

For some the world I’m describing is a new level of hell. Burnt out on Zoom, meetings in virtual reality sounds like doubling down on the suffering. The prospect of wearing a VR headset for an extended time gives many a headache just thinking about it. Despite improvements in VR tech, developers have yet to create a headset device suitable for long-term use. Right now, wearing a VR headset for even half of an 8-hour workday is out of the question.

Journalist Esat Dedezade recently tested this new reality, spending close to $7,000 for a top-of-the-line VR headset and computer to operate it. Using the Virtual Desktop app, he was able to work anywhere, from a high-rise corner office to a serene forest. It wasn’t long before he hit the first snag: typing. Being unable to see your keyboard and fingers as they move across it was a serious setback. More technology steps forward to solve that problem, a different work app uses a webcam to display a real-time overlay of his real-life keyboard. Even with the solution, it quickly became clear that working with a VR headset for even an hour is a challenge. After adjusting his approach by only using the VR headsets for tasks requiring serious focus and taking frequent breaks, the technology began to click. Online meetings were better and administrative work was more tolerable.

“Whether it’s for work or play, after a few hours in VR I can take the headset off and feel like I’ve actually been somewhere,” Dedezade wrote. “That’s a precious feeling that I hadn’t precisely realized I’d even lost, but with so many of us stuck at home for the foreseeable future, it’s an invaluable benefit that I never even considered.”

Obviously, the technology is extremely limited in its current use. Enormous upfront costs, adverse effects from prolonged usage, and underdeveloped applications are major hurdles to overcome if virtual office spaces are ever to become mainstream. If there’s one thing the 21st century has taught us, it’s that you can bet on technology becoming cheaper, safer, and more developed.

Should virtual offices become a viable solution for the masses, the implication for commercial real estate would be biblical. Co-working and working from home have long been considered looming threats, shrinking the demand for office space real estate empires are built on. A viable virtual office doesn’t just shrink demand, it eliminates it completely. The technology, still in its natal phase, will grow up sooner or later as tech giants pour billions into research and development. It’s no stretch to say that virtual offices are an existential threat to the entire industry. The property business has already given way to software, what happens when it gets eaten by it?

For now, virtual offices remain mostly science fiction outside a few specific use cases but the progress is picking up speed. If you look closely, the future isn’t hard to see. Centralized offices are being shed and distributed workforces adopted. What will be the value of a physical office when it can be replicated, pixel by pixel, in a VR headset? The answer to this question will determine the future of the office industry. Best to start now, the programmers already have.

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February Is A Big Concern Month For Cockroaches

Happy February to everyone of course but not to those pesky cockroaches. Why? February is a big concern month for cockroaches. Their nesting pattern leads to hatchings of new generations of cockroach every 4-6 weeks. Once they begin hatching, they are a pain to get rid of. The most persistent cockroaches you commonly see in your home, found primarily in kitchens and bathrooms, are German cockroaches.  German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is a small species of cockroach, typically about (1.1 to 1.6 cm) (0.43 to 0.63 in) long. In color it varies from tan to almost black, it has two dark, roughly parallel, streaks on the pronotum running anteroposterior from behind the head to the base of the wings. Adult American cockroaches average between 1.4” to 1.6” (35-41mm) in length, but they can grow to exceed 2”. American cockroaches are reddish brown in color with a yellow band that outlines the area behind their head. Both males and females have wings and can fly short distances. Another larger roach is the oriental cockroach, also known as the water bug or black beetle, is a large species of cockroach, adult males being 18–29 mm and adult females being 20–27 mm. It is dark brown or black in color and has a glossy body. Roaches are nocturnal creatures and usually spend most of their days hiding away in the dark, but their metamorphosis cycle continues all year round.

What is attracting these cockroaches to my home? With everyday living many nonchalant behaviors we think are harmless may be leading to cockroaches. For example, dirty dishes in the sink, garbage, excess moisture and crumbs on the floors and counters, even pet food. Wiping the sinks and bathtub dry after each use will lessen populations because insects need more water than food.

How do you prevent these cockroaches from entering your home? Good question. Preventative measures such as, a clean & tidy living area, wash dishes and put them away after meals, clean crumbs and spills immediately, take out the garbage before going to bed and remove grease from the stovetop. Dixie Exterminators, Inc. is an advocate of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. Pest Exclusion is always viable to sealing up construction gaps and applying chemical treatments on the perimeter of home.

This information was provided by one of our preferred vendors, Dixie Exterminators, Inc.

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What Is a Rent-Back Agreement? A Godsend to Home Sellers Not Ready to Move

As a Buyer’s agent, I have experienced the heartache of watching clients find a great home only to be one of many offers in a highest and best bidding war and losing out for one reason or another. To put into context what ‘many’ could mean in our current market of extremely tight inventory combined with historic low interest rates, the last multiple bid offer I was a part of had 30 offers in 24 hours. 30!!! So what can you do as a Buyer to insure your offer is the winning offer?
There are multiple ways to be as competitive as possible in a Seller’s market and this article touches on one strategy frequently overlooked. The ‘rent back’ option. If you’re trying to buy a home that is currently occupied, the Seller may not have bought another home yet, and in fact may not have even started looking. Check out the advantages and disadvantages of adding a ‘rent back’ clause to your offer.

What is a rent-back agreement? You’ll definitely want to know if you’re buying a new home while selling the one you’re currently living in. As you might imagine, this double transaction can require some reallygood luck, timing wise, to get just right. After all, if you sell your home and have to move out before you’ve closed on your new home or even found a place to live, that means you’ll have to either couch surf or pay to stay in hotel limbo. Either way, you’ll have to endure the hell of moving twice.

Not so with a rent-back agreement, which gives the sellers extra time to live in the home after closing, essentially letting them become the new buyer’s temporary tenants. It doesn’t last for long—there are usually time limits—but it will give sellers a chance to close on their new home and pack up for the big move.

For the buyer, offering a rent-back agreement can have a couple of big bonuses. For one, if it’s a competitive market, an offer that’s flexible on move-out dates might very well have an edge. And the rent that the seller would pay the buyer could help recoup those hefty closing costs.

Done right, it can benefit everyone, but there are some things to consider before you jump on board.

How a rent-back agreement works
Like the name implies, rent-back agreements are legally binding agreements made in writing between the buyer and the seller. Both parties need to decide on a couple of issues, namely how long the seller will need to stay in the house after closing and how much rent the seller will pay to be there. To figure out what rent would be fair, check out comparable homes for rent in your area, then do the math.

To play it safe, the buyer may also charge a refundable deposit, just like any landlord would.

“There’s always the chance that damages could occur while the seller is living there. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a holdback deposit of anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000,” says Emily Beaven, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in San Francisco. Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

Once everyone agrees, the buyer will close on the house, at which point the buyer will officially take possession and pay any upfront costs like a normal closing. In addition, the seller will pay any security deposits or upfront rent and remain in the house.

What rent-back agreements mean for the seller
Getting more time to buy your next dream home can be a lifesaver, but don’t dawdle—a rent-back agreement won’t buy you much time.

“Typically, lenders won’t accept anything longer [than] 60 days,” Beaven says.

While you’re still at the property, there’s one more potential downside to deal with: It isn’t really yours anymore. You technically have a landlord now, which means if you cause any damages, you may not get your security deposit back.

What rent-back agreements mean for the buyer
If you’re not in a rush to move in, offering a rent-back agreement can help you get your dream home.

“It really can make your offer stronger,” Beaven says, but don’t take it too lightly. Since you’re the new owner (and the new landlord), you might run into a few new problems.

“The buyer, like a landlord, is now responsible for making any repairs should, say, your water heater break,” Beaven says. Plus you may have to make those repairs immediately.

Buyers will also have to worry about the sellers actually moving out on time. It’s rare that they drag their feet, but it can happen. If so, you will have to go through the usual process landlords do to evict your tenants, which is rarely pleasant. Still, odds are all will go fine, and your sellers will be grateful they won’t have to move twice.

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Centennial Yards: A Study in Post Pandemic Mixed-Use Development

Mixed-use developments had been the hot trend in commercial real estate for a number of years and was only getting hotter as the pandemic hit in early 2020. These walkable communities bring residential living and/or office space together with shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues to create vibrant live-work-play environments. This urban redevelopment trend had gained steam for a number of years, spreading to suburban downtown areas as well.

Many mixed-use megaprojects around the US were already in the works at various stages of planning and construction as the pandemic spread around the globe during the last year. In Atlanta, one such project is Centennial Yards, the $5-billion facelift to an area locally referred to as “The Gulch”. This project will greatly increase the walkability of downtown Atlanta by connecting major attractions like State Farm Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park with 15 blocks of mixed-use residential, retail, and office space.

This mammoth project was conceived and construction was well underway before the pandemic arrived and put the entire restaurant and entertainment industries on pause. Of course, a major driver for the popularity of these mixed-use developments are the food, sports, and entertainment options all within walking distance of your primary residence. It is not yet known how Covid-19 will affect the demand for these nightlife hotspots in the long-term, but it is definitely something that developers will have to consider as they push forward with the execution of their plans.

Adaptability in design to meet a variety of needs and demand is a big reason why mixed-use developments have taken off so rapidly in recent years. Developers, already locked into previously approved projects, are betting big on this adaptability feature to ensure that these remain financially viable projects for the foreseeable future. Defining the right mix of between residential and retail will be closely evaluated, and developers will have to make these decisions in real-time. 

There will undoubtedly be more focus on creating spaces that are healthier and safer. Healthy building standards will likely be introduced concentrating on the air we breathe in shared spaces. The incorporation of outside air will be a major part of future builds, bringing in fresh clean air and helping to dilute the passage of airborne contaminants.

As the years-long construction phase of the Centennial Yards project continues it will be interesting to see how the pandemic affects the end result of the project, and what choices the developers will make in both the mix of retail to residential of the overall project and in the new focus on building safe and healthy environments. 

We Can Help

Whether you’re looking to lease, buy, or sell commercial property, now is still the time to do it in Atlanta. The Meridian Real Estate Group has been assisting commercial clients for well over a decade and would love the privilege of earning your business. Our goal is not just to help our clients with a transaction, but to support the building of financial legacies through real estate. Call us today at 678-631-1723 or visit us online at We look forward to serving you.

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Did You Accomplish Your 2020 Real Estate Goals

With all the craziness that happened in 2020 were you able to accomplish your real estate goals for the year and have you set new goals for 2021?

Are you, or someone you know, considering buying, selling, or investing in residential or commercial real estate within the next 12 months?

Buying? Interest rates remain at historic lows in the low to mid 2% range which gives buyers more buying power and bang for their buck. Are you wondering how much you might qualify for and need the name of a trusted residential or commercial real estate lender? We can help.

Selling? Inventory is still very low and as a result the basic law of supply-and-demand applies now more than ever in the real estate market. So if you have been considering selling, right now would be the time to take advantage of selling at the peak of the market.

Additionally, selling in the winter months when your competition is lower than the springtime will even further your opportunity to get top dollar for your property.

Investing? It’s always a good time to invest in real estate and in fact, despite the amazing run the stock market is having right now, real estate has outperformed stocks by a 2 to 1 ratio for the last 20 years and there are no indications that will change anytime soon. So even if you are currently invested heavily in stocks, real estate is always a great way to diversify your investment  portfolio.

Refinancing? Simply refinancing and dropping your interest rate by as little as 3/4% to 1%  could save you several hundred dollars a month on your monthly mortgage. Need the name of a trusted residential or commercial real estate lender? We can help.

Renovating? You’ve owned your property for a while and you are still fond of it, but it’s no longer exactly what you need/want, or, you are concerned you won’t be able to find exactly what you are looking for in this competitive market, and you question whether or not you should put it up for sale and move on, or upgrade and settle in for the long haul? We can help answering that question.

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