Real estate agents adapt with new tools to sell homes

Ryan Levenson, Guest columnist
Published 7:00 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2020


In March 2020, real estate agents sat on the edge of their seat as a pandemic seemingly crushed our industry.

Very few people would have guessed that only six months later we would experience one of the most severe housing shortages our country has seen in decades.

A home shortage creates a great market for people selling their homes, but it poses a variety of challenges for buyers — across many different price points. But here we stand, working to keep up with demand. Homes stay on the market for days, if not hours.

Real estate agents have always been resourceful, but our tools and skills are taking on new meaning in this environment in which distance is part of our new normal.

What we’ve experienced is unlike anything we could have dreamed. Homebuyers are feeling pressure to make decisions quickly, and many are making an offer without ever seeing the home in person. The experience is leading them to ask smarter questions, and they are demanding the expertise of real estate agents to simplify the process.

Across the country, how regulations are enacted in our industry vary greatly. Here in Knoxville, showings just after the pandemic were permitted, but many people were not interested in allowing buyers into their homes. Open Houses were also suspended for a couple months, causing real estate professionals to lean more on technology and media to show homes to buyers in the market. This all led to an increase in demand for most real estate agents as sellers turned to us to help navigate a more fast-paced sales environment.

Prior to this pandemic, helping a customer purchase a home

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150 new homes slated near Summerville; workforce townhomes on way to Mount Pleasant | Real Estate

SUMMERVILLE — More new houses are on the way to the Summerville area.

Tallahassee, Fla.-based DeVoro Homes recently bought 97 acres near S.C. Highway 61 and Old Beech Hill Road for $1.52 million, or about $15,700 an acre, where 150 new homes are planned, according to Robert Pratt, a commercial real estate agent with RE/Max Pro Realty, who handled the transaction for the seller.

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The property, west of the Ashley River, was owned by members of the Tucker family, according to Dorchester County land records.

A representative of DeVoro Homes did not respond for comment on a development timeline or home prices.

The proposed project follows the start of land clearing a few miles to the east on S.C. Highway 61 for 950 new residences set to be developed by homebuilder Ashton Woods in part of the 6,600-acre Watson Hill tract in North Charleston.

Gregorie Ferry Townhomes

Gregorie Ferry Townhomes are under construction in northern Mount Pleasant and will be available by next summer. Rendering/Broadhill Studios

Workforce housing

Construction is underway on Mount Pleasant’s first workforce housing neighborhood of townhomes.

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Located on Winnowing Way off S.C. Highway 41, the 36-unit Gregorie Ferry Towns community is being built to meet the needs of police officers, firefighters, school teachers, health care workers and hospitality industry employees.

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With 2½- and 3½-bath models, the 36 two- and three-bedroom townhomes range from 984 square feet to 1,216 square feet. They are priced from $249,900 to $287,900, and require a minimal down payment.

When the development was first announced last December, the homes were slated for buyers with incomes between $40,000 and $62,000 so they could own homes in upper Mount Pleasant, where the

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Romanza Interior Design elevates waterfront estate in Port Royal

Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR, Special to Naples Daily News
Published 6:01 a.m. ET Oct. 10, 2020


Inspired interiors from award-winning Romanza Interior Design will elevate a new London Bay Homes luxury custom home that showcases commanding views of Doubloon Bay in the prestigious Port Royal neighborhood.

Located at 4155 Cutlass Cove, the 6,569-square-foot estate is a London Bay Homes-led creative collaboration with Kukk Architecture & Design, Romanza Interior Design and Architectural Land Design. The home features a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces and an interior design ideal for both easy everyday living and gracious entertaining.

“Wide expanses of glass with fully retracting pocket doors showcase the cove from the great room, master suite, club room and VIP suite,” said Romanza’s Senior Design Director Jennifer Stevens. “We’ve created a clean, comfortable interior design that complements, not competes, with the home’s amazing views.”

A keyless Oikos door pivots open, greeting guests to a grand home that stylishly blends state-of-the-art automation, elegant finishes, built-ins and custom treatments in a soft contemporary design.

“We’ve introduced lots of texture throughout the interior finishes, from shiny porcelains to warm wood tones, to fabrics and wallcoverings,” said Stevens.

The rich palette takes its cues from the water and natural preserve views, employing warm neutrals and soft whites, accented with caramel, charcoal, chocolate and blues. To unite main living areas, Stevens selected a 40″ x 40” tile in a natural ivory sea-worn stone finish with subtle vein variations. A custom ceiling of wood and upholstered leather graces the great room.

Kitchen appliances are integrated within quartz-topped white dove cabinets with lit glass displays. The Soho Kitchen and

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See an English Estate Renovation That’s Any Downton Abbey Fan’s Dream

There’s not many people brave enough to take on such an outlandishly top-end renovation project, but for Dean Poulton, 33, and Borja de Maqua, 31, of the Instagram feed @mytinyestate, this grand design of stunning proportions was too tempting to resist. A rural English affair in Warwickshire, it comprises an array of different buildings and gardens including a three-story Georgian manor house, an adjoining servants’ quarters, and a caretaker’s cottage that dates back to Tudor times, plus a charming gardener’s cottage and piggery—all set amidst 2.5 acres of formal gardens, courtyards, and stables—barely habitable and far from good decorative order. These self-taught fixer-uppers may call the estate tiny, but the amount of work completed since they started, in March 2018, is vast. And what makes the story all the more compelling is how they have journaled their makeover via their social media platform. Having started out as a way to share progress with friends and family, it has garnered a following that has turned into something else altogether. For any DIYer, this is renovation porn.

Having left their previous home for rural Warwickshire, U.K., Dean (left) and Borja are midway through the renovation of this Georgian estate. With a variety of accommodations from cottages to stables, the future use of the property will prove to be as adaptable as they are.

Having left their previous home for rural Warwickshire, U.K., Dean (left) and Borja are midway through the renovation of this Georgian estate. With a variety of accommodations from cottages to stables, the future use of the property will prove to be as adaptable as they are.

Photo: Dean Poulton and Borja de Maqua

In terms of compatibility, the stars aligned when this couple met eight years ago. Dean is an architect by trade, and Spanish-born Borja is a surveyor. Before they purchased My Tiny Estate, they completed a number of other home renovation projects, and this is their most ambitious restoration to date. They obviously make a good renovation team, which is just as well, as everything from constructing timber-framed walls using traditional methods, plastering

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Hawaii real estate agents report selling more homes sight-unseen than ever before

As a real estate agent, Catherine Pennell is used to taking a lot of phone calls. But since April, her phone has been ringing more often than during a typical year — she’s fielding two to three phone calls every day from people looking to move from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii.

“I think people are saying, ‘Life is short.’ It’s a lot of talk because they’re not here yet and they can’t get here yet, but I’ve done more sight-unseen sales than I’ve ever done during the pandemic,” said Pennell, who represents Kauai for KW Kauai Keller Williams. “I’ve done three in the last three months.”

Julie Peters, an agent with Island Boutique Realty on the island of Hawaii, said when wildfire season began in August, she was fielding at least one call each day from California residents wanting to escape the area due to smoke and fire danger. “One person wanted to come over immediately and rent in the meantime because she was so done with smoke,” Peters said. “The last five closings I did were sight-unseen. I had rarely done that before.”

Peters said many of her buyers this year were from the Bay Area and the bulk of them hail from the West Coast. From January to June 2020, California residents bought $587.6 million worth of Hawaii property, making up 41% of total sales during that period coming from the U.S., according to Title Guaranty, which owns and maintains the largest real estate database in Hawaii.

“Demand for Hawaii is always there. Everyone wants to invest, retire or vacation here, but it’s just grown exponentially this year,” Peters said. “A lot of people that were already looking toward retirement here sped it up, or people found out they could work from home. We got a rush

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