Friday, August 06, 2021

Mid-Fairfield Update of Single Family Home Sales through July, 2021

 

Mid-Fairfield Update of Single Family Home Sales through July, 2021

 

By the end of July we usually have a good idea of where the market is trending for any given year.  The real estate market in Mid-Fairfield (Westport, Weston, Wilton & Fairfield) continues to function at a record setting pace. 

In Westport, through the end of July, there have been 339 closed sales of single family homes compared to 295 at the same time last year-an increase of 15%.  The median price of closed sales through July stood at $1,575,000 compared to $1,225,000 in July 2020.  This median price (+29%) still lags figures that we saw at the height of the last bull real estate market, but well above pre-Covid levels.

Weston is also on pace to have more home sales than in 2020, with 145 sales in 2021 compared to 127 at the end of July in 2020.  This is a 14% increase, similar to that seen in Westport.  What stands out is that there were 80 sales of over $1 million in 2021, compared to 44 such sales through July 2020.  The median sales price was up an astounding 59%, from $705,500 in 2020 to $1,125,000, the largest of any town in our group.

It is always interesting to compare sales in Weston and Wilton, which share many similarities, and have often had similar home values over the years.  Wilton saw an even bigger spike in sales numbers than Weston with 230 sales through July 31, compared to 166 in 2020.  This was an impressive increase of 39%, the largest of the group of four.  Million dollar sales also jumped from 36 in 2020 to 95 in 2021 (through July).  This increase was reflected in the median sales price increase from $760,000 in 2020 to $920,000.  That represents a 13% increase.  Median price points shift from year to year when comparing Wilton and Weston, which was higher last year in Wilton.  

Fairfield is by far the largest of the mid-Fairfield towns, with the most diverse housing stock.  As such total sales are always larger than in the other towns.  What has stood out thus far in 2021 is the big jump in homes sold so far this year above the $1 million mark.  Last year at this time there were only 88, compared to 158 this year-nearly double. The median price went from $639,900 in July 2020 to $725,000 this July, a 13% increase.  The number of homes sold also increased by 13%, from 494 through July 2020, to 558 in July 2021.

Home price increases for next year have been projected by most economists, although political, social and economic circumstances (as well as geological) may also impact those figures.  Current trends still point to high demand and low supply in our market.


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Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Housing Shortfall is driving up prices, but a crash is unlikely

 Summer of the Speed buyer

This recent article by chief economist of the National Association of Realtor's economist Lawrence Yun puts the current real estate market into perspective:

Remember when it could take years to sell a home.  MLSs were flooded with distressed properties.  In Miami, it was up to six years according to new accounts in the wake of the 2008 Financial crisis.

Today, of course, its the opposite story.  It's generally taking just of couple of weeks, and sometimes day, to find a buyer.  From listing to contract, homes sold in typically 17 days in April, the fastest rate ever.  In most markets, home buyers can't risk leisurely weighing several listings before committing to most likely the most expensive purchase of their life.  Rushed decisions can easily lead to buyer misgivings-about overspending for the home, its size, or having insufficient reserves for upkeep.  Still, most buyers come to see that they made the right decisions in these competitive times.  Seeing prices, and hence their wealth, rising helps.

Could it all crash as happened in 2008 to 2010?  Not likely.  The current housing cycle is fundamentally different.  We thankfully don't have risky subprime mortgages that overstretched buyer's budgets.  The gateskeepers at banks, mortgage brokers, and government regulators demand that loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, and income documentation meet guidelines before a mortgage is approved.  To be sure, even with soundly written mortgages, we know some defaults can occur.

A second major difference is supply.  Leading up to the housing bubble heyday, builders overbuilt.  By my calculations, America had 2.1 million surplus housing units by 2006.  Following the crash, underproduction steadily chipped away at the surplus, such that inventory normalized by 2011.  Continuing underproduction led to the housing shortage.  By 2015, the shortfall was 2 million homes.  By the end of 2020, it totaled 4.8 million homes.  The lack of inventory is why home prices are in no danger of falling sharply.  

Homebuilding activity in 2021 will be slightly above historical norms, but it will take at least a few years to correct the massive shortage.  In the meantime, we expect the national median home price to rise 9% this year and another 3% in 2022.  Hyperseed homebuying should taper off by year's end as supply improves and affordability challenges persist.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

4 Major Incentives to Sell This Summer

 

 

While the housing market forecast for the second half of the year remains positive, there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Here are four things to consider if you’re trying to decide if now’s the right time to make a move.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly. The report notes homes are selling in an average of just 17 days.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer competition, and homes selling quickly is a great sign for sellers. It’s one of several factors that indicate buyers are motivated to do what it takes to purchase the home of their dreams.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling fast, homes are receiving multiple offers. NAR reports sellers are seeing an average of 5 offers, and these offers are competitive ones. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogicsaid in a recent interview:

The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.

This confirms buyers are ready and willing to enter bidding wars for your home. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale, which while improving, remains at near-record lows. As NAR details:

“Total housing inventory at the end of May amounted to 1.23 million units, up 7.0% from April's inventory and down 20.6% from one year ago (1.55 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.5-month supply at the present sales pace, marginally up from April's 2.4-month supply but down from 4.6-months in May 2020.”

There are signs, however, that more homes are coming to market. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americannotes:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.

If you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

Over the past 12 months, homeowners have gained a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. In that same period, homeowners have also spent a considerable amount of time in their homes, and many have decided their house doesn’t meet their needs.

If you’re not happy with your current home, you can leverage that equity to power your move now. Your equity, plus current low mortgage rates, can help you maximize your purchasing power.

But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever. Experts forecast interest rates will increase in the coming months. Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at NARsays:

“Nevertheless, as the economic outlook for the United States looks brighter for the rest of the year, mortgage rates are expected to rise in the following months.”

As interest rates rise, even modestly, it could influence buyer demand and your purchasing power. If you’ve been waiting for the best time to sell to fuel your move up, you likely won’t find more favorable conditions than those we’re seeing today.

Bottom Line

With supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers, sellers are well-positioned to take advantage of current market conditions right now. If you’re thinking about selling, connect with someone from our team today to discuss why it makes sense to list your home sooner rather than later.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

3% Interest Rate May be the New Norm

 

A 3% mortgage rate may be

 the new norm

But if home prices can't cool many buyers may miss out regardless

For the third consecutive week, mortgage rates pushed past 3% – with the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan up four basis points last week to 3.09%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Rising mortgage rates typically signify a recovering economy, and despite applications for mortgages dropping week-over-week, Freddie Mac’s chief economist Sam Khater expects a 3% rate to sustain market interest for many potential buyers.

A number of economists say rising rates may just be what the industry needs to cool the insane housing demand the market has been struggling to maintain for months. Increased inventory was the initial hope. However, due to consistent materials supply shortages and lumber prices that are up about 200% since April 2020, builders’ confidence index dropped in March. Single-family housing starts declined last month.

“The elevated price of lumber is adding approximately $24,000 to the price of a new home,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “Though builders continue to see strong buyer traffic, recent increases for material costs and delivery times, particularly for softwood lumber, have depressed builder sentiment this month. Policymakers must address building material supply chain issues to help the economy sustain solid growth in 2021.”

Now, economists are keeping a watchful eye on the speed in which interest rates have risen, said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist.

“Underlying Treasury rates have risen, though lenders have absorbed some of the rise by shrinking spreads, as confirmed by our recent Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey results,” said Duncan. “While the rate rise will curtail refinances to some degree, 2021 is poised to be a good year overall for housing activity and housing finance, as the economy continues to recover and COVID-19 restrictions ease.”

Duncan said Fannie Mae is watching for risks around monetary and fiscal policy on interest rates moving forward, though none are an immediate threat as the Federal Reserve has not changed its FOMC statement for several months.

Nevertheless, mortgage rates remain near historic lows (they are still 0.8 percentage points below the 2019 average), but if the price of housing can’t cool in time, many first-time homebuyers may miss the chance to take out a record low rate. Despite this risk, Fannie Mae’s baseline view is that the recent rapid rise will not continue but that rates will drift only modestly higher over the remainder of this year.

“Essentially, we believe the Fed will keep policy accommodative for longer, not tightening until inflation clearly exceeds its 2.0-percent target for a substantial period,” Fannie Mae said. “This view is consistent with current market measures, such as Fed Funds futures, not anticipating any rate hikes until 2023 and, even then, at a slow pace.”

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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

10 Ways the Kitchen has been Evolving in the past year


3 Takeaways:

  • When space permits, an island has become the heart of the room.
  • White is still the go-to color for kitchens, but other colors are gaining momentum in personalization.
  • Zones for tasks like baking, coffee making, and working are the new way to separate space.

Kitchen trends are like fashion—wait a season and this color will be in and that one out. But the changes since the start of the pandemic a year ago have emerged to keep the room true to its moniker as the heart of the house.

With more people working remotely—and cooking all their meals at home—the kitchen has become more than a place to prepare food. It’s transitioned to an all-in-one work, gathering, eating, and storage hub, says designer Prosha Korangy of Prosha Design.

Or as interior designer Ximena Rodriguez, a principal and director of interior design at CetraRuddy Architecture, puts it, “It has become a space to enjoy living.”

From cabinetry and appliances to lighting and smart technology, 2021 kitchen trends have arisen as highly functional and beautiful, says Liz Brooks, executive vice president of sales and marketing at developer Belgravia Group.

While some changes started before COVID-19 hit, others kicked in after stay-at-home orders spread. Many homeowners realized “the importance of their home as their refuge,” says Mick De Giulio, owner of deGiulio Kitchen Design. That spurred homeowners with funds and access to contractors to proceed with remodeling projects, he says.

Here are 10 kitchen changes most sought after by homeowners in 2021:
 

Flexible kitchen layout

©Belgravia Group

1. Flexible instead of open layouts.

The number of homeowners renovating interiors to gain an open-concept plan has dropped since 2019, according to the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. Instead, it’s evolved into a desire for flex space—a reimagined open concept. Since the pandemic started, designer Jodi Swartz found many homeowners hiring her KitchenVisions firm to take down walls “to keep an eye on their children while cooking,” she says. Other homeowners sought an adjacent space to keep work, hobbies, or play out of the main living space.

Within the kitchen layout, De Giulio says the work triangle of the sink, refrigerator, and cooktop being close proximity is still paramount. But with more people congregating in the kitchen, design is shifting to add ancillary zones. Peter Albanese, vice president of kitchen and bath at Bellari Home Remodeling, often puts a charging station near a kitchen entry. De Giulio likes to include a “LaMattina” or morning breakfast center. A baking center has gained interest, according to Houzz, as more homeowners prepare breads and cakes, and post in cooking groups like KitchenQuarantine. Many homeowners also want a comfortable seating area for eating, working, schmoozing, which Interior Makeovers designer Lori Gilder likes to put in a windowed corner, preferably with a banquette.

Longer kitchen island

©Werner Straube - Morgante Wilson Architects

2. Bigger islands.

“The bigger the better” seems to be the rule, and larger kitchen island designs could replace a table, says Linda Fennessy of Kitchen Magic. Just how big is big? “Enormous,” says architect Bob Zuber with Morgante Wilson Architects, who cites 7x14½ feet as common, so that it can fit several people sitting or working together, plus room for a sink, dishwasher, and microwave. Architects Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker like to make gathering around these islands more comfortable by rounding corner edges, while designer Susan Brunstrum of Studio Brunstrum recommends chairs or swivel stools with cushions and backs in a laminated fabric for comfort and easy cleaning.

Quartz countertop

©The Home Improvements Group

Quartz countertop

3. Healthier countertops.

Quartz and quartzite replaced granite as go-to surfaces years ago, primarily because they are less ubiquitous, more durable and nonporous, and associated with greater healthfulness due to their antimicrobial properties, says designer Chris Dreith of The Home Improvements Group. The main differences between them are that quartz is manmade and easier for fabricators to match patterns, while quartzite is a natural stone and it takes effort to find slabs with grains that work together. Quartzite can handle higher heat without burning—up to 500 degrees versus 275 for quartz, says De Giulio. There are also materials like Staron®, an acrylic option that’s engineered to be nonporous and is more affordable than quartz, quartzite, marble, and granite.

Lively backsplash with quartz countertops

©Kitchen Magic

4. Bolder backsplashes.

Backsplashes have become a way to add personality to a kitchen. Fennessy says more people are moving beyond traditional rectangular subway tiles to herringbone, hexagonal, picket fence, and penny-round mosaic patterns. De Giulio adds visual warmth and character backsplashes with a mix of materials such as textured wood and shiny metal. Another way to introduce boldness is with a single slab covering the backsplash, which eliminates cleaning grout lines, says Korangy. When homeowners tire of their choice, a backsplash is among the easiest, most affordable changes, according to Swarz. 

Module cooktop

©SubZero, Wolf, and Cove

5. Multitasking appliances.

With so many demands placed on the kitchen, homeowners are favoring appliances that serve multiple functions. Dreith says many clients are choosing steam/convection ovens and hot water/filtration systems. Cooking more at home has led to bigger appliances, from longer sinks—sometimes five feet and with features like sliding cutting boards—to tall columns designated for refrigeration or freezing, and more personalized components. SubZero, Wolf, and Cove now offer 15-inch modules that let the homeowner assemble their ideal cooktop, with options such as a wok, deep fryer, and gas or eclectic oven options, says Jeff Sweet, corporate manager of product marketing. Many homeowners are also looking for help from technology. SubZero’s new Cove dishwasher line has a partnership with Amazon and can alert homeowners when they need more detergent pods. And faucets now come in water-efficient, no-touch options.

6. Better ventilation and purer water.

Kitchen with better ventilation and access to outdoors

©Interior Makeovers

To stay healthy, safe drinking water and fresh air no longer mean having just a purification system attached to a faucet or venting odors and stale air through a range hood. Homeowners want a water purification system for their entire house, says real estate salesperson Tony Mariotti, CEO of RubyHome. He has clients who like to shower with “conditioned” water. To achieve proper ventilation, some homeowners are adding larger windows as well as installing a hood blower with a larger capacity. The size depends on room dimensions, odors produced, and the equipment’s cubic feet per minute (cfms). De Giulio likes to dial back vent noise by placing equipment in an adjacent space and suggests homeowners consult an HVAC specialist. “It’s a tricky science,” he says. But something as simple as houseplants can help purify air, says Gena Kirk, vice president of KB Design Studio for KB Home.

LED lighting

©Michael P. LeFebvre - KitchenVisions

7. Warmer, efficient lighting.

LEDs have grabbed the spotlight, whether under, in, and above cabinets, in ceilings, and along toe kicks. One reason, they’re more energy efficient; another—technology has made it easier to achieve a warmer, dimmable LED, which Gilder favors. She suggests a range between 3,000 and 4,000 kelvins (K). In addition, LEDs are programmable to vary in brightness and colors, says Dreith. Houzz found pendant lighting remains popular dangling above an island, but some experts, like Brooks, now prefer one substantial fixture.

8. More specialized storage.

Specialized storage drawer for utensils

©Kitchen Magic

Besides needing better storage for buying in bulk and making fewer runs to stores, homeowners are also looking to designers to help find places to better stash pantry goods, dishes, glasses, cutlery, and small appliances, says Mary Cook, president of Mary Cook Associates, a design firm. Some homeowners are adding on “super pantries,” akin to small, second kitchens, says Zuber. If space and budget don’t permit something that large, Fennessy recommends building a pantry cabinet with rollout shelves and room at the bottom for taller items.

When it comes to cabinetry, drawers are preferred to cabinets since they’re easier to access, says Dreith. Flat rather than shaker style is also favored for easier cleaning and they because they can be dressed up with hardware, says Brooks. Homeowners are interested in cabinet systems to organize everything from cookie sheets to spices to recycling bins, Houzz found. Those who prefer a modern look want some open shelves rather than all cabinets on top, says Rodriguez.

Handscraped floor

©Dave Burk Hedrich Blessing Photographers - deGiulio Kitchen Design

9. Sturdier floors.

More people at home equate to more wear and tear on floors, so durable, easy-to-clean choices rank high. The Houzz survey found that vinyl wood-style planks have become more popular than hardwood, but many designers like Fennessy say clients prefer hardwood and engineered wood over vinyl wood planks to mimic the modern farmhouse look. De Giulio’s clients favor wider planks, as well as old-fashioned, elegant, hand-scraped floors.

10. Auxiliary outdoor kitchens.

Homeowners value outdoor space more than ever. Designer Cristin Michele Beavers, a real estate salesperson and founder of CMB Designs, outfits clients’ Southern California yards with all the bells and whistles, from pizza ovens and smokers to wine fridges, warming drawers, heaters, furniture, and fireplaces. The warm weather locations offer incentive to invest in the outdoor living area. De Giulio says many of his clients request a good grill, countertop, and maybe an outdoor sink. 

Outdoor kitchen grill

©Marc Nissim - Harmony Design Group

No matter the makeover a homeowner is planning, they should be aware of the lumber shortage in the U.S., which is increasing costs of materials and labor. Eventually, “when production and distribution rise to meet demand,” Zuber expects costs will decrease. “A lot was due to people getting sick and factories shutting.”

Is the White Kitchen Passé?

Despite a 4% decline from the prior year, white remains the most popular color choice for kitchens, according to the 2021 Houzz survey, followed by wood tones, then gray. But the bigger news is that many multicolor (often bold) kitchens are steadily growing in preference, says Brunstrum. Reasons cited are that homeowners want to personalize the room and have less concern about resale or what the next buyer wants.

White kitchen

©Michael P. LeFebvre - KitchenVisions

Colors and different materials and textures now appear in myriad ways. Swartz is designing cabinetry in pine green, robin’s egg blue, and navy. Albanese, says pink tiles are back but in a soft rather than bubblegum ‘50s hue. Designer Katja Van der Loo of Papyrus Home Design is wallpapering kitchens again, which might introduce a mix of colors. Korangy mixes it all up: In one kitchen, blackened steel countertops with marble backsplash and laminate cabinets, and in another, salvaged wood, laminate wall surface, quartz countertop, and stainless steel toe kick.

Even appliances come in colors. Brunstrum paired a red range with blue cabinets. Fennessy predicts orange and magenta will be huge, along with more perimeter and island cabinets and countertops displaying different palettes, a trend from years ago that is re-emerging. 

New condo developments, often tamer and more monochromatic, now offer greater color choices with their finish packages. At the Parkline Chicago development, residents can choose from four palettes to meet individual aesthetics, says Thomas Roszak, president of Parkline developer Moceri + Roszak.
 

 


9 Key Findings From the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

Houzz, a popular online design community, recently a report based on more than 2,000 U.S. homeowners’ responses to reveal the latest trends. Here’s what they found:

  • Open plan loses favor. The number of homeowners fashioning an open plan dropped 43% in 2021, but one in five sought a kitchen that opens to an outdoor space.
  • Storage. More than one-quarter of those surveyed added cabinets to their renovated kitchen, four times more than the prior year.
  • Recycling. The most common specialty drawers are pull-out waste or recycling drawers.
  • Cookies and spices. The most popular cabinet organizers are for tidying up cookie sheets, favored by 48% and spices at 39%.
  • Fewer appliance upgrades. Appliances and fixtures were less likely to be included in a renovation, declining by 51% and 74% respectively.
  • Wireless. Among appliances that have been replaced, wireless controls have grown by 5%.
  • Outfitted islands. Nearly two-thirds of renovated kitchens feature an island with half of those including an appliance—usually a dishwasher or microwave.
  • Neutral walls. While gray, white, and beige still reign supreme on wall surfaces at 28%, 26%, and 21% respectively, homeowners go for more multicolored backsplashes, black stainless appliances, and blue walls.
  • Dollars spent. The median amount spent on major kitchen remodels—which includes replacing cabinets—remained stable at $35,000.

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Image 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally


Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally?

Why do Radon Levels in the Home Tend to Fluctuate Seasonally?

A client asked this recently, a common question this time of year. After getting their radon test results, they questioned the range of results over the test period, so they did some research. They found there isn’t just one answer to their question; a variety of factors must be considered. One point that tends to hold true is that radon levels in homes are generally higher when houses are closed, including heating season, the summer season if you have AC, and even spring if you have allergies. In Connecticut, that can cover about 9 months of the year! It must be noted, these fluctuations are expected when testing, and have been taken under consideration by the EPA in creating the testing guidelines and the 4.0 action level.

In addition to these closed-house conditions, we must consider the “ground conditions” as contributors to indoor radon levels. Look out the window, is the ground wet, snow-covered, or frozen? Any of those conditions create a soil seal that will force more radon into your home, often referred to as “The Blanket Effect”.  Just as a blanket can trap body heat, covered ground at the exterior can trap radon gases. As a soil gas, radon will follow the path of least resistance.  When the ground is sealed, the path of least resistance is going to be through your home.

Having a Certified Radon Test conducted in your home is the best way to determine your radon exposure. Testing for radon now makes sense to understand what the potentially highest levels of radon in your home are. Call Tiger today to schedule your radon test by our Certified Radon Staff.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon

Radon levels can soar during the colder months when residents keep windows closed and spend more time indoors. As many as 22,000 people die from lung cancer each year in the United States from exposure to indoor radon.

EPA Recommends:

Testing your home for radon — it’s easy and inexpensive.

Remediate if your radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.

Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.

Read EPA’s “Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and  Your Family From Radon.”


Thanks to Tiger Home Inspections for sharing this information

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Friday, January 29, 2021

11 Tips for A Healthier Relationship with Your Tech

 

Breaking The Habit: 11 Tips For A Healthier Relationship With Your Tech 

 

vector image illustration of a tan man with blonde hair and light blue shirt craning his neck down to look at and use phone, on a light yellow background, breaking phone addiction

While it’s never been easier to track your health and fitness using technology, ironically, overusing electronics can be hugely detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. Hunching over a smartphone screen constantly leads to bad eyesight, poor posture, and can even increase anxiety.

On top of that, our phones are major distractors– recent surveys indicate Americans check their phones 96 times per day, or about once every ten minutesBut that doesn’t mean you have to throw your phone away completely to form a healthier relationship with your technology.

We’ve put together a list of simple ways to stop doom-scrolling and be more mindful of time spent online. If you’re looking for a way to unplug more often and break your screen addiction, these ideas should help.

 

1. Start keeping track of your screen time.

Nowadays, most phones offer an easy way for you to see how much screen time you’re logging in a day. Just seeing the numbers can be a great incentive to take control of your time again, and to stop aimlessly using your phone out of habit.

2. Schedule a little phone-free time daily.

Set aside a designated “phone-free” time, where you don’t plan to use your phone, and try to keep it out of reach during that period. Many phones also offer the option to limit your screen time, making it easy to take control of your schedule and regulate your usage.

3. Don’t be available 24/7.

This is crucial if you want to have phone-free time without spending every second stressing about what you’re missing out on. A healthy family/work/life balance means that no one should expect you to be available 24/7. Let the people you’re close to know you’re trying to unplug a little to better manage expectations. You’ll quickly find it’s okay not to respond to every message instantaneously.

4. Avoid looking everything up first.

When’s the last time you tried out a new restaurant without looking at reviews, or stopped by a museum before reading about their collection online ahead of time? Try to avoid the impulse to Google everything immediately, and you’ll rely on your phone a lot less (and maybe add a little spontaneity to your day, too!).

5. Try an app to boost productivity.

It might sound counter-intuitive to use technology to help you stop using your phone as often, but there are tons of productivity apps that can help you cut down on distractions and use your tech more mindfully—whether that’s by making a smarter to-do list or setting aside time to focus on one activity.

6. Turn off a few notifications.

Constantly seeing messages on your phone screen is tempting, and keeps us in a repetitive cycle of unconsciously scrolling through new notifications— and likely getting off task. Turning off any app notifications you don’t need can help keep you from mindlessly grabbing your phone.

7. Turn on ‘Do Not Disturb.’

Check your settings, and you should find a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. This setting delivers notifications and calls without using sounds or alerts, making it ideal for times when you’d rather not be distracted by your phone. You can turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ manually, or schedule it for whenever you’d like. Try setting it from 30 minutes before bedtime until about 15 minutes before your alarm goes off.

8. Don’t charge your phone near bed.

Find yourself staring at your phone screen in the middle of the night a lot when you should be sleeping? Try moving your charger. Keeping your phone across the room when you’re headed to sleep keeps you from staying up looking at memes. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, even better– it’s the perfect encouragement to get out of bed in the morning instead of hitting snooze from your nightstand.

9. Stay offline until after breakfast.

This step is a lot easier if you’re not scrolling through social media in bed before even getting up. Stop browsing before you brush your teeth to help get your day off to a productive start. Feeling extra motivated? Try setting aside a few minutes of mindfulness before you grab your phone for the day.

10. Put a rubber band on it.

Find yourself mindlessly browsing Instagram before you even realize you’ve picked up your phone? Try putting a rubber band around it. That way, there’s a physical barrier that you have to remove before you can use your phone again. This is a great way to make your tech usage more mindful!

11. Make it a game.

If you have friends who are also interested in reducing their screen-time, turn your next lunch date into a competition by stacking your phones in the center of the table as soon as you sit down. The first one to grab their phone has to pay the bill.
If no one succumbs to temptation before the meal is over, everyone pays for their own food instead. It’s a win-win; you’ll get to spend time connecting to friends, and have a shot at a free meal while you’re at it!

 

Start 2021 off right by committing to healthier online habits, and spend more time IRL doing what you love. Break internet addictions so you can use your technology, instead of letting it use you.

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