Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally May Have Led To COVID-19 Outbreaks

The perception that the COVID-19 pandemic was under control led to many Americans becoming more comfortable with the idea of the virus towards the end of the summer. Yet, as the pandemic rages into the autumn, it becomes increasingly clear that COVID-19 remains a significant problem within the country.

There are several ways to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as the main reason why it remains such an issue is that it's highly contagious. Of course, Americans have been advised to wear face masks when out in public and these masks are mandatory in many states. Furthermore, sanitation, like hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, is highly beneficial. Not only does this prevent the spread of the virus, but it's also simply good practice, as the healthier an individual is when they contract the virus, the more likely they will be to withstand its symptoms. Bacteria is the main source of most infections, and as it can multiply up to 31 percent daily on surfaces that are not cleaned or disinfected, it's important that Americans attempt to control both its growth and the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the most significant way in which COVID-19 is spread, however, is through close contact with others and most prevalently through large groups.

This is one reason why a motorcycle rally in South Dakota has come under recent scrutiny and may be connected to major COVID-19 outbreaks across the Midwest. It's speculated that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was one of the biggest public gatherings in the United States, and perhaps the world, since the pandemic began and ultimately could be connected to outbreaks across five different states.

Held in mid-August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attracted roughly 460,000 people across a ten-day period, despite the fact that it is advised that people limit themselves to gatherings of ten people or fewer during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some states made restrictions on gatherings mandatory and enforceable by the authorities, South Dakota declined to enforce such restrictions. Therefore, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was able to proceed in South Dakota without issue. Unfortunately, the rally has been indirectly linked to 330 COVID-19 cases, including one fatal case.

Understanding The Spread Of The Virus

The size of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, as well as the lack of masks and other precautions utilized, made the spread of the virus somewhat inevitable. A further issue that made the COVID-19 virus spread further is that many of those attending the rally were from out of state. Therefore, even if their own home states were controlling the spread of the virus locally, it was easy for residents to attend the rally then return home, bringing the virus across state lines. The states most heavily affected by the rally aside from South Dakota were North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Montana. Throughout September and October, North and South Dakota have seen an uptick in hospitalizations. This could contradict statements from South Dakota governor Kristi Noem indicating that the rise in cases is merely connected to an increase in testing.

South Dakota's particular issues are further compounded by the fact that the rally was not held in a single space, exactly. Those visiting from out of state stayed for a somewhat extended period of time in various hotels and homes, while also visiting bars and restaurants on a broad scale. All of these factors could have contributed to the virus spreading out of control.

Why Misunderstandings Could Have Led To More Infections

The transmission of the COVID-19 virus could have been exacerbated by several different factors. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally celebrates a culture (motorcycle culture) that is already regarded by some as dangerous, though not necessarily fairly; though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 5,127 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017, this was a 3 percent drop from the previous year. As motorcyclists are passionate about defending their freedom to ride, they also may have felt passionate about celebrating their love of motorcycles regardless of concerns around the virus. Many, too, may have genuinely felt due to misinformation that the virus was no longer a concern.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally took place in mid-August, when South Dakota was experiencing high temperatures. Early misinformation regarding the virus indicated that it would be slowed by hot weather. However, this proved to be incorrect. New studies have confirmed that there is no link between the virus's transmission and weather patterns. Furthermore, many of those that visited the rally came from more rural states. Rural areas saw a slower infection rate during the pandemic's beginning, understandably. As the virus is more easily spread throughout tightly packed areas, it makes sense that the more rural a state is, the more slowly the virus would spread within it. Therefore, many that attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have theoretically had less experience with the spread of the virus on a personal level.

Combatting The Spike In COVID-19 Infections

It's important that those infected with the COVID-19 virus are quarantined for at least 14 days, regardless of their symptoms. Some may recover from the virus's symptoms but remain contagious for some time; others may never show symptoms, while still being capable of spreading the virus. Furthermore, those that have been exposed to the virus must be aware of the fact that they should be tested before they begin experiencing symptoms, due to that potential for becoming an asymptomatic carrier. Those that are caring for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member should be particularly vigilant; as 29 percent of the American population will spend an average of 20 hours per week doing so, this is a significant portion of people that could be infected and furthermore infect those that are most vulnerable.

Aside from quarantine, Americans should also be especially aware of resisting large gatherings or unnecessary outings in general. As health experts have projected that the fall and winter of 2020 may be particularly problematic in terms of the pandemic, it's important that Americans plan for the future and do what they can to prevent the spread of the virus.

Autumnal Injury Prevention: How to Avoid Falls During the Fall

During our current health crisis, we're placing a lot of emphasis on our physical well-being. But in order to stay safe this fall, you'll need to do more than wash your hands and wear a mask. You'll also need to be aware of how to prevent a variety of injuries. September may have been National Falls Prevention Month, but it's just as important to focus on avoiding these kinds of hazards throughout the autumnal season -- particularly as temperatures start to cool and the weather becomes more treacherous.

After all, an estimated 25 percent of elderly people will die due to a fall-related broken hip. Falls are the number one cause of occupational injury for people over the age of 55, as well. But even if you aren't a senior citizen, you should be considered about slips, trips, and other injuries that can happen during this season and beyond. To help keep you and your loved ones safe this autumn, pay attention to these injury prevention tips.

Use Caution When Raking

Fall foliage can be beautiful, but all those fallen leaves can be annoying at best (and dangerous at worst). Although yard work can provide a means for physical activity, it can also offer an opportunity for injury. You could easily hurt your back due to the repetitive twisting, lifting, and reaching motions you'll need to perform. And if you're charged with cleaning out the gutters, you might have an even higher risk of becoming injured due to a fall. With many injuries, like ankle sprains, you might be able to treat them at home and recover within ten days to a few weeks. But if you hurt your back or fall from a great height, you might be looking at a much longer and more painful recovery period. To avoid injury when doing autumnal yard work, be sure to wear gloves, use a rake with ergonomic handles, take frequent breaks, and always follow directions when using a stable ladder (including having someone to hold the ladder).

Watch Where You Step

It doesn't always take much to experience a fall. One wrong step on a slippery surface can send you flying. Because fall is often prone to rainy and cold weather, it's likely that ground surfaces may be slicker than you realize. Whether you're walking out to the mailbox or into a public building, you should always be aware of where and how you're stepping. Avoid walking near fallen leaves when the ground is wet and always wipe your shoes on floor mats upon entering a building. Make it a habit to wear shoes with excellent traction and always be aware of your surroundings. Keep in mind that frost may be a factor during the early morning, so look for ice patches and make sure you aren't distracted when you're walking around.

Conduct Some Fall Cleaning

Spring cleaning gets a lot of the glory, but it might behoove you to do some fall cleaning, as well. A cluttered home is automatically going to have more potential tripping hazards, so take this opportunity to clear out what you don't need and to get organized. Be sure to clear stairways of any potential hazards and make sure you have more than enough space to navigate your home without tripping over anything. Although throw rugs can keep in the heat, you'll want non-slip mats underneath to prevent accidents. Instead of walking around in socks, it's a good idea to get yourself a pair of house slippers or house shoes that stay indoors; that way, you won't track dirt or debris inside but you'll still have some traction when navigating slippery floors and stairwells.

Injury prevention is important for people of all ages and at any time of year. But as we head further into this season, keep these tips in mind to ensure that the only fall you'll experience will be positive in nature.

Millennial Engagements: How to Save On Your Wedding

Marriage is the ultimate dream for some. However, for millennials its a pretty mixed bag. Some millennials are celebrating marriage with bigger, longer weddings and spending a lot of money to do it and others are the children of divorce who don't want a huge affair around getting married. Whether you're considering getting engaged, planning a wedding, or just thinking about the future, here's how you can save your wallet.

1. Don't Be Afraid of Pre-Nups

Even the words pre-nuptial agreement can stir fear in many people. However, these agreements aren't just for the rich person who wants to weed out a golddigger. Divorce is a very real part of life and millennials are more aware of that than any other generation has been. Many millennials are the children of divorced parents and know how trying a long divorce battle can be. And although dating, cohabitating, and engagements are often taking place long before any rings or I dos, it can still happen.

Prenups are a practical solution that allows both parties to ensure their assets will be protected in the event of divorce. Just because women are more likely to ask for a divorce doesn't mean men are the only ones who should ask for a prenup. Prenups also ensure that things like debt and student loans aren't confused and they are a great way to ensure both parties understand each other's financial situations before combining them.

2. Rings Don't Have to Cost A Fortune

It seems like the only way to propose is with a ten-carat diamond ring that costs half a year's salary. But it's not. If you're going to get engaged, there are a multitude of ways you can save money. The main stone doesn't have to be a diamond. In fact, 80 percent of millennials think it's important to purchase responsibly sourced jewelry and diamonds have a sordid history. Instead, many millennials are turning to alternatives like rubies, emeralds, sapphires, amethyst, topaz, and other semi-precious stones. Another alternative is using lab-grown simulants as well as lab-grown gems and diamonds, which are both cheaper and more ethical. You can save a lot of money this way.

Another great way to save is to use a family heirloom or search for an inexpensive antique. You always upgrade the ring later when you have more money. Finally, talk to your partner about what they want, set a budget together, and shop together. You can still make the proposal a surprise afterward!

3. Wedding Planning And Planning to Save

The actual wedding is bound to be the most expensive part of getting married but that doesn't mean you can't save money. First, don't plan out a budget until you talk to vendors about what they offer and can estimate for your big day. Search for local businesses, as they will often have better rates and be open to compromise. When you do start budgeting, set an absolute max. This is a number that if you go over means you'll be risking rent and car payments. This will keep you from overspending.

Second, choose a venue that doesn't cost a lot. Venues are one of the highest costs of the wedding but If you choose a state park, golf course, campground, or someone's back yard, you can get married for nearly nothing. If you're in a larger city, look for inexpensive restaurants and public parks.

Finally, food is a big expense of any wedding. If you want catering, you can save a lot by going to a favorite local restaurant and asking about catering events. You could also go with a local delicacy like a clam bake or a barbeque that you can do yourself and save a ton of money. You could even ask friends and family to cook if your party is small enough. Overall, wedding savings come from remembering that you're going to remember the day and not the details, so focus your cash on the big parts, not the little ones.

4. Honeymoon Responsibly

On average, a hotel room can cost $120 a night. That's a lot of money if you're planning your honeymoon. Right now, in the midst of COVID-19, there a lot of travel bans and hotel closings, so you may be forced to wait or plan something a little different for your honeymoon. A romantic stay in a log cabin or beach house can be a very nice way to start your marriage. Alternatively, you can also save your honeymoon money for after the pandemic ends and take an extra-long vacation. Either way, remember to enjoy each other's company.

Getting married should be a joyful and fun time, not strain. Save money with these tips today!

Young People May Be New Super Spreaders of COVID-19

Illness is an unfortunate part of life. But in many cases, the effects may be short-lived. Sinusitis, for example, typically lasts less than four weeks and improves with the appropriate treatment. But as we're now learning, the novel coronavirus can come with serious symptoms -- both at the onset of transmission and even months after contraction. And as confirmed COVID-19 cases surge past the six million mark in the U.S., it's now become clear which group might be the biggest spreaders: young people.

Given how much we don't yet know about the latest coronavirus, it's understandable as to why directives have evolved so much over the last six months. Although children and young adults were generally seen as having a much lower risk of complications as a result of COVID-19 contraction, the problem is that these younger people aren't taking as many precautions. As a result, those who are asymptomatic or who have yet to show signs of illness often spread the virus to others, many of whom may be vulnerable to complications. And while it took more than three months for our nation to reach one million confirmed cases, it's taken less than one-third of that time -- only 22 days, to be exact -- to go from five million to six million.

According to the World Health Organization, young people are the drivers behind COVID-19 spread in many countries, including Japan, Australia, and the Philippines. There may also be an increased risk of complications related to coronavirus transmission in youths. And as coeds return to campuses all across the nation, many are worried that the situation in the U.S. is about to go from bad to worse.

Approximately 64 percent of 2011 private high school graduates went on to attend four-year colleges, but collegiate life looks a lot different less than a decade later. Some classes are being conducted solely online, while others have brought students back with mandates to wear masks, practice social distancing, and eschew traditional rites of passage like parties. Although those in the 18-to-29 age bracket are most vulnerable to problem drinking -- and parties are often being outlawed due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission -- some students have shown that they're not willing to play by the rules.

More than a third of the nation's colleges have reopened, but some have already closed again due to an increase in coronavirus cases. At last count, more than 25,000 students and campus staff across at least 37 states had tested positive for COVID-19. Many schools have taken the step to (or have threatened to) suspend, evict, or expel students who fail to follow health crisis policies and put everyone on campus in danger. Others have closed their residence halls and embraced remote learning. But whether it's realistic to ask students to forgo social opportunities or to expect that every person would have followed proper guidelines is a big question mark.

Ultimately, the effect of college and university reopenings on the national response has yet to be fully realized. But it's pretty clear that the nation has not seen the worst of COVID. Although we may be tired of the coronavirus, it certainly hasn't tired of us.

Remote Work: Adjusting to (and Thriving in) the New Normal

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much in full swing, many states are navigating the process of reopening. That means many American workers who were formerly claiming unemployment benefits will start needing to look for work again; while those wages never reached the same level as temporary disability payments in California (which can be up to $5,077 per month), the inflated weekly benefit from the pandemic was able to keep many laid-off staff members afloat until now.

Of course, not everyone has been furloughed over the past few months. While stenographers and court reporters -- who can make up to $70,000 during their first year in the field -- were largely unable to work due to court closures, many businesses have been able to shift to a completely remote workforce over the past few months. Even professionals who typically rely on physical interactions with clients have had to make changes. If you're a real estate agent (which is typically a lucrative endeavor, as real estate has outperformed the stock market two-to-one since 2000), you might have to get creative in order to show off available properties or virtually meet with prospective buyers and sellers.

But with many areas entering the final stages of reopening, many employees and business owners hope that they'll be back to work as usual before too long. However, the danger of the coronavirus is far from over -- and without a vaccine, our best defenses continue to be frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. As you might have already guessed, none of these measures is especially conducive to the traditional office environment or any occupation that requires you to work in close quarters with others.

So what's the solution? It might be to make a permanent shift to working from home. Roughly 72 percent of people surveyed by said they'd be hesitant to return to an office even when they were allowed to do so and 60% said they have no desire to return to in-person meetings. Instead, 45.5 percent of new job seekers will adjust to working remotely, with 42 percent specifically seeking out remote positions. Many big-name employers are making adjustments in order to stay fully staffed in this new normal, with tech leaders including Google, Twitter, and Facebook allowing employees to either extend work-from-home arrangements or continue remote work indefinitely.

Of course, remote work isn't a possibility for every business. But the pandemic did force many organizations to take a closer look at the jobs they used to insist could be performed only on-site. Much to their surprise, some found that their employees were perfectly capable of doing their jobs without ever coming into the office. And as a result, even smaller companies are allowing their employees to continue operations from the comfort of their homes for the time being whenever possible.

That said, there are some definite challenges to remote work. Cybersecurity is an ongoing issue for many businesses, as employees may be inclined to use their personal devices and unsecured connections when working from home. In fact, a recent survey showed that 52 percent of employees felt they could get away with riskier behaviors pertaining to cybersecurity when they worked outside of the office setting. Whether you're an independent contractor or you're managing a team of staff, it's important to invest in cybersecurity measures (like VPNs, password lockers, and other types of encryption) to ensure both professional and personal data stays safe during this time.

Another challenge is productivity. Although older data suggests that employees may be more productive when they're able to embrace more flexible work arrangements, the pandemic has forced many family members to stay home at one time. An employee who's trying to balance Zoom work meetings, homeschooling, and other obligations likely won't be able to give their all in every situation -- no matter how much they care. Still, the upside is that remote work has forced many businesses to streamline and embrace leaner operations; with fewer distractions and unnecessary meetings, it's easier to see what's really essential to get the job done. Many major businesses are reporting that productivity has gone up during the pandemic, as well, which just goes to show that some are actually thriving right now. But regardless, individual employees will need to work out logistics with other members of the household and discuss how goals will be set and met with their managers if they want to stay productive. And if you don't already have a designated room for work with a bit of privacy and quiet, you'll want to establish one if you want to keep working from home.

Remote work certainly isn't the ideal scenario for everyone. Many employees thrive off of social interaction, meaning that they may not do as well in isolation. Working from home can make it more difficult to concentrate for some -- and if there isn't enough oversight, it can be hard for some employees to really care enough to perform as well as they used to while in the office. But for others, working remotely is the ideal scenario that provides more solitude, more control, and more flexibility. If your office plans to continue with remote work, you'll want to conduct a thorough self-assessment to determine your own feelings about it, the challenges you face, and the actions you'll need to take in order to be successful. As many are finding out, remote work may be crucial to our economic success in the future... but it may require some major adjustments along the way.

Houzz & Home Study Reveals Latest Remodeling Trends

Every year, the U.S. Houzz & Home study evaluates the latest trends in home renovations, revealing what Americans value the most in their living space. This survey is the largest publicly available survey on residential remodeling, decorating, and building activity in the United States. The latest iteration of the survey gathered information from over 87,000 respondents and revealed some interesting insights, primarily regarding generational differences and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impact the home renovation market in the first half of 2020.

According to the 2020 U.S. Houzz & Home study, the national median spending amount on a home renovation project in 2019 was $13,000. This is down a bit from $15,000 the year before. Despite this decrease, however, homeowners still spent more than what they had planned to spend in 2019, the median of which was just $10,000.

One of the most significant findings of the survey was that older generations are leading the residential remodeling market. In 2019, Baby Boomers made up 55% of renovating homeowners on Houzz, up from 52 percent the year before. Gen Xers, which the survey categorizes as people between ages 40 and 54, account for 30 percent of renovating homeowners. Millennials, who are between ages 25 and 39, represented just 12 percent of renovating homeowners, down from 14 percent in 2018.

According to the survey, 58% of Baby Boomers renovated because they had been wanting to for some time while 43% of Millennials wanted to renovate because they recently purchased a home. As the Baby Boomer generation now represents people between ages 55 and 74, this division between the generations could be contributed to the Baby Boomers' desire to create a home in which they can stay for the rest of their lives.

"Baby Boomers, particularly those who have been in their homes for more than six years, are continuing to drive renovation activity and spend, bringing consistency to the market as they pursue projects that will allow them to age in place for the next decade or more," said Marine Sargsyan, senior economist at Houzz.

As to what the various generations were renovating, kitchens and bathrooms continued to take the lead. In general, homeowners remodel over 10.2 million kitchens and 14.2 million bathrooms every year. In 2019, 26 percent of renovating homeowners remodeled their kitchen, 20 percent focused on their master bathroom, and 24 percent renovated another bathroom in the home. The home office was the least popular space to renovate in 2019, with just nine percent of renovating homeowners focusing on that room. Millennials and Gen Xers were more likely to pursue a home office project than Baby Boomers.

Another trend during renovations in 2019 was the purchase of smart technology. Almost one-quarter of renovating homeowners made tech-related purchases and out of these, almost 70% of them were smart devices, which allow homeowners to monitor or control the device's function from a smartphone or computer. With 2.5 million burglaries occurring every year, 12% of smart tech purchases were alarms or detectors for home security systems. Purchases of outdoor technology were also driven by a focus on security, with security cameras accounting for 17% of those purchases and two in five of those cameras providing smart technology. Other popular smart tech purchases included smart lights, thermostats, and home assistants.

Despite the multitude of changes the COVID-19 pandemic caused across all industries, it didn't bring home renovations to a total halt. The Houzz & Home survey was fielded between Jan 2 and March 5, 2020, just before the virus started to spread significantly across the U.S. and it was declared a global pandemic. At that time, about 51% of homeowners planned to continue or start renovations this year and 36% of homeowners planned to make repairs.

In subsequent surveys after quarantines and lockdowns went into place across the country, over half of homeowners who were in the middle of a project were able to continue with their renovations. Depending on the project, many homeowners have had to delay their renovations to maintain social distancing measures. According to David Merrick, chairman of the government affairs committee for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), contractors are more likely to take on outside projects over inside projects. This means that renovation projects like replacing a roof or revamping the landscaping have been the more popular projects.

While the 2021 Houzz & Home survey may look quite different from the 2020 survey because of the pandemic, there are certainly still plenty of homeowners who will be making improvements to their homes. Whether they're using some of the 80 million tons of steel that is recycled in North America every year to create eye-catching additions or they're re-painting their entire first floor, people will be looking to make their homes more comfortable and aesthetically-enjoyable after being cooped up in them for so long. And if COVID-19 cases start to rise again in the fall and winter as some experts are predicting, homeowners are likely going to take whatever steps they can to make their next quarantine more comfortable than their last.

What to Know to Buy or Sell a Home During COVID-19

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, families have been changing their schedules and adjusting their plans so that they can safely live in a society in which a handshake can mean passing on a dangerous virus. While many people have had to cancel vacations and delay graduation celebrations, some major events can't be skipped. Moving into a new home is one of those events. Whether you're moving to start a new job or you need to downsize for financial reasons, you may be wondering how anyone is navigating the world of real estate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although buying and selling real estate may not look like it did pre-coronavirus, it is still happening. As states start to reopen, new listings and open houses are picking up again. Let's take a look at what you need to know about buying or selling a home during the age of coronavirus so that you can have a successful move.

Lending Standards are Stricter

One of the most notable changes in the real estate world is that lenders are setting stricter criteria for mortgages during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that lenders are raising minimum borrower requirements, such as credit scores, down payments, and employment history. These tighter standards are shrinking the pool of eligible applicants for mortgage lending, so both buyers and sellers may need to look at more flexible alternatives.

For buyers who have a credit score around 660 or lower, you may need to search for a lender who will underwrite your mortgage. If you find one who will do that, just be aware that you will probably have to pay a higher interest rate. Buyers in expensive areas could look into an 80/10/10 loan, which allows you to take out a first and second mortgage simultaneously. This takes care of 90% of the home's price, so you would only be responsible for a 10% down payment.

For sellers, you could deepen your buyer pool by offering owner financing. This means that the buyer will pay you, the homeowner, in regular payments until the house is paid off. Often, the seller will keep the property's title in their name until the buyer pays it in full. Typically, the homeowner will add interest and require a down payment, just as a traditional lender does. Unlike a traditional lender, however, you won't be denying a potential buyer just because they have a credit score that's too low. The buyer will sign a promissory note that outlines the conditions of the deal and if they don't uphold the contract, they can default and end up among the 143,105 foreclosure filings that occur in the U.S. in a single quarter. The buyer will then lose all of the money they put into the house, giving buyers an extra incentive to make all of their payments on time and in full.

Buyers Will Rely on Photos and Videos

As open houses are not allowed in many locations and they have certain restrictions in others, buyers are now relying on live video tours and looking through online photo albums to view homes. This makes it important for sellers to ensure that their home looks its absolute best through videos and photos. To do this, they need to know what buyers look for most. For instance, about 90% of Americans prefer to live in homes that are surrounded by grass lawns. Before you post photos and videos of your home, make sure that your landscaping looks lush and well-maintained to entice all of those lawn-loving buyers. You can do more research to discover what buyers in your area prioritize the most and then build your home's online profile in a way that highlights those features.

In place of traditional in-person home showings, real estate agents are now using video conferencing technology such as Zoom and FaceTime. Some are also live streaming showings on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to show a home to groups of interested buyers, much like an open house. If you're among the 11% of sellers who sell their property FSBO (for sale by owner), you can also utilize this technology as long as you have a smartphone or tablet with internet access. As the homeowner, you may even do a better job showing your home virtually than a real estate agent because you know the space and can provide buyers a more in-depth look.

Inspectors Go on Their Own

In a pre-coronavirus world, buyers and real estate agents would be there for the home inspection. This allowed them to see exactly what the home inspector sees and ask any questions they have on the spot. However, in locations where inspectors are still allowed to work, they now have to go through the home on their own and share photos, videos, and reports with buyers.

With this change, buyers need to make sure that they understand every aspect of the inspection. If you're buying a home right now, you likely haven't seen the home in-person either, so you have to rely on the inspector to catch any issues with the home. Be sure to review the materials carefully and to ask the inspector any questions you may have. If you're selling a home and still living in it, talk with the inspector about what precautions they're taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The American Society of Home Inspectors has released a list of recommended precautions their members should take, so it can be helpful for you to have that list on hand when you're having this conversation with the inspector.

While buying or selling a home during the COVID-19 pandemic certainly isn't easy, it is possible. Remember to make the necessary adjustments to adhere to social distancing measures and to be a bit more flexible with things like financing. With the right precautions, you'll be able to successfully navigate the COVID-19 real estate market.