Let us be the last to say it: Happy New Year!

Okay, we know. It’s already February. But the year is still young. We’re still thinking “new.” And that has us thinking about the latest trends and ideas in real estate.

Here’s what’s happening in our KMS world — and the rest of the Fairfield County real estate market.

The internet has been a game-changer. It’s not really new — but it is more of a factor than ever. One of our KMS Partners just gave a “virtual tour” to clients in Europe. She walked through the house, opening every closet and drawer, while they watched and chatted via FaceTime. Distance doesn’t have to be the only reason for a virtual tour. Sick kids, bad weather, you name it, clients can stay home and agents can give them a video tour from their phone or iPad.

New tax laws change the game too. They may affect deductions. But they’ll also enable many buyers to borrow more. Of course, real estate property taxes are still relatively low compared to surrounding states. The fact remains that it is still more tax beneficial to live in CT than in the rest of the tri-state region.

Buyers don’t always want big homes. Not long ago, large houses were all the rage. That’s no longer true. Smaller homes are very attractive — on smaller lots, too. Builders are adapting quickly.

Informality is in. Open kitchens and great rooms are hot. Kitchens are no longer separate from the living space; they are the living space. Mudrooms have come a long way too. They now feature tiled floors, cubbies, closets, bathrooms and separate entrances.

Smart homes are a reality. The future is now. Homeowners can control the thermostat, raise or lower blinds, play music, even park their car, with the push of a button or a simple voice command. Home buyers want to know how smart their home can be — and how much energy it saves them.

Staging is the new normal. Just a few years ago, only a few homes were staged. Now nearly every house is. Painting and redecorating are normal preparations for sellers. And accessorizing has been replaced by de-cluttering and minimizing.

Buy local. We’re seeing more local buyers. They’re trading up, or downsizing. They’re moving from one town to a neighboring one, or from one part of town to another. They already live here, so they know the ins and outs of the area.

Technology is changing commuting patterns. As more people than ever work from home — at least partially — fewer buyers make “easy commute” their #1 priority.

The role of the agent is more important than ever. National data says that Trust and Honesty are some of the most important traits when selecting a realtor. Buying or selling a house can be overwhelming. KMS Partners can help you navigate this ever-changing process, every step of the way.

Everyone is interested in real estate. It doesn’t matter if they’re buying or selling. Real estate is a huge topic of conversation. That means there’s plenty of misinformation and rumors too. KMS Partners help separate fact from fiction.