As we reflect on 2020, it will go down as the year we changed how we operate, but it also highlighted the inequality that still exists in a digitally driven society. Internet has become a lifeline for many families as we communicate, learn, work, and entertain all via our internet streams. However, for some geographically rural areas, the streaming power can’t keep up with the demand, and for some families, the economic burden of a monthly internet bill simply isn’t in the budget. As this inequality is highlighted due to COVID-19, it’s important to understand what’s being done to address the issue, what you need to know when buying a home, and how the digital inequality could affect home values and student performance.
Who Doesn’t Have Broadband?
While most suburban and city dwellings can easily handle the streaming demand for work, school, and entertainment, homes in rural areas are struggling at no fault of their own. Broadband internet, considered the basic speed of internet, is not readily accessible to many Americans. According to the National Association of Realtors, “The FCC reports that 21 million Americans lack access to broadband in the home, 80% of whom live in rural areas.” That’s 21 million Americans unable to stream virtual learning, work from home, or participate in virtual gatherings to stay in touch. In addition to the 21 million that have no access to broadband internet, an estimated 18.5 million households go without due to subscription costs — even though it’s geographically accessible.
The Collateral Damage Of No Broadband
Throughout the course of COVID-19, millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to layoffs and downsizing. Being able to receive up-to-date job notifications and the ability to apply for job postings is a critical step in regaining employment for many; however, without reliable internet access, that becomes a difficult task. In fact, according to the Institute of Labor Economics, “Job seekers with broadband internet access were more likely to find a new job and starting wages after a spell of unemployment increased by 3-4% as an effect of better broadband internet availability.”
The bad news continues for future generations that do not have accessible broadband. According to a recent analysis by Broadband Communities, “Lack of good broadband access is a strong predictor of childhood poverty.” And Pew Research Center has dubbed the ‘homework gap’ a critical issue for today’s students: “about one-in-five teens ages 13 to 17 (17%) said they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection.” As this homework gap grows, the risk grows for higher drop-out rates, reduced post-secondary education, and decreased lifetime earnings with much of this accredited to lack of broadband access.
How Lack Of Broadband Affects Home Values
Without access to broadband, homes lose value according to the National Association of Realtors. In fact, homeowners lose approximately 2.8% in home value by not having broadband. Furthermore, “A fiber-to-the-home connection can raise a home’s value by 3%.” These figures, while recent, may now be even more staggering in the era of COVID-19.
If you’re looking to sell your home and want to offset the potential decrease in value due to a lack of internet accessibility, look at small projects around the home to complete that will help boost your homes value. Homes.com’s blog has all of the resources you need to prepare your home for the selling season.
You can keep track of your home’s current value by using Homes.com’s state-of-the-art valuation tool.
What Home Buyers Should Do Before Buying A Home Without Broadband
- If there is a question about broadband accessibility at a property, a homebuyer should inquire with the local internet company if it’s available. If broadband is not available, it’s critical to receive an accurate estimate to run broadband to the home. CAUTION: Running broadband to a home can be very costly and homebuyers can use this as a point of negotiation either with the current homeowner or the cable company.
- Call your State Representatives and City Council members to inquire if any grants are available to assist with the financial burden of adding broadband to your specific area. Since the federal and state governments are already involved in finding solutions to this problem, it’s crucial they hear from constituents that are affected by the inaccessibility.
- If broadband inaccessibility is a deal breaker for a homebuyer, buyers should consult their real estate agent about making their offer for purchase contingent upon obtaining broadband at the home.
Ultimately, your real estate agent and the knowledge you’d prepared with with help you make the best decision as a homebuyer in an area that’s affected by internet inaccessibility. Agents can help guide you during negotiation and contingency processes, while you being armed with different avenue to look into can help narrow down the feasible options for you and your future home.
If you’re considering tarting the home buying or selling process, visit Homes.com to find step-by-step guides on the entire journey. And, if you have any questions or need assistance at the start of your journey, Homes.com will connect you to real estate professionals in your area.