Real Estate

A potential home buyer reviews paperwork during an open house in Columbus, Ohio.Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesIt is tough to be a homebuyer today. The supply of homes for sale is at a record low, homebuilders are slow to step up, and prices are rising at the fastest pace in nearly two decades.No wonder sentiment among homebuyers fell to the lowest level in the 10-year history of Fannie Mae's monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). The percentage of respondents who said it is a good time to buy a home decreased from 53% to 47%, while the percentage who said it is a bad time to buy increased from 40% to 48%. Respondents to the survey largely cited high prices and tight supply as the chief reasons for their pessimism, according to Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "The decrease in homebuying sentiment likely indicates that some consumers, potentially flush with savings – perhaps boosted in part by stimulus payments – may be attempting, but failing, to buy a home due to heightened competition for relatively few listed homes," Duncan said.CNBC Real EstateRead CNBC's latest coverage of the housing market:These home renovations will give you the greatest returnsWeekly mortgage demand stalls as rates rise and fierce competition hurts home salesA Roth IRA could help you buy a home. Here's what to knowConsumers with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 were particularly pessimistic. This is because the shortage of homes for sale is most acute on the lower end of the market, so affordable housing is increasingly difficult to find. (The median household income in the U.S. was nearly $69,000 in 2019.)Competition for housing does not appear to be letting up at all. In fact, competition is hitting record levels. It took an average of 19 days to sell a home during the four-week period ending May 2, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. That's the fastest since they began tracking that metric in 2012. It is down from an average of 35 days during the same period one year ago. About 45% of homes for sale went under contract in under a week.In another record, 48% of homes sold for more than their list price, up 20 percentage points from the same period a year earlier.Home prices are up over 11% from a year ago, due to high competition that is resulting in bidding wars. Low mortgage rates are no longer helping much, because they helped to fuel those high prices. Prices are also rising for new construction, as builder costs are soaring."Right now we are seeing a substantial increase in home prices, which could be a precursor to more widespread inflation throughout the economy," said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin. "Lumber prices are surging, which has driven up prices of new homes and indirectly drives up prices of existing homes."Fairweather also notes that as states lift their pandemic restrictions, there could be price increases in other sectors, from food to gasoline. That would cut into a homebuyer's budget and might ease competition for housing."A more balanced market could encourage more move-up homeowners to finally sell, because they won't be so fearful about being able to find and compete for a home to buy," she added.
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Housing experts say a judge's overturning of the federal eviction moratorium on Wednesday puts tenants at risk just as rental assistance is finally making its way to renters behind on housing payments.A coalition of landlords and property owners brought a suit — which is one of many — against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arguing the agency does not have the authority to issue a nationwide eviction ban. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled in their favor, vacating the ban Wednesday.The order was put on hold Wednesday night after an appeal from the Justice Department, meaning the eviction moratorium is still in place. But it could be overturned again as soon as next week, says Caitlin Cedfeldt, who represents tenants as a staff attorney for Legal Aid of Nebraska.Rental assistance is finally being disbursedThe potential for the ban to be overturned is ill-timed because federal rental relief money is finally making its way to renters and their landlords, Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement."The Biden administration should continue to vigorously defend and enforce the moratorium, at least until emergency rental assistance provided by Congress reaches the renters who need it to remain stably housed," Yentel added.States have tens of billions of dollars in rental assistance available from the federal relief bills signed into law in December 2020 and March 2021. Tenants behind on rent because of a Covid-related job loss or reduction in hours can apply for programs in their city or state (more details on the eligibility requirements can be found outlined here), or have their landlords apply for them. The relief will typically be paid directly to the landlord.The CDC order helps keep renters stably housed between the time they apply for the assistance and when actually receive it, says Legal Aid's Cedfeldt. Evicting people now doesn't make sense if landlords want to recoup some of their losses, she says."It's very scary for renters right now and especially scary for people who are still trying to get rental assistance," Cedfeldt says. The assistance process typically takes a while to complete and involves multiple "bureaucratic hoops to jump through."Without the CDC order, renters can be evicted even though they're trying to catch up.Caitlin CedfeldtStaff Attorney, Legal Aid of Nebraska
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urbazon | E+ | Getty ImagesFor some would-be homeowners, coming up with the cash to buy a house can be tricky.Depending on your situation, a Roth individual retirement account could help.In a nutshell, up to $10,000 in Roth IRA earnings can be withdrawn — free of both taxes and penalty — for a home purchase if you meet certain requirements. That's in addition to being allowed to withdraw your direct contributions at any time, because you already paid taxes on that money.As home prices continue rising amid a tight housing market, the amount of cash needed to purchase one is climbing, as well.More from Personal Finance:The Covid recovery still has a K shapeThe problems with virtual evictionsHow to boost your credit scoreWhile it's possible to buy a house with less than 20% down — the average is 12% overall and 6% for first-time buyers — going that route also might mean paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, until your equity is at least 20% of the home's value. PMI can run $30 to $70 monthly for each $100,000 borrowed, according to Freddie Mac.For a $250,000 house, a 6% down payment would be $15,000. At 20%, it would be $50,000. Those amounts don't include other costs related to the purchase, such as transfer taxes or points, which generally lower the interest rate on the loan. (One point is equal to 1% of the mortgage). At the same time, the cost of borrowing is relatively cheap due to low interest rates. The average rate on a conventional 30-year mortgage is about 3%, according to Bankrate.com.Nevertheless, using Roth IRA money to buy a house is not a strategy that makes sense for everyone. Here's what to consider.Basic Roth rulesRoth IRA contributions are made after-tax. This means you can withdraw that money at any time without penalty. The 2021 contribution limit is $6,000 ($7,000 for individuals age 50 or older).However, to make contributions at all, your modified adjusted gross income can't be above a set amount. To contribute the maximum, the income cap is $125,000 if your tax filing status is single, and $198,000 for married couples who file jointly. Above those income amounts, the contribution limit is reduced until completely phasing out at income of $140,000 for single tax filers and $208,000 for joint filers.While those contributions are yours whenever you want them, the same can't be said for any growth in the account. Unless you meet an exclusion — such as reaching age 59½ and having owned a Roth IRA for at least five years — withdrawing earnings will generate taxes and a 10% penalty.For qualified first-time home purchases, that 10% penalty is waived. However, to avoid taxes on the earnings, you must have held the Roth IRA for at least five years (with some exceptions related to the timing of contributions).For Roth conversions — that is, money moved to a Roth IRA from another retirement account — you generally must sit on it for five years if you're under age 59½ to avoid the 10% penalty on any withdrawals (unless you meet the first-time-home-buyer exclusion).The nitty grittyThe exclusion is for first-time home buyers or people who haven't owned a house as a primary residence in at least two years. The buyer can be you, your spouse or one of your family members.The withdrawal also must be used within 120 days of the distribution and be used to pay for expenses related directly to the home purchase, such as a down payment or other closing costs. And, the $10,000 earnings exclusion is a lifetime limit.As long as we can meet the five-year rule, they can use all contributions plus up to $10,000 of gain, free of tax and penalty.Daniel GalliPrincipal of Daniel J. Galli & AssociatesBe aware that traditional IRAs also come with the penalty-free exclusion for qualified home purchases. However, the $10,000 limit is applied to the entire withdrawal, said certified financial planner and CPA Jeffrey Levine, chief planning officer Buckingham Wealth Partners in Long Island, New York. And, you'd generally pay taxes on the money.Setting up a Roth IRA for a home purchaseThe flexibility of a Roth might make it a good place to save up to buy a house down the road, some advisors say. "We've long suggested that young people use a Roth IRA to save the considerable amount needed for a first-time home purchase," said CFP Daniel Galli, principal of Daniel J. Galli & Associates in Norwell, Massachusetts."As long as we can meet the five-year rule, they can use all contributions plus up to $10,000 of gain, free of tax and penalty," Galli said. However, he said that he has recommended this strategy to young workers who also are saving for retirement through a 401(k) plan at work.Additionally, Galli said, there can be risk involved, depending on how aggressively you invest the money in the Roth IRA."This strategy requires some market risk in order to enjoy some gains, but the rewards can balance that," Galli said.If you do go this route, the amount of risk you should take on in your portfolio depends partly on how long until you need the money, said Levine at Buckingham Wealth Partners. If you're planning for something 10 years out, he said, you could start out aggressively invested in stocks and gradually reduce your exposure."You might want to make it more conservative over time," Levine said.Using existing Roth moneyIf you already have money in a Roth IRA and are now eyeing it as a way to fund a home purchase, be aware that many financial advisors caution against using that money if it was earmarked for retirement."These accounts are designed to help people accumulate as much money as possible for retirement," said CFP Shon Anderson, president of Anderson Financial Strategies in Dayton, Ohio."You can obtain a loan for a home, car, business venture, college tuition ... but no one will ever receive a loan to retire," Anderson said.However, depending on your situation — i.e., how much you'd be withdrawing, whether you have sufficient retirement savings elsewhere, if you can otherwise afford the house payments and costs of homeownership — using the Roth money for a house might make sense."If the person is contributing to a 401(k), getting a decent match, they're on a good track for retirement and the Roth is just a nice addition, I might consider it," Galli said."But if their only retirement savings is the Roth and they're, say, in their 40s, I probably wouldn't," he said.
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Maricopa County, Arizona, constable Darlene Martinez signs an eviction order on Oct. 7, 2020 in Phoenix.John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesRenters who are financially struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic got some scary news yesterday when a federal judge overturned the national eviction moratorium two months earlier than expected.In a 20-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed to the court in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn't have the authority to stop landlords from evicting their tenants.But within hours, the Department of Justice said it would appeal and sought a stay of the decision, meaning the ban would remain in effect throughout the court battle.For now, the judge has granted a temporary stay, meaning renters can breathe a small sigh of relief.More from Personal Finance:Workers could get 12 weeks of paid leave under Biden's planSelling assets to avoid a higher capital gains tax? You may trigger another taxThe Fed keeps rates near zero — here's how you can benefit"There is no question the moratorium is in effect in this moment," said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.The CDC issued the national eviction ban in September, and it was originally slated to expire at the end of January, but President Joe Biden has extended it, first until April, and later through June.It remains to be seen if the protection remains in effect for as long as the president intended. It will depend how the current court battle unfolds. And there's always the chance Biden extends the ban yet again.In addition to the national ban, there are also some local eviction protections available and a large pot of money that tenants (and landlords) can apply for.Here's what struggling renters should know.While the CDC ban remains in effect ...Renters eligible for the protection should fill out the CDC's declaration and give it to their landlord as soon as possible, experts say.Who qualifies? Generally, individuals earning less than $99,000 a year and couples making under $198,000 who've been financially set back because of the pandemic or huge medical expenses.Research local protectionsAlthough most states have lifted their eviction bans by now, some remain in place. Those policies should not be impacted by whatever happens with the federal moratorium.Benfer has put together a spreadsheet of the state policies.New York, for example, has extended its eviction moratorium until September.Apply for rental assistanceThere's now more than $45 billion in rental assistance available, thanks to stimulus packages passed in December and then in March.Some programs will grant you 12 months of housing payments, others may offer funding for as many as 18 months of rent.The money is sent to your landlord, but if they refuse to accept the funds, you may be able to get them directly.Many areas already had existing rental assistance funds, and it will be through one of these that you apply for the new aid. In other cases, programs will be created to disburse the money, Benfer said."Renters should contact local housing groups, their representatives or the local 211/311 lines to identify programs and learn how to apply," she added.The National Low Income Housing Coalition also has a database of rental assistance programs.What if I'm worried about eviction?Housing advocates are worried that property owners will take advantage of uncertainty around the CDC ban to try to push out tenants now."Some landlords will be emboldened to mislead tenants because they know the chances the tenant will have an attorney to fight them are virtually zero," said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.That's why, if you're facing eviction, experts say your first step should be to try to get a lawyer.You can find low-cost or free legal help with an eviction in your state at Lawhelp.org. At Justshelter.org, you can search for other community resources for people at risk of eviction.One study in New Orleans found that more than 65% of tenants with no legal representation were evicted, compared with fewer than 15% of those who did.
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Filmstudio | E+ | Getty ImagesIt should come as no surprise that outdoor spaces are more valued than ever. The coronavirus pandemic sent us all home for a year, and being cooped up inside made us long for upgraded outdoor spaces.The home renovation market boomed last year, and continues to flourish now, with outdoor renovations leading the list of the top value-creating projects. Eleven of the 12 leading investments were exterior home improvements, with the exception of a minor kitchen remodel, according to the 2021 Cost vs. Value report from Zonda Media, a housing market research and analytics firm.Overall, however, homeowners are getting just a 60% return on their renovation investments. That's down from last year and well below the decade-high of 71.2% in 2014, as the costs of renovations have risen sharply, for both materials and labor. Supply-chain disruptions from the pandemic and global trading tariffs have contributed to the cost increases."The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which Covid has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes but wanting to improve outdoor spaces," said Clayton DeKorne, editor-in-chief of Remodeling and JLC magazines."Exterior façade facelifts improve the curb appeal and make a great first impression as buyers approach the home," he said. "That translates to real dollars at the closing table, which is why we see such tangible returns on those investments."The majority of projects offering the greatest returns in resale value were related to curb appeal. Garage door replacement showed a 94% return on investment. Manufactured stone veneer came in second with a 92% return, and a minor kitchen remodel offered a 72% return on investment. Adding a back deck, highly popular with homeowners in the past year, gives a 66% return on investment for wood and a 63% return for composite.Other projects with high returns include vinyl window and siding replacement as well as upgrading to a steel front door.The report provides a glimpse into what is now popular, but the cost vs. value analysis is not all about popularity, especially given the soaring costs for materials such as lumber. The effect of the rise in material costs is shown across the board for all projects, with the return on investment for all projects down an average of 3 percentage points, according to the report. For wooden decks, that return is down over 10%, as lumber costs skyrocket over 300% from a year ago.A minor kitchen remodel did provide high returns, but, surprisingly, major kitchen and bathroom remodels did not. The Zonda survey found that those projects tend to be too individualized and don't offer broad appeal to buyers.The value to the current homeowner, while not monetary, is extremely high, given all the nesting going on. That is why there are massive delays for new appliances and fixtures due to extremely high demand.
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Jarred Kessler is the CEO of EasyKnock. If you ask me, working from home is amazing. You can wear pajamas from the waist down, you have no commute and you can even sleep in. I understand that the process of reading on a train or after-work drinks with your co-workers has been lost, but there has also been much to gain. Pre-pandemic, the real estate industry was lagging in remote work opportunities, but we’ve shown we’re as adaptable as any industry out there. The fast-paced nature and culture of the real estate industry do present some unique challenges, though. Here is some of my best advice to keep your real estate business humming, even while you’re working from home. Create A Designated Workspace Your garage (or as we call it in my house, Le Garage) is not only a Covid-safe area, it’s also an often underused area that's perfect for a home office. As you work you can have fresh air coming in through the open doors, or you can purchase a moderately priced plug-and-play heating or cooling unit if you need a more temperate climate. In your detached workspace, take advantage of whatever direct light you can access. Regulated sunlight may reduce headaches, stress and drowsiness in workers, and possibly even increase worker satisfaction and combat anxiety. Adding a rug or carpet and inexpensive personal touches like proper work lighting can make it feel more like a room than a garage. If you don't have a garage, you might be able to construct a shed that is not connected to your house for the same use. Creating a structure or space that can hold guests or have an office set up, all while maintaining space between your main house, can be a huge bonus. This could be cheaper than you think and, as a bonus, add more resale value than you might expect. Don’t Think You Have To Sacrifice A Traditional Morning Meeting Whether you’re in a more traditional real estate brokerage or a real estate tech startup, a lot of companies in this industry opt for a morning meeting to get everyone off on the right foot and up to date. The industry moves fast, after all. With the pandemic, it’s not as simple as throwing down a dozen donuts to draw a crowd into the conference room. But that doesn’t mean you should give up the morning meeting if you feel it’s important for your business. Set a virtual meeting, but make sure that you keep it short and sweet by sticking to a simple meeting outline. Zoom fatigue is real, and you can help combat it in your staff by sticking to the essentials. You might also consider incentivizing morning meeting attendance and/or participation. For instance, budget to have a delivery service send some donuts and coffee for each staff member who showed up and made a contribution at every meeting over the course of a week. Take Advantage Of Industry-Geared Virtual Networking Events Conventions almost seem like a weird fever dream at this point. Did we really travel cross-country to conventions, stay in overcrowded hotels and sit in rooms packed with people to get the latest dish on the industry? Oh, yes, we did. Now, many of the same outcomes can be achieved through virtual networking events. We can get together online via video conference, chats or even virtual reality events and learn a lot of the same things and meet a lot of the same people. At EasyKnock, we’ve even set up virtual events for our staff that aren’t necessarily work-related. For instance, we moved our holiday party to a virtual platform. It allowed us all to get together, celebrate and communicate so that we could connect and team build. Other team-building events go over great in a virtual environment, like office game night or virtual happy hour.  Remember That Work And Life Are Separate In the real estate business, it’s hard enough to manage some semblance of work-life balance, but this has been especially true during the pandemic. It’s so easy to just go do one more little thing when your desk is just across the house that you’ve been in almost 24/7 for a year or better. That’ll wear you down, though. No one can be “on” all the time. It’s important that your staff knows that, too, and that your company culture enforces the idea that downtime is a good thing and not something that’s going to set them back. Set working hours and stick to them. When it comes to client contacts, it can be even harder to set aside work until the following day, but laying out your working hours ahead of time so that clients know when it’s appropriate to call and when it’s not can help. At the very least, make sure that you put it all away on occasion. Shut the door to your office and pretend it’s not there on the weekend so that you can spend time with your family and friends. We are in a new world and it can be exciting. If you have the ability to upgrade your home and workspace and want to, this is a great time. If you are a little more challenged right now, there are small ways to make changes. At the end of the day, if it’s warm enough, there is nothing better than working in your backyard — all you need is a table, umbrella and Wi-Fi and you can connect with the whole office safely from your own home. The pandemic has forced us to adapt and change the way we handle business, and I think that it will change how we work from here on out, even when in-person interactions are safe again. Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
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PeopleImages | E+ | Getty ImagesIf you are in the market for a new house, you may be overlooking one key to your success: your credit score.That three-digit number has a direct impact on your ability to get a mortgage and what interest rate you will pay.Mortgage rates are at two-month lows, with the benchmark 30-year fixed loan at 3.11%, according to Bankrate. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced it will continue to keep short-term interest rates near zero, which means mortgage rates should stay low.More from Invest in You:As home prices rise, here's what buyers can do to land a dealFeeling financial stress? Here's how your employer may helpYou can still tap free money for college — here's howTo get that low rate though, you'll have to have a good credit score."Even a quarter point or half point can make a really big difference over the long haul on a large loan amount," said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com.Credit scores range between 300 and 850. A good score is between 670 and 739, very good is from 740 to 799, and 800 and up is considered excellent, according to FICO, a leading credit-scoring company.Home buyers who took out mortgages in the fourth quarter of 2020 had a median score of 786, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.If you don't measure up, it doesn't necessarily mean you are shut out of the market. There are several moves you can make to improve your score.First, check your credit historyYou are allowed one free credit report a year from the three main credit-scoring companies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can reach out to each directly or you can access them through annualcreditreport.com.Not only should you know your score, you should also make sure there are no mistakes or unintended skeletons in your closet, like a missed payment you forgot about.Pulling your report before you apply for a mortgage or pre-approval, ideally a few months in advance, will give you time to correct any issues.Pay bills on timeLate or missed payments can knock down your score.The easiest way to avoid that is to set up automated payments for your bills, said Faron Daugs, founder and CEO of Harrison Wallace Financial Group.Lower your credit utilization ratioGetty ImagesLenders will look at whether you have high balances on credit cards.Even if you pay your credit card bills in full each month, you may still have a high utilization rate, Rossman pointed out.For example, if you make $3,000 in purchases and have a $5,000 limit, you are using 60% of your available credit. Try to keep it below 30%, Rossman said. Those with the best credit scores keep it below 10%.Making an extra payment in the middle of the billing cycle can help knock the balance down before the statement comes out.Become an authorized user on someone's credit cardIf you have no credit, one of the best ways to start building it is becoming an authorized user on someone else's card, said Daugs."Make sure you do it with someone with good credit," he cautioned.If the account stays in good standing, that will positively impact your credit.Get a credit-builder loanSome community banks and credit unions offer credit-building loans, which are designed to help the holder build credit as they make payments.You'll pay interest, although some lenders may reimburse the costs after the loan is repaid.Alternative credit scoring won't matterExperian Boost can bring up your credit score on Experian by counting phone, utility and streaming service bills.Tetra Images | Getty ImagesYou can boost your credit with alternative solutions, which count bills that don't normally go onto your credit report. However, they may not work for government-backed mortgages.Experian Boost can bring up your score on Experian by counting phone, utility and streaming service bills, while eCredable Lift reports utility and phone payments to TransUnion. Perch allows you to boost your score with recurring expenses such as subscription services and rent.The platforms use a newer version of the FICO algorithm, Rossman said. Government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac request older versions, so they won't see the score improvement.Don't rock the boatIf you are looking to purchase a home, hold off on any other big ticket items, like a car. Also, don't open or close any credit cards until after the mortgage is approved, Rossman suggested."It is a sensitive time in your financial life," he said. "Lenders don't want to see anything weird."SIGN UP: Money 101 is an 8-week learning course to financial freedom, delivered weekly to your inbox.CHECK OUT: How Americans used the third $1,400 stimulus checks compared to the first two, and what that shows via Grow with Acorns+CNBC via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Give the gift of decor this year Photo by WONDERLOVE from Pexels Many of us are looking to buy more meaningful gifts this holiday season. So why not give the gift of decor? Home accents and accessories make great gifts because the person receiving them will think of you every time they use them. Here are nineteen design-forward gifts. From practical but elevated everyday items to luxurious keepsakes and more, these gifts are sure to please any design lover. ADVERTISEMENT L’Avant Collective Holiday Bundle Clean and chic L'Avant Collective If you’re looking to give the gift of eco-luxe cleaning products with packaging so design-forward everything else pales in comparison, L’Avant Collective will check every box. This newly launched female-founded brand is sure to win an award for their next level black and white matte glass hand and dish soap dispensers. With gold-accented pumps, they add instant sophistication to kitchen and bathroom sinks. The Holiday Gift Bundle has both these items packaged in a chic minimalist pouch. But aesthetics aren’t the only reason to buy this gift, L’Avant Collective’s plant-based formulas are non-toxic and have a subtle fresh linen scent that smells like a five-star resort. They’re also not as drying to the hands as other soaps are, which is important because we’re all extra conscious of hygiene right now. You might even consider upgrading to the Modern Essentials Bundle, which has the soaps as well as Natural Multipurpose Cleaner and Biodegradable Cleaning Wipes. Soukra Fouta Bring Tunisian style home with a fouta from Soukra Thomas Neal MORE FOR YOU Dwyane Wade And Gabrielle Union Look To Play Ball For Custom LA Mansion The 10 Most Expensive Zip Codes For Buying A Home The ‘Worst Deal Ever’ Gets Worse: StubHub Cofounder Works To Buy Ticketing Firm From Adversary If you want to give a gift that becomes more useful every day, then opt for a fouta by Soukra. This 100 percent cotton cloth, imported from Tunisia is a versatile gift that somehow becomes more useful every day. Use a fouta as a wrap, throw, blanket, towel, or even as a tablecloth for an outdoor holiday celebration. A rainbow of solid colors, styles, and sizes are available to match any decor scheme.  Society Social Denim Buffalo Check Throw Share the warmth this holiday Society Social Chip and Joanna fans in particular will appreciate the classic but elevated farmhouse design of the Buffalo Check Throw from Society Social. 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Each item is thoughtfully chosen and beautifully packaged to create a positive experience that lasts past the unwrapping. Every box even has a custom playlist. The Wellness Box in particular makes a great gift for new homeowners because it has a bundle of sage to help clear the energy of the previous residents along with a candle, essential oils, tea, and rose water spray. Lalique Anemones Votive Big in luxury Lalique ADVERTISEMENT Very few things feel as luxurious as a gift from Lalique. The Anemone Votive is no exception. This crystal holder features one of the brand’s classic designs that might be small in size, but big in impact. It’s the perfect piece to add something eye-catching to empty space on a vanity, bookshelf, or mantle. You might even consider buying two.   Perigold Lastra 16 Piece Stoneware Dinnerware Set Start a new tradition this year Perigold Retire that old Christmas China and being a new tradition with these beautiful holiday dishes from Perigold by Lastra. While most Christmas themed dishes are more traditional in style, these have a fresh, contemporary feel. The service for four has everything you need for a family meal with dinner and salad plates as well as cereal and pasta bowls. And unlike Grandma’s dishes, this set is safe for the microwave, dishwasher, and oven, so it is as practical as it is luxurious. ADVERTISEMENT Homedics Ozone Clean Clean and clutter-free Homedics If you need a gift for someone equally obsessed with aesthetics and keeping their home safe, Homedics Ozone Clean couldn’t be a better choice. It turns regular tap water into aqueous ozone that cleans, deodorizes, and sanitizes, killing up to 99.999 percent of bacteria and viruses on most surfaces. Just fill it up with water, power it on, wait two to four minutes, and start cleaning. There are no refills or filters to buy in the future.  With a sleek, modern design, it can conveniently be left out on a countertop without making it look cluttered.  Ron Robinson Apothia Chrismukkah Candle ADVERTISEMENT Smells like the holidays Ron Robinson With notes of green fir, clove, and ocean air, the Apothia Chrismukkah Candle smells like the holidays, no matter which one you celebrate. It is a holiday classic present that family, business associates, and friends will appreciate alike. The wick is adorned with a silver ball that’s not only a design accent, it’s also a reminder to trim the wick. The candle is also smartly designed with a halo that allows you to pick it up while hot without risking your fingertips.  ADVERTISEMENT Pura Smart Device Make your home smell smarter Pura But if you need more scent coverage than a candle can give, the Pura Smart Device is a must. Designed to diffuse fragrances in spaces from 300 to 1000 square feet, it holds two refills. The scent intensity is also adjustable and fragrances can even be scheduled with the Pura app. Child and pet-friendly, Pura has partnered with some of the top home fragrance brands including Nest, Votivo, and Abbott. So many people will appreciate this gift including bachelors (who probably need a little help in the home fragrance department), pet owners, and anyone working from home. ADVERTISEMENT Coley Embroidered Cocktail Napkins Cheers to these embroidered cocktail napkins Coley Looking for a personalized gift for the person who seemingly has everything? Look no further than Coley Embroidered Cocktail Napkins. Each set of four linen napkins is available in three colors. Choose from six monogram styles or a variety of interesting symbols including antlers, a pineapple, a snowflake, or a lobster. The hard part is choosing which embroidery you want, but that’s not a bad problem to have. Tempaper Holiday Wall Decals Make it personal with Tempaper Tempaper ADVERTISEMENT Tempaper holiday wall decals are just as well designed as the brand’s signature peel and stick wallpaper. They’re a fun way to decorate for the holiday and perfect to give to someone who might not have a lot of room in their home to display large pieces. Several options are available including snowflakes and sayings such as “Joy.” However, the custom family name wall decal is the standout of the collection. By Robynblair Fine Art Prints A sweet holiday gift By robynblair Instagram-famous candy artist, Robyn Blair Davidson is known for her custom pieces, but launched a line of fine art prints in 2020 that will arrive by Christmas. If a feeling of happiness could be turned into art, it would be these vibrant designs. Choose from five different prints (and more coming in 2021) that have cheerful statements including “Think Happy Thoughts.” A black or white frame can also be added at checkout, which is an extra convenience. Each piece measures 30 x 42 inches framed. ADVERTISEMENT AnnSandra Juliska Stewart Tartan Hostess Tray Serve in style AnnSandra Nothing is quite as holiday chic as this Tartan Hostess Tray by Juliska from AnnSandra. The classic design is something that can be used and enjoyed for years to come. This tray is incredibly versatile for serving appetizers, holding candles, jewelry, or even to keep on a bathroom vanity for guest towels.  Her Highness NYC Thigh High Ashtray High design Her Highness NYC ADVERTISEMENT It’s high times for cannabis-related design and the Thigh High Ashtray from Her Highness NYC is one of the best examples of it. Made of solid marble, it’s fun, sassy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. With four separate slots, it’s also just as COVID-friendly as it is stylish. Love the design but prefer edibles? It also makes a great candy dish. Succulents Box Claypot Subscription Say it with plants Succulents Box Succulents Box offers monthly, three-month, six-month, and year-long subscriptions featuring the ever-trendy plants packaged in little clay pots. This is a lovely sentiment for the holidays to share with someone you wish you were seeing this year. Every succulent is a different breed with over 200 varieties, all of which are grown in California.   ADVERTISEMENT Hay Rainbow Mug Make coffee more colorful Hay Who couldn’t use another coffee mug? The Hay Rainbow Mug is simple but pretty. Available in Mint Green, Light Pink, and Light Yellow, each porcelain piece has a slightly translucent glaze for a handmade look. With a price that’s equivalent to a few cups of coffee at Starbucks, this gift is exactly what your next White Elephant or Secret Santa Exchange needs. It certainly wins over “Best Mom” or “Best Boss” by a landslide.  Weezie Baby Bath Bundle A gift every new parent can enjoy Weezie ADVERTISEMENT If you’re looking for a great custom gift for someone with a new baby, the Baby Bath Bundle from Weezie checks is sure to please. Made of 100 percent organic long-staple cotton, this gift set features a hooded towel and two baby washcloths. Three different piping styles (solid, striped, and gingham) and three colors (grey, light blue, and light pink) are available. Don’t forget to add a monogram.  West Elm Mercury Hexagonal Hurricanes Festive both indoors and outdoors West Elm If you’re celebrating the holidays outdoors this year or know someone who is, these hurricane lamps from West Elm are a must. Available in medium, tall, and mixed sizes, these accessories add essential light and a celebratory accent to any table even beyond the holiday season.   ADVERTISEMENT Pocono Modern Vintage Pyrex Tea Towels Vintage inspired and fabulous Pocono Modern Vintage Pyrex Tea Towels from Pocono Modern are the epitome of kitsch. Featuring darling illustrations of vintage Pyrex dish designs, this couldn’t be a better gift for a mother in law, a friend who loves antiques, or anyone with a home aesthetic that leans towards the whimsical. These generously sized cotton tea towels are printed on both sides and available in four vibrant colors. And if you’re so inclined, framed prints are also for sale.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin In Paradise Valley, Arizona, this 6,337-square-foot, five-bedroom home at 5237 E. Solano Drive is ... [+] currently listed at $9.3 million. Designed by architect Bing Hu, the property features an elevator, a five-car garage, an outdoor glass pool, and a separate yoga studio/guest house. Robert Joffe of Launch Real Estate has the listing. Launch Real Estate When a home in the Silverleaf community of Scottsdale, Arizona, sold for $24.1 million in September, it set a new record as the highest-priced home sale in the state’s history. Sitting on 17 acres, the 15,000-square-foot mansion has eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, an indoor basketball court, and a 7,500-square-foot guest house. That sale broke the record set in November 2019, when Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver sold his 28,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom home in Cameldale Estates for $19.25 million. When that same property sold again in October 2020 for $20.9 million, it set another record—the highest-priced home sale ever in Paradise Valley. Such transactions are looking less like outliers and more like a trend for Arizona’s luxury home market, where prices are skyrocketing along with sales activity. As COVID-19 reduces travel, keeps jobs and schools online, and brings college-age children back home, buyers are moving up to homes that offer more space and more amenities. In Scottsdale, Arizona, the White Horse community’s Cheval model received the Pacific Coast Builders ... [+] Conference Gold Nugget Award for Home of the Year in 2018. Camelot Homes The residential luxury market in Maricopa County (the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metropolitan area) is “on fire,” says Russell Diehl, Owner/Designated Broker for Arizona Network Realty and the owner of ArizonaRealEstate.com. In the $1 million to $6 million price range, the number of sales is up 49% year-to-date through October compared to the same period last year. The dollar volume of those sales rose from $2.74 billion to $4.1 billion over the same period, according to the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS). MORE FOR YOU “What’s even more dramatic,” Diehl points out, is the growth over just the past three months. For the period from August to October, the number of home sales in the $1 million to $6 million range throughout Maricopa County was up 138% compared to the same period last year. Scottsdale has been especially active, with the number of sales in the $3 million to $4 million range—the “hottest segment”—showing “a whopping 82% increase” this year through October over the same period in 2019, says Diehl. For the August to October period alone, the increase is 285%. In the Whisper Rock Estates community of Scottsdale, Arizona, the 7,080-square-foot house at 8661 E. ... [+] Whisper Rock Trail sold for $2.8 million in August 2019. The 2.9-acre property features a home theater and a separate guest house. The seller was represented by Will Foote of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. The buyer was represented by Russell Diehl of Arizona Network Realty. Will Foote, Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty Launch Real Estate, the number one seller of homes over $1 million in Maricopa County, has seen a nearly 50% increase in sales year-to-date over the same period last year. The company’s sales volume for the month of October was double that of October 2019. Sean Zimmerman, president of Launch, calls it “the best market we’ve seen, maybe in history.” And Launch’s larger homes have been selling fastest. Buyers know they’re going to put in a home gym or a yoga studio, or they’re going to have more family staying with them, says Zimmerman. Camelot Homes, a Scottsdale-based luxury homebuilder, has seen a 26% increase in its dollar volume of sales through October compared to the same period last year. “It’s been phenomenal,” says Julie Hancock, Camelot’s managing director. “Because the resale market’s so strong, a lot of people are seeing it as an opportunity to really upgrade their house and their lifestyle while maintaining similar payments, because the interest rates are so low.” In Camelot’s White Horse community in Scottsdale, all but two of the 50 buyers took the bonus room and guest casita options. Hancock says that in all their communities, extra space is “the number one thing people are looking for.”  The great room of the roughly 5,000-square-foot Cheval model in White Horse, which sold for $3.85 ... [+] million in August 2020. “A single gentleman from New York bought the model fully furnished,” according to Julie Hancock, managing director of Camelot Homes. Camelot Homes Buyers are also moving quickly, wanting “homes that are already built and ready to go,” says Hancock. Camelot has sold out of its existing homes but is adding more, including a continuation of its White Horse community. Though construction costs continue to rise, the current demand seems great enough to absorb them. Camelot has seen a 13% overall jump in material costs, including increases of 44% for lumber, 12% for drywall, 8% for roofing, and about 6% for trim carpentry. But these cost increases don’t seem to be slowing things down. If anything, they’re having the opposite effect, says Hancock. People want to buy quickly before construction costs go even higher.  About half of the demand Launch Real Estate sees for houses over $2 million is coming from out of state. Arizona routinely draws its share of Californians looking for markets where their dollar will buy more, but this year has also brought more buyers from Washington, Illinois, Colorado, New York, and Minnesota. Zimmerman points to Arizona’s stable economy, as well as its “diversity of industry and opportunity.” “People are migrating to areas that are less dense, that are well planned, that have beautiful amenities and all of the things that Arizona offers,” says Hancock. She calls Arizona a “long-term play” and expects “nothing but positive growth” in the future. In the 11-home Cameldale Estates community of Paradise Valley, Arizona, the 6,600-square-foot, ... [+] four-bedroom home at 6439 E. Luke Avenue pre-sold in 2019 for $6,314,650 and completed in April. It’s for sale again, this time listed at $11.5 million. Eve Treger of Launch Real Estate has the listing. Launch Real Estate The Cameldale Estates home at 6439 E. Luke Avenue in Paradise Valley, Arizona, features a full gym, ... [+] lap pool, home office, wine cellar, dog run, and separate guest house. Launch Real Estate In the meantime, since selling that $24.1 million Silverleaf home, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty has set another record for Arizona. The firm currently has the state’s most expensive listing: also in Silverleaf, the new 15,000-square-foot home at 21053 N. 110th Way is priced at $27.5 million. At $27.5 million, this home is currently the highest-priced listing in Arizona. The new ... [+] 15,000-square-foot home at 21053 N. 110th Way is in the Silverleaf community of Scottsdale, Arizona. Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing. Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Shinsun Holdings Group's IPO at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange this Wednesday created a new China ... [+] billionaire family. Photographer: Roy Liu/Bloomberg © 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP The start of Hong Kong trade on Wednesday by real estate developer Shinsun Holdings Group has formally minted a new China real estate billionaire family. Shanghai-headquartered Shinsun’s stock ended the day today at HK$5.60, little changed from its IPO price of HK$5.59.   The 79% stake held by a family trust controlled by Shinsun’s 69-year-old chairman Chen Guoxiang and family was worth $1.7 billion today.  Chen’s wife  Zhu Guoling, is a co-founder.  Son Chen Hongni, 37 years old, is the CEO; Hongni is a Canadian citizen and holds a degree from Fort Hays State University. China’s richest real estate billionaire family is Yan Huiyan, chairman of Country Gardens, who holds a fortune worth $29 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List today. After the  U.S., China is home to the world’s second-largest number of billionaires. IPOs such as Shinsun’s have helped fuel their numbers this year. See related stories:  How Billionaire Zuo Hui Dominates China’s Real Estate Transactions MORE FOR YOU Japan 1. China 0. Or How To Kick An Own Goal With Australian Coal iPhone 12 Mini Review: Big Changes By Going Small Alibaba Pictures Adds Anew To A Run Of Red Ink —Elaine Mao
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Joseph is CEO of TenantCloud, a cloud-based property management solution that helps landlords maximize revenue from rental properties. getty This year has brought about some of the biggest changes the world has ever seen and that’s especially true in the rental market. Over the past ten months, we’ve seen national eviction moratoriums, double-digit delinquency rates in some cities and an exodus to the suburbs. Though these are unprecedented events, they might lead to some lasting changes. Many are asking themselves when things will get back to normal, but I’m not sure that will ever happen for our industry. Landlords need to start preparing for what the next decade will bring for property owners and adjust their investment strategy accordingly.  It's a great time to own a rental. While it may be stressful to deal with rent payments rates right now, the silver lining is that your investment property is more valuable than ever. The homeownership rate has skyrocketed back to 2008 levels — jumping almost 3% in 2020 alone. As remote workers flee downtown areas for smaller, more rural towns and purchase homes at a record pace, they are buying up all the available property. September alone saw so many existing homes sold that it sucked up nearly two and a half months of inventory alone.  Low sales inventory mixed with some of the lowest vacancy rates in the last decade spell strong housing demand in the middle of the worst recession we’ve seen in the last 20 years. Interest rates have also seen record lows and the Federal Reserve expects they will stay that way well into the future. This does explain a rush to purchase, but the long-term impact of low rates will also reduce your money sitting in the bank. Finding an asset that will appreciate faster than cash or a U.S. bond should become your investment goal as you look to the next decade.  MORE FOR YOU Who Is Buying In New York City, And Who Is Leaving? A House On “The Country’s Most Despicable Alley” It's Up To Us: How The Real Estate Industry Can Help To Avoid Another NYC Shutdown The housing demand will remain. Before the start of 2020, immigration into the United States was already on a decline. Travel concerns and restrictions due to the pandemic have contributed to an even sharper decline in recent months. With fewer people moving here, homes are still being bought up like never before — which means even a small immigration policy change would push to heighten the housing demand.  Another cultural phenomena impacting the housing market are the baby boomers who are reaching retirement age to the tune of 10,000 a day over the next decade, leaving an entire generation out of the workforce and into a consumer-based lifestyle. Generation X has a lower population to replace the boomers, but behind them is a swath of millennials who are renting and saving to buy a house. All of those people will need a roof over their heads and whether it’s inheriting, buying or renting, it will be a population that has an ever-growing need for housing inventory.  In short, it means we may be seeing some rent price reductions at the moment, but housing demand is so strong that higher rent prices are almost inevitable, and thus, higher rental home prices will likely continue through the next decade. Evicting a tenant will become harder. As moratoriums begin to retract, we’ll still see community support around harder and slower evictions. Before the recession, there were already policies focused on rent control, and although rent control may not be the main fight right now, the momentum behind tenant rights still exists. Portland recently passed an executive order requiring landlords to assist in paying for moving costs for a no-cause eviction. Future landlords will need to become more diligent when deciding on tenants. Thoroughly vetting potential tenants will become much more important than it was in the past. Getting stuck with a problem tenant could result in a six-month eviction process that could be a bank buster.  Tenants and their rental history will become extremely important and more transparency during the application process will be necessary. Landlords who get stuck with lingering bills will not provide a positive recommendation, so doing background checks and reference calls is going to be a must. Luckily, eviction history, credit report, background checks and references from previous landlords are all accessible and fairly immediate to obtain.  Organization and communication will be key. It’s also going to be crucial for landlords to have an effective communication channel for their rentals. The days of slow response time and bad customer service will soon end. As more tenant-friendly policies are passed, I think we’ll see an increase in more direct accountability of landlords that could even amount to rent discounts for bad service.  Landlords will need to start getting organized and track messages, maintenance and servicing. Such records have always taken a backseat to rent payments in eviction court, but will most likely become more of a pressing topic in the future.  Similarly, pre- and post-inspections should be a requirement for all landlords since deposits will likely become more protected. Documenting and storing inspections will be necessary, along with better accounting in regards to deposits. Many states already regulate whether a landlord can earn interest or not on a tenant’s deposit, so expect more transparency around deposits.  Looking ahead. The next decade will bring a tremendous amount of growth in the real estate industry — as well as more regulation. As a landlord, you will need to be prepared to navigate both if you want to expand your real estate portfolio. Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Founder & CEO at CM Square, a company delivering PropTech and AI services for Asia's customers. getty We are all living in a new normal now due to a pandemic that no one could have foreseen or expected how it changed our lives and the way we interact with other people. There could be changes that last forever, preventing a return to facets of our previous lifestyle. These changes can be in every aspect of our world, including personal lives, corporations, businesses, investments and, without a doubt, the real estate industry. A recent survey of business executives by McKinsey found that digital and technology adoption is taking place at a rate about 25 times faster than before the crisis. We can expect that the use of technology in real estate markets will become more popular in every area from sourcing decent deals to automated valuation to digital cross-border transactions to property management. Asia Has Great Market Potential Looking at the adoption speed here in Asia, it's apparent to me that it is lagging behind as compared to Europe and the United States. We can look to leading examples of proptech in areas outside Asia — for example, HouseCanary's work on property valuation through AI, or the way Opendoor, Zillow and Redfin are speeding up the iBuyer model. However, you come up short when looking to name major players in Asia that are at the forefront of technology innovation in the real estate industry. It revealed a huge gap between the post-pandemic demands of proptech and companies that can provide such services.   The Essentials Are There Is it because the infrastructure in Asia is not ready for proptech development? My answer is no. In major locations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the governments have been advocating comprehensive real estate transaction records as part of the regulatory requirements, which have essentially built up a strong database that is a prerequisite for almost all property technologies related to transaction information. Moreover, there is a very active brokerage and agency ecosystem that grants access to tons of unofficial and unstructured data, which can be leveraged for research and analysis. So the essentials are ready, and I am happy to see proptech is starting to heat up in Asia recently. MORE FOR YOU Who Is Buying In New York City, And Who Is Leaving? A House On “The Country’s Most Despicable Alley” It's Up To Us: How The Real Estate Industry Can Help To Avoid Another NYC Shutdown The Opportunities There are two areas where I see great potential for proptech innovation in Asia. First is the use of AI for instant property valuations and rent estimations, keeping track of the changes in the property conditions itself, changes in the economic climate and differences in other factors such as mortgage rate changes or population movements. Putting an active listing in the public market and conducting instant valuations would help investors identify high-value deals quickly, and it should also help private equity investors, banks, insurance companies and mortgage lenders to generate valuation reports and underwrite quickly. Surprisingly, it seems market players in Asia have yet to realize that the readiness of data creates such a good opportunity. Second is the use of blockchain to facilitate digital transactions via smart contracts. In our new normal with reduced travel and interpersonal interactions, the real estate transaction volume is driven down. Therefore, developers, brokers, agencies, banks and mortgage lenders should be keen to push as many digital transactions as possible. However, the adoption of blockchain is affected by a large number of scams circulating around blockchain projects. I suspect the situation will improve in the near future since leading traditional real estate developers, such as New World Development in Hong Kong, are catching up and launching a blockchain property transaction platform. And in Taiwan, the government is also actively improving the information quality of its property transaction system to lay an excellent foundation for proptech development. Tap Into This Market Quickly For those who want to seize this market opportunity, I would suggest breaking down your adoption roadmap into milestones. It is an ideal scenario that you disrupt the local players and the ecosystem in one go, but most of the time you need to work with them or partner with them and I believe it makes for the fastest way to grow your business. Real estate is a traditional industry that is well-regulated, so we can't expect to change everything overnight, especially in the Asian market. But if you are interested in the Asia proptech market, it is time to find a seasoned and trustworthy partner with strong technology know-how to work with you to tap into this market quickly. Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
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People ride scooters past the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Erin Scott | Bloomberg | Getty Images The Federal Reserve said Thursday it would keep its benchmark interest rate near zero for as long as it takes to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus crisis. In addition to holding rates near rock bottom, Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the central bank remains committed to providing financial help for everyday Americans, regardless of the outcome of the election.  With millions of people out of work and a growing number of Americans feeling severely cash-strapped, the Fed's historically low borrowing rates makes it easier to borrow money — while also making it less desirable to hoard cash. "By driving rates down to near zero and providing liquidity for lending, the Fed has used just about every monetary policy tool available to fight the current recession," said Richard Barrington, a senior financial analyst at MoneyRates. The Fed has used just about every monetary policy tool available to fight the current recession. Richard Barrington senior financial analyst at MoneyRates Although the federal funds rate, which is what banks charge one another for short-term borrowing, is not the rate that consumers pay, the Fed's moves still affect the borrowing and saving rates they see every day. Here's a breakdown of how it works: For starters, most credit cards come with a variable rate, which means there's a direct connection to the Fed's benchmark rate. Since the central bank moved its benchmark rate to near zero in March, credit card rates have hit a low of 16.02%, on average, according to Bankrate.com. As the economy recovers, paying down such high-cost debt and building up emergency savings are the biggest moves consumers can make, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. "Both will put you on more stable footing for whatever may lie ahead." More from Personal Finance:Election results could point to a smaller stimulus dealLaid off? Here’s what you need to know about unemployment5 opportunities to save on taxes Other short-term borrowing rates are now even lower. The average interest rate on personal loans is currently about 11.91% and home equity lines of credit are as low as 4.53%, according to Bankrate, both notably less than they were before the Fed lowered rates to near zero. Anyone shopping for a car will see a similar trend with auto loans. Currently, the average five-year new car loan rate is down to 4.22%. Even college students are paying less on their college debt. Based on an earlier auction of 10-year Treasury notes, the interest rates on federal student loans taken out during the 2020-21 academic year are at an all-time low. For those already struggling with outstanding debt, the CARES Act offered even more relief by pausing payments on federal student loans until the end of the year. Longer-term loans are not directly correlated, but the Fed still has some impact over these rates, as well. Currently, the average 30-year fixed-rate home mortgage is 3.04%, just off a record low, according to Bankrate. The economy, the Fed and inflation all have some influence over long-term fixed mortgage rates, which generally are pegged to yields on U.S. Treasury notes. "The Fed is driving mortgage rates lower," said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, an online loan marketplace. "This has supported the housing market." Homeowners can continue to take advantage of such low rates by refinancing, McBride said. "It's still something that can result in a tangible benefit," he said. "Households can save $200 to $300 a month or more." On the flipside, historically low rates offer almost nothing for savers. The average savings account rate is a mere 0.05%, or even less, at some of the largest retail banks, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Although the Fed has no direct influence on deposit rates, those tend to be correlated to changes in the target federal funds rate. However, "if consumers have been seeing their deposit accounts earn less and less as a result, they don't have to sit back and accept it," Barrington said.   There is a lot to be gained by shopping for better rates on savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs, he advised.  Thanks, in part, to lower overhead expenses, the average online savings account rate could be 12 times higher than the average rate from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank, Barrington said. "With more and more people doing business from home due to pandemic restrictions, this may be an ideal time to change how you bank — and earn more as a result." Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Who wouldn't want to record in an entirely pink studio? Anna David According to Chartable, podcast downloads have increased significantly during the pandemic, so there is more pressure than ever for podcasters to deliver premium content. Creating that authentic connection, whether it is through interviews, long-ranted solo episodes, or dynamic conversations amongst co-hosts, means recording in a space that sets the right mood yet is conducive good sound quality. From a studio with a padded sound booth to chic home offices and stylish living rooms, here’s where some of the most popular female podcasters are currently recording their shows along with the inspiration behind their design choices. Anna David Of Launch Pad David uses the studio for audiobooks as well as her podcast, 'Launch Pad.' Anna David Author, podcaster, and founder of Launch Pad Publishing, Anna David is just as serious about sound as she is about the color pink. Launch Pad Publishing is a boutique company that helps thought leaders and entrepreneurs publish books. One of the services provided is helping their authors, which include Alexis Haines, Joe Gorga, Courtney Friel, and Emily Lynn Paulson, record audiobooks for the Audible platform. “When I found out that the audiobook industry generated over a billion dollars in 2019, I started looking around for places where my clients could record their audiobooks,” David tells me. “There was a dearth of options, and I live in LA where there are probably more sound studios than anywhere else." So, she decided to turn the bottom floor of her Hollywood home, which is approximately 400 square feet into a recording studio. She hired LA Vocal Booths to create a state of the art booth for the corner of the room. Unlike podcasts on ApplePodcasts and other platforms, Audible has incredibly strict sound requirements for their books. “You don’t know whether or not they’ve approved your audiobook until you’ve recorded the whole thing. So, my booth has serious wall padding.” David then hired Mike Dawson who helps Adam Carolla record his podcast and audiobooks to advise on the equipment. But while she created, as she says, a sound nerd’s dream— wall padding, while essential for this purpose, is anything but aesthetically pleasing.  Pink on pink Anna David However, the pandemic gave the entrepreneur plenty of time to decorate. “It all started when I bought a pink desk,” she says. “You wouldn’t have thought this was a big moment, but it turned out to be a serious gateway thing: it looked so cute that I felt like it needed a friend in the form of a pink chair.” Then David went wild with color. “Next thing you know I was buying pink staplers and scissors and painting the bench, cabinet, and table in the room pink. I even reached out to LA Vocal Booths and asked them to create a new pink panel for the back of the booth.” Decorating in a mix of high and low, she put a vintage Herman Miller chair at the desk where the sound engineer sits along with a puffy pink chair and desk from Overstock inside the booth. “I then got a pink nursery rug I found on Etsy for outside the booth. I also went a little nuts with pink accessories from Daiso: notebooks, pens, pads. That, too, was a slippery slope: now every time I’m out and see anything pink, I try to incorporate it.” David felt so inspired, she even redecorated the adjacent bathroom with pink towels and hand soap, as well as gave the space a fun moniker, “The Pink Pad.” Jackie Schimmel Of The Bitch Bible Jackie Schimmel records her hit podcast The Bitch Bible, in her home office. Jackie Schimmel The Bitch Bible on Dear Media is one of the most popular comedy podcasts. Anything but basic, host Jackie Schimmel’s home studio truly reflects her delightfully snarky personality. While she has the option of recording at the Dear Media studio in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, it’s far from where she lives. “I’ve always preferred to podcast from home even pre-pandemic,” she tells me. “I love that I can go downstairs in my heinous geriatric pajamas at 6:00 am, have a verbal purge alone, and then just go have a bagel in my kitchen like it’s nothing. It’s all my favorite smells, it’s dark, it’s soundproof thank God, those walls have been through a lot and I appreciate the safety net they provide me.”  Every item she keeps on her desk adds a personal touch. “Most things in my office are gifts from best friends or family. I have about eight professional portraits of my dog, lots of candles always, Palo Santo to cleanse, a bedazzled middle finger figurine from my childhood best friend that says it all, also lots of weird disco lights just because.” Why not have disco lights? Jackie Schimmel But the room would not be complete without a luxurious Diptyque candle. “I am Baies kind of bitch. The juxtaposition of the elegant scent and my wildly explicit language is the metaphor of my existence.” As for anyone else trying to create a space that allows them to embrace their unique personality, Schimmel says, “Surround yourself with things you love all the time, podcasting or not.” Amber-Lee Lyons Of Chakra Girl Radio Amber-Lee Lyons records in a chic home office. Amber-Lee Lyons Creating a space with positive energy is essential to Amber-Lee Lyons, host and creator of the podcast Chakra Girl Radio. She records in her home office, which features a desk from West Elm and art from Society6 along with an abundance of spiritual objects. “All my crystals, candles, and Goddesses are from local spiritual shops and from my travels,” she tells me. But perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the room is a breathtaking view of the English Bay in Vancouver. “I see the ocean and the most beautiful pastel sunset.” A view of the ocean and crystal create a Zen environment. Amber-Lee Lyons Lyons meditates in the space every morning using her windowsill as an alter. All objects were intentionally chosen to help manifest her dreams into fruition. “I have a ton of crystals and multiple Goddesses that represent different energies, such as Lakshmi, the Goddess of abundance, Kuan Yin, the Goddess of compassion and kindness, and Durga the Goddess of fierceness and feminine power. I direct my energy towards the crystals and the Goddesses that I want to embody that day.” Every object helps to create a Zen environment perfect for working and recording her show. “From my shelf of self-development books and designer bags to my altar, crystals, and Goddesses, I have multiple beautiful representations of the many versions of myself I embody. I feel whole and complete in my office.” Fran Moore Of Franly Advice Fran Moore's podcasting space and home office. Fran Moore Fran Moore records her entrepreneurship-focused podcast Franly Advice from her home office. Choosing the perfect desk helped to establish the ideal environment for Moore to work and record. “I picked this desk to make sure there was enough space for the microphone and the interface to sit on my desk during the day while I am working but easy to access to record another episode at any moment. Everything is ready to go, all I have to do is plug the USB cord into my laptop and press record.” Purchasing the right equipment was also very important to the podcaster and business owner because it allows her to record in her current workspace, which is located in a loft. So getting the sound right can be challenging. “My microphone is dynamic so I no longer have to sit in the closet to block out the echo and noise around me. The easy access to everything on my desk makes it so much easier to transition from running my business to recording an episode without leaving my desk and worrying about the setup,” she tells me. The desk and chair and from Ashley Furniture. Fran Moore Moore’s style is minimalist and clean. It also reflects how she chooses to live her life, as a Christian. The trendy letter board on the wall features an inspirational quote from the Bible. “It is stated over and over again that as we are transformed into being more like Christ each day so we go from ‘glory to glory,’ as we grow in Christ. Psalm 37:4 is just a reminder that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.” Krista Williams And Lindsey Simcik Of Almost 30 Almost 30 Podcast HQ Almost 30 Recording in a beautifully designed environment that aligns with the purpose of the podcast is essential to what Almost 30 is about. “We wanted our podcast guests and team to feel that special something every time they are in the space. Having a comfortable, inviting, interesting studio space has created a container for us and for our guests to have meaningful conversations and connect on a deeper level,” the hosts tell me.  Simcik and Williams feel the chic design of Almost 30 HQ, helps them record a better show. “Have you ever walked into a space and instantly felt the time, love, and thought that was put into it? You just feel the difference, right? Because the space is so cozy and tailored for us and our guests, we never have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or distracted by our surroundings.” Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik of 'Almost 30' Almost 30 One of the most noticeable design features of the room is the wallpaper, which is sourced from Hygge & West. Lighting from Mitzi and Hudson Valley Lighting not only brightens things up, but also provides a charming accent. Mitzi is Hudson Valley's accessible line and recently became available for purchase by the manufacturer online.  The hosts call the Joybird seating, the comfiest of all time. “Never underestimate the power of a comfortable chair when in conversation.” Designed by Dani Nagel of Dazey LA, who also created the custom artwork, Simcik and Williams tell me, “She took us out of our design comfort zone and allowed the spirit of Almost 30 to come through in every room. She's curious, playful, expressive, thoughtful, and wants to make an impact.” Almost 30 HQ is a true reflection of how far the show has come. “We started recording our podcast four years ago on our messy closet floors and now we have this beautiful, incredibly special, and personal space to work in. This helps us channel our creativity and express ourselves authentically. For all of us, the spaces we work and live in can bring us joy, calm, and inspiration.”
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin New York City's rental market is all about concessions getty Manhattan’s rental market is all about concessions and more concessions.  "In markets that are more favorable for renters (more available units than demand to fill these units), landlords may offer concessions to entice renters to pick their property,” explains Senior Managing Editor of Apartment Guide Brian Carberry.  The pandemic combined with historically low-interest rates and work from home mandates fueled the path to homeownership for Millennials exiting the city. A perfect storm was created as renters became buyers choosing the suburbs of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  According to data from StreetEasy median rent prices in Manhattan have fallen below $3,000 per month (they’re now $2,990) for the first time since 2011.   Despite significant rent decreases the over-supply of available units make this a renter’s market.  Currently even these lower prices aren’t luring an abundance of renters to sign leases. Here’s what some landlords are doing to attract those elusive tenants who for now can easily make a deal. “Some of the most common concessions include a month of free rent, which is likely prorated and offered as a discount each month, access to luxury amenities at a reduced or no charge, reduced security deposits, longer or shorter lease terms, free parking or upgraded features,” Carberry notes.        No fees: It’s hard enough to attract renters — apartments with attached broker fees only act as a further barrier to getting a lease signed.      Free-rent: A month or two of free rent was typical for many Manhattan apartments before the pandemic. Now, it’s essential.    Wiggle room: Even with rent prices low, tenants are still looking to secure a deal and negotiate. Landlords who are unwilling to do so may see an interested tenant slip away to a competitor.    In-unit amenities: With an emphasis on social distancing, in-unit amenities — such as washers and dryers — are going to attract the most attention. If a unit (or a building) doesn’t have laundry facilities, it may be a tough sell, as people are likely concerned about using a laundromat due to COVID.  It's lets make a deal for New York City renters getty June Gottlieb a top broker at Warburg Realty has real-time negotiation experience. “In today's market, that has almost triple the number of rental listings that we would normally see, landlords must pay the broker fee. We won’t take a listing unless we can say “no fee.” Also, landlords should be prepared to hear offers from tenants who ask for anywhere from 1-3 months of free rent as part of their offer,” Gottlieb notes. “In one of our most recent deals, tenants also requested that the landlord install privacy shades and customize closets. We negotiated a credit for the closets, and the tenant agreed to take on the project of custom-fitting the master bedroom’s closet, but the landlord retained pre-approval of design and materials before the tenant proceeded with the project. We did not agree to order and install shades, but we did agree to not require the tenant to remove what they installed prior to vacating at the end of the lease,” Gottlieb adds.  Edgar Romero owner of a luxury condo at 100 Barclay Street in Tribeca understands the current climate.  “In these difficult times, flexibility on both sides of the rental market is necessary.” Romero’s unit will soon be on the rental market listed by agent Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty. “Concessions must be made to keep the market moving on some level with the exodus we have seen from the city, I have confidence that New York will again shine as the epicenter of the world and demand will again be there in a couple of years. Patience and flexibility must be the focus now, in real estate as well with the pandemic,” Romero concludes.  For an in-depth look at rental markets around the country check out Apartment Guide’s latest 2020 Rent Report. Carberry offers a take-away. “It never hurts as a renter to ask or negotiate for some of these concessions, the worst that can happen is the landlord will say no." Apartment Living Tips - Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.comRent Report, October 2020: The State of the Rental Market | ApartmentGuide.com Streeteasy
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Rectory Farm House in Oxfordshire, on sale for $ 9 million, lies in 8 acres of land beside the River ... [+] Thames Knight Frank If you’re in the market for a riverside country house, with several acres of land and gardens, then Rectory Farm House in Oxfordshire could be for you. The period property, on sale for $9 million, lies beside a tranquil stretch of the River Thames and once belonged to the English actor Sir Michael Caine. Rectory Farm House, which has 200 yards of river frontage on one of the longest stretches of the Thames, a tennis court, an indoor pool, and a boathouse, was owned by the actor for 15 years, according to the current owner. Caine, who is known for his Oscar and Bafta-award winning performances, films such as Get Carter, The Italian Job, and Alfie, and his distinctive Cockney accent, lived there with his family from 1984 to 1999. The Long Room Knight Frank Surrounded by fields and countryside, with 8.3 acres of land, the grade II listed, 11,660-square-foot property has a natural setting and backdrop while being in a village setting. The six-bedroom house and gardens are set back from the river behind an area of mature trees on its grounds, meaning they can’t be seen from the water, making it an ideal setting for a privacy-seeking celebrity. The Thames Path walking trail runs along the opposite bank of the river to the property. Though the house itself does not have a view of the river, its grounds have picturesque views up and down the waterway and an attractive lime tree avenue leading to the water. Its riverbank features a swimming landing stage, which provides wild swimmers with easy access to water, and a two-story boathouse with remote-controlled electric doors. Rectory Farm House lies between the Benson and Cleeve locks, a 6.5-mile stretch of the Thames that forms the longest distance between locks on the river. The indoor pool Knight Frank During his time at Rectory Farm House, Caine made significant upgrades to the property. He renovated the original 17th-century gabled house and added a modern extension, which is roughly about the same size as the original part of the house. The 20th-century addition features a vaulted, galleried living/dining room known as the Long Room, a games room, a library, and an indoor swimming pool with part timber-framed and part glazed roof, a spa, and a sauna. Rectory Farm House lies beside a grade I listed stone church 3 miles from the market town of Wallingford in the village of North Stoke, popular for its proximity to private schools such as Cranford House and easy access to Reading (11 miles) and Oxford (15 miles). London Paddington is a 50-minute train journey away from Goring & Streatley station, which lies 4 miles away. The river frontage with a boat house and a landing stage Knight Frank On the grounds is a two-bedroom cottage attached to outbuildings that include two wine stores and two barns, and a carport with storage rooms. There is also a large kitchen garden, ponds, a lake, a charming dovecot, and a formal garden, all set within grounds that are mainly formed of lawns and mature trees. It is approached by a long sweeping drive edged with topiary balls and has a two-bedroom gate lodge at its entrance. The home is on sale through Knight Frank
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin The Chelsea Barracks Collection is inspired by the history of its surroundings Chelsea Barracks At the top end of the market, developers not only build homes, but they also commission bespoke homeware for them. The developer of Chelsea Barracks, a residential scheme in Belgravia known for its luxury residences, has produced for its homes a one-of-a-kind heritage furniture and home accessories range. Curated specifically for the scheme, though available to non-buyers as well, the pieces are handmade in Britain by British craftsmen, and include everything from a desk and a side table to ceramic tableware, glassware, and fabrics. The Radnor tableware Chelsea Barracks The Qatari Diar-owned development, which, when completed, will have 450 homes, is set on the site of a historic former British Army barracks, between the super-prime neighborhoods of Chelsea and Belgravia on Chelsea Bridge Road. Its design recalls Belgravia’s white-stucco Georgian terraces and garden squares, but has cleaner lines and contemporary landscaping. The homeware range was designed for the interiors of two of its 13 townhouses. Named the Chelsea Barracks Collection, each piece has a historical reference to its surroundings, according to Camilla Clarke, co-founder and creative director at Albion Nord, the interior design specialist who curated the collection. The pieces take inspiration from Chelsea and its notable design and creative industries, the Victorian-era barracks and its chapel, and Georgian-era and British design. The Wellington desk Chelsea Barracks Clarke says “we understood the ethos and importance of legacy within Chelsea Barracks, and wanted to take this one step further by creating a collection of pieces... items that can last a lifetime and be passed down from generation to generation.” The 11 made-to-order pieces lead the interiors in two Georgian-style townhouses. The 10,000-square-foot white-stucco houses, which have 3.2m ceilings, lifts, indoor pools, and leisure suite, “are themselves very British, the architecture itself is a reimagined Georgian townhouse,” Clarke explains. “Therefore, it felt right to give the pieces a sense of place and use British materials and British craftsmen to make them.”  The Elizabeth side table Chelsea Barracks One of the key pieces in the range is the Wellington Desk, a traditional military campaign oak desk with metal lion claw feet ($27,000) created by Stride & Co. and Collier. The bow of its metal key features the Chelsea Barracks emblem whose shape is inspired by the rose window at the on-site Victorian garrison chapel, which survives. The tiles in the chapel also inspired the Garrison fabric ($77-$80 per square meter), which was designed by Marina Mill. There’s also the Westminster handblown glassware (from $323 to £362) featuring an optic twist finish by Stewart Hearn; the Radnor tableware ($168 for a twin set of mugs) by Sally Marien, which honors the heritage of the Chelsea Porcelain Factory; and another fabric by Mill known as Wren ($64-$77 per square meter), whose design replicates the footprint of the nearby Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Wren fabric Chelsea Barracks The Chelsea Barracks Collection range has a classic look and can be used to furnish any home, but it is rooted in its surroundings through small details that honor both its past and present. Prices for the townhouses start from $49 million
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Pedestrians walk past commercial real estate in Manhattan. Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images Decidedly weak quarterly earnings reports from major apartment real estate investment trusts this week paint a bleak picture for some of the largest urban rental markets. The coronavirus pandemic has caused thousands of apartment dwellers to seek safer, larger, single-family suburban homes, causing vacancies in high-rise rental buildings to spike. Equity Residential, whose portfolio consists mostly of mid- to high-rise buildings on the East and West coasts, saw a particularly bleak third quarter. Its stock is down about 43% year to date. Occupancy and average rent rates fell and will likely drop further in the coming quarters. Nearly a quarter of its holdings are in downtown San Francisco, Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Those are the markets most impacted, as they have seen large outflows of tenants moving either to smaller cities or the suburbs. As businesses reopened over the summer, there were some improvements, but no guarantees. "We have seen scattered positive signs in the form of modestly improved renewals and higher application volumes," said Equity Residential's CEO, Mark Parrell, on a conference call with analysts. "I caution, however, that market conditions remain too volatile and the timing of developments on mitigating the virus too unclear to suggest that we have turned a corner." The company did not release any earnings guidance, but Parrell added, "We do want you to be aware that our financial results will weaken over subsequent quarters, as the full impact from the pandemic works its way through our rent roll." AvalonBay, which has a similar geographical mix to Equity Residential, also posted disappointing earnings for its third quarter and also did not provide any guidance. Its stock is down about 35% year to date. "The adverse future impact of the pandemic on the Company's results of operations cannot be reasonably estimated, and could be material," according to AvalonBay's earnings release. While it is impossible to get firm numbers on the much-discussed urban flight phenomenon, analysts say it is clearly in the earnings numbers. "The proof is that rents are down double digits, plus the AvalonBays and Equity Residentials of the world are offering 2-months free on top of that in the major Coastal Urban Markets," said Alexander Goldfarb, a REIT analyst at Piper Sandler. "When DC, long a laggard, and Baltimore are the best relative apartment markets for companies like Equity Residential and AvalonBay, you know things have changed." While there has definitely been some bargain hunting among tenants in large cities, Equity Residential noted clearly on the call that it is not losing tenants to competitors. Its residents are relocating. And that may benefit REITs in the Sunbelt, where Northeasterners are moving. Camden Property Trust, based in Houston, is seeing far better results and less impact from the pandemic. Its holdings are in Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Its stock is down just 16% year to date. Essex Property Trust, despite being largely in California and Seattle, has just 10% of its portfolio in urban cores. "Its limited (10%) exposure to urban markets is proving its worth, in that occupancy is flat year-over-year, at 96% overall. That said, Los Angeles and San Francisco showed occupancy losses, which drove revenues down double digits in the quarter," added Goldfarb. Essex's stock has fallen 34% year to date.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Despite record low mortgage rates, homebuying affordability is on the decline. getty Despite hovering around their all-time low for several months now, it looks like mortgage rates have done about all they can for housing affordability.  According to a new report, skyrocketing home prices have now outstripped their power, and overall homebuying affordability is now moving downward. Data from mortgage insurer First American shows that record-low mortgage rates boosted American homebuying power for much of 2020. At one point, buyers could afford a whopping $15,000 more house thanks to declining interest rates.  But now, with home prices up 8% over last year and 1.5% between just July and August, those days have officially come to an end. “Mortgage rates began declining in January 2020 and even dropped below 3% for the first time ever in August.,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “But, as mortgage rates have fallen and the housing market has recovered amid strong demand and historically low supply, nominal house price appreciation has rapidly accelerated. In August, the dynamics powering affordability may have reached a tipping point.” According to the report, affordability dropped by about $775 in August, despite mortgage rates hitting a new monthly low of 2.92%.  Though the dip is small, Fleming says it indicates that rising home prices have begun to “erode the affordability gains of recent years.” Buyers located in the Census Bureau’s Mountain region have it the worst. There, prices have risen by 9.2% in the last year. That area includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. At the metro level, home prices have risen the most in San Diego, Seattle, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boston, Phoenix, Miami and Tampa, Fla. In San Diego, prices rose nearly 30% between August 2019 and August 2020. Only three markets have seen price growth decelerate: New York, Chicago, and Portland.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Topline After a year of savage cuts and restructuring following a disastrous IPO attempt that saw then-CEO Adam Neumann evicted and the company’s value plummet, WeWork’s new head says he finally sees profitability on the horizon for 2021 and, if all goes well, another IPO, Bloomberg reports. WeWork contemplates another IPO attempt getty Key Facts CEO Sandeep Mathrani told reporters that the company is “100% done with rightsizing” and slated to hit profitability by 2021, Bloomberg reports.   Mathrani said the business is rebounding in Asian markets, including China, South Korea and Singapore, and was at 66% occupancy in Q1.  Profitability achieved, Mathrani says he will “revisit the IPO plan” — the last plan dramatically collapsed in 2019 and saw the company enter into a tailspin, hemorrhaging value to less than 90% of its $47 billion peak, selling off assets, renegotiating contracts and laying off around a third of its workforce.     Mathrani said the company still has the billions its largest investor SoftBank provided as part of a bailout last year, and that the company does not owe Neumann any more money from the $185 million consulting deal he received as part of his controversial exit.  Mathrani says he still speaks about the business with Neumann — who still holds a sizable stake in the company — on a regular basis, about twice a month. Key Background WeWork’s meteoric rise was followed by a calamitous fall. Within the space of a decade, it expanded from a single coworking office to a company with hundreds of locations and thousands of employees in cities around the world, along with a coterie of corporate clients, businesses and freelancers making use of the service. At various points it was the biggest private office tenant in London and New York.  Though its valuation was high, and grew until its $47 billion peak, the company burned through money, made spectacular losses and ran on a business model many in commercial real estate determined highly questionable: signing long-term leases and subletting space, typically to freelancers or businesses, on a short-term basis. Surprising Fact Many of the startup's shareholders and employees have been waiting on a $3 billion payout from SoftBank in order to jump ship. This was postponed and, eventually, cancelled altogether. According to a new court filing in a lawsuit brought by Neumann, SoftBank’s head and WeWork’s then chairman discussed various ways to postpone the payout by text, with the former saying to “use whatever excuse” to make sense of the delay.  Further Reading WeWork’s New CEO Is Eyeing an IPO Again — After He Turns Profit (Bloomberg) ‘Use Whatever Excuse’: Texts From SoftBank’s Masa Son Show Alleged Push To Abandon $3 Billion WeWork Payout (Forbes) WeWork Employees Feel Abandoned And Angry As SoftBank Ditches Its $3 Billion Buyout Offer (Forbes) “You don’t bring bad news to the cult leader”: Inside the fall of WeWork. (Vanity Fair)
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin getty New York City and State have traditionally treated the real estate industry as a cash cow without end, in part because they think it’s a cash cow that can’t move. The State legislators may be about to do it again, thanks to a proposal to expand the scope of New York’s tax of 2.8% on substantial mortgages recorded in New York City. That’s one of the highest mortgage tax rates in the United States. Now some State legislators want to extend the same 2.8% tax to mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments, two structures that often provide additional capital for larger projects, especially new development. This change would come on the heels of a series of legislative assaults since mid-2019 aimed at the real estate industry. And it would come at a time of dramatically declining rents and values, already disincentivizing investment and development. The new tax, if passed, would make it even harder for the real estate industry to meet the State’s needs for housing and other forms of development. It would potentially consume 2.8% of the value of every mezzanine loan or preferred equity financing. That may sound like a small percentage. But it would amount to a much larger percentage of the equity investment, or the profit, in any deal. This sort of tax is often the largest transaction cost at any closing. And remember this tax would not be imposed on profits or sales proceeds or an increase in net worth or a successful deal, but instead only on the act of borrowing money that must be repaid. The commercial real estate industry is already heavily taxed, starting with ordinary real estate taxes that often consume around a third of a commercial property owner’s gross revenue. The industry also pays regular income taxes like anyone else, ever-increasing water and sewer fees, transfer taxes and mortgage taxes that are among the highest in the United States, special New York City business taxes, commercial rent taxes (at least for some leases, and nominally paid by tenants), and endless filing fees, other fees, and fines. That doesn’t include the cost of complying with filing, disclosure, and reporting requirements as well as other governmentally imposed operational burdens that grow every year. New York commercial real estate doesn’t need another new tax. RANJAN SAMARAKONE The City and State are certainly well on their way to another financial meltdown. Rather than impose a new tax on the real estate industry, though, the legislators ought to figure out how to make do with less (and perhaps also do less). They should recognize that the City and State already spend far more per capita than nearly any other comparable jurisdictions in the United States. But that’s an issue that goes far beyond the real estate industry. The proposed new tax on mezzanine loans and preferred equity makes some effort to take into account existing law. That’s actually quite atypical once the Legislature gets started with its attacks on real estate. But the proposed tax doesn’t adequately recognize the ways mezzanine loans and preferred equity transactions get negotiated, structured, secured, and closed. Parts of the proposed tax are written using words and concepts that have nothing to do with the words and concepts actually used in commercial real estate transactions, another common trait of New York legislation that targets real estate. The proposed legislation would jeopardize the confidentiality traditionally available for mezzanine loans and preferred equity, the same confidentiality that every other industry maintains for its transactions. The proposed legislation would require filing of UCC financing statements for preferred equity, a concept that makes no sense at all given the law of commercial transactions as it has existed for the last century or more. If the proposed tax passes, the real estate industry will come up with ways to structure transactions so as to bypass the tax. The sloppiness of the legislation itself creates some opportunities. Premature identification and announcement of those opportunities would be unwise. They would bring to real estate transactions even more tax-driven complexity and risk of mistakes. Conceivably the industry might even come up with unsecured financing structures that rely on real estate value, but require nothing new to be recorded or filed and hence offer no opportunities for hungry tax collectors and legislators. With any luck, we won’t reach that point. Maybe the legislators will leave real estate alone for at least a while.
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The Transamerica Pyramid looms over the San Francisco skyline. (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images) Getty Images San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid changed hands for the first time on Wednesday, after Deutsche Finance America and developer Michael Shvo teamed up to purchase the tower and complex for $650 million, the largest commercial transaction in the U.S. since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s a classic building for all time that mirrors the forward-looking spirit of the Bay Area,” Shvo said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to bring this property into its next renaissance.” Shvo and Deutsche are buying the 48-story tower—which sits on a full city block— from Aegon, the Dutch insurance firm. Aegon bought Transamerica Corporation in 1999; the building first opened in 1972. Other investors on the deal include the German pension giant BVK. The building will retain its famous profile, along with the Transamerica name, though there are plans to renovate the property. The tower had been on the market since August 2019. The winning bid, which previously stood at $711 million, was first reported in February, though the pandemic seemingly delayed the closing process and contributed to the $61 million price cut, due to turbulence in the commercial real estate market. Deutsche and Shvo have been on a buying spree of late, partnering on nine properties in the past two years totaling billions of dollars. That includes Big Red in Chicago (for $376 million), the Raleigh Hotel in Miami ($103 million) and 9200 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills ($130 million).
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Masa Son instructed WeWork's president to delay a $3 billion shareholder payout from SoftBank, a new court filing shows. Getty Images In the months after WeWork aborted its IPO plans and ousted its CEO Adam Neumann, many of its employees and shareholders were expecting a $3 billion payout from WeWork’s largest investor — a final chance for many to leave the company behind.  But undated text messages between Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank, and WeWork’s then-newly installed chairman Marcelo Claure show the two discussed ways to first postpone the payout, before it was abandoned altogether, according to a new court filing in a lawsuit brought by Neumann. Some time after SoftBank announced it would take over WeWork last October in a deal valued at $9.5 billion — including the $3 billion set aside for shareholders — Son received a text from Claure, acknowledging a request from SoftBank to delay the shareholder payout, known as a tender offer.  “It’s great to postpone the close of tender…Use whatever excuse to make senses [sic],” Son replied.  Claure texted back: “Ok. Will use antitrust. I am turning good at excuses like someone I know very well :).”  After delaying the tender offer from February 28 to April 1, shareholder’s were notified on the deadline that SoftBank would not in fact pay the tender offer, citing among a number of reasons, “failure to satisfy the regulatory approval condition” which included “antitrust approvals.” The aborted multi-billion dollar payout has since been at the center of multiple lawsuits filed by shareholders of the global office-space company. Wednesday’s court filing in Delaware Chancery Court appeared in the case brought by Adam Neumann, who was expected to receive almost $1 billion.  Another lawsuit brought by Benchmark Capital, which was anticipating a $600 million payday, is on behalf of a special committee made up of board members and represents hundreds of current and former employees who owned a much smaller slice of shares.  In a statement, a SoftBank spokesperson said: “Cherry-picking quotes from documents doesn’t change the facts: under the terms of our agreement, SoftBank had no obligation to complete the tender offer in which Mr. Neumann – the biggest beneficiary -  sought to sell nearly $1 billion in stock.” WeWork did not respond to a request for comment. Once valued at $47 billion, WeWork’s future remains unclear as its hundreds of shared office spaces have stood largely vacant as employees have worked from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Last month it offloaded a $200 million stake in its China business to existing shareholder Trustbridge Partners. For other investors, the outlook is especially bleak: On Monday, Fitch Ratings warned that its bonds are at risk of default.
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