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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Clark Twiddy is the President of Twiddy & Company, a hospitality and asset management firm along North Carolina's Outer Banks. getty It comes as little surprise to know that the pandemic’s lengthening impact on global travel patterns has changed travel thinking in ways well beyond the actual shadow of the virus’ reach. While many travel-and-tourism indicators continue to lag in performance, there are also significant bright spots particularly in the drive-to domestic market. As these bright spots continue to gain traction in the minds of travelers, one feature of this type of travel has also changed and rental property owners and operators should take note. This feature is travel insurance. For many years, vacationing travelers viewed the purchase of travel insurance as an afterthought – in many cases, it wasn’t widely understood in terms of coverage and its purchase was considered by some with a level of suspicion around what value it actually provided. Enter the pandemic – as the uncertainty of travel grew in vast proportion to the questions around the coronavirus, consumers have also quietly become much more knowledgeable about what good travel coverage is and when they should be using it. As a result, they’re buying it at a greater rate than ever before as this chart shows – the trend is specific to the Outer Banks areas but similar trends have been anecdotally shared across other drive-to destinations. As an industry, travel insurance is also growing with one projection putting the market size at $45 billion by 2027. In essence, more people are buying travel insurance right now than at any other time and it’s a great chance to pause for a moment as rental property owners and operators to understand how consumers are thinking about coverage, how they are not thinking about it and what this trend means for traveling in the future – beyond the pandemic. How Consumers Are Thinking About It Now The purchase of any kind of insurance is essentially a decision to not only anticipate inherent risk but also transfer it – no surprise there. For travel insurance in particular, many consumers are finding it’s worth the time to understand coverages and benefits for not only the purchaser but the traveling party as well. The fine print in the purchase takes only a few minutes to either read or to call for specific questions. In a busy world, it’s easy to spend those minutes elsewhere, but remember an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. Consumers are thinking about it, in many ways, as an owner’s manual for their trip. How Consumers Are Not Thinking About It In making a decision to purchase travel insurance, it’s important to mention that transferring some risk does not mean transferring all risks. Many observers around recent financial headlines cautiously remark that low risk is very different from no risk. Many of those same “afterthought” insurance purchasers are caught off guard – put mildly – when a given situation isn’t actually covered in the policy. For example, many of the largest travel insurance providers in the world didn’t actually cover a pandemic due to inherent uncertainty of the pandemic itself. Those same providers are, of course, evolving their products to meet the needs of their customers today, but it is important to reflect on what insurance doesn’t cover in the event of a purchase. Sometimes, it’s easy to simply ask that question. Smart consumers are not thinking about it as a blanket trip coverage – like a roof for a building, they are thinking about what the roof covers and what it doesn’t.   What It Means For The Travelling Future It will take some time for a return to any kind of normalcy in global travel patterns, and we would all agree that when this normalcy returns, travelers will have to be informed on topics like safety, health care and risks in a way they seldom have before. This means not only will travel insurance be more popular, as this trend below from the Outer Banks of North Carolina shows, but at the same time buyers will have to be more knowledgeable as they ever have before to understand what’s covered and what’s not.   For the owners of vacation rental properties, this is an interesting trend as well in that it means your guests are more educated than ever on risks and coverages. It makes clear sense to ensure you as the homeowner are fluent in terms of what your guests are reading and deciding upon. It also means that vacations are getting more expensive as travelers add coverages but, in turn, have more peace of mind around risks such as hurricanes and many other disruptive instances. All in all, the availability of your guests to purchase travel insurance is a good thing. In an uncertain world, the more certainty you can offer around your home, the more attractive it is to potential guests. In short, travel insurance is more popular in travel channels now as a reflection of the larger uncertainty in travel confidence. It’s worth the time to purchase it, should consumers choose, not as an afterthought but as part of a larger commitment to stay safe, avoid risks and simply to have more peace-of-mind fun. Owners and operators of vacation rental properties should pay attention to this trend and understand the impact it can have on travel in an uncertain world. For consumers and owners, it’s important to understand when traveling in the face of remarkable uncertainty, knowledge is power and ignorance is in fact not bliss at all. 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 CEO of Snappt and President of Berlind Properties. Getty We all collectively scratched our heads and asked “what just happened?” in 2020. Now in 2021, we’re looking ahead and trying to make predictions for the year. While we are still living in unpredictable times, there are a few things that we can be confident will come to pass in the months to come.  The Economy Is Set To Soar Just about every economist is pointing to an economy set to explode in 2021. A December 2020 Wall Street Journal article explained why, noting a few specific catalysts:  • New businesses are exploding — there were new applications for 1.6 million in the third quarter of 2020 alone, nearly doubling the previous year’s pace. • The move online we’ve all experienced during the past five years set up businesses to not only weather the storm but, in many cases, flourish. • There is tons of cash sloshing around. The Federal Reserve reports that Americans have collectively made $2 trillion in new savings deposits since the pandemic hit. Combine this with pent-up demand from consumers who have been sidelined since last February and with the arrival of vaccines, and the economy looks like a rocket on final countdown. How This Affects The Residential Rental Market All taken together, this means we can expect tenant applications to soar for several reasons. First, despite severe hardships to specific industries (hospitality, travel, restaurants), many Americans are doing pretty well. Plus, as working from home becomes the new normal, many workers are fleeing dense urban jungles for more enjoyable environments (think Santa Barbara versus downtown San Francisco) and renting homes as they relocate. That said, there is a dark side of the new normal that has the potential to confound unsuspecting landlords: damaged credit. We saw this in 2009 and 2001 as well. Maxed-out credit cards are not abnormal these days — nor are applicants who seem low on cash reserves or applicants with relatively new jobs. Late payments on credit histories are more common than ever. We’re used to using these signals as indications an applicant might have trouble paying rent down the line. But the past year was anything but normal, and as we go forward, we may need to be more flexible than normal. Some of these apparently poor risks may actually be great potential tenants. I think of the story of Amadeo Peter Giannini, the son of Italian immigrants who, in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, set up a make-shift bank on a wharf and made loans to desperate locals on nothing but a handshake. His small bank — the Bank of Italy — flourished by capturing so many customers at such a fateful time. You may know it better today as the Bank of America. Applicant Evaluations In The New Normal As a landlord today, though, you should probably bank on more than a handshake. But what can you do in this post-pandemic world to balance the opportunities of a soaring economy with the risk of bad tenants? • Learn to discount minor, pandemic-driven noise. Maxed-out credit cards, lower cash reserves and new jobs are more common and less predictive than in normal times. Learn to look beyond these traditional measures. • Pay attention to the big things. That said, some things are still instant disqualifiers. Foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies and failure to pay are all indications of a substandard applicant. These are the big things. • Watch for fraudulently-altered financial documentation. A relatively new job is something you can overlook, but fraudulently-altered financial documentation, for example a fake paystub from someone with no job, isn’t. Neither is a falsified bank statement.  I suspect all of us are eager for a prosperous 2021 after living with the Covid-19 pandemic throughout 2020. All signs are that this will turn out to be an excellent year. But remain careful — there are risks as well. Nonetheless, with proper precautions, 2021 can be a profitable year for property managers. 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 Smart city, building technology, and real estate business. Businessman holding digital tablet with ... [+] buildings hologram and application programming interface technology getty Late last year, there was a shakeup in JLL’s global corporate tree. Amongst the changes Guy Grainger, a firm favorite of this column, was announced as JLL’s new Global Head of Sustainability Services & ESG, and Andy Poppink replaced him as EMEA Markets CEO in January 2021. Andy Poppink JLL Having spent most of his career in the Silicon Valley region, following a basketball career that took him around the world, Poppink has always been very attuned to the topic of innovation in real estate. We had a virtual sit down to discuss the prospects for real estate in a post-COVID world, JLL’s strategy, and his vision for proptech. He started his career as a broker in the Tenant Representation team at the Staubach Company, a Californian real estate brokerage firm. After the Staubach Company was acquired by JLL in 2008, Poppink rose to lead JLL’s western region, overseeing Northern California, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions. He is currently based in Switzerland in his role as EMEA Markets CEO. Poppink reckons he is uniquely placed to understand the current crisis, as “I started in real estate in Silicon Valley in May 2001 and that’s allowed me to have experience of downturns - this is my third; first the dot com bust in 2001 in the bay area, then the financial crisis and now COVID. For people who haven’t been through it, it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel – but experience tells us that there always is. What’s interesting about this crisis is that the majority of our workforce has never experienced a work environment with challenges of this magnitude.” Goals and opportunities Poppink was brought to EMEA from the US to leverage his experience in specific areas linked to the opportunities to grow and scale JLL’s agency, leasing, and tenant representation practices. He believes there is a real opportunity to support occupiers and tenants in these changing times, which is what he built his career on, having worked will a vast range of occupiers from small start-ups to some of the biggest global brands. He shared that “ultimately, the thing I’m most passionate about is around team building and leadership. It is a fascinating intellectual and emotional pursuit to have experience across markets and cultures and to work with a diverse group of people to bring them together into a culture to best serve our clients.” The goal is to remain locally relevant while accelerating global growth. Vision for the future The ongoing pandemic has accelerated a number of trends and has triggered nearly a total disruption of the way we currently work across the world. The sudden and prolonged increase of working from home is one of the effects of that disruption, and the pandemic has also created an opportunity to re-imagine what daily routines look like. Poppink believes that JLL is at a unique nexus, in its access to information and in its activities, that will enable it to help people rethink the future – from their daily routines to how neighborhoods and cities will function - as it can bring together stakeholders such as contractors, developers, corporates, investors, institutions, governments, and communities. He thinks that in the near future we can look forward to greater connectivity and more innovative solutions. The disruption in global activity incentivized the firm to invest in new skill sets worldwide. “Out of our five most recently hired country CEOs, four come from outside of real estate from sectors such as tech, consulting, media, etc. We are building a more diverse talent pool. These CEOs represent the majority of the revenues we have in EMEA; it’s an exciting time to introduce diverse skill sets to a traditional business.” For example, their new Italy CEO, Barbara Cominelli, comes from Microsoft and has a strong tech background which will bring a new lens and perspective to the business locally. Where will innovation and tech take the real estate industry?  The disruption we have gone through has accelerated the adoption and integration of tech into our daily lives, and Poppink is excited about the fusion of tech and living space. In his own words, “I love the pace of Silicon Valley – optimism, opportunity, constant evolution. It is exciting to have access to entrepreneurs and executives who are trying to change the world and the way we live. It brings this spirit of eternal optimism around our ability to have a positive impact and make a difference. I hope I can bring some of that to our teams.” That being said, building and growing strong technology platforms can be challenging as it takes time, investment, and a lot of testing. According to Poppink, JLL has seen a great willingness from partners and clients to go through that journey, and the company as a whole is committed to continuing to invest in the most innovative tech-led real estate solutions for our clients. In January, Poppink virtually attended the World Economic Forum, which has historically taken place at Davos in Switzerland. He shared that the key themes discussed really resonated with JLL’s strategy, especially the focus on sustainability as a key driving force. In fact, the company has made significant investments into this driver and plans to achieve global net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. As part of this commitment, the company created a new senior role that Guy Grainger stepped into to give global coordination and focus to its sustainability endeavors. Construction and real estate make up more than a third of global carbon emissions and there is a strong push for the sector to think in terms of a sustainable future, as evidenced by Europe’s Green New Deal which forms the backbone of the region’s COVID recovery plan, and the resurgence of the Paris climate agreement now that the US has rejoined it. It is clear that good global citizenship is also good for business, and this push for sustainability will help JLL work better with its clients to shape their vision for a sustainable future for real estate. As Poppink puts it, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is growing awareness that concerns that may appear distant are in fact very real, climate change being the biggest one. The built environment represents a large share of global carbon emissions, so the real estate industry truly has the ability to help create a better and more sustainable world if it innovates. The effects of Covid-19 We cannot speak about the future, yet, without talking about Covid-19, as it has been a total shock to the system for us all, both personally and professionally. According to Poppink, the pandemic is a community-based challenge for which we need community-based solutions.   He shared that “the speed of the lockdowns and system shutdowns that started a year ago was frightening for all of us. Having a strong corporate culture proved to be a key resilience factor [for JLL]. We have led with care for our people first and foremost, and that brought us closer together.” As a response to the pandemic, Poppink noticed that companies are starting to think about how they are going to recreate workspace. Hybrid models will be key to enabling flexibility and boost performance. At the end of 2020, JLL did an in-depth study of workplace tendencies. The survey showed that while work will change, it doesn’t diminish the need for offices. Nearly three-quarters of respondents still want to be able to come into an office, while 70 percent consider the office as the best place for team building and connecting with management. 2021 is a year of new beginnings for JLL, as the company seeks to best position itself for the change that is underway. It will be interesting to see how its attention to technology and sustainability continues to evolve, and how the EMEA business grows under Poppink’s stewardship.
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Kathy Kraninger, former president Donald Trump's appointee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images The Biden administration hinted it may dismantle mortgage rules inked during the waning days of Donald Trump's presidency. Those Trump-era rules erase protections for borrowers and may open the door to risky loans that led the housing bubble to burst in the 2008 financial crisis, according to some consumer advocates. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday it is considering whether to "revisit" the rules, issued in December when Trump appointee Kathy Kraninger led the agency. (She stepped down last month at the request of President Joe Biden.) More from Personal Finance:$400 unemployment boost: Republicans revive anxiety over effect on jobsFailure to report cryptocurrency on your tax return can lead to troubleSelf-employed and gig workers could get bigger PPP loans The bureau is charged with protecting consumers from abuse and predatory practices in credit cards, loans and other common financial services. It was created in 2011. The new Trump-era measures — the Seasoned QM and General QM rules — relate to certain residential loans for homeowners. They rewrite protections codified in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law after the Great Recession. "Big deal" Both are a type of qualified mortgage, a category that carries legal protections for lenders from consumer lawsuits. That may happen, for example, if borrowers can't make monthly payments and lose their homes to foreclosure. The new rules are scheduled to phase in starting March 1. "It's a big deal," Patricia McCoy, a professor at Boston College Law School, said of the CFPB's notice to possibly tweak the Trump-era measures. "The Seasoned QM rule is a really, really dangerous rule for consumers." If undertaken, the rulemaking process may ultimately change or rescind the rules, the CFPB said. Given its public statement on Tuesday, it's likely the agency will act, said McCoy, who oversaw mortgage policy at the CFPB during the Obama administration. "If they're signaling it, they don't say that lightly," she said. But some groups believe the Trump-era rules should remain in place. They will help banks and other lenders innovate and extend more mortgages to underserved groups, like Black and Hispanic homebuyers, according to Robert Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "We encourage the bureau to permit them to take effect as scheduled," Broeksmit said. Mortgage rules Consumer advocates are especially concerned by the Seasoned QM rule. It creates a new standard for a mortgage to be deemed "qualified." Qualified status is important for both homebuyers and lenders. It's essentially a government stamp of approval that a lender reasonably determined a borrower could afford their loan — the so-called "ability to repay." Lenders get legal protection in court and consumers have peace of mind they have a sustainable loan. Around 95% of mortgages are qualified, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. Prior to the Trump-era rewrite, a loan was generally deemed "qualified" if a borrower's debt load wasn't too high (more than 43% of their monthly income). Government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make exceptions in some cases based on other financial factors. We don't want to encourage high-failure lending. Mike Calhoun president, Center for Responsible Lending A borrower's ability to repay helps set the demarcation line between prime (high-quality) and sub-prime loans. "This is one of the foundational rules of reform coming out of the Great Recession," said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending. "It goes right to the heart of what caused the financial crash." The Seasoned QM rule also grants qualified status to a loan if borrowers make timely monthly payments on their mortgage over a three-year period. Loans that weren't deemed "qualified" at the time of origination could eventually get that label. Consumer groups fear this may grant legal protection to risky mortgages and makes it more economical for lenders to make loans wither higher default rates. These risky loans could then be sold into the secondary market, where they're bundled together with other mortgages and bought by investors. "We think it's too loose and creates some bad incentives to do some of the unsustainable ending we saw in the crisis," Calhoun said. "We don't want to encourage high-failure lending." But many protections remain in place to prevent banks from making ultra-risky mortgages, Broeksmit said. For example, adjustable-rate mortgages and those with terms longer than 30 years can't get qualified status. At the same time, banks may take a bit more risk and lend more to underserved communities, he said. The Trump-era rules would also get rid of the 43% debt-to-income ratio and replace it with a different General QM standard. Loans would instead be qualified if their interest rate is below a threshold pegged to the average prime offer rate, or APOR. This change doesn't seem onerous, Calhoun said. Community banks have used the same standard for years and have been making loans responsibly with that test, he said.
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A pedestrian walks by the closed GAP flagship store on August 18, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan | Getty Images Gap said Wednesday it will invest $140 million to construct a distribution center in Longview, Texas, as part of its effort to double its online business over the next two years. Upon completion, Gap said the 850,000-square-foot facility will be able to process 1 million packages per day. Initially, it will be used for Old Navy's burgeoning e-commerce business, then expand to other parts of Gap's business. Gap expects the facility will create more than 500 full-time jobs by the end of 2023, and more than 1,000 over the next five years. It also should bring more than 1,000 part-time and seasonal jobs to the area by 2026. Construction will begin in April. Gap expects it to be fully operational by August 2022. The Covid health crisis has accelerated the shift to e-commerce and has forced many retailers to rethink their investments, and pour more money into supply chains and logistics. The e-commerce giant Amazon has announced several investments in its warehouses, including building new ones, as its retail business has boomed over the past year. Big-box chains Walmart and Target have found ways to utilize their stores as mini fulfillment centers, while Macy's took two of its department stores late last year and converted them into pint-sized distribution centers. While Gap's sales have slumped from 2019 levels during the health crisis, with fewer Americans visiting malls and shopping for apparel, the company has seen rampant growth online. And it expects that to stick around. Gap has said it plans to derive half of its sales from the internet by fiscal 2023 as it closes underperforming stores and invests more in its growing Old Navy and Athleta apparel brands. The company is in the process of shutting roughly 30% of its namesake Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America, which will leave it with a larger presence online and away from malls. For the quarter ended Oct. 31, Gap's digital business grew 61% and accounted for 40% of total sales. The company said it added more than 3.4 million customers online during the period. Overall, revenue was about flat year over year during the quarter, at $3.99 billion. Gap shares are up about 44% over the past 12 months. The retailer is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings after market close on March 4.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin A living room at Common Frankford Common When most people think of coliving or living with roommates, their first thought might be sharing a mediocre apartment, the inevitability of needing to the electric bill, and who gets to keep the coffee table once the lease is over. But coliving doesn’t have to be this way. That’s because Common, a property management company with buildings in ten cities including New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington DC, and Fort Lauderdale is reinventing the concept of coliving and elevating it for a new generation. With beautifully-designed apartments in prime locations, these buildings feature great amenities you’d expect to find in some of the top luxury apartment buildings.  Amenity space at Common Frankford Common Their most recent project is located in the trendy Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is their first building in the neighborhood that was built from the ground up in partnership with local architecture firm CANNODesign and developer, Elk Street Management. However, like anything during the pandemic, this project has not come without its challenges. Still, it’s the first coliving space in the area built for not only how renters currently live, but also what the post-COVID world will be. How Common Is Elevating Coliving In many ways, Common doesn’t operate like a typical landlord. Tenants are called “members” and each one pays for their room separately. Membership includes a private bedroom, high-speed Wi-Fi, access to a kitchen with high-end appliances, weekly cleaning, free laundry, and basic supplies like paper towels and dish soap. Apartments are also stocked with essentials like dishes, pots, pans, etc. “We preemptively address the pain points of living with roommates through design, so roommates don’t have to stress about having enough space, who owns the nice sofa, or how to split the utility bills,” Jenn Chang, creative director at Common tells me.  A kitchen at Common Frankford Common All coliving homes are fully furnished with high-end furniture. This is quite different from a typical furnished or corporate apartment. Common’s designers source chic, on-trend furniture from favorite retailers like Article, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, and CB2. Every piece is chosen with durability in mind.  In terms of layout, the studios (which are available both furnished and unfurnished depending on the location) and one, two, or three-bedroom apartments are just like traditional apartment units found in any building. The coliving units are generally two or three-bedroom apartments and designed specifically for shared living. The terms of the lease are a minimum of three months, which is great for anyone getting to know a new city. It also prevents the community from becoming an entirely transient environment.  A bedroom at Common Frankford Common Common’s properties also have great amenities, which vary by location. Some examples include co-working spaces, lounges, gyms, on-site parking, bike storage, wellness studios, pools, and roof decks. According to Chang, these spaces are meant to feel like an extension of the apartments. “This concept really works well in response to COVID, as people need additional space for a simple change of scenery during their daily routines. We were able to adapt our communal spaces easily by adding large-surfaced tables suitable for working,” she says.  “We also provided thoughtful clusters of seating for people to spread out, whether they want to curl up with a laptop on a sofa or have a glass of wine at the wet bar.” Common Frankford With 54 coliving and fifteen traditional apartments (eight studios, four one-bedroom, and three two-bedrooms), the design team for Common Frankford had a major challenge: designing a building focused on roommates amid a pandemic. “As buildings are designed to last well beyond the pandemic, the three most important things we consider are flexibility, light and air, and operations. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to start compartmentalizing all of our buildings but instead enable our spaces to be more flexible in their functionality,” explains Chang. Fortunately, the building has two outdoor spaces: a patio and a rooftop terrace. So, it’s very easy to get fresh air and have a change of scenery without leaving the property.  The apartments themselves also get a lot of fresh air, which is particularly important during COVID. Best of all, the windows run almost the entire width of the living rooms, making the spaces feel as bright and airy as possible. A living room a Common Frankford Common The building also features co-working spaces and lounge areas. “With so much shared space, the team had to focus on making sure residents felt comfortable through design,” says Chang. The coworking spaces are particularly appealing to anyone who needs quiet space when their roommate is on a Zoom call, etc.  Fostering A Sense Of Community Unlike a typical apartment building, Common seeks to foster a sense of community during a time when people need it most by holding events and offering perks to members. This has allowed residents to foster connections, leading them to host their own potlucks, Thanksgiving dinners, outings, etc. Coworking space at Common Frankford Common “Especially since COVID, people are becoming more and more isolated and I think renters will crave interaction on the other side of this. Knowing your neighbors and feeling safe is more important than ever,” says Chang.
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Property managers need to ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities. getty As the internet has become indispensable to everyday life, particularly during the pandemic, business owners have had to make sure their websites are accessible. Multifamily landlords are likely familiar with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that their properties can be accessed to all tenants, shareholders and owners, but the courts are increasingly extending these requirements to websites as well.  Providing a website that can be used by people with varying visual and physical needs is important from a customer service standpoint — and accessibility can benefit everyone — but property managers should also look ahead to possible legal challenges.  Richard Klein, who heads the co-op and condominium board practice at Romer Debbas, LLP, a New York City real estate law firm, notes that property owners may face lawsuits if their websites aren’t accessible — for example, if a building’s application or co-op board minutes are only available online, a visually impaired person who uses a screen reader needs to be able to access it.  “The requirement is that it has to be a reasonable accommodation,” Klein said.  Just as a ramp to accommodate a wheelchair doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture, property managers don’t need to take on a massive website redesign. There are web accessibility consultants and also companies that provide add-ons that provide accessibility. Some of these, such as a company called accessiBe, have solutions that start at $500 per year.   “There is a cost factor, but in the long run they’re better off addressing it now,” Klein said. Klein recommends that landlords and property managers speak with their web developer or find a technology consultant who’s well versed in web accessibility. “I think this is going to become a hotter issue right now because of the pandemic,” Klein said. “More people are going to do business online. I don’t think there’s anyone who can get away with saying I can’t make this accessible.”
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A 'Sold' sign stands outside of a home in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images The early days of Guadalupe Mora's search for a new home were exhausting. A health-care technician at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Mora slowly saved up more than $15,000 to move out of her two-bedroom mobile home and into a new place she picked out with her real estate agent. But the lender she had first contacted started to hound her day and night, pressing her with demands for even more cash and other proof she would be able to pay off a loan. A single mother to a 12-year-old who "thinks he knows it all," Mora said the lender's agents would harass her with messages even when she made it clear she could not return texts while at work. "It was, seriously, so stressful. It was horrible," she told CNBC last week during her lunch break. "I work 12-hour shifts. I cannot — especially when I'm working in the Covid unit — it's impossible for me to be on my phone constantly." The lender "just did not understand that I knew I needed the house — and I wanted the house. But I needed to keep my job in order to buy the house," she added. So, when Mora finally applied for a mortgage through Chase Bank, the 45-year-old learned she qualified for its $2,500 Homebuyer Grant, one of the bank's programs designed to help customers finance the purchase of a home. The grant is just one of several assistance options U.S. banks have deployed in recent years to foster homeownership among Black and Latino communities that have historically faced higher hurdles when applying for a mortgage. To further advance that goal, Chase Bank announced on Tuesday that it will double its Chase Homebuyer Grant. Chase, the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase, said qualified homebuyers in predominantly Black neighborhoods across the country can now receive a $5,000 grant when purchasing a home through the bank. While that sum may represent a fraction of the price of a home, it can help cover a substantial portion of an applicant's down payment or closing costs, often the largest hurdles for new homebuyers. 'Part of the solution' Chase's move to boost the Homebuyer Grant comes just over four months after the bank pledged $30 billion to help address U.S. wealth inequality, especially in historically underserved Black and Latino communities. The bank pledged to use the $30 billion to finance an additional 100,000 affordable housing units and write 40,000 new home-purchase loans for Black and Latino households. Still, housing advocates say the bank programs are overdue after decades of redlining, the subprime mortgage crisis and risky high-interest loans to Americans with a short or tarnished credit history. Many banks announced their new mortgage assistance programs in the months after the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer and weeks of Black Lives Matter protests across the country. Black homeownership levels are especially low and have consistently trailed those of other minority groups and White households. In the first quarter of 2020, 44% of Black families owned their home, compared with 73.7% of non-Hispanic White families, according to data from the Census Bureau. By the fourth quarter, that difference had widened slightly to 44.1% for Black families and 74.5% for White families. Arrows pointing outwards Black households saw homeownership rates slump to 40.6% in 2019, the lowest level for the demographic going back through Census data dated 1994. Though Black homeownership has recovered somewhat since then, the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent recession kept downward pressure on the rate of Black homeownership throughout 2020. Cerita Battles, head of the Chase community and affordable lending team, told CNBC she believes lenders need to play a proactive role in working to reduce those disparities. "Absolutely yes. We should be a part of the solution," Battles said Thursday. "I think about myself, being someone that is Black," she continued. "There were times when I bought my first home — I couldn't go to my parents and ask them for dollars to support me in my down payment. And I didn't have a whole lot of wealth to begin with because of the different jobs that I had, and how I had to come up." Battles said she and her husband, who is a veteran, received a significant portion of the funds to purchase their first home through a loan backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Banks often offer more favorable lending terms to applicants who qualify for a VA loan since the department guarantees a portion of the mortgage. Similar initiatives are underway at Bank of America, which announced on Feb. 3 that it would invest $15 billion in affordable housing programs over the next five years, tripling its prior commitment. Steve Boland, president of BofA's retail business, told CNBC at the time that demand for its initial $5 billion pledge was so robust that applicants had quickly exhausted the allotment. "We see the need. We got great response from our clients. And so we thought it was appropriate to try to triple that and get that done to 60,000 homeowners by 2025," he said. Rebuilding trust Though the industry has received praise for its attempts to prioritize homeownership among minority communities, the programs come after years of criticism from advocacy groups that say big banks for decades worsened racial discrimination in the U.S. housing market. Codified racial bias in the U.S. housing market dates back nearly a century, when government officials openly engaged in a practice known as redlining. Starting around the 1930s, surveyors would outline and grade neighborhoods in hundreds of U.S. cities to determine which were safe enough to finance. Communities that included more people of color were more often deemed credit risks and, by extension, denied a variety of financial services, including mortgages. Though Congress outlawed redlining in the 1960s, recent housing research shows that the uneasy relationship between the Black community and the lending industry was fraught well into the 21st century. In the early 2000s, Black households were disproportionately targeted with dicey subprime loans, leading to the foreclosure of more than 240,000 homes owned by Black people and a foreclosure rate nearly double that of White people. A for sale sign is seen in front of a home as the National Association of Realtors released a report showing that home sales dropped in December of 2017 on January 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle | Getty Images In a 2016 complaint, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged that BancorpSouth unlawfully denied Memphis-area Black applicants certain mortgage loans and overcharged some of its Black customers. The complaint asserted that the bank required its employees to review applications from minorities more quickly than others, and not to provide them the opportunity to receive credit assistance that might have improved their chances of getting a loan. A more recent study from the University of California at Berkeley found that Black and Latino applicants continue to face higher borrowing costs. The 2019 study, which reviewed 7 million, 30-year mortgages, found that Latino and Black borrowers "pay 0.079% and 0.036% percentage points more in interest for home-purchase and refinance mortgages, respectively, because of discrimination." Lenders contend that these differences reflect the fact that minorities generally have less cash on hand and lower credit scores. Critics argue the disparities represent historical and structural problems that banks ought to help solve. Acknowledging that turbulent history, Battles said a key first step in correcting the homeownership statistics is to try to guarantee that Black and Latino communities are aware of the new financial services available to them. "There are a lot of different things, I would say, that lenders can do to support this effort," Battles said. And that, she said, starts with building trust in each community. Getty Images "We have to make sure that we're hiring people that mirror the markets we're seeking to serve," she added. "It is important for us to make sure that we have folks that are out there that can cultivate relationships and win the trust and consideration of these customers and these communities." Marcia Hernandez, just married in August, says her years of history as a Chase customer was key when she and her partner, Vivian, started looking for a new home in a quieter neighborhood in the Miami area. "For years I have had Chase and I first started with my lending," she said. "I educated myself a little more online and I ended up submitting a prequalification and I got a call within the same day." The 31-year-old says she worked with a home lending advisor at Chase to determine a reasonable budget and the resources available to her. Though Hernandez wasn't eligible for a grant initially, a representative for the bank said it recently told her she had been awarded its new $5,000 grant. "I daydreamed," she said when asked about the grant. "It secured me from worrying in the future. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it." "It opened room for other projects," she added. Hernandez, scheduled to close on her house on Tuesday, said she's eager to repaint the walls and add plants to her new home.
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An "Open House" sign is displayed in the front yard of a home for sale in Columbus, Ohio. Ty Wright | Bloomberg via Getty Images Higher mortgage rates and a winter weather disaster combined to weaken mortgage demand last week. Total mortgage application volume fell 11.4% compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 3.08% from 2.98%, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.43 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That rate was 65 basis points higher than a year ago. "Mortgage rates have increased in six of the last eight weeks, with the benchmark 30-year fixed rate last week climbing above 3% to its highest level since September 2020," said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. "As a result of these higher rates, overall refinance activity fell to its lowest level since December 2020." Applications to refinance a home loan fell 11% for the week but were 50% higher year over year. That annual comparison has been shrinking as rates rise. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 68.5% of total applications from 69.3% the previous week. Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 12% for the week but were 7% higher than a year ago. Again, the annual comparison for these applications also has been shrinking. Higher mortgage rates are definitely a factor, but the severe winter weather across the South last week, and especially the power outages across Texas definitely played a role. That state saw a more than 40% drop in purchase and refinance applications last week, Kan said. Those who are in the market continue to outbid each other. Home prices are now accelerating at the fastest pace in seven years. The average loan size of purchase applications increased to a record $418,000, in line with the accelerating home-price growth. Prices are rising so quickly because of strong demand and record-low supply. Mortgage rates continued to push higher this week, which could cut further into refinance demand. While rates are still historically low, when combined with fast-rising prices, it is not a great combination for the all-important spring market.
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A houseÕs real estate for sale sign shows the home as being Òunder contractÓ in Washington, DC, November 19, 2020. Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images December is usually the slowest month for the housing market, but price gains didn't slow down one bit in 2020. In fact, they rose at the fastest pace in seven years. Home prices nationally increased 10.4% compared with December 2019, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. That is the strongest annual growth rate in over six years, and a significantly stronger gain than in November, when prices were up 9.5%. It also ranks as one of the largest annual gains in the more than 30-year history of the index. The 10-city composite annual increase was 9.8%, up from 8.9% in November. The 20-city composite posted a 10.1% gain, up from 9.2% in the previous month. Detroit was excluded, due to Covid-related data collection issues. "2020's 10.4% gain marks the best performance of housing prices in a calendar year since 2013," said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "From the perspective of more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data, December's year-over-year change ranks within the top decile of all reports." Phoenix, Seattle, and San Diego continued to show the strongest price gains among the 19 cities surveyed. Prices in Phoenix rose 14.4% year-over-year price. In Seattle, they rose 13.6% and San Diego saw a 13.0% increase. Eighteen of the 19 cities reported higher price increases in the 12 months ending December 2020 versus the 12 months ending November 2020. "These data are consistent with the view that Covid has encouraged potential buyers to move from urban apartments to suburban homes. This may indicate a secular shift in housing demand, or may simply represent an acceleration of moves that would have taken place over the next several years anyway," added Lazzara. Home prices began to see big gains last summer, as Covid-driven demand from the stay-at-home culture descended on the housing market. Record low supply combined with record low mortgage rates caused bidding wars on homes across the nation. Mortgage rates turned sharply higher last week, which will cut into affordability going forward into the 2021 spring market. Prices generally lag sales, so if sales do suffer, it is unlikely the market will see significant cooling of prices for several months.
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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. Made in Italy, this lightweight accessory is ideal for snuggling up and watching a movie on frosty nights. It’s a beautiful gift that is sure to please just about everyone. ADVERTISEMENT District Loom Christmas Stockings Design forward stockings District Loom If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer, why not a new stocking? District Loom Christmas Stockings are all one-of-a-kind. Imported from Turkey, these eco-friendly gifts are made from upcycled vintage Persian rugs. While these textiles are no longer functional for their original purpose, the beauty and artisanship of the design remains. What could be a better gift for someone who already has Persian rugs or simply appreciates the aesthetic? Gyfting Wellness Box Gyfting Co Wellness Box Gyfing Co ADVERTISEMENT Gyfting is a BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ+ brand that offers a variety of themed gift boxes featuring products from independent, like-minded brands. 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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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin The Osbournes: Night Of Terror premieres Friday, October 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The Travel Channel. © 2020, The Travel Channel, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved. In The Osbournes: Night of Terror, a new special airing October 30th at 9:00 pm on the Travel Channel, the entire Osbourne family gets together for a ghost hunt of the Heritage Square Museum. Just as fun as it is frightening, this landmark, which is believed to be the most haunted hotspot in Los Angeles has never been investigated for television before.  Fortunately, Jack is quite an experienced paranormal investigator. After all, he also stars on and produces Travel’s Portals To Hell, which also debuts a new special episode on the same night. However, it is his sister Kelly’s first foray into the paranormal and she is just as scared as she is willing. Sharon and Ozzy stay back home and monitor the action from a distance. The result is a combination of classic Osbourne antics along with an interesting lesson about the historical homes of Los Angeles. Jack and Kelly Osbourne get ready for the fright of their lives. © 2020, The Travel Channel, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved. Located in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles, the Heritage Square Museum is devoted to exploring the settlement and development of Southern California during the first hundred years of statehood. This living history museum is home to several Victorian-era structures in all of their grandeur including the Hale House, Valley Knudson House, Mount Pleasant House, Palms Depot, Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House, John J. Ford House, Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church, Carriage Barn, Perry Mansion and Colonial Drug.  The Hale House at the Heritage Square Museum. Los Angeles Times via Getty Images While the grounds of the museum are beautiful, the Osbournes soon learn there’s a sad and sinister history of the people who once inhabited these homes. While Sharon and Ozzy remain equally concerned and skeptical— Kelly along with her loyal dog Polly, finds herself in for the fright of her life. But, it’s business as usual for Jack, who was more than happy to talk about his near-decade of investigating haunted properties with me.  How did you become a paranormal investigator?   When I was a kid, I was a huge X-Files fan. And so I grew up obsessing over that show. It was my thing. My friends and I would [go on ghost hunts] And then I had the opportunity back in 2011, to do a ghost hunting show and I just kind of fell into this world. The paranormal community is very tight-knit. It gets kind of serious at times as far as opinions and people involved. It's very cliquey, almost like a fraternity. And just one thing led to the next. It’s a nice community and I love being a part of it. It's a lot of fun.  You’re an experienced investigator, but at this point, do you ever enter a space such as a friend’s home, restaurant, or hotel, and feel as if it is haunted? Yes, and no. I'm not a medium by any sense of the word. But, I often will get intrigued by a place if someone [tells me it’s] supposedly haunted. But I'm pretty much a caveman. I'm not the most “feeling the feelings” guy when it comes to picking up on stuff. It doesn't happen. But, when I get freaked out, there are some vibes there for sure. What are some red flags that a home could be haunted? It's just that feeling of being watched. You just get this weird feeling. I guess the best way to compare it, I don't know if you have brothers or sisters, but if they were to jump out of a closet and scare you—this feels a little off like there's something going on here. What do you think people should do if they suspect that their house might be haunted? Is it possible to force a spirit or energy to leave? I was having a discussion with a psychic about this and she was kind of a centrist. She said, “I just don't think it works like that. I don't think you can force an energy to leave a space.”  There aren’t a lot of really hard-hitting scientific studies ever done on it. And when it does get done, it’s still considered fringe. I think there are ways to lift the energy with crystals, or sage, or Palo Santo. I think a lot of it comes down to your intention behind doing a certain ritual or ceremony. Jack and Kelly Osbourne review evidence of ghosts. © 2020, The Travel Channel, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved. After filming this show, do you think your family wants to do another investigation with you? Kelly definitely got into it towards the end. She got really fired up. I told her this is a one in a million type of investigation. I probably went on 20 or 30 investigations before I had anything close to what happened that night. And I'm not just saying that, I've had more mellow experiences in nineteenth-century insane asylums.   
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Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin The great outdoors can be a big selling point for a home getty Turns out, it isn’t all about the stainless steel appliances. One of the many mantras in the real estate world is the saying “kitchens sell houses”, but until now there has been very little information about exactly what it was in a kitchen that would make buyers pay attention. With the help of a few homebuyers wearing glasses that track eye movements we are beginning to have some hard facts. It isn’t the shiny metallic fridge or the latest high-tech dishwasher their eyes go to when they first walk in the kitchen. It’s the oven. Many of the buyers in the study would go so far as to look inside the oven, and some of them would even turn it on to see how well it worked. So if you’re selling your home, make sure the oven is so clean it sparkles inside and out. If it isn’t in working order or has a few bad burners, you don’t necessarily have to get it replaced, but you might consider offering the buyer a credit for a new one. Bedrooms are one of the next priorities in a house that can make or break a sale and eye-tracking software reveals a buyer’s eyes go straight to the bed when they walk into the room. Most likely buyers are wondering if their bed will fit in the space and if there is enough room to fit the rest of their furniture as well. This means if you’re in triage mode when it comes to decluttering on short notice, make the bedrooms a priority over other rooms in the house. Stainless steel appliances can help a room feel bigger getty Outdoor accessibility was another big take-away from the study. When buyers walked into a room that accessed the backyard their eyes immediately went to the outdoor space and the doors that opened out to it. Make sure the windows and doors (if they have glass) are as clean as can be so they show off the view to the outdoors in the best way possible. But how about those stainless steel appliances? Are they worth it in the end? This study wasn’t designed to measure whether people’s eyes looked at stainless steel more than other types of finishes, but I’ll pass on the main reason why they have become so much of a trend. They can make a small kitchen look much bigger. The reflective surface acts the same way a mirror does by bouncing light around the room and giving the impression of spaciousness. To continue with the mirror example, a designer once told me hanging a mirror is almost as good as adding a window to a room. Stainless steel can have the same impact within a kitchen so it is still worth keeping it in mind if you are going to buy a new appliances.
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