Dubai Real Estate

Dubai’s Real Estate Market Given Boost with New Retirement Visa

Property developers will now be able to tap into the growing over 55’s market in Dubai for the first time through the launch of a new retirement visa, encouraging more people in the emirates to start creating more permanent financial associations with the area.

The new retirement visa will initially only apply to existing residents of the UAE, but statistics suggest this is already an extremely lucrative market. According to figures from the Dubai Statistics Centre, over 90% of residents are expats and there are over 170,000 people in the area who are currently over the age of 55. What’s more, the recent introduction of the Gold visa for long-term residency in 2019 means that people are now able to view their stay in Dubai as even more permanent, and property investment is a logical next step in creating deeper roots in the area.

The visa comes with three conditions, one of which is that they need to own a property which is worth over AED2 million (around $550,000). Many experts have agreed that this move could provide a much needed boost to a struggling real estate market which has been hit hard by the global pandemic. It is expected that this move will open up entirely new sectors in the market, such as specific retirement complexes or communities, where the over 55’s can be exclusively targeted for the first time.

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The visa announcement forms part of the ‘Retire in Dubai’ campaign which was launched at the start of September. Although initially focusing on resident expats, in the future once the retirement visa opens up to non-resident expats, the potential market will increase exponentially. Whereas people may have previously considered an array of hot destinations to retire to such as the Mediterranean, Dubai will now become a new and exciting retirement location to add to the mix.

Experts have indicated that an increased focus on encouraging older expats to retire in Dubai will lead to further development opportunities in both the leisure and healthcare sectors. Quality medical care and care homes will naturally flourish as the ‘silver’ population increases, both due to a natural need for this and also because there is little provision already there, mainly due the local culture which expects children to care for their elderly parents. Creating a solid property structure supported by quality healthcare provisions will mirror the approaches commonly taken by western societies when it comes to caring for the elderly.

In addition, the leisure and social requirements of this age group are markedly different to those of younger generations. This means that new development opportunities will arise to make these communities more accessible and enjoyable for older people. The importance of having access to the right amenities and enjoying a good quality of life are even more relevant to the older market.

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It is also worth noting that although the retirement visa was launched by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, it is in fact applicable nationwide. Whilst many experts believe that Dubai will remain a key location of preference given its vast array of amenities, leisure activities and travel connections, other emirates are comparably more affordable and so may well offer significant competition. Some areas highlighted as ‘ones to watch’ include Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

Given how new this initiative is, there is very little data available yet to indicate uptake or what the future of retirement in Dubai may look like. Clearly this is an entirely new market which has never really been tapped into before and certain aspects, such as care homes, are not common culturally in the area. But as more expats decide to make Dubai their retirement destination, more of the comforts that are needed later on in life will naturally be in demand and fuel the establishment of new ventures, partnerships and services in the area. Those who have moved to Dubai, brought up families there, and have now become accustomed to the way of life can now for the first time start to plan for their later years in the place they have come to love and view as home. Alongside these residents, those who have perhaps frequently holidayed in the area, or have held a particular affinity for Dubai can now start to think of it as a place they could move to permanently to enjoy their retirement, something which until now has simply not been a consideration. It is certainly going to be interesting watching how this sector evolves over the coming years.

House Fire

How To Better Protect Your Home From Wildfires

As we’ve all seen, wildfire season has been devastating within the past year alone. The frequency and severity of these wildfires in the US have grown exponentially to a place we’ve never seen before. According to the US Forest Service’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis, more than 4.5 million homes in the western US are currently at high or extreme risk of wildfire exposure. Now more than ever it’s important for all homeowners to take necessary precautions in protecting their homes as much as possible from the potential threat of wildfires, here are some measures one can take: 

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Clear Your Rook and Deck: Burning embers from smaller fires that float down from the plumes of smoke in the sky are a major threat to homes and other structures that aren’t protected. It only takes one ember to ignite a pile of dead leaves on a roof or deck that can prompt the entire house to then go up in flames. In the warmer wildfire season especially, one should be keeping their deck/porch swept of all dirt and debris as well as their rook. If you live in a wildfire prone area, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting asphalt shingles, clay or concrete tiles, metal, and/or slate roofing as all of those are fire resistant. 

Keep Embers Out Of Vents: Open eaves, vents, and other areas of exposure can also be extremely vulnerable to ember exposure, so make sure you have all openings from the outside of your home screened/sealed off. If your home has a pet door make sure it has a proper seal that can keep it closed during fire season/when it’s not in use. 

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Create A Plan For Emergency Responder Access: In case of emergency, you need to ensure that firefighters and other law enforcement employees are able to gain access to your home should you and your loved ones need help. Make sure your street names and numbers are clearly marked and legible from a distance. Make your specific address number prominently known on the outside of your property. If you have a driveway, try to keep it as cleared out and open as possible should a firetruck need access, as well as other areas of access into the home. 

Collaborate With Neighbors: If you’re in a wildfire prone area on the west coast of the US you should be talking to your neighbors about what the plan is should your neighborhood need to evacuate or respond to an emergency situation. There’s a multitude of online resources wildfire-prone communities can access to keep them better prepared for the future. Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a company whose main purpose is literally creating guides for communities to keep them prepared. 

Firewise USA is a program run by the NFPA that empowers homeowners and residents all across the country to increase their ignition risks in their homes and communities. Currently the program has over 1,500 active sites in 42 states that they run out of. 

The NFPA also created a prep day to raise community awareness on wildfire risk that they call the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. This day is full of useful information, techniques, drills, supplies, etc. that can better prepare any homeowner for future wildfires. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of this day’s activities and information workshops aren’t able to occur in person, however, the NFPA created an online toolkit that anyone can access at any time to give themselves a refresher on wildfire prevention.

Cleaning Surface

Staying COVID-19 Safe When Socialising Inside Your Home

Although, it is advised that if possible you meet other people outside in order to safeguard against the coronavirus. For many countries, autumn and winter seasons are drawing in, and therefore it may become uncomfortable, or intolerable to gather outside. Many governments permit small gatherings inside of the home. In some cases, meeting in a controlled area such as a person’s garden or home, may be preferable to meeting in a busy public space such as a restaurant. However, many may be concerned about hosting a friend or family member in their home whilst the pandemic is still going on. Here are some safety measures that you can adopt to make sure you and your home are COVID-19 secure. It is important to say however, that visiting or hosting a friend or family member will always carry with it some risk. Therefore, it is important to strictly follow the guidelines of your area and ensure that you are being as safe as possible.

Regularly wiping down surface areas with bleach or an appropriate sanitiser used for COVID-19 is a good way of protecting yourself from any transference of the virus from surface areas. Prior to your guests visit, wipe any areas that a person may come into contact with in order to safeguard them. After your guest has left, it is also a good idea to disinfect any services that they have come into contact with during their visit. Special attention can be paid to highly touched surfaces such as door handles, banisters and bathrooms. If a guest, uses the bathroom, you can also place disinfectant materials inside the bathroom and ask guests to wipe down after usage. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers guidance and disinfectant recommendations on their website.

Face Masks
You are probably used to wearing a face mask in public areas, shops and so forth. When you are hosting a person from outside of your household, inside of the home, it is also a good idea to wear a mask. Staying at a distance of 2 m can often be tricky within smaller spaces, and if everyone wears a mask it may better limit the spread of respiratory droplets that could carry the coronavirus.

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Socially Distance
It is a good idea to try and maintain social distancing as much as possible. This may mean that you will want to rearrange your seating area, in order to separate persons as much as possible. Sitting close to other people on sofas will normally mean that a 1 to 2 m social distance cannot be maintained, so consider, if possible, introducing other chairs into the room to make space between individuals possible. Further, this will also mean you should try to avoid hugs and contact with persons outside of your household group.

Open the window
Some evidence suggests that keeping an area well ventilated will help to dissipate any airborne viruses that are lingering in the air. Poor ventilation has been linked in some cases to the spread of the virus. Therefore, opening a window during your interactions could also be beneficial.

Wash your Hands
It is important to stay vigilant, and although you are in your own home, treat the interaction as if you are outside or in a public space. Wash your hands frequently and regularly and avoid contact with your face, particularly the eyes, nose, and mouth. Also avoid contact with any objects that your guest has touched, wiping down and washing your hands after touching any utensils.

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Go outside
If possible, it really is recommended that you socialize outside. Although, this may not always be as comfortable as inside, research suggests that this is best practice. You may opt for a socially distanced walk as you catch up with a friend. Or, simply sitting outside at a social assistance, with masks, as you socialize. If the weather is bad, consider rearranging to a different day.

According to Time, several experts indicate that outdoor interactions are better, “Patricia Rieker, a medical sociologist at Boston University, adds that one-on-one meetings are safer than group gatherings. She invited one friend to her condo building’s outdoor area over the weekend, but only after wiping down their chairs and placing them 10 feet apart and finding a way for her friend to get into the common area without entering her home. They also wore masks. “It took me 45 minutes to prepare for that to happen safely,” Rieker says. “You can’t do anything in a way that I would call spontaneous.”

It is important that you invite those friends and family members into your homes that you trust, in the sense that you know they are taking social distancing protocols seriously and therefore your assumed level of exposure is a little lower. Obviously, you cannot always tell who has contracted the virus but it is reassuring to know that the people you are interacting with also taking restrictions seriously and is therefore safeguarding against the virus.

Property Investing

Calls For More Gender and Racial Diversity in Property Investing

A new study into diversity in property investing has revealed that more needs to be done to improve gender and race representation in the sector.

The study was conducted by investor news site Millionacres and polled over 600 investors. The results showed that over 25% of women questioned said that they felt gender diversity was lacking in the real estate communities that they were part of. A similar level of non-white respondents also felt this was the case when it came to racial diversity.

More alarmingly, over a third of female respondents believed that they were presented with more limited opportunities purely because of their gender, with just under a quarter stating that their returns were impacted by their gender. Broadly speaking these figures were similar for non-white respondents, who felt their opportunities and returns were also negatively impacted.

The report went on to acknowledge that the real estate investing industry remains ‘overwhelmingly white and male’ but also pointed out that there appeared to be some conflict with regards to whether anything needed to actually be done to improve diversity. The report said “Women do seem to think that diversity in the field could use some work. But they were almost as likely to say that real estate is gender diverse as they were to say that it was lacking in diversity. And they were twice as likely as men to say that the community doesn’t need to take action to improve diversity.” This was also the case with non-white respondents, who remained split on what if anything should be done to improve racial diversity in the sector.

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One area which many agreed on was the importance of early financial education, particularly to underrepresented groups. Providing them with information about how to get involved early could lead them to take steps towards entering the sector, as it may simply be that they don’t give the idea much due consideration amongst their other available options. The lack of visible diverse role models who are actively engaged in property investing could also make them feel that the sector is not open to women or non-white investors, when in fact they are plentiful, just not in plain sight.

One way to tackle this problem is to make sure that there are more positive role models and more information available to those wishing to enter the property investment sphere. One such person is Ayesha Ofori, founder of the Black Property Network, (BPN). Given that statistics suggest that in the UK, black households are much less likely to be property owners than those headed by someone white or Asian and much more likely to be living in social housing, Ayesha is keen to financially empower historically underrepresented groups. Alongside BPN she is also the founder of PropElle, a network for women who want to invest in property with confidence. It is similar to BPN in that it helps improve access to education, mentoring and networking. It also provides access to property investment opportunities via a crowdfunding platform. Speaking to UK publication The Voice Ayesha said, ‘The reason why a lot of people in our community don’t is because of this perception that they can’t afford it or they don’t know what they’re doing. So I said to myself ‘if I can help people see that these things aren’t actually barriers then a lot of people can get into this. Property investing is something that can really change your life.’

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There is the view that some of the disparities when it comes to diverse representation in property investing are in fact misconceptions, particularly when it comes to female investors. A survey conducted by SevenCapital actually revealed that female investors were more likely to seek out property than their male counterparts. The research indicated that 20% of female investors choose to invest in property, compared to 19% of men. These findings are also backed up by statistics from the CapitalRise platform, which reveals that almost 40% of capital currently invested on the platform comes from female investors.

It is evident that property, like many other sectors, remains dominated by white male investors, but this does not mean that women and non-white investors are not playing key roles in shaping the future of the investment sector. Once you start to scrape the surface, you quickly find that there are a great many positive examples of successful investors who don’t fit the traditional ethnic or gender stereotype. Many people from all walks of life have started to navigate the property investment market and you also don’t have to start with a ton of money either. Like many skills, if you start small and build on your gains then you’ll be well on your way to property investing success. We simply need to shout about these achievements more and in doing so, we can inspire a new generation of investors to join the party, who in turn can help bring greater diversity to the sector.

Flower Wallpaper in Home

How To Spice Up Your Home With Wallpaper

In the middle of a global health crisis that’s forcing all of us to stay home, many have started checking off boxes on their long list of home projects that they’ve been putting off for years now. When it comes to interior design, something that can really change up an entire space is wallpaper, however, a lot of beginners are afraid of using it because they view it’ll be too difficult, or won’t look good. 

There’s a multitude of ways one can incorporate wallpaper in the home that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but easy to do. One of the most difficult aspects of wallpaper is choosing which one would work best in your house. Ben Pentreath is an architect and interior designer who often recommends that his clients look at the architecture of their home before deciding on what type of wallpaper to choose. 

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“If your architecture is more neutral, then I’d say the sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing styles. I tend to choose something calm and more neutral in my bedroom, but then go wild and have fun in the hallways, bathrooms and guest bedrooms.”

Clare Gaskin is an interior designer who tells her anti-wallpaper clients that they simply “haven’t been exposed to enough of it,” so she makes it part of her job to show them. Her personal philosophy on wallpaper is that it should be both functional and decorative, which is why she often opts for a more textured vinyl wallpaper option. 

She explained how recently she was faced with the challenge of redesigning a room that had a door on every wall, which from a design standpoint can really make a space feel small, and cramped. So to unify the space she put a solid, muted wallpaper with a slight faded grey checkered pattern that she also put on the doors so when they were all closed, the room felt cohesive and cozy, as opposed to tiny. 

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The specific wallpaper was made from faux grass-cloth, a material she’s been using in a lot of projects as of late. This wallpaper is vinyl, which gives it a more textured appearance but also allows for easy cleaning should anything get on your walls; Gaskin normally always recommends this type of wallpaper for houses with kids, as a simple sponge and soap can get almost any mess off of the surface.

One of the most unconventional, yet creative, ways one can use wallpaper in the home is by putting it on the ceiling. For smaller rooms, go bold and colorful on the ceiling to draw the eye up, and pull the focus to be on the aerial of the space. This creates the illusion that the room is much more spaced out than it actually is. 

For larger rooms, choose a smaller pattern that isn’t necessarily “busy,” but bold, so that it works as more of an accent piece for the space, rather than the main attraction. When it comes to interior design in general, we should be having fun and feel excited about our visions. Think about your dream room makeover and make it a reality. Find small ways to make a space come to life and if you don’t know where to start, look at the bones of the space and start on the outside and move in; aka, start the walls. 

Real Estate

How The Pandemic Has Begun To Shift The ‘In-Demand’ Locations

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, countries such as the UK and USA are seeing positive movements in the real estate sector. The UK is currently experiencing a small housing market boom, as government incentives has led to increased property demand. All of which is positive news for the housing sector and the economy. According to Forbes, historically low interest rates and people moving out of the big cities has helped the single-family housing market in the US. These low rates have meant that people are more easily able to afford a home. Despite concern that the housing market would crash, it seems that for many realtors this is not yet the case.

Yet the pandemic has had an effect, lockdown procedures have caused many businesses to realize that remote working is a plausible business venture. With some companies asking employees to work from home indefinitely or even giving the option to do so permanently, more and more people are looking to move out of the big cities or simply access homes with more space, to accommodate home working. This means that there are some sections of real estate, the ‘in demand’ locations are not to the same as they were before the pandemic.

The pandemic has meant that many cities and countries have had to go into one or several lockdowns, and many people are working from home. Often a person’s settlement area is dictated not only by square footage and community, but also by its distance from work, schools, and cultural areas. When it comes to the workplace, many people have to live in or near cities in order to easily get to work. However, now many employees can work from anywhere, proximity to a physical workplace may not be as big a factor. Some even suggest that as the coronavirus spread quite quickly within cities, more people are looking to relocate to suburban areas anyway.

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In terms of the city, Forbes predicted, ‘the effect we can predict is that rents in large cities, which have historically been extremely high, will go down as inventory increases. For those who are staying in the big cities, co-living, which had become popular, may see waning interest.’ This may also have a knock-on effect to commercial real estate, as businesses look to downsize, if enough of their employees start to work remotely. Therefore, office spaces may be predominantly for meetings and companies may want to renegotiate leases or move to cheaper and smaller premises.

Further as many people have learned that they can work from home, some even finding it more productive, office space within the home may quickly become a desired attribute, and typically, bigger homes lie outside of city areas. The Wall Street Journal reported, “a recent Zillow survey found remote workers could be compelled to move if a home offered them things like dedicated office space or a less dense area with fewer neighbors. Zillow’s data shows home values have held up better in suburban than urban areas in recent months.” This concurs with the New York Times which wrote: ‘For years, values in the so-called back-country areas — characterized by expansive homes on multiple-acre lots — have dropped off sharply, as buyer preferences shifted to in-town locations and more-manageable yard sizes. Inventory piled up. But with more buyers now looking for large outdoor spaces and swimming pools to help them ride out the pandemic, the back country is feeling the love again.’

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However, this does not necessarily mean that the real estate market has changed completely, many people still are not able to buy homes. In the UK, whilst some are looking to buy homes in more rural or idyllic locations outside of the cities, it is still predominately the wealthier portions of the country that are relocating. Many people have lost their jobs or suffered financial strain during the pandemic, and therefore are not able to buy new homes. Further, many industries are either unable to work remotely or will not make that move. The US market is demonstrating a similar pattern, Bloomberg reported, “The uncertainty and economic chaos sown by coronavirus is balanced out by record-low interest rates, a factor that’s boosted mortgage applications. Those rates are likely to only benefit those with pristine credit, as mortgage lenders tighten restrictions. Only 50% of Americans believe it’s a good time to buy a home, according to a recent Gallup poll.”

However, the change in location is not limited to buying a new home. As many people are still working from home, some are choosing to take vacations whilst working – whether relocating with their laptop to a holiday destination or even staying with a loved one. As the Wall Street Journal article pointed out, remote working can be done on holiday, ‘Airbnb, for example, is now touting its ability to enable users to work from anywhere, no matter how remote, after years of inviting its guests to “live like a local.”’

Fall Decorations

Easy Fall Decorating Ideas To Warm Up Any Space

It’s finally that time of year; the weather gets a little cooler, our homes get a little cozier and the scent of cinnamon fills the air as leaves begin to fall from their orange and yellow trees. Now that autumn is officially starting, it’s time to warm up our indoor spaces with fall decor items that give us that warm and fuzzy feeling while we watch old Halloween movies and sip on cider. Luckily, there are plenty of easy design ideas that can help make any space feel ready for sweater weather. 

Fall Florals: Many people assume that florals are reserved specifically for the spring and summer season but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, fall is known as the harvest season, so why not cover your house in florals of orange, yellow, red, and brown. This could be as simple as adding a few accent plates to your dinner table, or creating bouquets of artificial flowers accented with pine cones, acorns, corn stalks, and other autumnal accents. 

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Outdoor Spaces: As the world continues to endure a global pandemic, many of us have opted for hosting small, socially distant, hang outs in our outdoor spaces. Warm up any outdoor set up by simply hanging some string lights, and putting out plush blankets, thick pillows, and lanterns. Bringing those floral elements outdoors is also a great way to create a cozy fall vibe. 

Pumpkins: Pumpkins are truly the mascot of autumn, but larger ones can definitely be expensive. Instead, invest in a lot of mini pumpkins, they typically retail for a few dollars each and vary greatly in shapes, texture, and colors. By buying a lot, you can set up a bunch of accent harvest pieces in the home and add other elements like string lights, acorns, fake leaves, and more. 

Tables: Fill your tables with plaid patterns and natural elements to give your eating areas a nostalgic and traditional feel. This is the perfect opportunity to create a centerpiece with mini pumpkins and all the other autumnal elements mentioned previously. 

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Candles: Long tapered candles will not only warm up any space, but give your home a spookier Halloween feel. Many tapered candles offer multi-colored wax options so as they melt they display a beautiful array of colors and shapes. Beyond that, scented candles placed throughout the home are the icing on the cake when it comes to setting the fall scene. When you walk into your space, you want it to feel as warm and cozy as possible, and smelling accents of pumpkin, cinnamon and apple throughout your home will do just that. 

Corn Husks: Corn husks also give off the perfect fall season vibe. Combined with pumpkins, hay, and fall flowers, and you have yourself a fantastic centerpiece for any table or shelf. Take it a step further and dress the door with a corn husk wreath; which you can likely pick up at any local crafting or gardening store. 

Pillows and Blankets: Now that the weather is going to start cooling down, don’t be afraid to go overboard with decorative pillows, throw blankets, and quilts. Flannel and hand-knit designs will make any space feel like home, and allow you to get comfortable wherever you are. Adding decorative pillows to the seating in your home will also warm up the space, and gives you the opportunity to display some cool seasonal designs. 

Seasonal Crafts: Finally, doing some sort of DIY craft for your home will not only give you the satisfaction of creating something yourself, but it’s a great way to really make your space look like what you want it to. If you have kids, you already know the multitude of seasonal/Halloween themed crafts you can do with the whole family, however, for those in a creative rut, head to your local craft store, they’re bound to have tons of kits of fall-themed activities to do.

Fresh Chicken Eggs

Lockdown Leads To Fresh Inspiration For Self-Sustainable Homes

Prior to lockdown, the attention of many was focused on helping to make everyday life greener and more sustainable. There was greater pressure on coffee shops to promote the use of reusable cups and McDonalds famously got rid of its plastic straws in favor of paper alternatives. Sadly, the complexities of infection prevention in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic have led these initiatives to take a bit of a back seat in the minds of the general public, as we turned our attention to more pressing matters.

As it becomes apparent that most of us will be bouncing in and out of lockdown at some point over the coming months, the initial fears of the pandemic have remained with us. From the panic buying and shortage of essential food or hygiene products through to the endless queues and closure of many leisure outlets, we have all felt the impact of losing parts of our everyday lives that we had come to take for granted and rely upon.

Fueled by this frustration, there has been fresh inspiration for creating more self-sustainable living at home, so that should the pandemic escalate to worrying levels, we are better prepared to ride it out from the safety of our homes. Here are some of the ways in which people are looking to make their lives at home a little more self-sustaining.

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Chicken coop in the garden
When lockdown was imposed in the UK, there was a rush to buy hens, as people looked to better manage their food requirements from inside the home. Whilst this can seem like a logical step, the surge in demand did lead to concerns over the welfare of these animals over the long term. Hens can be a great way to generate a plentiful supply of eggs and add a touch of nature to your home surroundings, but you need to be committed to looking after them and ensuring that they have a happy and comfortable life with you before taking the plunge. Investing in the right equipment and coop is essential, so do your homework and find the best solution for your home.

Feature vegetable patches
A vast array of fruit and vegetables can be grown from home and at different times of the year. Even if you aren’t the most greenfingered person around, you can always start small and build up to more complex vegetables as you get more accustomed to the process. Growing your own fruit and veg can certainly take the pressure off regularly having to shop for staple items and you may even find you have plenty of extra to offer friends, family or donate to local soup kitchens. Making your vegetable patch an integral part of your garden design will help encourage you to give it the attention it deserves!

Invest in solar panels
Solar panels have long been championed as a means for living more sustainably, as well as reducing energy bills and in some cases actually making money by selling excess energy back to the grid. Solar panels can be pricey to install, but once in place the benefits can be plentiful and as the years have gone on, the designs have become much more ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. What’s more, if you have set up panels to store energy in the home for usage ( in what is a bit like a battery for the house) then should there be any problems with electricity supplies, you’ll have a bit of back up in place for a few hours at least. Lockdown has led to greener energy taking greater prominence in the energy market, so this is set to be an exciting time for sure.

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Don’t waste food
Over lockdown there was certainly a greater emphasis on how to make the most out of the food items that you’ve purchased. I didn’t realize just how much we end up wasting until I watched some of this content and it literally blew me away! I think my favorite food saving hack was the chips that can be made out of potato peelings; this really did make me think about the amount of food we throw away that could be put to good use. Learning how to maximize the output from food items that you regularly buy not only helps to cut down the cost of your weekly shops, but reduces the frequency that you need to visit and helps to make your food go much further!

Cut down on meat
Unless you are able to maintain your own livestock on your property, eating meat regularly will require you to purchase it from a store or a butcher. Prior to lockdown, there was much said about the carbon footprint associated with the over consumption of meat, but even in lockdown, this was also evident when it came to the frequency of food shopping. Finding meat-free alternatives can help you to make more tasty and nutritious meals without having to splash out on expensive meat purchases quite so often. What’s more, as you get more accustomed to meat-free dishes, you’ll find that you can be much more adaptable should the worst happen and we find ourselves back in strict lockdown.

Changing the way we live invariably takes hard work and commitment, but in a world where being more sustainable is an inevitable aspect of the future, anything we can do now to get the ball moving has got to be a good thing.

Real Estate Market

How Has The UK Housing Market Been Affected By The Recession So Far?

It was recently announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic lull, that the United Kingdom has officially entered a recession. Some reports have suggested that this is, and will be, the biggest recession since records began. Although government schemes have been helping small and large businesses across the country, gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen. A recession is normally defined when the GDP of a country falls in two successive quarters. This year, towards the start of the pandemic, the UK economy fell by 2.2% between January and March, and then by 20.4% between April and June when lockdown procedures were in full force. The housing market naturally runs hand-in-hand with the economy. However, when a recession occurs it does not necessarily mean that the housing market crashes. But how exactly are experts predicting that their UK recession will affect the UK housing market?

Typically, recessions impact various services and lead to job losses, company cuts, reduced spending, increased taxes, inflation and so on. Often this causes house prices to fall, which is a good thing if you have the money and ability to purchase a new home, as property will perhaps be more affordable. However, if you are selling a home you may get less money for it than you would outside of a recession. If you are both buying and selling however this tends to balance out.

The last UK recession was in 2008 and caused by the US housing bubble bursting and the ensuing financial crash. House prices subsequently fell and recovered in 2010, however it was an unusually long recession. Carol Propper, a professor of economics at Imperial College London, spoke to BBC future stating, “The 2008 recession was about the housing market and shares, which hit disproportionately higher income groups, at present the crisis seems to be hitting very much the lower income groups; the vulnerable workers, young and less skilled.” Therefore, whether or not housing prices to drop, some groups of people are still not able to afford new housing due to a lack of income caused by the coronavirus crisis. For example, first-time buyers may not be able to access lower house prices as the coronavirus pandemic has caused many UK banks to drop their base rate making mortgages and deposits less easily obtained.

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Many experts are hopeful that this recession will be different to that of 2008 as the government put in place various schemes to protect the economy in shutdowns. One scheme the UK government has implemented, is the stamp duty holiday, whereby some taxes on house buying has been lifted for a temporary period. This hopefully will encourage more people to buy houses and therefore have a knock-on effect to the UK economy. Some real estate agents have already reported that more houses are being bought in different areas, in some cases even encouraged by the need for more space as more companies allow and expect remote working.

It is still difficult to predict what exactly will happen in the UK recession, but previous recessions typically have led to house prices falling. Between April and May, house prices already fell by 1.7% according to UK bank Nationwide. However new report suggests that house prices may stay the same or even rise in some areas and the UK. Currently, Britain is actually experiencing a small boom in house purchases, perhaps due to the stamp duty holiday. According to the Financial Reporter, ‘Zoopla says demand continues to run ahead of supply, sustaining annual house price growth of 2.5%, and expects market conditions to remain stronger than last year for the rest of 2020. Its figures show that the cumulative increase in buyer demand since the start of 2020 is 34% higher than over the same period in 2019, above the 25% reported last month.’ Further, in some areas of the UK, reports have shown that house prices have risen, and buyer demand is still strong.

When the UK was placed into nationwide lockdown, the housing market slowed and suffered accordingly, but after lockdown lifted, property demand has been flourishing. Although many reports show that the increase in property sales is predominantly being seen in wealthier parts of the country. So, for those that are facing a reduced income and unemployment the affordability of both a new home and mortgage will still be out of reach.

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As the recession progresses it is difficult to predict how well the housing market will do despite much optimism. Speaking to the Financial Reporter, Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said, “the next important milestone for the housing market comes in September when schools reopen and the UK starts to get back towards a full reopening of the economy. The ‘once in a lifetime’ re-evaluation of housing requirements on the back of the lockdown will be a counterweight to the impact of the recession on housing market activity over the rest of 2020. While demand has softened over August, we expect the current momentum in market activity to continue into 2020 Q4.”

For Rent

The Rise Of The Live-In Landlord

With many people trying to save money and reduce spending in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, becoming a live-in flatshare landlord could be one of the quickest ways to cut the costs of living, even resulting in a ‘rent-free’ situation for some.

Some studies have revealed that residents use over 70% of their income on household spending alone. When trying to save money, dedicating such a large proportion of wages to simply living means that there is often very little left over for the savings post. Flatshare expert Gian Paolo Aliatis suggests that it is entirely possible to completely cover that 70% income send ‘plus more’ through becoming a live-in flatshare landlord.

Gian himself followed this very idea after he graduated from university. He began subletting the rooms in a flat in Barcelona to help cover the costs of his own rent. He ended up not only living there rent free, but looking to sublet other properties too. His successes led him to continue with this approach over several years and he was able to build up a portfolio of over 180 properties, housing well over a thousand tenants.

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Reflecting on his success, Gian explains:

“Renting your spare room or becoming a ‘live-in flatshare landlord’ could bring your housing costs to zero. Although it comes with its own responsibilities and challenges, a well-established flatshare operation can become also a source of friends or somehow replace that family that may live far away. Live-in flatshare landlords don’t necessarily need to give up their jobs, hobbies or friends; and neither have to sacrifice life’s essentials or holidays. It is the easiest and most effective way to save time and money and reduce that financial pressure that everyone is feeling right now.”

Becoming a live-in landlord may certainly seem like an easy option, but there are a number of key considerations to factor in before you take the leap for the first time. The most important thing is that if you are renting, you need to check that your leasing agreement permits you to sublet other rooms. Some landlords will not allow this and so you could end up breaching the terms of your tenancy if you proceed without appropriate consent. This could even lead to an eviction if the landlord decides to terminate your agreement. Others however, are much more lenient and providing you follow the rules, will allow you to sublet.

It is also vital to understand what your legal responsibilities and obligations will be, as you will effectively take the place of the landlord. This may include tenancy agreements, insurances and other factors to ensure you remain compliant with local laws. Always do your research before embarking on a subletting arrangement to ensure you know exactly what is required of you before you get started.

Any payments you receive as rental will be classed as additional income and so it is worth looking into the financial implications of increasing your income in this way. As you’ll likely still be working, you need to fully understand if there will be any other impacts on your salary band increasing, such as additional tax payments, decreases in other benefits you currently receive etc.

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There is also a very personal aspect to becoming a live-in landlord that is not experienced when you do not reside at the same property as your tenant. You will be living day in and out with this person and so it will be important that you get on with them and have a good rapport; there is nothing worse than a tense atmosphere, especially when you are sharing the same space for an extended period of time. Seeking out a tenant who perhaps has a similar profession or interests as you would be helpful in finding a suitable candidate.

Whilst it is natural to want to get on with your tenant, in any sub-letting situation it is also vital to remember that it is a professional arrangement and so some distance should be kept. If things become too friendly, then when potential issues arise, such as late rent payments, it becomes much harder to enforce measures when the relationship has become too close. Unfortunately in all letting situations, there is a risk of problems and issues occurring, so making sure you are fully prepared for such events and have not jeopardized your position as landlord is vital to keeping things running smoothly.

If you have space in your property, becoming a live-in landlord could help to generate a valuable second income which can be used to support any losses caused by the pandemic, but also as a way of saving so that you are better prepared for any unexpected situations which may occur in the future. What is certainly evident from the Coronavirus outbreak is that we all need to be much more mindful of expecting the unexpected.