Work Office Post Pandemic

The Post Pandemic Office

Remote working has been the new norm during the COVID-19 pandemic and finding it successful more and more companies are intending to continue the practice after the pandemic is over. Some companies such as Twitter have already offered employees to permanently work from home, whilst others will offer this a sustainable option for those who would like this added flexibility. The emergence of homeworking, however necessary has led to a visible and projected shift in the real estate market. More people are looking to live in more rural or idealistic areas outside of the city as the morning commute is no longer a concern, others are looking for bigger houses to incorporate a home office. The landscape and requirements of real estate could therefore change drastically due to new working practices.

This also means that office spaces may change too – with more people working from home, office spaces could become smaller, as companies choose to reduce costs by renting out smaller premises, they could move to more rural areas as the cost of renting in the city is higher. Apartment buildings could incorporate office spaces and meeting rooms or company meetings could be held in public or rented spaces. This does not mean that the office will become obsolete, one size does not fit all and many companies will still need to maintain an office space for the functioning of their business. Yet, these office spaces may still need to adapt to the post-pandemic world. What are, therefore, the predictions for the post-pandemic office? What will it look like?

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The Role of The ‘Office’
The necessary move to remote working has shown many companies that their businesses can function well, remotely. This has then caused a shift in the perceived role of the work space; if the routine and practical tasks of a business function can be done from home – what purpose does an office space serve? Thus, many believe that the office space will reside as a hub for the companies’ culture, collaboration, social interaction and teamwork. The Guardian writes: ‘with individual workstations effectively relocated to people’s kitchens and living rooms, offices are being reconfigured as places that primarily exist for teamwork and collaborative activity – albeit with strict social distancing measures in place and partitions separating different teams and departments.’ Therefore, office spaces may not be eliminated but shifted to a focus on meetings, training, team-building, collaboration and interaction whilst adapting to an individual’s needs of flexibility, offering the opportunity of homeworking for childcare, health appointments, wellbeing and so forth.

Safety Protocols
Offices across the world have scrambled to become ‘COVID-safe’ during the pandemic, emphasizes on social distancing, sanitization and air filtration have been of the highest priority. Therefore, post-pandemic offices could be refurbished or built with safety in mind. This could be anything from building suitable ventilation systems, improved cleaning, antimicrobial surfaces, larger desk spaces, outdoor space, stairwells over enclosed lifts, minimizing frequently touched surfaces and so forth – with touchless solutions etc.

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Flexibility
As already touched on, many employees have found a greater happiness from home-working. The flexibility of working from home – even part time – has allowed people to find a better work-home-life balance, making them happier and in turn more productive. Some people have opted to relocate, to more rural areas, a more spacious home or closer to loved ones due to this, or simply have enjoyed spending more time with family. Therefore, there will be many who will not want to give up the opportunity to work from home and will want companies to be more supportive and flexible when it comes to their home lives.

If more people opt to work from home, even just part time, it may mean that offices could reduce their size and function differently. Some offices may opt for apps that can identify who will be in the office and when to optimise functionality. Elvira Muñoz Beraza, director of the master’s in strategic design of spaces at IE School of Architecture and Design, in Madrid, spoke to The Guardian:

‘Beraza is focused on how offices can evolve to meet the changing needs of a company and its employees. “I believe the design of the workplace will need to focus on a hybrid combination of physical and virtual, of individual and collective, of internal and external actions, tasks and collaboration.” She notes the importance of supporting a hybrid form of office and remote work. “Remote working should stay, combined with physical encounters. Remote work is sustainable because it provides more choice and is more inclusive and diverse. The nine-to-five office culture is gone for good.”

Candles in the Home

How Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh Can Enhance Your Overall Wellbeing

When it comes to our homes personal scent, more times than not we can become so accustomed to how our homes smell that we don’t even notice when more foul smells start to appear. When bad smells are caused by things like trash, a lack of cleaning/dusting, laundry, etc. they tend to linger and attach themselves to parts of your home, unknown to you though. 

Joseph Allen is a professor at Harvard who recently discussed how for some individuals the “olfactory ambiance of their home can lead to what is known as ‘sick home’ syndrome. Thought to be caused by poor ventilation, mold and the accumulation of bad smells, the symptoms include headaches; eye, nose or throat irritation; dry or itchy skin; or mental fatigue.”

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Allen claims, however, that it’s unknown whether or not this syndrome is a physical response to the smells in one’s home, or if it’s more psychological, and has more to do with the mental health aspect that comes with maintaining a clean or messy space. He explained that often our brains tag unpleasant odors as dangerous due to an evolutionary response of associating negative smells with disease and death. 

Regardless of if this response is physiological or physical, you should always make sure your house is clean in terms of dusting and taking out the trash. Even further, making sure your house is always smelling pleasant and fresh is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall mood and wellbeing. 

Think about when you find yourself in times of deep sadness or stress, entering into a messy space only adds more physical and psychological clutter to your life because it’s just one more thing to worry about. Smelling things like lavender, vanilla, or peppermint in times of overwhelming stress can help relax and center the body. 

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Pleasant and powerful scents such as rose, citrus, or cinnamon will take you out of whatever overwhelming line of thinking you’re in and return you to the present moment. By focusing on the scent of your home and that present moment you’re more easily able to figure out what you need to do for yourself in order to make your own life easier, and less stressful. 

According to research the scent of the South American heliotropin flower is thought to have an extremely calming effect on the body. Allen explained that this flower in particular is used as one of the main ingredients in baby powder, so the scent automatically transports your subconscious to the reassuring and simplistic memories of childhood.

While candles and essential oils are also an amazing way to liven up the scent of any space, they’re not 100% necessary for when you find yourself in times of passing stress or anxiety. Introducing strong smells to your body can immediately jolt you into the present moment, energize your sense and clear your mind. Something as simple as smelling fresh coffee grounds in your cabinet, or garlic frying in a pan can help accomplish this. 

Allen explained that smells always retain their ability to evoke a specific memory and/or emotion in us. Compared to every other scent, smelling is the most powerful in terms of sensory cues taking us back to a very specific memory or time in our life. So go out and invest in some fresh flowers, a few cinnamon cloves, and maybe even a candle or two, oh, and also remember to take out your trash periodically.

Searching Real Estate

House Searches Up By 30% Year on Year in January

Despite a rocky start to the year, the property market appears to be putting its best foot forward as it experiences a surge in interest for new properties during the month of January. According to UK property website Rightmove, it has had its busiest ever start to the year, with site visits up by an impressive 30%.

If we break down this figure a little further, this growth equates to around six million daily visits on the 5th and 6th January. This is in addition to reports that the number of enquiries to realtors from those looking to buy a property is 11% higher year on year, with enquiries for rental properties up by 22% year on year. Some experts believe that this surge in interest is a direct result of indications that the temporary stamp duty legislation will be coming to an end as planned in the UK in April 2021. This legislation was brought in last year at the start of the pandemic, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer granting a temporary Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday on the first £500,000 of all residential property purchases in England and Northern Ireland. This move was expected to save the buyers as much as £15,000 on their property purchase. Despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic, there has been no suggestion from the UK Government that this initiative will be extended past the April deadline.

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Reflecting on the surge in interest during January, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, Tim Bannister, was quoted by Property Reporter as saying: ‘January is usually one of our busiest months of the year as people start to make new year plans to move, as was the case at the start of last year when we also had the post-election bounce that gave hope of an active spring market, before that all changed with the temporary closure from March until May. We didn’t know how this year would start with so much change and uncertainty around restrictions, but it’s been reassuring for those people hoping or needing to move that the demand we’ve seen so far is the highest we’ve ever had in January.

“The housing market has been allowed to stay open during these latest lockdowns and agents have already spent months working in a covid-secure way and creating a number of property videos, so buyers and renters starting out on their search this year will find that, alongside the safe viewing protocols, more agents are offering virtual viewings to help buyers and renters better shortlist the properties they want to go and see.’

Despite the surge in interest from potential buyers, there are indications that house prices in the UK will fall this year by around 5% fuelled by local factors such as the end of the temporary stamp duty holiday and more widespread global issues such as rising unemployment. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: ‘While the economy should begin to recover in 2021, helped by the roll-out of Covid vaccines, the jobs market will inevitably adjust to the changes in demand that are occurring, and unemployment is expected to rise. With the stamp duty holiday also due to expire in March – and lower levels of demand – housing market activity is likely to slow.’

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In the US, predictions are slightly more favorable. It has been reported that house prices are expected to increase by around 5% according to realtor.com. Despite unemployment remaining high, the growth is expecting to come from white collar and high-income workers, who have been able to transition to home working more easily whilst also continuing to earn a stable income. As reported by Mansion Global, George Ratiu, senior economist at realtor.com said: ‘A lot of the activity is being driven by Americans who are employed, or they are self-employed, they’ve been able to manage work, have savings and beyond savings are invested in other assets.’

Others are equally optimistic with regards to millennials in general. In an article for Forbes, Elana Knoller, Better.com chief product officer was quoted as saying: ‘We expect homeowners looking to refinance will do so sooner rather than later to take advantage of the low interest rate environment. While the Fed has indicated it doesn’t plan to hike rates soon, uncertainty over what the new administration might do in addition to broad availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, on top of what we hope is an improving economy, could bring an end to the ultra-low rates that we’ve seen this year. We will continue to see the growth of Millennial home buying regardless of the rate backdrop.’

Whilst it is clear that many homeowners will be impacted by a loss of income due to reduced hours or unemployment, there are equally a significant proportion of higher income earners who have the financial means to capitalize on the property market in the coming months. There is no doubt that the longer term impacts on real estate may be less favourable, but for the moment it appears to be holding its own.

Eco Friendly Cleaning Products

Green Cleaning

Cleaning our homes has been especially important during the coronavirus pandemic, not only to safeguard ourselves, loved ones and homes against the COVID-19 virus but as many of us spent more and more time in our homes, they undoubtedly became messier quicker. As more and more people are becoming eco-conscious the use of eco-friendly thinking is on the rise – this ranges from sustainable household products to the plastic on those products to chemicals that you use to clean your home and so forth. Cleaning products that are safe for the environment does not mean compromising on safety in terms of killing bacteria and viruses – in fact being more eco-friendly your household cleaning supplies can include anything from reusable cloths to eco-friendly anti-bacterial cleaners.

Cleaners
There are plenty of approved cleaners on the market that are eco-friendly, however, make sure you check the label to see what this is referring to – as it could just reference the packaging. However, the products that legitimately use eco-friendly ingredients can be better alternatives for your cleaning sprees without compromising on effectiveness, many of these products are widely available or can be purchased online. Ingredients can be naturally derived, biodegradable and so forth and still kill bacteria. Ensure however, you read the label to be sure that these products are to the standard required.

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Household Remedies
For general cleaning purposes you may look to basic household remedies from products you already have in the cupboard, bi-carbonate of soda acts as a great cleaner, deodoriser and stain remover and there are plenty of recipes that can help you utilise this. Further, vinegar can help remove limescale, add shine back to surfaces and so forth, lemon juice can eliminate odours, reduce food stains from chopping boards and so on.

Good Housekeeping wrote that although more research is needed on how non-chemical methods kill a wide range of germs, ‘”Studies have shown that vinegar can kill a range of bacteria, including E. coli – which is often associated with food poisoning – as long as it’s at least 5% in strength,” says Dr Darshna Yagnik, an immunologist at Middlesex University London.’

However, it is always worth checking the label or researching into these remedies first. Whilst there is a global pandemic, always check with health organisations such as the CDC for the best ways to clean in light of the coronavirus. It is still worth cleaning the high-risk areas (such as the bathroom) with disinfectants, especially if you or someone you live with has a reduced immune system.

Reduce Plastic
Reducing plastic has been included as a target of many brand and companies’ eco-friendly missions – and household products are a major culprit to the plastic crisis. Many personal care products such as shampoos and body cleaners can now be found as plastic free bars in an attempt to reduce on plastic waste, other companies are offering re-fillable products rather than throw away bottle’s month after month, some are looking to use 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. Being conscious of your plastic consumption on cleaning products will help you become more sustainable – there are refillable, plastic free or recycled cleaning products available on the market – from the bottles the products come in, to the cleaning appliances such as cloths and brushes used.

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Laundry
Most laundry detergents can be incredibly toxic for the environment and are continually pumped into our water supplies. According to Earth Island Journal ‘detergents don’t completely biodegrade and they contaminate our water supplies, rivers and oceans with toxic heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic. Studies have shown that phosphates, a common ingredient in detergents, builds up in waterways and lead to eutrophication — big algal blooms that can starve fish and other plant life of oxygen.’

There are plenty of alternatives, from eco-friendly detergent to mineral pellets that contain no harmful chemicals and reduce on plastic waste as they can be re-used for a high-number of washes. These alternatives often don’t compromise on killing bacteria, removing stains and keep laundry smelling fresh and clean.

Reuse
Whilst disposable wipes are convenient and may seem ‘cleaner’ they are incredibly bad for the environment, ending up in landfills, sewers and the ocean killing its wildlife. Opting simply for reusable cloths, that can be washed effectively (provided you set your machine to a high enough heat) to kill bacteria, can be both eco and pocket friendly. Not only does this choice make for a more sustainable one, but some cloths such as microfiber cleaning cloths are designed to pick up more dirt and bacteria than other products themselves – so may be a cleaner alternative.

There are also plenty of cleaning tools on the market that are made from sustainable products such as copper scrubs, bamboo brushes and so forth. Many of these products ditch the plastic, last longer, are sustainably sourced or can be recycled, so look to see where you can replace disposable items for more sustainable alternatives.

Becoming more sustainable in the home is not one quick easy fix but by slowly opting for greener and eco-friendly options you be well on your way to achieving an eco-friendly household. There are even cleaning subscription services that will help you to select and stock your eco-friendly cleaning kit.

Declutter Home

Decluttering Your Home Could Help You Sell It Quicker

The new year is often a time for undertaking a good old fashioned declutter. From sorting out the old toys to reorganizing your living room and sifting through a mountain of clothes for donation to charity, there is something cathartic about getting rid of the old and making way for the new. And given that most people experienced a less than optimal 2020 due to COVID-19, there is certainly much anticipation for a better year ahead! But if you’re planning on selling your home in 2021, did you know that getting rid of the clutter could actually help you to sell your home faster and for more money?

When it comes to selling your home, first impressions are everything. We are all guilty of filling our homes with ornaments, toys for the children, soft furnishing and artwork but it is important to remember that not everyone will have the same tastes and lifestyle as you. In reality, most prospective buyers will be looking at your property as a ‘shell’ in which they can move in their own furniture or decorate to their specific tastes. Therefore, providing a minimalist look is likely to help buyers to better visualize how the property may look once they have moved in.

It may seem a small step, but decluttering your home could not only lead to a faster sale, but increase the offer price too! According to the Daily Express, ‘home staging’ has been proven to increase the sale time by 73 per cent and increase the sale price by 6 to 10 per cent.

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Speaking recently to the Daily Express Phil Spencer, a property expert and presenter of Channel 4 property shows Location, Location Location and Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes agrees with this approach. He explains, ‘When you are ready to put your home on the market, it is essential that it is looking its best to entice homebuyers to come and look at it. Decluttering and cleaning are the first steps in ensuring it is in top condition. Investing in a fresh coat of paint or some new furniture can go a long way, so bear that in mind. Spending a little now can help you gain financially later down the line! In short: Make sure your house is presented in the best possible way.”

The first step in the decluttering process is to work out what can be kept and what needs to be thrown away. This could include broken items, but try to sort out those materials which could potentially be recycled. Sort out items which can be disposed of in your general trash and those which might need to be taken to a specialist tip, such as old paint cans. Items which can be recycled can be put in your on general recycling or taken to a recycling center.

Second, consider which items you want to keep. It’s important to be brutal in your decisions here, because chances are you’ll want to keep much more than you should! That said, it is worth bearing in mind what items could potentially be upcycled to improve the look of your property as this could save you money in the long run. One woman in Birmingham U.K was recently quoted $1300 for a home makeover by a third party supplier. She ended up achieving a similar look herself for just $40 through smart upcycling of existing items she had in her home!

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When you have your collection of ‘must keep’ items, think about whether they need to have pride of place in your house, or whether they can be boxed up and stored away for a later date. If you have large items or are struggling for space, you may want to consider renting a storage unit for the short term.

The next step is to work out which items could be passed on in some way. This could be via donation to a charity shop, sold to private buyers on sites such as Ebay, or even gifted to friends or loved ones that might benefit from it. There has been an explosion in ‘upcycling’ recently, so don’t disregard outdated or even broken furniture as past it’s sell-by date; there’s a good chance someone will want to take it off your hands in order to transform it into a stylish and modern piece. COVID-19 has put a stop to yard sales and car boot sales, so listing your unwanted items online is likely to be the most effective way to get rid of your goods; you could even make some money which you could put towards some new paint or a stylish piece of furniture.

As the new year chimes in, decluttering is not only good for the mind and soul, but it could really improve your chances of selling your property quickly and for the price you want. There’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Palm Beach Florida

How Palm Beach’s Real Estate Market Is Beginning To Thrive Again 

Suburbs in America helped keep the real estate market afloat throughout the past ten months of the Covid-19 pandemic. As individuals fled their small apartments in bustling metropolitans for a quieter, more secluded space to spend their quarantine, markets in city spaces began to decline. However, with the release of multiple vaccines, a new administration taking control over how we respond to this pandemic, and a new year on the market’s side, some areas of the country are already seeing an increase in desire to buy. 

The exclusive town of Palm Beach, Florida is a small sliver of an island that is typically home to some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals. Now, people throughout America are fleeing their Suburban spaces to get away to warm Palm Beach, creating a new sellers market that Guy Clark, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Palm Beach, was truly not expecting. 

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“Anyone with money is currently fleeing places like New York and coming here, it’s a seller’s market like I’ve never experienced.” 

Some of the migration, according to Wall Street data, is due to a multitude of job relocation’s from New York to Florida. Some of the wealthiest in America who have the privilege and ability to move right now are also fleeing Covid hotspots to take advantage of Florida’s lack of state income tax.

The Palm Beach County Clerk’s office recorded more than 20 home sales in 2020, exceeding $20 million each; for reference in 2019 only 10 homes of the same pricing were sold. According to John Cregan, an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, many of the homes currently being rented or sold are off the market and being done in private deals. Older homes are being torn down and renovated to prepare for a future influx in buying once the pandemic is over. 

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The rental market also picked up with the winter season, which is typically a hot time for buying in Palm Beach. Even with the limited supply that realtors were working with, rentals overall have been on the rise within the past few months. Some have even turned to hotels for long-term stars as an alternative to their suburban homes. 

According to Lesley Sheinberg and Barbara LeBrun of NAI/Merin Hunter Codman, migrants from around the nation are also looking for commercial spaces to rent to be used as an office space. 

“Every single showing this week we have there is from people up north or different states, either wanting to have a presence here, so they don’t have to commute back and forth, or wanting to get out and move their business here.”

The rise in rental markets, and the real estate market in Palm Beach overall, will have an amazing trickle down effect on the local economy. Interior design firms and other local businesses in Palm Beach all report a rise in transactions when the real estate market begins to rise in the area. Some businesses are already seeing this increase occur, and the hope is that as time moves on the positive effects of that spending will ripple out to the rest of the state.

NYE at Home

New Year’s at Home

New Year’s traditions vary across the world, but many mark the passing of one year to the next with gatherings of friends, family and even strangers at various events or parties – with fireworks, countdowns, music, street parties and so forth, all making their way into usual New Year’s celebrations. However, as COVID-19 has caused much of the world to put in place safety and socialisation restrictions, raucous parties have been scratched off the schedules for many areas. Whether you would normally go out, but this year you are spending a quiet New Years at home, or if you happily see in the New Year in from the comfort of your home, it need not be uneventful. Many of us, no doubt will be looking forward to putting the struggles of 2020 behind us, and moving into a new, hopefully more prosperous year. Therefore, making the most of New Year’s, may simply be a welcome ritual in whatever way you chose to spend it.

Speaking to Huffington Post, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) therapist, Sally Brown, said that a quiet New Year’s: “…could actually be a bit of a relief if you’ve always slightly dreaded NYE, but also not wanted to miss out. If everyone is staying in, there’s no FOMO. Not being able to go out is harder on extroverts, though – and people who live alone.”

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Review Your Year
After such a year as 2020, there may be a temptation to simply write the whole year off, ignore New Year’s altogether and look to a better 2021. If that is your stance, great, see the new year in, in a way that best suits you. However, after such as year as 2020, it may be nice to consider all the things you are lucky and grateful for. Take some time, on your own or with family and friends, to write down or voice anything good that has come out of 2020, or anything that you are grateful for or lucky to have. You can do this in a number of ways, by making a scrapbook, memory jar or lighting candles.

After a year where so many have lost so much, focusing on what you have, can shift your perspective to a happier one ever so slightly. If it is hard to consider what you are thankful for after a devastating year, perhaps try to imagine what you will be grateful for when things return to normal. Consider what you want to enjoy, achieve or experience once things are back to normal.

Connect
We may not be able to see as many friends and family as we would like, but if you can virtually connect to loved ones. This may be a nice way to mark the year. Whether you simply catch up, hold a ‘virtual’ dinner together or even play some games over video chat. Whether a quiz, or classic group games such as charades, Pictionary and so forth. You can organise your own night, or there are plenty of free online games for this very purpose.

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Relax
Make it simple on yourself and just see the New Year in, in a relaxing, stress free manor. Whether this is doing something just for you, such as taking a bath, getting lost in good book, playing video games, watching a good film, taking on a creative project, , or even going to bed early; or spending the night with one or two loved ones – cook a nice meal, play some board games, or spend some time reviewing the year and sharing your New Year’s resolutions (if you have any). After the turmoil and stress of 2020, making New Year’s relaxing and low key, may be the perfect remedy to such a year.

Gather
If your area allows you to host a small number of people safely, or you can celebrate with your immediate household, then you may like to celebrate the New Year with a ‘mini party.’ Gather together your household, add snacks, drinks, music, decorations and countdown into the new year together. You could also have a nice sit-down meal, play party games and dance into the new year in your own living room.

However, due to social distancing restrictions and the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure you keep yourself and other safe, by rigorously following social distancing guidelines – wearing a mask, avoid touching your face, wearing a mask, keeping a social distance and avoiding large gatherings. If you are unwell, do not host or attend a gathering.

Closed Department Store

5 Predictions For The Use of Empty Department Stores in 2021

Following the recent announcements that major department stores in both the U.K. and the US have buckled under the pressure of a difficult trading year, many questions are being raised about what will happen to these spacious buildings.

It’s a valid question. These units are typically several stories high and take up a large square footage. In reality, the only retailer who would be interested in taking over an empty retail store would be another similar sized retailer. But any competitors are either facing similar troubles or are likely to remain extremely cautious about expanding their real estate portfolio with such an uncertain future ahead. So what is likely to happen to these spacious units and are they likely to be utilized, or will the high street look end up looking even more like a ghost town than it did before?

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Temporary Stores
Some retailers are continuing to perform strongly and so could consider occupying empty properties temporarily. This may enable them to assess the viability of business in a different location or continue to trade whilst renovations are taking place to their existing property. Recently, it was revealed that retail tycoon Mike Ashley was considering moving some of his brands, including House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Flannels into empty Debenhams stores. In an article on This is Money, it was explained this would involve a process called ‘Vacant Possession’ on properties which are currently running on extremely short-term 12 month leases. If Mr. Ashley did take on these properties for his new brands though, he would have to negotiate terms with the landlords to keep these stores operating on an ongoing basis.

Leisure Venues
Real estate specialists Savills released a report in 2019 which explained why leisure operators were the perfect fit for empty retail units. The report said, ‘With experience becoming increasingly important to consumers, and consumer spend on experiential concepts continuing to grow, leisure has become a great option for repurposing underutilized retail space with operators of gyms, bowling alleys and adventure golf all now bringing leisure based experiences to retail environments up and down the UK.” The report cites examples of the repurposing of a previous House of Fraser unit at Highcross Shopping Center into Treetops Golf and a former BHS store on Oxford Street into a mini golf and bar operator. Clearly there are many opportunities for empty retail units to be transformed into leisure offerings which would help to bring much needed traffic back to the high street once the dangers of COVID-19 have passed.

Shared Office Space
Many organizations have had to drastically rethink their real estate requirements as the vast majority of their employees become accustomed to working from home. The longer the situation goes on, the less necessary a physical office becomes, at least in its previous capacity. One option may be that several businesses look to club together and take over an empty department store. Each business could have a particular level but may share resources such as break out rooms, meeting rooms and parking. According to a recent article in Facilities Management Journal, ‘long-lease commercial property still dominate the UK market, with flex space like coworking offices or serviced offices accounting for just six per cent of the total market share – but this is set to change as the flexible trend grows’. The story also includes further insight from office space provider The Instant Group which reveals that Post-Covid, more companies will be unwilling to take on the expense of a long-term lease, or the level of risk that comes with it. This is where these more flexible, shared office venues may come into play.

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Medical Venues
As testing, tracing and vaccinating rolls out to the masses, department stores could make an excellent venue for a temporary COVID-19 testing station, as a venue for administering vaccines or for offering out-patient services in order to free up the main hospital for COVID-related treatment. Their centralized location and spacious buildings would work well not only for accessibility but for maintaining safe social distancing too. In November, it was reported that one NHS trust in Warrington was planning to move some of its services into empty shop units. A spokesperson for the move said, ‘The proposed expansion and/or relocation of these services delivered in a non-hospital setting limits the risk of hospital acquired infection, critical in the Covid-era. It is also hoped the relocation of services will increase footfall in the Shopping City, with 200 patients per week using Halton’s ophthalmic services alone. This could help breathe new life into the run-down shopping center.”

Housing
There has been talk for some time that empty retail units could be utilized for housing and this becomes even more relevant when you consider the size of a department store and the potential for multi-occupancy housing units. That said, the process of converting a commercial unit to a residential one is not always straightforward, as the quality and condition of retail units varies quite considerably. Developers are also required to apply for a change of use for the building which has historically been difficult to obtain due to ‘red tape’. Earlier this year in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented radical reforms to the 70 year-old planning system, allowing for vacant buildings in town centers to be converted into housing more rapidly.

Organized Shelves

Re-Vamping Your Home To Boost Your Mood (Especially After The 2020 Pandemic)

Have you ever looked around your home and found it to be stressful in some way? Whether that be because it is unorganized, messy or simply not in line with your ideal vision or so forth. After such as year as 2020, where many of us have spent a significantly larger portion of time inside our homes and are dealing with added anxieties and stressors, these issues may have become significantly more apparent. Or we may have simply noticed areas that we may want to change or improve upon. Our home should ideally be a calming, safe, comforting, inspiring, happy (and so forth) environment and due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, the relationship with your home may have shifted. Whether you have more time on your hands to take on a new decoration project, or you are finding it frustrating to be ‘trapped’ inside your house for such a long period of time; designing your home in such a way that boost your mood, may be exactly what you need to see out the remainder of this tumultuous period.

Adapt
Speaking to Huffington Post, Niki Schafer an interior designer said, “a home provides security and an escape – and, when well-designed, can be beneficial to our well-being. However, if it’s just the same old space and you’re used to having a much wider selection of environments from which to access different feelings, then the closed-in feelings can set in.”

It may therefore be necessary to adapt to the new needs of your home. If you are now having to work from home regularly, you may need to set up a ‘permanent’ office space, rather than the disorganized temporary one that always seems to be in the way and a drag on your mood.

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Make Some Changes
Let’s face it, many of us have been roaming the inside of the same four walls for months and are pretty sick of our homes. So, one way to offset this it by making some small changes that can actually make a huge impact. If you were planning to make some bigger changes, by redecorating a room, it may be a good time to do so.

You do not necessarily need to go out and by a host of new furniture, curtains, paint and give your house a full makeover, small changes can work a treat. This can be effectively done by rearranging your furniture and changing the layout of a room. This may work well If you are having to adapt to lockdown conditions and make space for a home office, or a larger area for exercise or kid’s activities etc.

In Huffington Post, Niki Schafer also stated that small changes can provide a mental boost: “these needn’t be expensive or complex… How does it feel to change the bed and tidy up the bedroom? Isn’t it better to see a fresh seasonal plant at the front door? Doesn’t it feel good to know the attic is tidy or the space under the bed isn’t jammed full of useless stuff? Changing cushions, adding a new throw, buying new bedlinen or moving furniture around can make us smile. The new view can make us appreciate our entire environment. You may not even need to see the result, just knowing the fridge is clean and the cutlery drawers are organized will give you a sense of satisfaction.”

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Tidy and Organize
One of the reasons why your home may not be working for you is simply that it is unorganized. Especially if you have been spending longer periods at home and those frantic searches for a pen whilst you are on the phone to your boss are becoming tiresome. You may also feel that there is a severe lack of space now you are spending more time indoors. Both of these stresses can be alleviated by organizing, tidying and decluttering your home. Take the time to make space by getting rid of things you no longer need or use, move the lesser used items into storage places such as the attic, basement or simply higher shelves. Organize your things in such a way that better works for you – you may just find that you have tons more space in your home than you think, and simply organizing that space can make a big difference to your mood.

Think Color and Light
You know what best suits your vision so work to that. You may be a minimalist and prefer wide open spaces, or you may be someone that loves to show off their trinkets in a homely and cozy manner. Either way, a lick of new paint to bring a breath of fresh air or welcoming warmth to your home, could be a simple way to give a room a completely new feel without breaking the bank. Further color has a huge impact on our mood, color theory posits that different colors can impact our wellbeing making us feel happier, calmer, inspired and so forth.

Light is also a big mood improver and can change a room drastically. Look to rearranging the spaces that you spend longer periods of time in, around a light source – such as a window. Ensure your curtains open up fully to let in maximum light. Natural light and fresh air are often best, but adding lamps and light fixtures will also boost a rooms comfort.

Home Sold

2021 Property Sales Predicted To Be Highest Since 2006

As we approach a new year, many of the plans that were put on hold in 2020 could now become a reality. Despite the continued presence of COVID-19, much progress has been made to help mitigate its impact, including the roll out of mass vaccines which will take place over the coming months. In fact, a new online calculator in the U.K. shows when you are likely to receive your vaccine down and where you are in the queue! It appears that life may start to return to some kind of normality by the summer, and this means that you can start to dust off those plans for moving home and start preparing for your next move.

Reports have suggested that property prices in the U.S. are likely to be the most robust in 15 years, with Redfin reporting that ‘home sales, new construction and homeownership will rise to record highs, as mortgage rates remain historically low.’ Furthermore, the company’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather believes that 2021 will see ‘more home sales than any year since 2006’.

Many people who were thinking of putting their property on the market in 2020 have delayed the decision due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Fear over the security of jobs and the availability of buyers in the market led many to decide against listing their properties. However, with a brighter 2021 predicted, and people becoming more desensitized to the pandemic, it is likely that a flurry of properties will become available, and it may well turn into a buyers market. If you are thinking of making a property move in 2021, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

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Pick Your Location
This may seem an obvious point, but it is important to give due consideration to the exact location that you want to move to. Check out local amenities, schools, shops and medical facilities as well as transportation links and local parks. Research similar house prices in the area and even check out the local news to see what is happening in the local community. Keep COVID-19 in mind and consider what aspects of your current location were most valuable to you during lockdown. Experts predict that we will face another global pandemic in our lifetime, so it’s worth making sure your next move provides the right environment should we face a similar crisis in the future.

Research Properties Online
The real estate sector has had to adapt quickly to the demands of a lockdown buyer and so you may find that there is much more information available online than was previously available. We all know that pictures can often paint a rose-tinted picture of a property, with rooms looking vast thanks to a creatively used fish-eye lens. Many properties now offer virtual tours which provide much more detail to prospective buyers before they’ve even committed to a visit. Some buyers also participate in online Zoom tours or Q&As, allowing you to ask all of those pertinent questions very early on in your qualification process. This means that you can avoid much of the wasted time of viewing properties that aren’t suitable and really focus in on those which are likely to closely fit your ideal requirements.

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Review Your Financials
The pandemic has hit both buyers and sellers hard, and lenders have changed the requirements for granting mortgages since the pandemic hit. It is therefore well worth checking out your current financial situation and what you’d be able to borrow before you start looking again. It may be that your available lending has decreased somewhat. On the other hand, you may find that lending rates are much more favourable, meaning that you’ll actually be able to borrow more than you were previously looking at based on your affordability. In fact, according to an article on the Motley Fool, loan limits on conforming mortgages will be going up in 2021, meaning that you may be able to borrow more to buy a house without needing a ‘jumbo loan’.

According to the Federal Housing Financing Agency, it appears that the new loan limit for conforming loans across most areas will rise to $548,20 next year. This is a leap of $37,850 and relates specifically to one-unit properties. For the vast majority of people this change won’t affect them, but for those who fall within the change limit, this could mean that they qualify for a conforming loan instead of a jumbo loan. Conforming loans typically attract lower rates and are therefore far more favorable.

The new year is always a time for setting new goals for the year ahead and after such a turbulent 2020, many will be hopeful that the next 12 months will provide a most positive experience. With property markets looking favourable, could 2021 be your year for finding your dream home?