Real Estate Home & Keys

UK Housing Market Showing Major Increases In Housing Prices

House prices in the United Kingdom rose by 8.5% throughout 2020, this marks the largest annual growth rate for the nation since October 2014, according to new official figures released by the government. 

In December 2020, the average price of a house in the UK hit £252,000, which is equivalent to $355,370 in the United States. Government leaders believe this increase is due to the pandemic, but also due to the stamp duty holiday which is projected to finish at the end of March this year. 

The Office for National Statistics released figures this week that showed north-west England as experiencing the highest growth in pricing. Housing rose by 11.2%% last year for that sector, and prices in London rose by just 3.5%. By the end of 2020 the average price of a home in England was around $327,048 in American currency (£269,000).

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“In Wales prices grew 10.7% to an average of £184,000 ($223,706). Scotland had an 8.4% increase to an average of £163,000 ($198,174), while in Northern Ireland a house would typically set buyers back £148,000 ($179937) – up 5.3% on the figure for December 2019,” according to reports.

The fact that so many individuals have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has obviously stunted how many individuals are willing to put their homes on the market during the worst global health and economic crisis in decades. There’s simply not enough supply to meet the demand, even if that demand is exponentially smaller than normal. 

The Office for National Statistics also claimed that the average price of detached properties rose by 10% in 2020 compared to a 5% growth in pricing for flats and maisonettes. 

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“Recent price increases may reflect a range of factors, including pent-up demand, some possible changes in housing preferences since the pandemic, and a response to the changes made to property transaction taxes across the nations.”

In July 2020 the chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday as a means of getting the property market moving. The holiday released property purchases in England and Northern Ireland up to the value of £500,000 ($607,897) from tax payments, according to reports. 

Sarah Coles is a personal finance analyst in the US who claims there’s already hopeful signs that the market will begin to cool down. “Early calculations from Halifax are that house prices fell back 0.3% in January, while the RICS survey showed sales had plummeted, and estate agents expect things to get worse as we go through the spring. A shortage of properties on the market should keep prices from falling, but there’s not going to be a great deal of enthusiasm for more rises.”

Coles went on to explain that “the chancellor could breathe some new life back into the market in the budget if he makes some kind of concession for people mid-sale when the stamp duty rules change. However, there’s no guarantee he’ll do this, and, even if he does, buyers and sellers may be reluctant to get back into the race.”

Travel Industry Is Bracing For A Slower Recovery Than Expected In 2021

The tourism industry has been one of the most heavily impacted sectors of the US economy, and while 2021 was initially looking hopeful in terms of recovery, experts aren’t as convinced now. 

NYC Real Estate

How Commercial Real Estate Will Advance In 2021 Thanks To Digital Marketing 

The Biden administration has pledged to reduce the carbon footprint caused by US buildings by 50% by the year 2035. While the administration hasn’t announced a concrete plan on how they intend to do so, digital services that help businesses monitor their carbon emissions is already proving to show success for the commercial real estate sector.

For example, Carbon Lighthouse is a startup with over $67 million in funding that uses artificial intelligence to lower building emissions in commercial real estate. Their new Efficiency Production service allows building owners to directly monitor and measure carbon emissions in certain structures. This technology is thought to be extremely beneficial for older buildings that may be falling behind on meeting new climate goals. 

The 2021 Deloitte Commercial Real Estate Outlook Report shows data that proves the Covid-19 pandemic has also made a major systemic impact on commercial real estate for 2021 that will last the whole year. John D’Angelo is a US Real Estate Leader at Deloitte Consulting who helped write the report. He claimed the impact of the pandemic on commercial real estate is causing the industry to rely much more on technology.

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“As commercial real estate companies work to understand and respond to emerging behavior patterns, create safe building spaces, improve operational efficiency and identify asset- and portfolio-level risks and opportunities. We see the rise of digital twins, direct digital engagement, data and analytics, robotic press automation and digital maturity to drive commercial real estate  in 2021 and beyond,” D’Angelo explained. 

Jim Berry is the Vice Chairman and US Real Estate Leader at Deloitte, who also recently spoke with the media regarding the pandemics creation of unique obstacles for the industry to get through: “It is important to recognize that while the pandemic served as an accelerant in the market, it did not change the trends that were already occurring.”

“In previous commercial real estate outlooks, we had pointed to a changing dynamic and need for the industry to seize better opportunities to utilize new and emerging technologies and data analytics to drive a different value proposition that focuses on tenant and end-user experience. Today, we continue to see – and what you can expect down the road – is a disruption in the value proposition of commercial real estate,” said Berry.

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“As memorable as 2020 events have been, 2021 and beyond will be telling, as certain commercial real estate companies begin to step into opportunities to better align their operations with those of the occupier and end-user.”

Berry believes that this newfound focus on these technologies will help advance development and shift the way the industry works overall for the better. The digitization of carbon emissions and other information regarding climate is essential for these businesses to maintain a greener footprint. 

“We will see commercial real estate businesses reevaluating the value proposition of properties by emphasizing experiential value and repositioning assets such as transforming the talent function – job roles, processes, and culture – to prepare for the future of work and balancing business recovery, seizing new opportunities and tenant and employee engagement. This will likely require a combination of elements, including breaking down functional silos, enhancing leadership and organizational agility, increasing collaboration and engaging in transparent and ethical decision-making.”

Berry believes that as the pandemic comes to an end, all the trends that were existing before it hit will still be around, but much more advanced, which will hopefully be beneficial to both the real estate industry overall in America, as well as the planet.


Nintendo Continues To Thrive, Announces Best Quarter Yet For Switch Devices 

Nintendo has been thriving even more than usual within the past year. The Covid-19 pandemic which has forced the world to stay home indefinitely has been amazing for the entertainment industry, and Nintendo is no different. Especially with the relatively recent release of their Switch and Switch Lite consoles, Nintendo has literally never been more popular. 

Nintendo sold 11.57 million Switch Consoles last quarter alone, bringing the total sales to 79.87 million since the release of the devices in 2017. That marks a 7% increase in sales when compared to this time last year, it also marks the Switch’s best quarter to date. Switch has now surpassed Nintendo 3DS and 2DS devices in terms of sales; 3DS and 2DS devices currently stand at around 75 million units. 

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If the Switch manages to have a normal spring quarter this year, which would mean selling at least 2.5 million units, the device will pass the Game Boy Advance in sales which peaked at 81.51 million. The Wii, Game Boy, and DS family are the only other Nintendo devices currently above the Switch in terms of overall sales when they were released.

Nintendo Switch sales for last quarter are relatively surprising as well due to the fact that Nintendo didn’t have that many big Switch launches last quarter outside of the Legend of Zelda spin-off game Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Beyond that Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and Pikmin 3 Deluxe were the only other major launches; each game sold a little more than 1 million units. 

Older Nintendo Switch games have been continuously selling since their releases. Mario Kart Deluxe currently has over 33 million sales, and the extremely popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been thriving throughout the pandemic. The game is less than a year old and already has 31 million total sales. 

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According to their quarterly reports “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes the third spot with 22.85 million sales, followed by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (21.45 million) and Pokémon Sword and Shield (20.35 million). Rounding out the top 10 is Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Party, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Eevee!, Splatoon 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.”

Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury, which is an updated version of the 3DS game, will be coming out February 12th which is expected to give Nintendo an even larger boost in sales. Following that release Persona 5 Strikers and Bravely Default II will both be released on February 23rd and 26th. 

Nintendo also announces that later in the quarter the company Capcom will be releasing their Switch version of Monster Hunter: World, the widely popular PS4, Xbox One, and PC game, which will be titled Monster Hunter Rise. The company also announced that it would be releasing dozens of their other popular titles for the Switch this year; many of which were previously released for Nintendo 3DS devices.

US Stimulus Checks

President Biden To Meet With GOP Senators To Discuss Covid-19 Relief

GOP Senators are meeting with President Biden today to propose an alternative Covid-19 relief package as the White House and congressional Democrats gear up to move forward with Biden’s current $1.9 trillion plan.

Delta Airplane

Delta And United Airlines Will Permanently Remove International Change Fees 

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the travel industry in the US in more ways than one. Many major airline companies have begun implementing new policies to help cushion the economic blow that the tourism sector has suffered from within the past ten months of the pandemic. Most recently, Delta and United airlines have announced that they will be permanently eliminating change fees for flights across the globe. 

Throughout the entire pandemic airlines throughout the world and nation have recognized that there would be a major decline in travel, so they began eliminating fees that are typically charged to travelers who change their international flights or cancel them all together. Initially this was just a temporary move so that travelers wouldn’t have to worry about paying more money in the middle of a global health and economic crisis, however, Delta and United realized the elimination of these fees is actually a great thing for consumers and the airlines all together. 

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For Delta specifically, the airline will waive its $200 international change fee for any flight that “originates in the US or between the US, Mexico and the Caribbean going forward, including code-share flights,” according to the company’s announcement. Basic economic fares are excluded and according to Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian this elimination has proven to be extremely valuable.

“Our approach has always been to put people first, which is why we’re extending our current change fee waiver and making lasting changes to our practices, so customers have the trust and confidence they need long after the pandemic ends.”  

Delta is going to continue to charge $75 for same-day standby, but the airline is extending its Covid-19 policy waivers which removes change fees for all domestic and international tickets purchased through March 30th of this year. 

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United Airlines also recently announced that they would be eliminating change fees for international flights moving forward. For domestic flights, change fees will also be eliminated but only for flights booked before or on March 31st of this year. The airline wrote a statement in which they claimed that the decision was “made recognizing that flexibility is more important to our customers than ever.” 

United initially implemented the no-change fee policy back in August for all domestic flights which inspired a slew of other airlines in America to waive their flight change fees as well. American Airlines became the first US airline to get rid of change fees completely for all flights from North or South America and the airline has also eliminated their fee for domestic same-day standby.

American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer, Vasu Raja, recently released a statement regarding the choice, stating that the company is “committed to making travel easier for customers who fly on American.” 

It’s expected that other modes of transportation that make up the tourism sector for the US’s economy will also begin to implement policies and waivers of fees like these airlines at least in the beginning of the post-pandemic reopening of the country as a means of rebuilding what was lost within the past ten months.

Man Filing for Unemployment

Weekly Jobless Claims Remain Stagnant As Hiring Slows Down In America 

Throughout this past week in America there have been indicators that the labor market is continuing to weaken, and new jobs aren’t being created at a rate they once were. The pandemic obviously has everything to do with this, however, despite the decline in hiring throughout the nation, first-time filings for unemployment remained relatively stagnant in the end of 2020. 

This is surprising because in terms of the pandemic and economy, the US has entered into its worst phase so far; and that began back in November. First-time filings have been on a steady increase throughout the fall, but by the end of last week, weekly claims totaled 787,000. The Labor Department and Dow Jones both estimated that 815,000 filings would’ve been the total based on the trends that existed at the end of the year. 

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The report showed that compared to the week prior the amount of filings decreased by 3,000 for first-time filings, and 126,000 for continued claims. Now, the total amount of individuals receiving continuous claims is around 5.07 million and those receiving benefits from all government assisted programs declined by 420,000 to 19.2 million. 

This week ADP reported that private contracts and workers accounted for 123,000 job losses in December, which is the first time that the sector of the labor market has seen such a substantial decline in employment. Ian Shepherdson, a chief economist, recently spoke with the media about this predictable yet devastating consistency in unemployment. 

“A combination of Covid fear and state-mandated restrictions on activity in the services sector is squeezing businesses, and no real relief is likely until a sustained decline in pressure on hospitals emerges.”

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The Labor Department is currently projected to report that the US economy has added at least 50,000 jobs to the labor force in America at the end of 2020. However, the unemployment rate has continued to increase and is now at 6.8%, according to estimates from Dow Jones. 

While the labor market continues to remain in deep distress the average for continued unemployment claims has oddly decreased; last week it fell down to 818,750, for comparison this time last year the amount of continued claims totaled 219,750. 

Illinois is the state responsible for the biggest drop in claims with a decline of 62,765. Multiple states showed that they gained more than 10,000 claims in the last week; including Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Virginia, and Texas. 

The fourth quarter is expected to show a considerable growth in the amount of new hires that occurred. This is also based on current investment and consumer spending data. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow tracker of activity is predicting a 8.9% gain for “domestic product” and employment.

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.

Trump Signs Covid-19 Relief And Government Funding Bill 

President Donald Trump has signed the $2.3 trillion Covid-19 relief and government funding bill into law this past Sunday night. The $900 billion coronavirus relief package will extend unemployment benefits to millions of jobless gig-workers, independent contractors, and long-term unemployed individuals. 

12 million Americans have been receiving benefits from two key pandemic unemployment programs. This past weekend would’ve marked their last weekend of payments had this bill not been signed; they will now receive another 11 weeks. All individuals collecting unemployment payments will also be receiving an additional $300 weekly through the middle of March. 

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Since Trump didn’t sign the bill on Saturday, however, those who are in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs will likely not receive a payment for the final week of 2020, and the $300 additional payments may only last 10 weeks due to the fact that the states can’t provide benefits for weeks before a program is fully authorized. 

The Covid-19 relief package was initially passed by Congress on Monday and then was flown to Mar-a-Lago on Thursday so Trump could then sign it. After endless hours of negotiations, the current president finally signed the bill, which will provide $600 stimulus payments to all adult Americans, and $1,200 to all couples; exactly half of what was given out during the initial round of stimulus payments. 

Trump himself has been spending the past month trying to get the 2020 election investigated on dozens of baseless claims of voter fraud, in fact, this past weekend when he signed the bill Trump claimed that the Senate would be “considering legislation that repeals Section 230, and thus start an investigation into voter fraud.” It’s currently unclear what that legislation would actually look like, and it’s important to note that there has been 0% evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election. 

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The two programs previously mentioned that are being extended allows the self-employed, freelance, and gig workers to qualify for up to 39 weeks of payments, and will now be opened up to those who can’t work in general due to the pandemic. 

The new deal extends the programs for up to 11 weeks and each will close to new applicants on March 14th but will continue through April 5th for individuals who have existing claims and have not reached their maximum number of weeks by that point. Eviction protection is also extended until January 31st and will provide $25 billion in rental assistance to those who are unable to work for pandemic-related reasons. 

It’s estimated that 9.2 million renters in America have lost their employment during the pandemic, and are struggling to pay their rent. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented an order in the beginning of the pandemic that halted some evictions and rental payments through 2020, however, the program didn’t cancel out the payments, so without this new package many Americans were gearing up to receive a massive bill on January 1st for all the rent they would owe from the past nine months.

Who’s Getting The Next Round Of Stimulus Checks In The US?

Congress passed a $900 billion economic relief package Monday night that would give $600 stimulus checks to American adults to help them cope with the Covid-19 pandemic; the checks are half of the $1,200 that most adults received during the initial stimulus package at the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has not provided any further financial assistance to its citizens until now. 

President Donald Trump, however, tweets on Tuesday night that he would not be signing the economic relief package, and then a video in which he urged Congress to increase the stimulus checks.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 dollars to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple.”

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The $600 is obviously not going to be enough for most American households that have been struggling to cope with unemployment, monthly bills, and a lack of security. 6 in 10 Americans have claimed to be financially impacted by the pandemic. The checks will likely begin hitting individuals accounts as early as next week. 

Dependent children will now be receiving the same $600 checks that adults receive as well; which is an increase from the $500 checks that children received in the initial relief package. So who is eligible for the package in general?

Single individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive a check for $600 while married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200; overall this package is half of what Americans received during the first round of stimulus payments. According to the House Appropriations committee, the amount of stimulus payment will decrease by $5 for every $100 of income that is earned above those thresholds. 

As previously mentioned an additional $600 will be directed towards every dependent child under the age of 17. Adult dependants, such as older high school students or college students, won’t qualify for checks as it’s expected that they rely on their parents for financial security. A family with two parents and two child dependents could receive up to $2,400. 

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Couples that include an immigrant without a Green Card will also qualify for the checks, a move that will be important for many families because the first round of stimulus checks didn’t provide payments for households unless all members held legal citizenship. This issue was taken to court, where it was found that denying checks to US citizens based on their spousal or parental relationships to someone who may not have a Green Card, is unconstitutional. 

Individuals receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or Veteran benefits will also be receiving the $600 checks; these groups of people were also denied payments during the initial round of stimulus payments. 

The stimulus bill also includes an extra $300 a week for individuals on unemployment. This means current jobless Americans will receive their regular state unemployment payments as well as an additional $300 until March 14th, 2021. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program will also be extended; the program covers gig workers and self-employed individuals.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will also be extended into March; this program provides additional weeks of jobless aid to individuals who have already utilized all of their regular state unemployment benefits. The Paycheck Protection Program is also being extended by another $282 billion of forgivable loans. Some of that funding is being set aside for small businesses, nonprofits, and local newspaper, TV, and Radio broadcasters. 

Another $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans is being set aside for businesses in low-income communities, after the government received a ton of backlash for bailing out multi-million dollar corporations in the beginning of the pandemic, and continuing to leave smaller businesses in the dust.