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Australia’s Prime Minister Says International Travelers Won’t Be Welcome Until At Least 2022

Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined plans for lifting some of Australia’s toughest Covid-19 this week. Part of this outline stated that foreign tourists won’t be welcomed back until at least 2022. The country will instead be prioritizing the return of skilled migrants and students by reopening external borders when they reach a certain rate of vaccination.  

Morrison’s benchmark for reopening will be once 80% of the population aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated. He also announced plans to allow vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas in November; citizens haven’t been able to leave since March 2020. 

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Australia has been reporting the lowest level of immigration since World War II due to these strict travel restrictions. Australian universities and businesses have been struggling to cope with the lack of international students and tourists who typically support these institutions financially. 

Australia’s travel restrictions, however, has allowed life to return to a fairly normal place due to the lack of infection. As of right now some of its biggest cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, are currently experiencing shutdowns due to minor outbreaks. These shutdowns are what has helped keep Australia’s rate of infection low. 

The difficulty with restricting citizens from international travel is that half of Australia’s population was born overseas, or has at least one immigrant parent. Morrison said the priority will be to get migrants and international students back before tourists, but did not specify when he thinks those groups will be allowed back. 

Before the pandemic, the Australian Tourism Export Council made 33 billion American dollars in a year. That sort of revenue could help Australia’s recovery efforts immensely, which is why the Council is hoping international visitors will be able to return by March. 

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As of right now, however, the lack of specificity in the plan to reopen borders has many workers within Australia’s tourism/travel industry worried. 

“International tourist arrivals have to be part of the plan. Even if they’re not the first priority, we’d like to see how this is going to be worked out. There are many businesses that are just hanging on,” said Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

Morrison said that the “government would work toward a complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so,” but did not give a clear timeline as to when that will happen. Any international travelers that are able to travel into Australia currently must quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. 

Australia is currently battling outbreaks of Covid-19 and its variants while rushing to get as many citizens vaccinated as possible. It’s initial vaccine rollout was slow, but is starting to gain some momentum now.

Magnify Glass of Real Estate Market

Global Wellness Real Estate Market Surging Throughout Pandemic 

Wellness real estate is defined as “commercial, institutional, and residential properties that incorporate wellness elements in their architecture and amenities,” according to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

GWI explained that throughout the past few years the wellness real estate market has seen exponential growth, even with the pandemic. 

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“The pandemic fueled the shift in the real estate and construction industries toward wellness: from 2019-2020, wellness real estate continued to grow by over 22%, even as overall construction shrank,” the organization reported.

GWI held their annual Wellness Real Estate and Communities Symposium this week in New York where they discussed the market as it currently stands, and ways to continue to expand and improve it. 

“The wellness real estate market as a continuing opportunity, driven in part from lessons learned during COVID. Doctors, architects and wellness professionals have come together to introduce preventive medicine intentions into the way we design the built environment as a preventative medicine tool,” shared presenter and sponsor Paul Scialla, CEO of wellness technology firm Delos.

“The pandemic has driven the idea of ‘building for human health’ into the mainstream consumer consciousness, and the recent market growth far exceeded our predictions.”

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The US and China alone account for 60% of the overall total wellness real estate market. GWI estimates that there are more than 2300 wellness projects worldwide in various stages of development and completion; three years ago that number was around 740. 

GWI attributes the growth in the industry to many factors, including many brought on by the pandemic; “stress, loneliness, remote work and an increasing eco-consciousness in the public sphere.”

“The pandemic has definitely brought the wellness real estate concept more into focus. COVID forced us to see our homes and built environment in a radically new light. Wellness real estate is now quickly moving from elective to essential.”

According to GWI vice president of research and forecasting, Beth McGroarty, the pandemic drove trends in wellness real estate thanks to a multitude of factors, such as advanced technology, remote working procedures, and affordability depending on the area.

Luxury Home

Home Construction Projects At An All Time Low Since Pandemic Began

The US is currently facing a historic shortage of homes for sale, which is why it’s surprising that homebuilders aren’t working as frequently as they once were towards the beginning of the pandemic. With the pandemic itself coming to a close, many Americans are continuing to look for work, and real estate prices and service fees have only increased for the same reason. 

According to reports from NBC, single-family housing is priced 13% lower when compared to this time last year. This marks the sharpest decline since last April, when the pandemic initially shut down the economy.  

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“I have to blame the difficulty in procuring lumber and other products, along with labor issues for the miss, in addition to likely cancellations due to skyrocketing costs for single family starts,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

According to a recent survey performed by the National Association of Home Builders, “prices of new and existing homes are at record levels, and the increases are accelerating at the fastest clip in over 15 years. Nearly half of all builders say they are adding escalation clauses to their sale prices because of rising material costs.”

“Escalation clauses specify that if building materials increase, by a certain percentage for example, the customer would be responsible for paying the higher cost. Including such a clause allows all parties to be on notice that the contract costs could change if materials prices change due to supply constraints outside the builder’s control,” according to the NAHB.

In a monthly sentiment survey, they also noted that “builders said they were slowing production in order to deal with higher costs for lumber, steel, gypsum and copper, some of which have hit record highs this year. A broad mix of residential construction materials is up in aggregate 12.4% over the previous 12 months.”

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The NAHB claimed in their statement that lumber alone increased in price tremendously throughout the past year; specifically the group claimed the increase has added an additional $36,000 charge to every single-family home building cost. 

The housing sector, like most of the industry, is also dealing with a major shortage in labor. Last April saw a major decrease in construction employment due to the fact that construction projects were some of the first to be halted when the pandemic began, leaving thousands of laborers unemployed or indefinitely furloughed. 

“Contractors are experiencing unprecedented intensity and range of cost increases, supply-chain disruptions, and worker shortages that have kept firms from increasing their workforces. These challenges will make it difficult for contractors to rebound as the pandemic appears to wane,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist with Associated General Contractors of America, an industry trade group. 

“Builders are also reporting difficulty obtaining other inputs like appliances. These supply-chain constraints are holding back a housing market that should otherwise be picking up speed, given the strong demand for buying fueled by an improving job market and low mortgage rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Kids using technology

Biden To Call For Universal Preschool As Part Of New Family Plan 

President Joe Biden is set to deliver his first joint address to Congress this week, where he is planning on calling for universal preschool as a part of his American Families Plan. According to his administration Biden is looking to make a major “investment in our kids,” and will be laying out how his proposal will help families with basic expenses. 

White House officials claim that the administration has held briefings with key senators to discuss the details of the proposal itself. The child care proposal comes after Biden began enforcing the American Relief stimulus packages to help aid Americans struggling to make ends meet with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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According to the White House Biden will be calling for a national partnership among all the states to provide free, high quality, accessible preschool care to all 3 and 4-year-old children. Once fully implemented, the act will help more than 5 million children and save the average family $13,000. 

The $200 billion investment is set to prioritize more underprivileged areas first, as these have been the hardest within the past year. The main goal is to give every family the freedom to decide where they want their child to go to preschool without worrying about the cost. The plan will also work to ensure all publicly-funded preschools are high quality, meaning they have a low student-to-teacher ratio, offer a developmentally appropriate curriculum, and create an overall supportive environment that is inclusive for all students. 

According to reports from CBS news, “the president is seeking to leverage tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential that supports their work as an educator, or to become an early childhood educator. Educators will also receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work.”

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All employees working in pre-k programs and Head Start will earn a wage of at least $15 an hour as a part of the American Families Plan. Additionally those with the proper qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with kindergarten educators. 

Currently the average child care worker earns $11.65 an hour, so the inclusion of these financial provisions for workers will hopefully work to bring back some of the thousands of child care workers who were forced to leave the labor force due to the pandemic. 

Studies have shown that kids who participate in pre-K are more likely to take honors classes and are less likely to repeat a grade while kids in lower-income areas do better once they reach middle school. This is due to a multitude of educational inequality issues within America, but a lot of it roots back to the access most children have to preschool programs. 

“Together, these plans reinvest in the future of the American economy and American workers, and will help us out-compete China and other countries around the world.”

This proposal, along with the proposals for the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, will include a tax increase for major corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

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. 

Real Estate Home & Keys

What To Expect From The US Housing Market In 2021

Realtor.com recently released their annual housing predictions report for next year. For 2021, the site is projecting record-high prices and a continuous rise in pricing due to an increased desire to sell after the Covid-19 pandemic. Mortgage interest rates hit record lows within the past year which helped fuel the housing market as the pandemic worsened, however, it’s predicted that these rates will also increase in the new year, which would make monthly housing payments more expensive. 

The pace of these pricing increases, however, will likely be slow. In general prices are expected to jump by 5.7% total as a result of more properties being placed on the market. Real estate industry heads are expecting the second half of the year will be full of houses on the market, because at that point a vaccine will likely be heavily distributed and in-person showings/open houses will hopefully be able to resume normally. 

“We expect affordability to become a bigger challenge, it’s going to make housing more expensive. But home prices will rise slower than this year.”

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Danielle Hale is a Chief Economist for realtor.com, who also predicted that mortgage rates will begin to slowly increase within the second half of 2021. The current rate is at an all time low of 2.7%, however, it’s projected to increase to 3.4% by the end of next year. While that increase isn’t that intense, and will likely take the whole year, the residual increasing in preexisting mortgage payments will be noticeable. 

On a more positive note, sales of existing homes on the market, and future listings, are expected to increase by 7% in 2021, which would be amazing for the economy overall. This will be a direct result of individuals finally being able to leave their homes and seek a new property with features that they missed within the past ten months of lockdown. 

“Home prices can’t outpace income growth indefinitely. The higher prices rise, the harder it is for more buyers to get into the market. That tends to dampen demand.”

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Again, most experts are expecting to see a more positive change in the second half of 2021 under the assumption that at that point a majority of the country will be vaccinated and the industry will return back to almost full normalcy. There’s no doubt that they’ll be plenty of houses on the market, the problem will come if there’s enough demand to meet the supply; especially considering the fact that America is also involved in yet another economic crisis that has left tens of millions of citizens unemployed. 

It’s also predicted that houses currently being developed and future residential construction projects will drive the market back up for individuals looking to rent. According to Hale, however, it’s all going to be dependent on every buyer/seller’s local market and economy: “Sellers are still expected to get top dollar for their home sales, the biggest challenge is finding their new home.”

If the nation undergoes a second lockdown in the beginning of 2021, as president-elect Joe Biden claims we will be, then fewer homes will also be placed on the market for obvious reasons, causing the market to slow tremendously. However, when it comes down to it, we’re talking about people’s lives over the US housing market, so it should be a no-brainer.

Social Media Will Be Key Tool For Real Estate Success In 2021

A multitude of industries that rely on in-person interactions have had to make some major adjustments throughout the past nine months to maintain business during the worst global health crisis in the last century. The real estate industry is one of the biggest examples of this transition, as agents are realizing the power of the internet and social media in relation to the success of their business. 

Philip Scheinfeld is a prominent luxury real estate agent working for New York’s Compass who recently spoke with Forbes Magazine about the importance and power that social media has, and why it will be an integral part of the industry’s rise back to the top in 2021. Scheinfeld himself is one of New York City’s most successful young real estate agents, having sold over $150,000,000 worth of property throughout the city. 

“Having a social media presence is one of the most important, if not the most important presence you can have today as an agent.”

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Agents are now using social media sites beyond just Zillow to sell homes, find clients, and grow their brands during one of the most tumultuous economic times the US has faced in the past decade. Not being able to meet with clients in person has been one of the greatest difficulties for any industry that runs on making in-person sales, however, the uncertainty that came with navigating this new digitized means of performing business has led to a lot of great successes. 

“Social media is the strongest marketing tool we have out there,” according to Schenfield, who stressed how powerful it is to have a tool that gives you access to people all around the world within seconds. He also stressed the importance of having a good team of workers to navigate these new business models with, which holds true in any industry really. 

The engagement with clients that can occur over social media can also increase how recognizable a certain agency is. The more prominent and engaging an agency is online the more likely it is that their clients will share that story and page to their profiles, thus increasing exposure even further. It’s also important that clients still feel that personal connection over the internet. Scheinfeld claims one of the biggest struggles he sees with agents navigating selling property in the middle of a pandemic is that they’re not building enough of a personal relationship with their clients. 

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“Don’t follow trends and be cookie cutter. Make yourself different. That’s the power of social media—it’s your canvas.”

Scheinfeld claims his three biggest tips for using social media to grow your business are to engage, remember you’re representing your name/brand with every interaction, and to be authentic. Reputation is everything, and your online presence can quickly make or break that reputation. Don’t misrepresent your brand, but most importantly yourself, clients want an agent who can personally connect with them as it makes them feel safe and secure that you’re the best person to find them what they’re looking for. 

“Make sure that you are not treating your clients like transactions. Make them feel special, important and that you have their best interest at heart. Make it feel like a personal relationship rather than a transaction.” Regardless of the industry you’re in, using the internet and social media to interact with your clients, customers, or whoever else helps your business grow is the key for success in 2021. After this pandemic comes to an end the digital age will only continue to advance, and it’s likely that a lot of the digital practices we picked up throughout the past nine months will stick indefinitely, so take advantage now.

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Global Real Estate Leader Discusses Covid-19 Impact On Design And Commercial Industry

Jack Paruta is the senior project architect with Gensler; one of the largest architecture, design, and consulting firms in the real estate industry.

Real Estate During COVID-19

How The Real Estate Industry Is Coping With The Covid-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted countless lives, jobs, and businesses throughout the world, one of the biggest being the real estate industry. Recently, a company known as OJO Labs performed a study to specifically measure how intense the impact has been on the housing market as a means of gaining more insight into how buyers are reacting to this pandemic. 

One of the biggest things the study found was that nearly 80% of all potential buyers have either delayed their search for a new home or have just stopped it all together. This is one of the larger percentages in the study, and also one of the least surprising results, as it’s hard for potential buyers to want to invest in a property that they can’t even go see; depending on the place and situation. 

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60% of those surveyed said their main concerns had to do with the uncertainty of their own employment, and 54% said their issue had more to do with the not being able to see it aspect. 

“Those who did pause typically did either because they had an unforeseen circumstance, like job loss or furlough, or are halting their search due to a general fear of the unknown. Once consumers’ situations change, and we return to a semblance of normal, they’ll be ready to move forward again,” sai Chris Heller, Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs.

However, despite the results and these valid concerns, the study did show that buyers were still very much interested in investing in a new property, it’s just more of a matter of being able to now. Those who said they delayed their searches claim to still be looking at listings, just with a more casual attitude at the moment. 

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Specifically, 28% of buyers say they’re still looking at listing photos and 25% reported that they were taking virtual tours of the properties, a trend that’s been keeping many real estate businesses alive. Surprisingly, 30% of those surveyed reported that they were looking at listings even more so now that there’s a pandemic going on, because they assume homeowners would be more motivated to sell. 

Out of that 30%, however, only 20% said that they were actually making moves to accelerate their home-buying process in light of the virus. Heller’s main piece of advice for those trying to expedite their purchase is to make sure you’re with an experienced agent who knows how to navigate negotiating a contract through special circumstances; while no real estate agent has specific pandemic experience, real professionals will know how to make the process as smooth as possible given all the circumstances. 

In terms of what buyers are specifically looking for in potential homes, Heller claims that the “criteria that they once considered wants – like a home office – may turn into needs as a result of COVID-19. As the remote work trend continues beyond COVID-19, home location, and commute times, which are a driving force for buyers, will play a less important role in the home search for some buyers. Instead, they’ll prioritize different preferences like neighborhoods, communities, and lifestyle.”

It’s no surprise that like every other industry in the world right now, Covid-19 has shaken up the way things have run. However, it still seems as though those who are motivated and determined to move can still do so safely as long as they have the proper resources and individuals around to guide them. So while it’s easy to get discouraged during a worldwide pandemic, it’s also important to remember the aspects of normal life that are still working.

Suitcases

How the Travel Industry is Fighting Climate Change

As the effects of climate change materialize in the form of more frequent and destructive extreme weather events, various industries are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint with renewed intensity. As tourism contributes heavily to carbon emissions thanks to the emissions released by cars and airplanes, the tourism industry is looking for ways to make vacations more environmentally-friendly. The industry is deploying a variety of methods for doing so, from investing in more carbon-neutral infrastructure to educating tourists about the environmental impacts of travel and teaching them how to reduce carbon emissions. And as popular vacation destinations are being transformed by a changing climate, tourists are witnessing first-hand the disastrous impact of climate change, reinforcing the urgency of developing more environmentally-friendly practices like reducing carbon emissions, cutting back on waste, and exploring sustainable alternatives in all parts of life.

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According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the tourism industry is responsible for about 5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, although others say the real figure is much higher than that. While this percentage may seem small, it accounts for a tremendous amount of carbon being released into the environment, and when it comes to tackling climate change reducing carbon emissions in whatever way possible is essential. Like major corporations in other industries, hotel chains are exploring ways to transform their businesses into ones that have a low or neutral carbon impact. Hilton, for instance, gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from a power plant that burns natural gas, which is a cleaner method than most popular forms of energy production, although it is not entirely carbon neutral. Hilton is also transitioning to using more energy-efficient lighting and appliances, including air conditioning systems that automatically turn off when they’re not being used.

Cruise lines, too, are trying to transition to a more environmentally-friendly business model. Royal Caribbean, for instance, is incorporating technology into their cruise ships that filters almost all of the sulfur dioxide emissions from their exhaust. The popular cruise line, having pledged to respect the oceans in the environment, has also invested in energy-saving lighting systems and has engineered the designs of their ships for optimum efficiency. Another cruise line, Hurtigruten, plans to transition to using liquified biogas, which is derived from organic waste instead of from fossil fuels.

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Educational efforts are part of how the industry is attempting to tackle climate change as well. Many hotels and tour groups encourage tourists to reduce waste by taking shorter baths and showers as well as reducing their laundry by re-using towels, among other strategies for minimizing waste. Tourist destinations, such as Lake Tahoe in Nevada, are trying to reduce their carbon emissions by improving their public transportation systems, reducing the extent to which people rely on cars to get around. Even luxury tourism brands are attempting to become more environmentally-friendly; The Brando, for instance, is a luxury resort that runs entirely on renewable energy, acting as a model for how other resorts can help to provide a luxurious vacation experience while completely eliminating their reliance on fossil fuels and harmful carbon emissions. 

 

As the global economy is currently strong, many expect that the tourism industry will continue to grow in the future, even as the nature of tourism itself changes due to climate change, both in terms of how a changing climate affects the weather conditions of tourist destinations and in terms of how the tourism industry is changing to reduce its contributions to the crisis.