Pay Rent Reminder

America’s Struggling Rental Market Could Bring New Housing Crisis For The Nation

A large number of renters have been unable to pay some or all of their rent since the Covid-19 pandemic began impacting the US back in March.

Hawaii Real Estate

Hawaii Real Estate Agents Report Unexpected Spike In Sales 

Catherine Pennell is a real estate agent representing Kauai for KW Kauai Keller Williams in Hawaii, who claims that the housing industry in Hawaii has been booming since April. Pennell says she’s fielding two to three phone calls everyday from people living in the United States looking to move to Hawaii. 

“I think people are saying, ‘Life is short.’ It’s a lot of talk because they’re not here yet and they can’t get here yet, but I’ve done more sight-unseen sales than I’ve ever done during the pandemic, three in the last three months.”

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Julie Peters is another real estate agent working for Island Boutique Realty on the island of Hawaii, who recently spoke with the press about how when wildfire season began in August she was fielding at least one call each day from residents of California looking for places on the island away from all the smoke and fire danger. 

Peters recalled how “one person wanted to come over immediately and rent in the meantime because she was so done with smoke. The last five closings I did were sight-unseen. I had rarely done that before.” This seems to be a major new pattern for Hawaii real estate, but also the industry in general. Buyers are more willing to invest in properties before seeing them either because they want an immediate escape from their current reality, or due to the Covid-19 pandemic making in-person viewings difficult in many areas of the country. 

She claims that a majority of her buyers this year have been from the Bay Area. According to Title Guaranty, which owns the largest real estate database in Hawaii, from January to June 2020, California residents bought $587.6 million worth property in Hawaii, making up 41% of total sales during that period coming from the U.S..

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“Demand for Hawaii is always there, but it’s just grown exponentially this year. A lot of people that were already looking toward retirement here sped it up, or people found out they could work from home. We got a rush of that and then the West Coast fires happened.”

Hawaii is also currently enduring a massive wave of new condos and other properties being placed on the market. In August 2020 new listings for condominiums went up by 97% when compared with the previous year. Single-family homes, on the other hand, are being bought at a much quicker rate. 

Cash offers have also been the most common form of payment, as those offers are more likely to go over the initial asking price. This influx in purchasing, however, doesn’t mean that the industry in Hawaii isn’t struggling like the rest of the world. Active listings were down by nearly 20% between April – August 2020 versus 2019. Honolulu County specifically saw an 18% decline while Maui County saw a 9% dip. 

West Coast buyers have increased exponentially as well as the concept of virtual listings/house tours. The pandemic, wildfires, and lack of active travel make it nearly impossible for buyers in the US to look at spaces in real life in Hawaii to move to. This new wave of blind buying is likely just the beginning of a new era of real estate in a post-pandemic world.

NYC’s West Village Now Has A 100,000-Square-Foot Amenity Space Of Luxury

New York Architect David Rockwell recently completed this project that’s located under the five-acre luxury development known as Waterline Square. The space itself is described as a 100,000-square-foot amenity level in New York’s Upper West Side that has attractions such as indoor gardening, a boxing gym, and a half-pipe skate park. 

California Real Estate

California’s Real Estate Market Is ‘Surging’ According To Experts 

Mark McLaughlin is the president of San Francisco-based real estate company Compass California, and Selma Hepp is the Deputy Chief Economist at Corelogic, both recently spoke with the press about the current state of California’s real estate market and why it’s seeing such an unexpected curve in sales. 

According to McLaughlin, the recent “surge” in home buying that California is experiencing is due to three main variables. The delay of the traditional spring home-buying market, the Covid-19 pandemic inspiring investors to search for larger properties to quarantine in, and record low interest rates all across the country.

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The combination of these three varying factors has created a “velocity in the market we have not seen since 2006, pre-Great recession.”

According to Hepp, in August California saw a 15% increase in year-over-year sales activity, and while she believes that activity will still be down for the year overall due to the current economic crisis, it will still be a “solid year in sales and prices.” Inventory in California has been down by 50% which has an obvious impact on sales. 

The major difference that’s fueling the current demand, despite the lack of supply, is the fact that mortgage rates are so low and sellers have been spending their time in quarantine making changes to their homes that better fit the stay-at-home lifestyle we’ve all adopted throughout the past six months. 

“I would say home buyers have a unique opportunity to lock in the record lowest mortgage rates which will help offset some of the affordability challenges seen in the last few years.”

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Both experts also have mixed feelings on the November elections impact on the future of the real estate market. McLaughlin believes that another round of federally funded stimulus checks need to be distributed to Americans for the economy in general. These stimulus payments also helped individuals pay their rents and mortgages, so without them, the beginning of the 2021 market year could see a major decline in housing payments all across the country.

Hepp on the other hand isn’t as convinced the election will have an impact on the market, as in general she’s seen a slowdown in transactions before any election season. She claims that with the beginning of every year after a November election, the market sees a new surge in purchases, so she’s still projecting that will occur in California. 

“Homebuyers have a possibility to expand their search geographically and entertain areas that they haven’t thought of in the past. These are unique breaks that buyers in the past may have not had.”

When it comes to giving advice to homebuyers, both believe that prospective buyers should focus on the feeling of “home” more than anything else. Be conservative when it comes to spending, as the economy has proven to be unpredictable, however, real estate is almost always worth the investment overtime, so if you’re in a position to make the sale, go for it. 

House Fire

How To Better Protect Your Home From Wildfires

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flower Wallpaper in Home

How To Spice Up Your Home With Wallpaper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Decorations

Easy Fall Decorating Ideas To Warm Up Any Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Estate Meeting

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.

NYC Real Estate

Manhattan Real Estate Stronger Than During The Great Recession

According to a recent analysis by real estate market data firm UrbanDigs, the Manhattan real estate market is currently in much better shape than it was during the Great Recession. Like most industrys adjusting to pandemic life, however, the future is still very unclear and fearsome. 

The report claimed that there were much more sellers than buyers during the Great Recession but now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, that gap is much smaller. Noah Rosenblatt and John Walkup are the cofounders of UrbanDigs, and recently claimed that they believe this gap has lessened because the Great Recession was a strictly economic crisis in America while the coronavirus has halted every single aspect of life for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. 

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“The lack of sharp spikes in supply and a corresponding drop in demand suggests the market is not as one-sided as the Great Recession, although lingering virus fears will keep a lid on demand for the time being.”

The report heavily focused on comparing the supply and pending sales of the past six months with the first six months of the recession as well. They also focused on what’s known as the “market pulse,” which essentially is the ratio of pending sales to actual supply. A lower ratio number would reflect that there are more sellers than buyers. 

In September 2007, supply increased by 10% every quarter and pending sales were dropping at a rate of 30%, according to past analysis’. The 15 quarters that followed showed a steady increase in supply, and a major drop in pending sales; 50%, dropping the market pulse from 1 to .16. When the pandemic initially shut everything down in March, there was a major drop in pending sales, which boosted supply, however, it was nowhere nearly as quickly as it dropped in 2007. 

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The market pulse is currently at a .22, which has been expected due to a general pulse decline within the past five years in Manhattan; in late 2019 the pulse was at .3. Rosenblatt and Walkup noted that sellers today in the metropolitan are still facing the heaviest competition in nearly a decade due to the increase in properties available, and willingness from sellers to negotiate their pricing. “Clearly, the economic impact of the pandemic has yet to be fully tallied, but in the meantime, it appears that the market for Manhattan real estate is functional, just fearful.”

Overall, however, the two believe that comparing the state of the market now to what it was during the Great Recession is like comparing “apples to oranges.” While there may be many general similarities the differences fully outweigh them. There have been spikes in the unemployment rates during both events, however it’s broken major records within the past six months because the job losses are more sudden and frequent. The two do believe, however, that whenever this pandemic does come to an end unemployment will hopefully bounce back quickly, and the supply and demand of the market will follow. 

“NYC real estate and the economy, in general, are weighing other exogenous forces so with that in mind, certainly, there is more room for real estate to go down, but in the long run, the city will renew itself, even if the process might be bumpy.”

Industry workers believe now would be a great time to invest and negotiate in real estate if you are lucky enough to have that ability right now. They also believe that Manhattan hasn’t seen the absolute worst that the pandemic can do in regards to negatively impacting the market and sales, so like the rest of the country and its many industries, they’re taking every precaution currently imaginable to stay afloat.

Girl Remote Working

How Working Remotely Will Change The Future Of Commercial Real Estate 

Sanjay Rishi is America’s CEO for JLL commercial real estate. Rishi was recently interviewed to discuss the future for the industry in a post-pandemic world, and what most business leaders can expect in the coming years. 

Rishi claims that the commercial real estate market will likely be embracing a range of new hybrid models as the pandemic comes to an end; whenever that may be. Throughout the next few years industry leaders like Rishi will likely begin implementing hybrid models into their business deals. It’s likely that the specifics of these deals will be on more of a deal-by-deal basis, as this is uncharted territory for all parties involved. 

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CEOs, CFOs and other leadership positions will be responsible for how they want to rebuild their company culture post-pandemic, however, Rishi believes many are going to be basing their future office-hybrid needs on the ways they’ve already adjusted to working from home throughout the past six months. 

The main focus right now is transitioning a company from remote working, back to an office environment and maintaining a new level of morale. JLL has been doing their own research throughout the pandemic, surveying multiple corporate workers and their preferences for the future of office-working, and according to their most recent study, 58% of workers miss the office; the survey was taken by 3,000 individuals all of different job levels. 

Obviously, the biggest determining factor to making that transition will be when the pandemic ends/when a vaccine is able to be distributed. Of the workers surveyed who aren’t looking forward to returning to the office, many claimed the reason to be a fear of mass transit, crowded elevators/cubicle spaces, and other potential sources of infection. 

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“After the terror attacks of 9/11, no one really wanted to work in high-rise buildings, major urban centers shuddered with a lack of demand for commercial office space. Fast forward a year and people returned to crowded skyscrapers again, and real estate transaction valuations returned to where they had been earlier.”

It’s difficult to compare a terrorist attack to a worldwide health crisis, however, in terms of real estate the two actually do slightly equate. Many real estate agents working in major metropolitans aren’t worried about the complete lack of industry activity, because they’ve seen how the industry is able to bounce back from massive national/international tragedies. 

The biggest change, according to Rishi, will be the way offices re-shape their set-ups to better adhere to social-distancing requirements. This will be a step-by-step process that will also involve digitizing as much of the business as possible. As most corporations have learned from working at home, having everything in one, digital space for universal access is much easier than needing to go back and forth from the office in the middle of a pandemic to get some paperwork done. It’ll also make it easier for everyone to access what’s been worked on throughout the past six months while everyone’s been on lockdown. 

Companies will also need to take their workers with kids into account more. If office buildings begin reopening while the pandemic is still ongoing, many will need to figure out some sort of coverage for their kids. In a hybrid-office environment, this could involve staggering workplace teams so that certain groups of parents can alternate the days they need to be in the office and the days they can be home. 

Regardless of what the future of office-work looks like, it’s going to be a team effort for each specific group of workers to make a plan that’s the safest, and easiest for everyone. We’re all taking this pandemic day-by-day, and will continue to do so even as it begins to slow down and normal life resumes.