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Architects working Together

Antonio Citterio Discusses Resilience And Sustainability In The Architecture Industry

Antonio Citterio’s aim as a designer and architect has always been to create spaces that evoke a sense of quality. Spaces that are useful for the individuals daily life while being creative enough to embody a sense of the client’s personality.

Mason Jar Outdoor Lights

Outdoor Projects To Liven Up Your Yard This Summer

Being stuck at home, many individuals have found themselves finally checking off every home project they’ve had on their lists for months now. Beyond that, many are beginning to get creative in the ways they decide to renovate and redo their living spaces. Now that we’re in the middle of summer with not a lot of places to go, many are looking to their own outdoor spaces to create an environment of summer fun during a global pandemic. So what are some fun projects you can do yourself this summer from home?

One of the most timeless ways to keep children entertained outdoors is chalk. Beyond just drawing in the driveway, creating an actual board/wall for your kids to draw on while standing up can be even more engaging. If your outdoor space has a blank wall space, consider painting over it with some chalkboard paint to make “drawing on the walls” an afternoon activity as opposed to a punishable offense. 

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Repurposing old things into new decorative pieces is one of the most creative projects you can do for your space. For example, turn old wine bottles into makeshift tiki torches by adding some scented oil and a wick down the bottle. Using citronella oil specifically will also help keep mosquitoes away. 

Repurposing an old bookshelf or dresser can be used as a vertical pallet garden for hanging plants. Stain the furniture to match your outdoor space and buy plants with long leaves/vines that will droop down and overlap one another to give your yard a real jungle feel. 

Older bookshelves and dressers can also be used for their intended purpose in an outdoor setting as well. This is another great yard addition if you have kids and not a large garage space. Buy a set of cheap plastic bins that can easily slide onto the shelves and store whatever outdoor toys or tools you may need!

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If you wanted to get a little creative with the way your specific address number is displayed in your front yard, consider making some customizable flower buckets. Steel buckets are the best material to use for painting your numbers directly onto the buckets. If your address is “453”, make a bucket for each number, however, if you have a single digit address, make a bucket for the house number and street name. For example, if your address was 5 Main Street, you could have a bucket for 5, main, and street. 

Mason jars are one of the most popular items to use for sprucing up a space because there’s so many possibilities! One of the most popular being filling them with twinkly lights at night to give the illusion of fairy dust jars. You could put any sort of battery operated light inside of the jars to give an ethereal glow to any area. Some like to buy multi-colored T-candle lights to put inside of them for random pops of color throughout their yard, and others attach rope to the top so they can hang the lights all throughout. 

Have an old outdoor rug that’s in good condition but just isn’t your style anymore? Change it up! Instead of buying a whole new rug, which can be extremely expensive, buy some fabric safe paint, painters tape, and create your own geometric design by taping off random lines and making shapes. Make sure to do this either in a garage or on a very sunny day to ensure your rug has enough time to dry. Wait until the next day, peel the tape, and boom! You have a whole new statement piece at the center of your whole space. 

NYC Real Estate

International Buyers Investing In New York Real Estate Market

Like every industry in the world currently, the New York real estate market has had to make major adjustments to the way it runs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The biggest adjustment has been for smaller companies coping with a slowing of sales and an oversupply of luxury listings. However, in an unexpected turn of events Italian real estate buyers are seeking to invest their money in New York real estate. 

Italy has obviously taken a major economic toll throughout this pandemic, as they were one of the countries hit the hardest back in March/April. Now, investors from the country are seeing the potential for better deals in New York when compared to the current real estate climate in Italy. 

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Andrea Pedicini is an Italian native who works for the major New York real estate firm, Corcoran. Pedicini recently spoke with the media about how he’s always worked with investors from his home country even before the pandemic, however, as Italy began easing its lockdown restrictions, he noticed a major influx in inquiries from new and repeat clients from the country. 

In times like this, Italians look at New York as literally a safe haven. I’m currently working with more than 30 new leads, all eager to invest in New York-area real estate in the next six to nine months.”

Pedicini also recounted how he, and many other agents, have begun advertising more heavily on social media as a way of attracting more international investors. Sergio Iorio is one of Pedicini’s long-time clients that Pedicini advertises on his accounts. Iorio owned properties in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighbourhood, and the Upper West Side, both of which have doubled in value thanks to the market and Pedicini. 

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While timing the market is always difficult, with the current state of the world clients have more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating, and more sellers are growing desperate. Iorio himself, who is the CEO of Italmatch Chemicals  one of the largest chemical companies in Europe, has been encouraging his investor friends to take full advantage of the situation in New York currently. 

“I would like to continue to invest a percentage of my assets into New York because I believe in the long term.”

Most international investors are mainly interested in townhouses and well-managed smaller boutique buildings, as previously stated, these types of listings are saturating New York’s market right now. Having sellers and agents essentially lose three months of the traditionally very busy spring real estate season has been damaging, but international investments during the summer could help the industry slowly regain momentum as the rest of the economy also recovers. 

However, while there’s been an extreme increase in international buyer interest in New York real estate, most are still waiting to pull the trigger until a new sense of normalcy is brought on by the slowing of this pandemic. Many agents do believe that this interest will help fuel the economy as the months progress, especially considering this is not the first time the industry has endured a lull in sales due to international/national tragedies.

Germany Coronavirus

Germany Reinstates Lockdown Procedures After 1,500+ New Cases Of Covid-19

Germany is currently enduring a nasty new outbreak of coronavirus cases that are stemming from the country’s massive meat processing industry. The industry itself is finding itself under extreme scrutiny after more than 1,500 workers became infected at a family-owned slaughterhouse in North Rhine-Westphalia. 

Officials reported this Tuesday that 1,553 workers at the meat-packing plant have tested positive for Covid-19, which is 200 more individuals compared to Sunday’s numbers. The plant itself is owned by Germany’s Tönnies Group and is located in the west part of the country, prompting leaders to reinstate lockdown restrictions until at least the end of June. 

So far daycare centers, bars, gyms, restaurants, and schools within the district have closed down after reopening a few weeks ago thanks to Germany’s initial handling of the virus. The Robert Koch Institute, a public health service that has been taking coronavirus data throughout the past few months, has reported that the spike in Germany’s overall coronavirus cases can be linked directly to the plant in North Rhine-Westphalia. 

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Now, many plants owned by the Tönnies group are under fire after multiple coronavirus outbreaks have occurred among lower-wage communities; most of these factories are run by low-wage employees. Germany in general has been fairly successful in fighting the coronavirus when compared to other parts of the world, so it’s especially disturbing that citizens with a lower socioeconomic status are being neglected by a country that’s been clearly more than equipped to combat this pandemic. 

Clemens Tönnies, a managing partner for the company, recently took to Twitter where he apologized for the outbreak and claimed the company will be taking full responsibility. The company will also be funding widespread testing for Covid-19 to compensate the local community that’s been impacted by the factory outbreak. 

Tönnies has about 16,500 employees worldwide, and in general averages an annual revenue of $7 billion. The company produces about 850 tons of frozen and fresh meat every single day and is the biggest pork producer in Germany. 

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Generally speaking, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted the world’s meat processing industries/food industries. Workers for these companies are often in close quarters and working for minimum wage; meaning they’re forced to stay employed in a unhygienic and potentially life-threatening work environment so that they can barely make ends meet. In the US, thousands of factory workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and dozens have unfortunately died. 

According to German labor union NGG, “70% to 80% of Tönnies’ 7,000 factory workers are employed through subcontractors and made to work long hours. At some meatpacking plants, staff work 12 to 14 hours a day but only get paid for eight hours,” NGG spokesman Jonas Bohl said.

200,000 German citizens work within the meat processing industry, about a third of those workers are foreigners. The German government has responded to this massive outbreak by announcing they would create new legislation to protect factory workers more; this would include banning the use of subcontractors and doubling fines for breaching any labor laws. Tönnies has also failed to provide German authorities with the addresses of all their infected employees to help officials better trace those who could have potentially been exposed. In total Germany has recorded almost 200,000 cases of Covid-19 with around 9,200 deaths. For now, only time will tell how much more the German government enforces these factories to better protect their employees from potential viral exposure. 

COVID-19 Real Estate

College Students Organize Rent Strike Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

One University of London student recently told the story of how he and 200 other fellow students are currently involved in a rent strike due to their inability to afford housing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gallery Wall

Creative Home Projects to Personalize Your Space In Lockdown

With all of us enduring the coronavirus pandemic and remaining under lockdown until further notice, many of us are running out of things to do in our spare time to keep us entertained. Doing home improvement projects or switching up the interior design of some of the spaces in your home can be a great way to not only distract yourself from the world, but also revamp up the space you’ve been forced to stay in for the past few months. 

When we think of home improvement or interior design, we often imagine that growing list of things that needs fixing throughout our houses, however, what about projects that are more fun and don’t really have a beneficial purpose beyond just making you happy? Your home is yours, so it should reflect that! Here are home project ideas to make your space really feel like home:

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Create An Accent Wall: An accent wall is typically one specific wall in a room, often the bedroom or living room, that differs in color, pattern, texture, etc. from the other three walls in the space. Normally, people like to put a pattern on their accent wall to highlight either an entertainment center, art piece, or furniture item propped against said wall. However, there is no limit to the possibilities of things you can do for an accent wall. Use chalkboard paint so that you and your loved ones can keep changing the designs and sign each other’s names. Order various sized prints of either personal photos, pictures of people you admire, places you want to go, or whatever else you want to look at. Frame the prints and cover the wall! The possibilities are truly endless. 

Rearrange Your Bedroom or Living Room: This is one of the more basic “home improvement” options, however, if you aren’t looking to spend any money but still want a change, moving around the set up of these spaces can accomplish exactly that. I say the living room and bedroom specifically because in normal circumstances those are the spaces one spends the most time in, however, switch up all the rooms in your house if you want! Remember, there really are no rules when it comes to making your space yours (as long as you’re following your cities specific coding requirements for larger renovation projects). Keeping these areas of the home fresh and personal can help ease any anxieties you have relating to the state of the world, because at least you know you’re safe in your own personalized bubble. 

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Make a Gallery Wall: Similar to an accent wall, a gallery wall allows you to focus the attention of a space on unique art or photography pieces that either you’ve taken, or admire. This really is one of the most personal ways you can liven up your home because even if you choose art/pictures that don’t have you or your family in it, you’re still choosing pieces that resonate with you for a special reason. 

Repair and Refine Your Furniture: Things like large chairs and ottomans can be reupholstered so that you’re not losing the functionality of your pieces, but are still basically getting a whole new furniture item. Any wooden furniture that’s been scuffed, scratched, broken off, etc. can easily be sanded, re-polished, and repainted as well. 

Create a Meditative/Relaxation Space: Even if you’re not into meditation specifically as a means of unwinding, you should have a designated space in your home separated from your bedroom or living room that’s main purpose is just for you to sit back and relax. This could even be a simple garden chair and table in your side yard, the point of this place is to make you feel completely comfortable every time you enter it. Especially with the way the world looks now, it’s important that we all unplug and find time everyday to check in with ourselves, and what better way to do that then in your own meditation room? Decorate the space with stereotypical items that induce relaxation – candles, twinkly lights, blankets, soft lighting, etc. – and also with personal pieces that make you feel safe. 

Regardless of how you personalize your home, remember what it’s felt like to be stuck in that space for months at a time. The future in terms of the coronavirus pandemic is still unpredictable, so you might as well pass the time by creating spaces in your home that truly feel like yours and yours only.

Black Lives Matter Poster

Real Estate Executives Are Showing Their Support For The Black Lives Matter Protests

Real estate executives all across the country are speaking out publicly and using their businesses platform to show their support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. Following George Floyd’s murder last week, the country has entered into a state of civil unrest, and a wave of support from a multitude of businesses and industries have begun entering into the conversation. Regular citizens have been calling on celebrities and prominent public figures to use their massive following to spread awareness and help raise money for various causes benefiting black people, and real estate agents are answering the call as well. 

The Miami Agent Magazine recently interviewed some of the more prominent real estate industry leaders in Florida about their thoughts on the current state of our nation and the two pandemics were currently fighting; Covid-19 and racism.

“Racism is wrong and Keller Williams stands with the Black community and wholeheartedly supports equality. Right now, communities across America are experiencing tremendous pain. This pain builds and grows exponentially with each name: George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown, and too many more. Each person had a story, a family, a home, and a life that mattered that was taken away from them. This company stands behind Black employees and clients, your lives matter. You are in our hearts and in our prayers,” said Keller Williams CEO Gary Keller in a letter to employees.

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Keller also explained in the letter that his company would be creating a task force made up of members from the agencies International Associate leadership Council to provide extensive information and recommendations on how the industry, and Keller’s company specifically, can ensure they’re creating a space of love and equal opportunity for all. 

For this task force Keller said he would be asking for nominations from each district to join in the effort. “I believe we can also set an example within the industry by committing more of ourselves to a better, and equitable future.” 

“Redfin [another FL agency], like most other companies, is run mostly by white people.That needs to change. What’s behind the protests’ rage and despair is the sense that talk is cheap, and change is painfully slow. We love to denounce someone else’s racism, but it would matter more if businesses looked at our own contribution to a divided America and decided what to do about it,” Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a statement to his employees as well. 

Kelman later emphasized in the statement that all industry leaders in America right now have a moral obligation to create a safe space for their employees and open up a conversation about creating more room for black voices. He then encouraged all of his white employees to take a long look in the mirror and acknowledge their own racial biases. This month, Kelman also claims that Redfin will be publishing their annual employee diversity report, and it will include a new set of initiatives to further diversify the industry. 

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“Racism has no home here. This week I was invited to listen to our black employees share their pain and fear and confusion. For themselves. For their children. Every time they leave their homes. Enough. I am an ally. Racism has no home here,” Zillow CEO Rich Barton tweeted. 

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin also issued a statement via Twitter: “Like so many Americans, I am absolutely heartbroken right now. I am heartbroken for George Floyd’s family. I am heartbroken for Ahmaud Arbery’s family. I am heartbroken for Breonna Taylor’s family. I am heartbroken that one tragedy that targets Black and brown Americans is following so closely on the heels of another tragedy that disproportionately hurts Black and brown Americans.”

The energy behind all of these CEO’s statements are exactly what America needs right now. Individuals with power, privilege, and the ability to make a true change in the field they work in coming forward and calling out the racism that has plagued this country since its creation. It’s important to feel safe in your workplace, and if you have a discrepancy over something that feels racially charged, you should feel even more comfortable discussing it with your boss, as that’s what all these protests are really about at their core; justice for those who have lost their lives to a corrupt system, and correction for a brighter future for black individuals in this country.

If you want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement and how you can directly help from home, click here for access to dozens of petitions, donation pages, and fundraising efforts specifically for those fighting for racial equality right now.

AIRBNB

Airbnb Hosts Continue To Struggle Supporting Themselves Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Worldwide travel has come to an obvious halt, and one of the largest markets that’s felt the direct effects of that is the tourism industry. More specifically, many Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties as a means of making up for the money they would normally be earning from the beginning of the summer vacation season.

The real estate market in general is really unbalanced at the moment. Depending on what part of the country you’re living in, how badly the pandemic has impacted your region, and how many individuals are even still willing to proceed with their real estate transactions while the economy is so low, many aren’t able to bring their real estate realities into fruition. 

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Airbnb hosts are gearing up to lose thousands of dollars in lost bookings, cancelled trips, and an overall lack of business. The struggle comes when it’s time for hosts to pay for things such as housing bills, maintenance costs, mortgage payments, and any other payments that are normally covered by the money they earn from hosting. This is hitting homeowners who own multiple properties especially hard as well. 

“We have been working to support our community through multiple efforts, including committing $250 million to help support hosts who were affected by COVID-19-related guest cancellations and $17 million to our Super Host Relief Fund. Our internal data points to guests’ desire to travel and we are preparing to help hosts welcome them as soon as possible, which includes new cleaning measures as well,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement

Airbnb has had to lay off about 25% of their workforce amid the pandemic, but also began making these major job cuts before coronavirus even entered into the States. In March, Airbnb hosts were already protesting the company they worked for, claiming that executives rely too heavily on its hosts to make money for the company.

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The protests came specifically after Airbnb announced that it would be paying its hosts only about 25% of what they would normally make back from the company after a client cancellation. Normally, if a client cancels they still have to pay a decent fraction of the renting price (a policy that each host must specifically outline), so that the host has some revenue to make from the transaction and lost time.

“[I] shut down two listings during the coronavirus crisis, one of which was pre-planned. Some of the owners [I] work with are considering winding down more properties, or are looking for long-term tenants, further throwing her business into uncertainty. I’m scrambling trying to figure out what I’m going to do, and what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not making money. With the Airbnb business, I am just trying to minimize my losses. Only one of the houses is meeting its expenses, meaning my rent and utilities,” Christina Zima, an Airbnb host in the San Francisco Bay Area, said to CNN.

Some hosts, like Zima, are turning to Facebook Marketplace to either further rent out their untouched properties, or sell their furniture and other goods to make ends meet. However, selling your valuables online doesn’t compare to making a steady income through a business you previously ran rather independently. 

Other hosts are remaining optimistic that as new safety precautions are dealt out for hosts that their renters will begin to book their properties again. For now, like for every other industry in the country, it’s a waiting game to see how much worse the country and its economy gets amid the pandemic.

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.

Newspapers

This Journalist Is Virtually Sharing Her Family’s Farm With The World Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

Recently, the Guardian called upon its writers to discuss what life back home in quarantine was like. For Phoebe Weston, the coronavirus pandemic meant moving back home to her family’s farm in Sevenoaks, Kent, located in the lower part of England.