Can Your Pool Kill the Coronavirus? And Everything Else You Should Know About Swimming During a Pandemic
By now, you may have heard that the novel coronavirus can live up to three days on some surfaces. But what about in your swimming pool? Is there any way you could get the virus from your afternoon dip?
The short answer: You probably won’t get the virus from pool water. But a pool is still a risky environment as far as social distancing and person-to-person transmission are concerned.
So before you head for a swim in your backyard or community pool, read on for expert advice on how to keep yourself and other swimmers safe.
Pool water doesn’t spread the virus, but people do
“If you look at what the CDC has to say, there’s no evidence that [the coronavirus] spreads in water,” says Bill Carroll, an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “It can’t reproduce in water. This is not like a food-borne virus that you can eat, and it’s not a water-borne virus. This is an inhaled virus, and in order to be infected, you have to be inhaling it.”
Plus, the chemicals in your pool or hot tub can help kill the virus. “Chlorine in pool water inactivates the virus so it is no longer infectious,” says Dr. Chris J. Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. “A properly maintained pool protects swimmers from the virus in pool water.”
But outside of the water, the virus can spread among people—and the risk is especially high at a community aquatic center or an apartment building pool where lots of swimmers come and go. “If you’re going to be exposed to the coronavirus, it’s because you’re going to the pool and there’s other people there and you’re not social distancing,” Carroll says.
Be smart about social distancing at the pool
If you go to a community or friend’s pool, remember to practice social distancing and avoid coming within 6 feet of anyone you don’t live with. “If possible, sanitize chairs before sitting down,” Wiant says. “Minimize time in the locker room by coming dressed to swim, and shower at home both before and after swimming.”
When it comes to your face mask, you should never wear a cloth mask when you’re underwater. “If your head is going to be underwater, a mask isn’t going to do a thing for anybody,” Carroll says. But if you’re standing in the shallow end or lounging poolside, be sure to wear your mask to protect other people.
You can also call the pool ahead of time to ask what precautions are being taken to keep people safe, like limiting the number of swimmers and spacing lounge chairs at least 6 feet apart. And remember: If you’re feeling sick or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, stay home.
Normal pool maintenance should be enough to inactivate the virus
Pool water maintenance guidelines haven’t changed in the wake of COVID-19, Wiant says. If you’re responsible for maintaining a public pool, follow the CDC guidelines and check the pH and chlorine levels twice a day, or more if you have a lot of swimmers in the water.
For a residential pool, “there’s nothing special you need to do” beyond your normal weekly maintenance, Carroll says. Stick to your usual pool cleaning routine: Test your pH at least once a week and make sure you have plenty of chlorine available. It’s also a good idea to hyperchlorinate once a week to ward off cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that can make swimmers severely ill.
Pool vs. beach: Which option is better?
If you’re worried about coming into contact with other people at the pool and you live near a natural body of water, you may be considering heading to the beach instead.
Properly maintained pools offer an advantage with its chlorine and chemicals that inactivate the virus, but “beaches have large volumes of moving water that dilute virus particles efficiently and reduce risk of exposure to the virus,” Wiant says. Ultimately, “the safest place to swim is wherever there are the fewest people.”
Before you head to the beach, check with your local health department to make sure the water has been tested recently and is safe for swimming.
Please, please, please: Don’t pee in the pool
We hope it goes without saying, but you really need to adhere to proper hygiene while in the pool.
“Shower before swimming, and never pee in the pool,” Wiant says. “The contaminants people bring into the water use up the chlorine, making less available to disinfect against viruses, like the coronavirus, and bacteria.”
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The Great Escape
With companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Capital One, Nationwide, and Amazon all extending their work-from-home (WFH) policies out to much later in the year and many experts believing WFH could become less of an exception to the rule and more of a norm, smaller, less expensive cities will likely benefit. Even with a cost-of-living adjustment many well paid employees still simply can’t afford to purchase a home in high-cost urban areas. This along with the massive lifestyle changes that were forced on city dwellers during the social distancing lockdown over the last three months, will find many urbanites looking for wider spaces and slower paced lifestyle.
“The city has a way of always keeping you running from event to event—always hustling,” says Elizabeth, a former New Yorker, in an article written by Kimberly Dawn Neamann, for Realtor.com, on June 1, 2020, titled, ‘I Left My New York City Apartment To Live on a Farm’. “Being on the farm”, Elizabeth says, “has encouraged me to slow down “to a medium pace.”‘
In fact, Elizabeth was surprised to discover that living in a place with less to do and see helped her get a whole different set of things done—things she’d always meant to do but kept putting off. “I finished a course to get my registered yoga teacher card. It had been on my to-do list for five years.”
Choosing to live on a farm, may not be your thing but Americans are flocking to the suburbs and Atlanta, The Big Little City In The Trees, with its 6 million residents spread out over 200 neighborhoods and towns and its great music, entertainment, dining and nightlife, its multiple professional sports teams, art and cultural centers, as well as being the home for 100’s of major national and international corporations, is primed to becoming home to many of those looking for a new home. One of the largest draws to Atlanta is how spread out it is and how there is so much to do extracurricularly. But knowing where to relocate to is important.
For example, long regarded as one of the best places to live in metro Atlanta, Cobb County captures the best of what Atlanta has to offer with growing businesses, neighborhoods and more just beyond the I-285 Perimeter. It provides easy access to recreation and entertainment opportunities, as well as a thriving commercial center.
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Historic Events Impact Atlanta’s Commercial Real Estate Market
The events of 2020 have quickly put a stop to the longest running economic expansion in United States history. First, the world was seemingly caught off guard by the quick spread of the coronavirus bringing global economies to a screeching halt. Then, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th during an incident with police captured in a viral video triggered mass protests and riots across all major US cities. On Friday, May 29th, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Fulton County as the protest in Atlanta turned violent and destructive calling in the Georgia National Guard to protect people and property.
Obviously the combined effects of all of these events – the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the mass protests and riots – will have long lasting implications to the social and economic fabric of our country as well as the metro-Atlanta area. Here we look to examine the current state of the commercial real estate market in metro- Atlanta and project how the latest events will affect the market going forward.
Metro-Atlanta lost almost 300,000 jobs during March and April wiping out 5 years of employment growth. The immediate impact to the Atlanta commercial real estate industry has been a significant reduction to the number of leases signed and properties sold accompanied by a reduction in commercial real estate lending activity. Even so, Atlanta has fared better than many other US cities in part because of its lack of reliance on tourism dollars and its strong position in the industrial and distribution sectors.
The last decade of economic growth was particularly strong for Atlanta’s office market. The metro area added approximately 200,000 office-using jobs since 2010, sustaining solid demand for office space. Midtown Atlanta led the way with its fast-growing technology sector. North Fulton and Forsyth also experienced a strong increase in demand over the last decade. Companies remain bullish on Atlanta’s long term outlook due to its highly educated workforce and relative affordability.
There has been mixed news recently for the Atlanta office market. Microsoft plans to open an artificial intelligence and cloud services technology hub next year at Atlantic Station that would create 1,500 high-tech jobs in Atlanta. Leasing 523,000 square feet at Atlantic Yards, Microsoft is reportedly investing $75 million in the new mixed-use facility that will include retail space that is open to the public.
“We are excited that a global leader like Microsoft Corp. is expanding its investment in
Georgia with tech jobs that will be truly beneficial to the company and our state,” Governor Kemp stated in a press release. “I am confident that our top-notch tech talent and education pipeline will continue to be an asset to Microsoft.”
However, less than a week after Microsoft announced its plans for Atlantic Yards, Macy’s lowered the optimism stating that the pandemic has caused it to abandon plans for a center of its own across the street from the planned Microsoft offices.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Macy’s Inc. business. As a result, we have decided not to occupy the T3 West Midtown building in Atlanta,” Macy’s spokeswoman Andrea Schwartz said in an email. “We have notified the Georgia Department of Economic Development that we will not proceed on our application for economic support in connection with the T3 facility.”
David Kahn stated this was the first tenant to back out of a major office lease in Atlanta since the start of the pandemic. “The loss of 600 high-paying new jobs and 100,000 square feet of office is a blow to Midtown, but the recent Microsoft deal highlights that fortune 500 firms continue to look to Midtown for their technology and software development operations,” Khan said.
The most recent data shows the bigger picture of the coronavirus impact on metro Atlanta’s retail sector. Layoffs and furloughs are significant in the region and consumer spending is far below pre-coronavirus levels. The pandemic has hit retailers and restaurants especially hard with many businesses closing their doors for two months. Even with Gov. Kemp’s aggressive reopening schedule, the limited retail demand is doing damage to businesses that could cause rents to fall drastically in the coming months.
A slow recovery or a second-wave of the virus could change the landscape of the US retail market permanently.
“Hundreds of retail stores were in some form of distress but were financially viable,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University in New York. “Now they’ve been all closed for months, and it’s anybody’s guess what might become of retail space.”
Store closures are expected to number in the tens of thousands this year amounting to an estimated 70 million square feet of retail space. Raya Sokolyanska, a senior analyst Moody’s Investors Service, said to investors, “Apparel and footwear retailers are undergoing a sector-wide shock that will push weak players into default and reverberate into 2021.”
Adding that “for most apparel retailers, liquidity management will remain a key focus after stores reopen, as they contend with clearing inventory and weak consumer demand.”
Sokolyanska projects that even a potential recovery in 2021 will be 15% to 35% below pre-coronavirus levels. She predicts “the crisis will push stressed retailers into default
and challenge the rest.” Investors with deep pockets will eventually see opportunity as coronavirus accelerates changes in consumer spending behavior likely resulting in liquidations and store closings.
Landlords and private-equity groups have amassed multibillion-dollar war chests to swoop in on opportunities created by financial distress. For example, Apollo Global Management plans to stockpile $20 billion in order to scoop up distressed properties.
Brookfield Asset Management has $5 billion in a “revitalization program” to help ailing retailers and $60 billion “ready to be deployed globally as opportunities arise,” according to CEO Bruce Flatt. “In reflecting on what really matters to our business, it is liquidity, liquidity and liquidity, in that order,” he said in a letter to shareholders.
Another firm, Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, has $3 billion at the ready. “We’re also starting to see some rescue situations, although distress takes time to play out,” Blackstone Group President Jon Gray said. “The next thing you’ll see is some rescue capital needs, and we’ll start to address some of that. People will run through their reserves, then you’ll begin to see assets trade.”
Stores already going into bankruptcy include Pier 1, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, and J. Crew. Moody’s analyst Raya Sokolyanskan anticipates that after the recession companies with differentiated brands, strong balance sheets and well-developed e-commerce businesses will take the market share left behind by the numerous companies that could not survive.
The industrial market in metro-Atlanta was boosted with the news of two large acquisitions.
Summit Real Estate of St. Louis paid $33.5 million for Creekside Distribution Center, a 538,500-square-foot building in East Point, Georgia, less than 4 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The acquisition is Summit Real Estate’s eighth in the Atlanta market since 2014.
Transwestern Investment Group, a Texas firm, said Monday it bought Bohannon Logistics Center Fairburn, Georgia, a newly constructed industrial building it expects to lease to companies seeking logistics space near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“The acquisition of Bohannon Logistics Center provides the opportunity to take advantage of critical demand drivers in the Interstate 85 South submarket,” Transwestern Vice President Wes Davidson said in a press release. “The asset’s proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson airport, CSX Intermodal Terminal and Interstates 85 and 285 position it to attract a variety of industrial and logistics users.”
The Hartsfield Airport-North Clayton market is among the best-performing industrial sectors in the region, although momentum has slowed over recent quarters and overall vacancy has increased.
“The airport-North Clayton submarket continues to lead the Atlanta metro with a strong leasing environment and a massive construction pipeline,” CoStar managing analyst David Kahn and market analyst Trenton Turner wrote in a report “However, speculative deliveries are starting to impact the submarket, and vacancies have shot up in recent months. With roughly 6.2 million square feet underway and a large portion of that speculative, vacancies are likely to continue to rise in the coming quarters.”
Despite soaring unemployment the multifamily market in Atlanta appears to be somewhat stabilizing. Rents have steadied over the most recent weeks after a short period of decline. Most U.S. apartment renters continue to pay on time and there appears hope for the long-term future of metro Atlanta’s office market with the Microsoft expansion adding to the abundance of tech firms gravitating to the city’s booming Midtown district.
Nevertheless, extensive job losses will continue to impact housing demand in Atlanta for the next few months. Rising vacancies will be the norm until the job situation recovers and there are signs that the rent collection rates may not be sustainable. Particularly, renters in the most vulnerable positions in cheaper and older apartments are starting to have problems paying on time.
However, despite the coronavirus pandemic causing a slowdown in economic activity, Metro Atlanta’s structural advantages will continue to give the region an edge over peer markets. Atlanta, with its key distribution location and highly educated workforce, will likely remain a premier destination for attracting new office jobs, driving demand for the multifamily sector.
Nationally, anticipation is building that there may be a long term shift away from urban centers and into suburbs and smaller cities. These last few weeks have shown the possibility of many office jobs shifting to work from home positions. If the working from home trend continues, living in a luxury apartment in a major city near a corporate office may no longer be a necessity. An affordable suburban home provides more space for a home office and may be seen to be a more appealing alternative if there’s no commute required into the city.
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Whether you’re looking to lease, buy or sell commercial property, now is still the time to do it in Atlanta. The Meridian Real Estate Group has been assisting commercial clients for well over a decade and would love the privilege of earning your business. Our goal is not just to help our clients with a transaction, but to support the building of financial legacies through real estate. Call us today at 678-631-1723 or visit us online at www.themeridianway.com. We look forward to serving you.
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Will Church Ever Be The Same As A Result of COVID-19?
A Commercial Real Estate Agent’s Perspective
Recently, I was asked by a church leader who is responsible for all the land and building acquisitions as well as the dispositions of all of the church properties in the Southeast for a very recognizable and well-respected church denomination if I was seeing any new trends in the world of church real estate as a result of COVID-19?
Here, are some of my insights I shared with him from a commercial real estate agent’s perspective as of 5/27/2020.
Opening the Doors Back Up:
Churches are mixed on deciding to start services back. For example, the church I attend which is a start-up church with an average Sunday attendance of around 175 total, pre-COVID, will be starting back this coming week but no childcare or children’s ministry. Others like two of the churches I attended previously which were well attended pre-COVID with average attendances of about 800 -1000+ in total per Sunday are waiting to start back because they aren’t quite sure what to do about the children. One mega-church pastor I spoke with recently said they likely won’t be starting live services back for another month or so and despite their attendance actually increasing during COVID, online, he did not anticipate that matching in the physical once they open services back up due to many of the reasons I’ll share later in this article. I also spoke with a leader in the Korean Church who also has ministries here in the Southern US and according to him his congregation of 15,000 in South Korea has had a loss of anywhere from 30% to 50% attending their live worship services and he doesn’t foresee there ever being a time in the future that he doesn’t do video streaming of his messages.
One of the big issues are the kids. And that isn’t because they are more vulnerable to COVID, but rather because they are walking petri dishes with no social distancing comprehension whatsoever. And as a result, are the most likely to pass COVID along if they are carrying it. Honestly, this is the one that is most concerning to me. Both on a personal and professional level.
Personally, despite our church opening our doors next week my family, which includes a 9-year-old extrovert, will likely not attend services for a while until we can feel comfortable around how our church is going to manage the children post-COVID. Hard to imagine social distancing 5-year old’s.
Professionally it concerns me because almost everyone I have talked with who go to church, that have children, and who are in the spectrum of extremely to moderately concerned about COVID, which is about 2/3 of those I have talked with about this issue, are all in either the wait and see camp or a full on not going back to church until there is a cure mode. I recognize that my 66% number is not an official stat but if that number is anywhere near what the real number is of folks with kids that will likely be out of church for a while, we could be in trouble, and the future of church as an institution will likely change forever.
Then there are seniors. Who knows when they will start coming back to church again? Unless the churches they attend are large with low attendance numbers allowing for lots of social distancing, and also incorporate extreme deep cleaning prodigals, I suspect it could be quite a while before they return in droves.
Tithes and Offerings:
Interestingly enough, giving has not decreased at the same rate as attendance. A saving grace honestly for churches and their ability to service any debt they may have. One thing is for sure, those churches that had established online giving prior to COVID are faring better than those that hadn’t. I’m concerned though that as the unemployment rates continue to rise, contributions may do the opposite.
It May Never Be the Same:
Unfortunately, at this point, even if we end up learning that COVID is just a bad cold with a death rate of less than .05%, the damage has already been done.
Out of the 5 basic tenants of commercial real estate which includes land development, office, retail, industrial, and multi-family as well as special commercial uses such as senior living, and churches, it appears only the industrial market has been affected minimally. All other aspects of the commercial real estate market have been, and will likely continue to be, affected heavily in a negative way. Office, retail, senior, and churches may never fully recover to the same level they once were without significantly changing their models.
For example, many small, medium and large companies have learned during COVID that work-from-home, works, and that they don’t need as much office space to get the job done. The same goes for retailers. If shoppers didn’t know how to before, they now have become experts at online shopping, and as a result many of those shoppers will have learned a new convenient habit that will keep them home rather than in stores resulting in countless vacant retail shops and malls, even when given the opportunity to return.
What about churches? Will this hiatus from going to church form new habits for parishioners? Such as sleeping in and saving time on Sundays by not going to church as well as saving money not going out to eat afterwards, or, watching church online via Facebook or streaming, or getting together weekly with church friends on Zoom? Will this time away make them rethink the need for going to a building for “church”? Will in-home Small Groups become the sustainable church model? Will church goers have learned to become consumers and church hop virtually for the worship and/or message style they like? Will the lack of help they received from the church during this time taint their view of the need for church, pastors and gathering with friends on Sundays? Will the fear of fellow church members not initially adhering to social distancing cripple attendance recovery?
Will church attendance in church buildings ever be the same? Only time will tell, however, if the answer to that question is no, then churches and even denominations with large church buildings, with the large overhead those buildings and properties produce on a monthly and yearly basis, may find themselves in trouble. Similar to large office and retail building owners.
What to do:
What should churches be doing right now? My personal opinion is to act like any other organization during this time. Unless they have received a direct message from God, they should pray and hope for the best but plan and prepare for the worst.
What does that look like? 1) Cut Expenses: Do an audit of the books monthly and find areas to cut expenses by at least 15% including reducing salaries where possible. 2) Renegotiate: Look at all service contracts, monthly/quarterly/annually bills and see if there is any way to get them reduced. Call all vendors and shave services when and where possible. 3) Adapt/Change: Think pioneer, not homesteader. The world has changed as we know it, whether we like it or not, and the Church must be willing to change with it. This is a time to become fluid and be willing to quickly adapt and not to be stringent and affixed to old plans or the old ways of doing things. And by old, I mean even 4-month-old plans or ways. 4) Be of Service: Be the one throwing the life preserver and not the one bringing others down with you as you drown. Lead with a servant’s heart. Find ways to give in a time of need. Reach out to all your members and simply ask them how you can help. But be willing to actually help them if they ask for something. 5) Be a resource: Many times, you won’t be able to help those that need it yourselves but you’ll know someone you can recommend. If there was ever a time for you to be able to say “I know a guy”, this is it.
Now, my final thought on all of this, is that despite all of the above, I have observed in my studies of Christianity an interesting phenomenon that when Christians face persecution, famine, plague, etc., they thrive. Pressure forces us to rely on God more, to lean on Him for support, guidance and strength. It draws us closer to Him and each other. So even though the future of the institutional church could appear grim, history has taught us that the church will thrive during a time such as this. It will grow. It will succeed. It will prosper. It just might not look like it once did, and we may just have to learn to be OK with that.
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The Atlanta Commercial Real Estate Market Faces Uncertainty but Long Term Projections Remain Strong
The economic impact of the global pandemic is being felt in markets around the world. The commercial real estate market in the Atlanta metropolitan area has already experienced immediate changes and will undoubtedly see more to come. This unprecedented event in the modern world has rapidly affected how businesses operate and will likely change market valuations for commercial properties in the months to come. In this article we will take a look at current developments in Georgia and attempt to project potential outcomes for the Atlanta commercial real estate market.
The multifamily sector faces extreme uncertainty amid a national job loss number of 30 million. Many experts predict that loan failures in the commercial real estate market will be led by apartment mortgages deprived of cash flows resulting from a rise in vacancies and suddenly unemployed tenants who have no means to pay rent. Forecasts show a rise in vacancy rates over the next year followed by a 2-3 year recovery.
Retail and hospitality industries are expected to take the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic. The restaurant industry has been especially hard hit. Garden Fresh, the parent company for Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation decided to permanently close all 97 locations last week, and this will likely be among the first of many restaurants forced into closure. Restaurant owners and management have scrambled to adjust to a delivery and take out only model, and have already made significant labor cuts. Market rent growth in the Atlanta retail market is forecasted to to fall to as low as -8% by early 2021 with a quick one-year rebound to follow. The long-term outlook shows a steady decline in market rent growth after the quick rebound.
The Atlanta metro office market is currently in a holding pattern, avoiding the big impacts already seen in retail but facing great uncertainty as many office workers are now working from home and it is unclear if businesses will return a majority of these employees to a centralized office setting anytime soon. Limited supply has insulated the Atlanta office market from the worst of the pandemics effects but if this event ignites a long-term shift towards the virtual home office there could be significant changes to the office market as supply would quickly be abundant and in clear need of repurposing. Large office settings would be especially impacted by a long-term shift towards working from home. Office rents in the Atlanta metro market are expected to fall by 7% in 2020, and expect to see shorter lease terms for deals in the coming months. Vacancy rates are forecast to rise while long-term recovery remains unclear.
The good news is that WalMart and Amazon have both recently decided to add facilities for distribution and fulfillment in Georgia, but with the pandemic affecting all other sectors it can only be said that cautious optimism remains in the Atlanta industrial market. Although we have yet to see the full economic impact of the pandemic, the industrial sector could remain stronger than other property types going forward due to continued demand for goods and distribution services. However, the possibility of long-term disruption to east coast port traffic could negatively affect the Atlanta industrial sector.
In conclusion, while extreme uncertainty exists in the Atlanta Commercial Real Estate market there will be opportunities for savvy investors given that the long-term outlook in most sectors will remain positive after the effects of the pandemic have eased. The Meridian Real Estate Group will continue to monitor local market developments in commercial real estate, and we are ready to help our clients in any way we can during these unprecedented and trying times.
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Atlanta Residential Real Estate Sales Thriving Despite Covid-19
Coronavirus has temporarily shut nations down, dramatically altered economic landscapes and forced many industries to shift focus, downsize or even close up shop altogether. Yet in Atlanta there is a trend that is significantly different than most of the country as there remains a part of the economy that is still prospering, the residential real estate market. Why? Because as other cities shuttered businesses that were considered non-essential, Realtors in Atlanta petitioned Georgia’s Governor Kemp and Atlanta’s Mayor Bottoms to make sure everyone from agents to appraisers would be able to keep their doors open. According to USA Today, as a result of this coordinated cooperation, Atlanta is one of a rare group of cities that saw real estate listings and new inventory grow in the first week of April compared with the same period a year earlier, a remarkable achievement considering that almost every major metropolitan area in the country saw a sharp drop in those categories over the same period.
The Pivot That Took Place
Necessity is the mother of invention is a modern proverb you are probably familiar with. As the need for changing the rules in buying and selling real estate has become imperative during this unprecedented time, Realtors have been forced to find ways of assisting their buyers and sellers differently than before.
Furnished with gloves, masks and disinfectant for both themselves and their clients, Atlanta real estate agents began showing property in person not too long after other big-city real estate markets had started to take a tumble. Realtors are going to homes ahead of time and turning on all the lights, opening all the doors and manipulating anything else to ensure their buyers won’t have to touch anything. They are also riding separately in cars and foregoing the cultural professional norm of handshakes, hugs or any other physical touch as a greeting.
Georgia Association of Realtors also went a step beyond and worked with attorneys to include a new COVID-19 stipulation in contracts that basically states buyers and sellers can extend deadlines (although not indefinitely) should a coronavirus related event occur to either responsible party. It provides a safety net for both parties that has never existed before.
Catching The Next Wave
The wave of the real estate future was already in progress but the coronavirus has accelerated it to the next level. This wave is of course technology. Realtors are using their smartphones more than ever as Facetime and the like have become prominent showing tools for clients who may not wish to view homes in person. Virtual tours are also quickly becoming more prevalent as they have become more advanced, some even offering 3D technology. Almost every aspect of the homebuying and selling process can now be done virtually with the exceptions of home inspections and appraisals.
All of these aforementioned steps taken have allowed Atlanta real estate to remain strong, and some would contend the market is healthier than ever due to the fact that the buyers who are currently looking are those that are strictly doing so out of necessity. Many sellers are requiring pre-approval letters before allowing a showing and therefore ensuring a ready, willing and able buyer is walking through their door. Additionally, and just as importantly, two other factors come into play; metro Atlanta’s traditionally more affordable median home price compared to other large cities (average $300K) and historic low interest rates (3-4% for a 30 year fixed rate).
First Multiple Listing Service of Georgia reports that through April 1-May 10, Fulton, Cobb and Cherokee Counties have 3,353 active listings, 760 under contract and 2,631 closed. Clearly the Atlanta real estate market is healthy and remains fairly steady. Fears that the global pandemic would collapse Atlanta’s housing market have not come to pass. Not only is this due to the fact that inventory was fairly tight before the country locked down, at around the two-month supply level, but due to the extraordinarily fast and efficient measures undertaken by Georgia real estate professionals.
We Can Help
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, now is clearly still the time to do it in Atlanta. The Meridian Real Estate Group has been assisting clients for well over a decade and would love the privilege of earning your business. Our goal is not just to help you through a transaction, but to actually support the building of your financial legacy through real estate. Call us today at 678-631-1723 or visit us online at www.themeridianway.com. We look forward to serving you.
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Strong Demand for Warehouses as Retailers Cope with Covid-19
Strong Demand for Warehouses as Retailers Cope with Covid-19
One of the most obvious real estate impacts of COVID-19 has been the heavy hit retail property has been taking. Retail owners were already being described as facing an apocalypse thanks to eCommerce and that was before the new coronavirus swept across the country and began punishing even retailers who were relatively eCommerce-immune.
Losers and winners
The challenge facing retail real estate is matched by the opportunity now present in the industrial property business. Again, this is an acceleration of existing trends. It doesn’t matter whether a retailer sells out of a brick and mortar storefront or via an online shop, the products need to come from somewhere, meaning demand for logistical properties goes up in either case. The comparative growth of eCommerce and omnichannel retailers means particular growth amongst urban last-mile logistics properties, as we discussed in a recent report.
How long will it last?
Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the need for warehouses is only growing thanks to a trend toward inventory growth as retailers try to insulate themselves from consumer hoarding behavior. But what will happen if the nationwide shutdown lasts for many more months? Demand could eventually ebb as weaker retailers fizzle out and their stronger competitors consolidate logistical operations.
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Home Buying During COVID-19
Spring is upon us, which typically involves a big peak of home buyers checking out properties, negotiating, and closing on new places. But the coronavirus outbreak—with its quarantine measures and economic uncertainties—has many a real estate shopper wondering: Should I buy a home now, or wait?
We’re here to help you navigate this confusing new normal with this series, “Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus.”
This first installment aims to help you figure out whether you can—and should—shop for a home right now, or hold off until this crisis blows over. Read on for some honest answers that will help you decide what to do.
The impact of the coronavirus on the housing market
So what state is the housing market in right now, anyway? While that depends on how bad an outbreak an area is suffering, most markets are feeling some sort of hit.
“The coronavirus is leading to fewer home buyers searching in the marketplace, as well as some listings being delayed,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®.
However, nearly an equal number of members (45%) said that they believe lower-than-average mortgage rates are tempting buyers to shop around anyway, without any significant overall change in buyer behavior.
For those who are determined to buy a home, there is opportunity out there.
“This is the best buyer’s market I have ever seen in my career,” says Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers and Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York.”
“Sellers are nervous, there’s excess supply, and interest rates have been hovering at historic lows. You can own a home for less per month than you can rent an equivalent property in most areas,” he adds.
With fewer home buyers out there looking, you have less competition in your way.
“Unmotivated and uncommitted buyers have dropped off,” adds Maggie Wells, a real estate professional in Lexington, KY. “Less competition is a huge leg up in this market.”
The window of opportunity for buyers won’t stay open wide forever. NAR data shows that there was a housing shortage prior to the outbreak.
“The temporary softening of the real estate market will likely be followed by a strong rebound, once the quarantine is lifted,” says Yun.
This pent-up demand could eventually push home prices higher. That could mean that the time to strike for bargains is now.
Bottom line: If social distancing has made you realize you don’t love the place where you’re currently spending most of your time, it’s a good time to consider buying.
How the housing industry has adapted to keep buyers safe
Although it’s a scary time to be out and about checking out real estate, it is still possible to do so and stay relatively safe. The industry has rapidly adapted, introducing approaches that minimize exposure to the virus.
For instance, many agents are now working remotely and conducting most of their business virtually.
“Buyer and seller consultations have transitioned to virtual meetings with success,” says Kate Ziegler, a real estate agent with Arborview Realty in Boston.
While open houses or showings may not be easy to arrange because of quarantine or other safety issues, real estate listings have stepped up to the plate by offering virtual tours.
“We can send clients videos of whatever properties they want to see, or we are happy to have our agents FaceTime from a property,” says Leslie Turner of Maison Real Estate in Charleston, SC.
While those who are immunocompromised may want to stay home, if you’re otherwise healthy, it is also still possible to see some homes in person in some parts of the country. You’ll want to take some precautions before you go.
“Hand sanitizer at the door has become the norm, as well as shoe covers, even on sunny days,” says Ziegler.
During the tour, it’s also now customary for the listing agent to open all doors, so that home buyers can explore closets and other enclosed spaces without touching anything as they look.
If you do make an offer that’s accepted and you head to the closing table, real estate agents and attorneys are also adapting to remote closings, to keep you out of a crowded conference room. (We’ll provide more information about virtual tours and remote closings in later installments.)
How to weigh economic concerns
Coronavirus aside, anyone thinking about buying a home is also likely to be weighing whether it’s a smart idea when the economy is in a downward spiral. But in the same way you can’t easily time a stock purchase to make a profit, you can’t easily time a home purchase, either.
“Recession or not, it’s impossible to time the market, whether for buying stock or buying real estate,” says Roger Ma, a New York–based financial planner and owner of lifelaidout.
Just keep in mind that while current market conditions offer an incredible opportunity for home buyers to lock in historically low interest rates for a mortgage, rates are actually going up quickly, because so many people are refinancing.
If you wait too long to buy, you may miss the money-saving boat. So make sure to read up on the latest mortgage rates first.
Besides mortgage rates, home buyers are probably wondering about the stability of their income, as fear of layoffs loom.
“We are entering uncharted territory,” says Michael Zschunke, a real estate agent in Scottsdale, AZ.
On the flip side, putting a property under contract now and locking in a low interest rate gives a buyer some control at a time of relative uncertainty, adds Turner.
The takeaway from all this? It matters more than ever to get a pre-approved mortgage, to calculate your home-buying budget accurately.
If you’re worried about layoffs, you should buy a home well under budget so you have enough money left over for closing costs, home maintenance, and a rainy day fund. Now is the time to crunch your numbers more carefully than ever before. Below is what you need to consider.
- Research ways to reduce your closing costs. For instance, many loans allow sellers to contribute up to 6% of the sale price to the buyer as a closing-cost credit.
- Figure out how much you need to set aside for yearly home maintenance and repairs. A smart budget is to have between 1% and 4% of the purchase price of your home.
- Be sure to put aside an emergency nest egg for unexpected repairs. On average, it’s a good idea to sock away 1% to 3% of a home’s value in cash reserves.
Than you to Realtor.com for this article. For other great articles, Click Here.
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Commercial Real Estate Land Investments
Real estate is a great way to make money if you play your cards right. It all depends on what kind of real estate you invest in. While times are uncertain right now, certain rules stay the same and you can still come out ahead.
Why Invest in Commercial Land
There are many different ways to invest in real estate. In residential real estate you can fix and flip houses or buy them as rental properties. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can buy apartment buildings and multifamily housing units. And if you are more ambitious still and have the foresight and resources to make the right moves, you can make a lot of money on vacant commercial land.
A prime example of this is revealed every time you drive by a new Dollar General, the yellow signs seem to be springing up everywhere. Just think of all the folks who recently made a profit selling commercial land to this company. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the right property in your pocket to sell at the right time?
Profit aside, vacant commercial land has some specific advantages to it that make it all the more attractive from an investment perspective.
For one thing, holding onto vacant commercial land is tax-efficient. You’ll have comparatively lower taxes compared to buying actual buildings which are taxed more heavily. Having a lighter tax load makes a big difference in property investment, an arena where one of the biggest risks is overleveraging and falling behind the cost of maintenance before a property sells.
On that note, that’s another reason why vacant commercial land can be a superior investment. You won’t have to pay to keep an entire building and it’s exterior, including landscaping and parking lot, maintained if for example you had bought an apartment complex. The added responsibilities quickly become expensive, especially in older buildings where problems are more frequent and invariably more expensive to fix than in newer buildings.
The Importance of Building a Portfolio with Land
If you are serious about investing in real estate and want to maximize your potential profits, it would be in your interest to add vacant commercial land to your portfolio. The beauty of having a portfolio is that it will pay off more as you go along. For example, you might only be able to afford one or two pieces of land or properties in the beginning. Once you’ve sold them you can pocket a tidy sum for yourself and reinvest the remaining sum into the purchase of additional properties. The more properties you sell, the more you can buy each time around. Or you can wait until your capital is more robust before investing larger amounts into more valuable properties, the ones that may have been too expensive to act on when you started out.
One of the most appealing aspects of land as an investment is that it is a finite resource. The fact that there is a limit on how much commercial land is actually available at any given time works in your favor as an investor. You can turn the supply limitations of land to your advantage with spectacular results in the right areas where prices can be expected to spike over time.
Investing in vacant commercial land is a smart move, especially during a buyer’s market with falling prices.
Partner with a Real Estate Company You Can Trust
While you can do your own market research before making a purchasing decision, it’s always wise to consult with an experienced real estate professional familiar with potential values of commercial land in the area.
The Meridian Real Estate Group has well over a decade of expertise in investment land transactions. We are a full service real estate team that can handle smaller single investments to larger tracts of land including assemblages. Land deals require specialized proficiency that most residential agents don’t have, however with our years of knowledge and experience you can be assured we will guide and represent you successfully. Contact us today at 678-631-1723 to get your process of investing in land started. We look forward to serving you.
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Why You Should Invest in Residential Land
It’s always smart to invest in the right product at the right time and real estate is no exception. But during this unprecedented time of COVID-19, should you stop investing in real estate? Or would now be a time to leverage the market to your advantage?
Why is Land a Good Investment Now?
While the real estate market might seem uncertain right now, you can actually capitalize on that uncertainty and make a tidy profit. As COVID-19 continues to press the pause button on many parts of our economy, property prices are going down. That means that while it’s not an ideal time to sell, it’s a great time to buy!
Successful real estate investors and entrepreneurs know how to look ahead of a crisis and turn it into an opportunity. First and foremost, it’s vital that you interpret the COVID-19 pandemic as temporary. Although prices on vacant land are down right now, they’re bound to shoot right back up again in time. Now is a unique opportunity to purchase land parcels from sellers who may be more interested in liquidating for cash than holding onto their properties for long term gain. After the market adjusts, you’ll then be able to sell at a higher price.
Benefits of Investing in Land
Keep in mind that as time goes on, vacant land becomes an increasingly limited resource which illustrates the basic economic principle of supply and demand. As supply is reduced, demand for a desirable product or resource will increase which means if the opportunity affords itself, making a smart investment in land will be to your benefit. Buy low and sell high, that’s the key to making money off of investing in anything. When buying residential land, you should buy strategically. Conferring with an experienced real estate firm is arguably one of the best ways to develop an effective buying strategy for investing in any type of property, especially land.
Another reason why vacant residential property is advantageous from an investment perspective is that unimproved land requires little maintenance. If you invest in residential homes, you will be faced with significant expenses and responsibilities as you will have to keep them maintained. Typical maintenance responsibilities for residential homes include lawn care, roofing, plumbing, heating, etc. When you buy vacant land, you aren’t bogged down with so many additional responsibilities.
Vacant land can be a great investment for the right person but before you go out and buy yourself a piece of property, you need to know what to look for. Is the area likely to experience growth or higher prices in the near future? What is the surrounding zoning? Are there any environmental concerns you should be aware of? What about ease of utility and sewer access? Are there plans for expanding roads or adding exits to highways nearby? An experienced real estate agent will be able to help you answer those questions and more. With proper due diligence, your investment will have a much higher chance of paying off.
Know How to Play It
Investing in real estate takes a lot of capital. Whether you’re raising the capital yourself or financing it, you should know how to play your cards right before you get into the game.
In order to play your cards right you’ll need to know when to buy, when to hold, and when to sell. COVID-19 is making an impact on all three of those factors. Currently if you own vacant residential land it would be prudent to hold until the market recovers unless of course your goal is to obtain liquid assets. If that’s the case, cashing out now before the market is potentially saturated would be a wise decision.
Presently, it’s a favorable time to buy for long term investment. If you can invest and hold, you can make a lot of money off of buying vacant land now and selling it later. The amount of money you can make is limited only by your imagination and access to credit, capital, or both. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always consult with a reliable real estate firm when making large investment decisions such as this.
Partner with a Real Estate Company You Can Trust
The Meridian Real Estate Group has well over a decade of expertise in investment land transactions. We are a full service real estate team that can handle smaller single investments to larger tracts of land including assemblages. Land deals require specialized proficiency that most residential agents don’t have, however with our years of knowledge and experience you can be assured we will guide and represent you effectively. Contact us today at 678-631-1723 to get your process of investing in land started. We look forward to serving you.
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12 Reasons Why Buying Land is a Great Investment
Why Invest in Land? Is Buying Land a Good Investment? Should I Be Investing in Land?
Investing in land and buying land is not a well-understood concept. Most people don’t know for sure how land buying works. And even fewer people understand how investing in land is a smart strategic move for diversifying your portfolio. You don’t want to be one of these people.
There are lots of people who have never even considered buying land. You could find yourself asking “Is buying land a good investment?”. Understandably so – people aren’t always willing to play outside the box when it comes to their money. I’m not saying that buying land is the ‘be all end all’ of investing, but you should definitely be open to including it in your portfolio.
You owe it to yourself to at least be educated about the different types of real estate investing. Most of you are familiar with the fancier and more glamorous real estate methods. House flipping and home renovation shows take over TV channels. Robert Kiyosaki made townhomes and other building investments look easy.
No one is talking about why land is a great investment. That presents you with an opportunity. These 12 reasons will convince you that land is a fantastic investment, and will make you want to put your money in the dirt – literally.
1. Land is a Finite Resource
No one is making any more land! I know Elon is out there trying to populate Mars, but as of the 21st century, the country lines are pretty well drawn. We’ve got a set amount of land in the USA. Buildings can be replaced and demolished, whereas land is a valuable and finite resource, with only limited quantities available.
I love the quote below. I know it’s overused in the land niche, but it’s true – forgive me if you’ve read it dozens of times already.
“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.
— Mark Twain, Writer
2. Land Gives You Peace of Mind
Land is the well-behaved, ‘golden child’ of investing. Land can’t be stolen or destroyed. No extra effort from you is required. There’s nothing to protect, maintain, or renovate. There’s nothing to ‘do’. Land in its natural state will always be worth something!
A key component to investing in land is to buy a property that can have something ‘done’ to it one day (e.g. suitable for building or housing). This will make sure you have no maintenance to “do” now, but your land will be worth something in the future.
3. Land is a Tangible Resource
Land cannot vanish or disappear like shares or stocks. If tomorrow the world decided that money was just a useless piece of paper and has no value, land will still be something. It will be something tangible and physical that is yours, regardless of what the global economic situation is. Currency and monetary values may change, but ownership does not.
4. Land has Low Competition
In this real estate niche, there’s low competition. Most people (especially those with a lot of investment capital) are focused on the shiny and glamorous aspects of real estate investing – condo buildings, developments, house flipping, multi-units. It’s not their fault, almost everyone is focused there.
These methodologies sell-out conferences and consume TV channels all across the country. But sometimes to win, you have to be where others aren’t.
5. Land is Inexpensive to Own
Land is inexpensive to own over time. There are no mortgage payments or utility bills. There are no extra charges for the best internet package. No roof needs to be replaced.
Property insurance is not required, even if you do decide to purchase it’s minimal. Property taxes are minimal – I’ve seen lots with property taxes of $3/year. THREE DOLLARS! That’s less than a cup of coffee. Your asset sits quietly in the background, costing you almost nothing and silently increasing in value.
6. Land has No Government Implications
When purchasing and investing in land, there are no risky government legislations that owners have to pay attention to. The Dodd-Frank [introduced by Obama in 2010, as a response to a massive economic downturn in the U.S.] applies heavy rules to real estate but does not apply to vacant land.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE Act) [introduced in 2008, as a response to the mortgage crisis at that time] does not apply to transactions only dealing with vacant land. No legal implications to worry about. No need to hire lawyers or paralegals to help you meet government requirements.
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers! By reading this article, we are not giving you financial or legal advice. We have shared our interpretation of constitutions such as the Dodd-Frank and SAFE acts. These views should not be the sole source of information before performing a transaction, we still encourage you to discuss potential transactions with an attorney.
7. Land is Great to Hold Long-Term
Land investing is not for the faint of heart or someone looking to make a quick flip and create immediate income. It’s for someone with no immediate plans to develop their property.
It’s for the patient, smart investor, someone who is willing to hold for the long-term or pass it on as a legacy. It’s for the investor who is 10 – 15 years from retirement, who want to diversify their portfolio.
Land is a smart long-term hold, allowing you to win the benefits of rising values. Especially if you buy in an area that’s due to expand and grow.
8. Land Increases in Value
Land is less costly to buy than developed real estate, simply because there’s nothing there (obvious, right?). There are no improvements or additions to it that make it more valuable.
You can purchase a valuable and quality piece of land for less than $1,000. If you do your due diligence properly and make sure that the piece of land is in a path of growth, it could be supremely attractive to future developers. You could sell that property for as much as x5 or even x10 what you bought it for! That is some easy profit!
9. Land is Easy to Purchase
When purchasing land, you don’t need to rely on an expensive bank loan or mortgage with unfair and high-interest rates. You might not need to take out any loan at all. Most of the time, if it’s a private sale, you don’t even need to get a credit check! A lot of private sellers, like myself and my company, Compass Land USA, offer affordable financing plans that make it easy to buy land on any budget.
And you can almost always pay cash for land. Land is very easy to purchase, and for the most part, you can buy when and wherever in the U.S. you want.
10. There’s Lots of Land Available
Many vacant landowners are willing to sell. Often times people bought a property that they had big plans for and never got around to, or maybe it was inherited and they didn’t really want it to begin with. Maybe they’ve experienced trauma recently and are looking to simplify their lives. Maybe they just want some cash.
Or perhaps the owner lives out of state, and they have no emotional connection to the lot. Combine that with low niche competition, and you’ve come across a well-kept investing secret with high availability. You take your pick of the crop!
11. Land is Easy to Buy
Land buying is simple. Like most things these days, the entire process can usually be done remotely – all online. This is a very attractive quality! If you live in Tennessee and wanted to invest in California property, you don’t need to travel the 2,000 miles to get there. You simply give the owner a call or email and discuss it from there. You can get everything done with your cell phone from the couch!
It’s a simple process that allows you to sign documents online and send money electronically. In some counties, you can even record deed transfers online. So easy! At Compass Land USA, we make it simple and safe for you to buy land. And we cover all closings costs. One less thing for you to worry about in an already easy process.
12. Land Gives You Freedom
Freedom! Land gives you the opportunity to be creative and mold property how you want. You can hold it for a lifetime and leave it as part of an inheritance. You can purchase land, save up some money and hold it for a decade, and then build your dream home! Or you can create your own golf course, paintball arena, dirt bike track, there are endless opportunities!
If you need inspiration, check out this list of 44 creative ways you can use land. Some of them are very unique.
Your Bottom Line on Why Buying Land is a Good Investment
Investing in land isn’t just for the rich and the famous, the Rockefellers and Kiyosakis of the world – it’s for everyone! You’ve done yourself a huge favor by taking the time to educate yourself and learn why land is a fantastic investment.
Land is a tangible, finite resource that is easy to purchase. Land requires no maintenance and is less expensive than other real estate facets, especially to own over a long period of time. Land ownership requires no additional work from you, leaving you with peace of mind. This real estate niche has low competition, and is just waiting for you to get involved!
At Compass Land USA, I work with you to help you find and buy land on any budget. We have a safe and simple purchasing process, and everything can be done completely online.
If you want to learn more about how you buy land, or if you’re looking for property to invest in, leave me a comment below. I’d love to help you. Here’s to your land ownership!
Shoutout to www.compasslandusa.com. If you are interested in similar content, make sure to check out their website.
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What’s Happening with WeWork after SoftBank Pulls its Funding?
Here’s a great article for one of our favorite Commercial Real Estate news sources Propmodo.com on what’s happening with WeWork after SoftBank pulls its funding due to “unfulfilled conditions”.
SoftBank Pulls WeWork Funding for “Unfulfilled Conditions”
As part of the aftermath of the failed WeWork IPO, their biggest investors (in both size and profile) SoftBank committed $3 billion to help keep the company afloat and cash out early investors, including the founder Adam Neumann. Now, SoftBank has pulled out of that commitment citing unfulfilled conditions such as failure to get antitrust approval by April 1, 2020. This has put the company’s future in question even as its Chairman Marcelo Claure recently said that they had $1.3 billion in cash and were prepared to weather the extended closures from the COVID-19 response.
The Hits Keep Coming
The news of SoftBank’s change of plans has bounced around the media and has now been spun as Adam Neumann’s personal loss. While this is definitely one outcome of this turn of events, it is certainly not the only one. Like many startups, early employees were compensated in stock (I am tempted to call them stock options but for most startups they are anything but optional). This means that many people who have been expecting to get paid for their work will have to wait longer for their equity to be worth anything that is remotely considered fungible. This will inevitably make the recent WeWork layoffs even harder for some at a very hard time.
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