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Bryan Ezralow On The Power Of Art In Real Estate – Forbes

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When we walk into an office tower, rarely do we think about how the paintings in the lobby got there.

But behind the scenes, real estate firms put significant work into finding artists and curating their own spaces to add a splash of creativity to an otherwise drab corporate arena.

“A lot of thought goes into it,” said Bryan Ezralow, the CEO of the Ezralow Company in Los Angeles. “We’re always thinking about how art can help our spaces.”

The same thought goes for living spaces, like sculptures in apartment foyers or paintings on the walls of market-ready apartments.

With the pandemic keeping artists busy in their studios, there could be no better time for artists to rent, lend out, or sell their artwork directly to real estate firms.

“We hire local artists. It’s something we do all the time,” said Ezralow. “We always try to create cool spaces and try to bring in cutting-edge contemporary art into our buildings.”

Ezralow’s building LA 1446, a boutique apartment community in Hollywood, features swirly wall sculptures and paintings in its apartment living rooms. His nearby residential property, Qwil, showcases framed watercolors. And, at the Madison Bellevue apartments in Bellevue, Washington, colorful paintings adorn bedroom walls.

Ezralow works with local artists from the ground up, forming organic partnerships. “We want to start with the community, so we start there to find artists,” said Ezralow. “I’m a big believer in art.”

He sometimes uses art consultants or referrals from friends and other artists to bring something unexpected and dazzling to each of his buildings, whether commercial or residential. “We try to do things with a twist,” said Ezralow. “For urban markets, we want people to walk into one of our spaces and say: ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that.’”

“Art and architecture are always intertwined,” said Ezralow. “Some of the greatest architecture comes from the minds of artists.”

He also asks the architects for their advice on ushering in artworks into properties. “We try to go for more modern art in our buildings,” he said. “We bring in top architects to talk about the art we’re going to show in the buildings because art is going to stay there for a long time. We go for public art sculptures too, as it gives an artistic touch to our properties.”

The draw for a building could be the art on it’s walls. “When people move to a neighborhood, it’s because they like the community and want to be part of it,” he said. “Why not bring a local artist’s vision into the walls of where someone lives?”

“There’s a lot about soaking up the history and the culture in a place that you’re in,” said Ezralow. “Why not do something for locals in the area?”

When placed right and curated well, artwork can potentially inspire the sale or rental of an apartment or building, bringing a splash of warmth and character to otherwise stale white walls.

“We’re in buildings every single day, day in, day out,” said Ezralow. “But what spaces make you feel good? When we show people our spaces, and if something grabs their eye, then they feel good.”

The best kind of contemporary art for real estate is abstract art. “It definitely works better in modern spaces,” he said. “Abstract art with lots of bright colors is ideal, and so is the size—the larger, the better. We always try to incorporate art into everything we do.”

He adds: “Sometimes text-based art is perfect because all it takes is one word on a wall to inspire people.”

“When you see a nice design space, a lot of planning goes into that,” said Ezralow, who is also an art collector himself, owning works by Ed Rusha, Richard Prince, and Wolfgang Tillmans. “It’s the developers who are creative, they’re the ones creating spaces for people, they’re always seeing where art can fit.”

“Nothing else is like it,” he said. “We try to do things that nobody else has seen or done before.”

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Home sales, average price decline in April from March

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Canadian mortgage rates

Home sales fell 12.5% in April from March, with the average selling price also declining slightly on the month, data from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed on Monday.

The actual national average selling price was C$696,000 in April, falling 2.9% from March but up 41.9% from a year earlier as it was compared with a sharp decline in April 2020 amid the first wave of COVID-19, the industry group said.

Actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, rose 256% from a year earlier, while the group’s Home Price Index was up 23.1% on the year and up 2.4% from March.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Canada housing starts fall 19.8% on month in April

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Canadian housing starts fell 19.8% in April compared with the previous month on a sharp decline in multiple urban starts, data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation showed on Monday.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell to 268,631 units from a revised 334,759 units in March, Canada‘s national housing agency said. Analysts had expected 280,000 unit starts in April.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Towns grapple with big-city-like real estate boom

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Real Estate Sales In September

Small cities and cottage towns across Canada are grappling with the fallout of surging popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as urbanites flock in, driving up home prices with big-city-style bidding wars and putting pressure on municipal services.

The growing demand has led to some small Canadian communities seeing house prices jump more than 75% in one year.

“The small towns are getting hit hard. They’re getting interest like they’ve never had before,” said Stephan Gauthier, an Ottawa real estate agent who is increasingly helping clients buy in villages well outside the city. (Graphic: Annual price gains in select Canadian cities and towns,)

The eye-watering gains in Canada are mirroring similar trends in New Zealand, Australia and Britain, where rural home prices are accelerating faster than in cities as avid buyers rush to snatch up cheaper small-town properties and as white-collar workers bet on being able to work from home even after the pandemic ends.

The boom in Canada has builders flooding into smaller communities. More homes mean more demand for drinking water and wastewater treatment, forcing some towns to fast-track expensive infrastructure projects.

For locals, the influx of city people is a double-edged sword. New residents are breathing life and diversity into places where – before the pandemic – schools were closing and many businesses struggled through the winter.

But the soaring housing prices are locking locals out of the real estate market, and competition for rentals means many people can no longer afford to live locally, leaving small-business owners scrambling for staff.

Even existing homeowners, whose home values have risen sharply, are unable to move up the property ladder as the gap to the next rung widens past their means.

“You want people to come here and help build the community. But at what cost to the people who have been here for literally generations?” said Nancy Cherwinka, who lives in Prince Edward County, a peninsula in Lake Ontario known for its wineries and beaches.

MOVE TO THE COUNTRY

Roughly 75,000 people left Toronto and Montreal – Canada‘s two biggest cities and main COVID-19 hot spots – for other parts of their respective provinces of Ontario and Quebec in the year up to July 2020, the largest such migration since at least 2001, according to the latest Statistics Canada data.

For Prince Edward County, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Toronto, that migration has helped drive house prices up 78.5% on the year, putting ownership out of reach for many local residents. The average selling price of a home there in April was C$740,112 ($610,000).

“Now the rental market has gone nuts,” said Chuck Dowdall, executive director of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, with potential home buyers giving up on buying, and renting instead.

The rental crunch is making it difficult for small businesses to hire and retain staff, even if they pay above minimum wage.

It is a struggle that Samantha Parsons and her husband, owners of Parsons Brewing Company, know well. They built a small bunkhouse next to their brewery to house workers temporarily and have even had staff stay with them. This year, they arranged a lease for a three-bedroom home for employees.

“You have to be creative,” said Parsons, adding they still lose out on talent because of the housing challenge.

IF YOU BUILD IT

To tackle the housing crisis, Prince Edward County is planning for more than 3,000 housing starts through 2026, including dozens of below-market rental units.

That boom is putting pressure on municipal services, notably aging water infrastructure. The region is hastening plans to spend C$68 million ($56.2 million) on its water and wastewater system, with developers on the hook for much of the bill.

New-home construction is also surging in other smaller centers across Canada, with rural starts in the first quarter of 2021 at their highest point since 2008. (Graphic: Canada rural housing starts, )

In Collingwood, Ontario, a four-season resort town about 145 km (90 miles) northwest of Toronto, the population boom has forced the community to pause all new-home construction while it sorts out how to address its critical water shortage.

In Nelson, a former mining town in British Columbia’s Kootenay mountains, a pandemic-driven explosion of infill and coach housing is forcing the small city to expand its wastewater and water infrastructure sooner than planned.

“We were heading down that road anyway … but now it’s been accelerated. So that’s going to put us a little bit on our back foot,” said Mayor John Dooley, adding that the sewage treatment plant alone will cost about C$25 million.

Dooley said Nelson hoped to split the costs with the province and federal government.

Back in Prince Edward County, about half the children at a rural daycare are new to the community since the pandemic. At the sister daycare in town, a quarter of students are newcomers. Enrollment at local schools is also up, reversing a trend that had led to closures in previous years.

More young families living in the community will ultimately be beneficial, said Cherwinka, as long as they stick around once life goes back to normal.

“Hopefully they stay, hopefully it’s not just a pandemic solution,” she said. “Hopefully it’s long term.”

($1 = 1.2092 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Andy Bruce in London; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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