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Fridrich said that for four or five years Warner had come into the office roughly once a month to provide computer consulting services, until this month when Warner told the company in an email that he would no longer be working for them. He gave no reason, according to Fridrich.
“He seemed very personable to us – this is quite out of character I think,” Fridrich told the newspaper.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program on Sunday that local officials felt there had to be some connection between the bombing and the AT&T building.
Damage to the switching center was so extensive that AT&T said its teams had to drill access holes into the wreckage to connect generators to critical equipment, as well as pump three feet of water from the basement. The company said in a statement on Sunday that it made “significant progress” overnight and had restored power to four floors of the building.
At a news conference on Sunday, five Nashville police officers who were on the scene early on Friday recalled the dramatic moments ahead of the explosion, as they scrambled to evacuate homes and buildings and called for a bomb squad, which was en route when the motor home blew up.
Officers had heard music and an automated announcement coming from the RV warning them about the impending explosion as they sprang into action, requesting access codes for buildings and trying to shepherd as many residents to safety as possible.
“I was thrown forward, knocked to the ground,” officer Brenna Hosey told reporters about the moment of the explosion. “But I was able to catch myself, I was fine.”
The officers, who were initially responding to reports of gunfire in the area, have been hailed as heroes by city leaders. (Reporting by Maria Caspani; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
Vancouver real estate shakes off the pandemic fetters – The Globe and Mail
Housing markets in desirable cities have proven impervious to the effects of the pandemic, Vancouver included. Royal LePage released its quarterly house price survey last week that showed the median price of a two-storey detached house in Greater Vancouver had gone up 8.8 per cent by the end of 2020.
That hypothetical two-storey house will now cost you $1,507,279. A bungalow in the region will take you back $1,265,285, and a condo $662,120. The company has forecasted that prices will climb even higher by spring.
Vancouver is not an outlier in Canada – 64 per cent of all regions surveyed showed year-over-year median-price increases of more than 10 per cent for two-storey houses. Others have reported similar numbers.
Since May, multiple offers have been common for sales of detached houses, says Randy Ryalls, the general manager for Royal LePage Sterling Realty in Port Moody. He points to low inventory and anxious millennial buyers for fuelling the market. While many service-industry workers lost their jobs because of the pandemic, the market is strong because it’s the older, higher-income bracket that is driving it. Millennials, in particular, are buying, now that many have reached peak earning potential and have families.
“[The pandemic] has probably persuaded some of those people that are paying $2,500 or $3,000 a month in rent to start thinking about buying something, and so those people have moved into the marketplace in significant numbers.
“The millennial demographic plays a huge role in our real estate market, and they are the biggest group demographically in the real estate market now. They are all at that time in their lives where they are starting to have families and they have better jobs and can afford to buy something, and they are out there doing that,” Mr. Ryalls says.
“Some of them are buying $700,000 or $900,000 homes – or $1-million houses further out.”
Over all, the Vancouver market has gone up around 10 per cent, mostly since May, Mr. Ryalls says. Surrey has gone up around 14 per cent, as purchasers snap up houses. The condo market, which had slowed considerably in the past year, also seems to be gaining traction. Investors are returning to the market.
A three-unit house in Vancouver’s Riley Park recently sold for $202,000 over asking, demonstrating the strong appeal of investor properties. The house at 719-723 E. 29th Ave., had an asking price of $1.599-million and sold for $1.801-million after 12 days on the market. The sale closes Feb. 9. Listing agent Cheryl Davie of Re/Max Crest Realty received ten offers.
The property actually comprises three separate units: a 1,965-square-foot detached character home built in 1908 and fully remodelled, with ground level and upstairs suites, and a two-level laneway house built in 2017 and renting for $2,200 a month.
“The Fraser area of East Vancouver has seen a lot of development over the past decade, and there is the possibility this parcel could be bought and redeveloped in the future,” Ms. Davie said.
Ian Watt, a downtown realtor, says he had an investor buyer put in an offer on a downtown one-bedroom condo recently that went into multiple offers. All offers, he says, came from investors.
“I have a feeling this year will be a crazy year because a lot of people are back out there and looking to buy,” Mr. Watt said.
At the outset of the global health crisis, nobody could have predicted that housing prices would actually go up. Mr. Ryalls from Royal LePage says he had braced for the worst, and the buoyant market has shocked him. At this rate, he doesn’t see the Lower Mainland ever going back to prices considered affordable to the average income earner.
“In March, we were all wondering how much longer we would be in business,” he says. “I can appreciate that it sounds very self-serving from the real estate industry, but if you look back, every 10 years the prices have doubled in the Lower Mainland. That goes back historically for decades. We have a pretty resilient real estate market here.”
It strikes urban designer, professor and author Patrick Condon as noteworthy that the housing market would thrive amid a pandemic. Prof. Condon says the situation underscores the fact that housing prices, and rents, too, remain disconnected from the jobs market.
“Somehow, when people all over the world are losing heir jobs, the value of housing has inflated rather than crashed. So how do you explain that?”
Prof. Condon just released a book, Sick City, in which he does just that. While Sick City focuses on the U.S. housing situation, and growing inequality in that country, there are many parallels with what’s happening in Canada, says Prof. Condon, who’s from Massachusetts.
The beneficiaries of rising land prices fall into two categories, he says. There are the older homeowners who have been lucky enough to buy into the market before the outrageous inflation, and whose equity has grown significantly; they have the advantage of borrowing against that equity or adding significant value to their properties by building infill. And then there are the speculators, who have driven prices up on their way to reaping capital gains. The smart ones purchase land near new transit or some new improvement. That behaviour has pushed up prices not just for homeowners, but for renters, too.
Going back to the 1990s, Prof. Condon says that urban land became a class of assets that went beyond the rate of inflation in desirable cities such as Vancouver, Sydney, London, New York and Singapore. When properties became an asset for global wealth and speculation, they became disconnected from incomes. That decoupling lead to the lack of affordable housing we see today.
“It had nothing to do at all with the wages of people who are basically competing for that, and it influences not just housing costs, but also the cost of rent, as the value of the land under the rental buildings gets bid up and up and up.”
Land has always made a sound investment; however, in the new environment, the returns are higher than ever.
“If you are going to invest, you’re smartest to invest in urban land in this host of cities and you don’t care how much it will cost – because you know it will go up for sure, 8 to 12 per cent.”
Prof. Condon also disagrees with prevailing policies that call for more supply as the answer to the affordability crisis, as if we can build our way to healthy, thriving cities where residents are properly housed and no one is displaced. Instead of lowering housing costs, rezoning for more density only increases the price of the land. Price is based on the buildable square feet that zoning allows.
“In the long run, it prevents access to affordable housing for the average wage earner, because it all ends up being absorbed in the price of urban land.”
That’s why he’s long argued for taxing new developments, along the Broadway Corridor, for example. It’s a cost that would have to be included in the purchase price of the land, thereby lowering land costs. He cites parallels to the Vienna model. Decades ago, the Austrian capital’s rent controls and taxation on land reduced land prices, which gave the city a chance to develop much of the rental stock. Today, Vienna has a considerable amount of publicly owned housing and co-ops.
“It’s the land market that needs to be disciplined. It’s not the developers that are the problem – it’s the land speculators,” Prof. Condon says. “Tax at the full value of that increased land value, and take the lion’s share of that money and use it to build non-market housing that would be permanently affordable.”
Sick City by author Patrick Condon is freely distributed on a creative commons license. It can be downloaded here.
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Business Report: Godiva Chocolates closing in North America, real estate worries, delays Mr. Bond – CityNews Toronto
Shifting Priorities: The Rise of Alternative Real Estate – Commercial Property Executive
Traditional asset classes will likely continue to attract investor interest going forward due to their stable income stream and low risk-return ratio. However, the pandemic has given investors the opportunity to take a closer look at other asset types, while also accelerating trends that were already underway, such as the rise of e-commerce.
According to Zain Jaffer, founder & CEO of Zain Ventures, the past decade has seen an emergence of new types of real estate assets and investment structures—and their performance is less dependent on local market dynamics. Here’s what Jaffer thinks about the most attractive and financially viable asset types, especially in the current economic climate.
Tell us more about the main trends that form the basis of long-term demand in the alternative real estate sector.
Jaffer: Institutional investors have been smart to pay attention to alternative real estate sectors over the last decade. Performance in those sectors has been steady and counter-cyclical. Returns have been desirably less correlated to the performance of the market as a whole. COVID-19 and its long-term implications make that detached performance all the more valuable, and emerging technological trends are setting the foundation for long-term growth in the alternatives sector.
Anyone active in the market knows everything is interconnected. Right now, technological and social change is underway—health care is experiencing accelerated growth, flexible and remote workspaces are undergoing a mass reimagination, and e-commerce and digital solutions are driving our economic recovery. The demographic shift toward an increasingly elderly population argues a strong case for investing in senior facilities. Health is driving the market and investors who are able to support smart portfolio acquisitions with high-level health and safety operations will see outsized returns in the alternatives market.
How can these forces sustain or increase demand in the long term?
Jaffer: To understand long-term trends in the market, consider the parts of our routine that are undergoing renovation. Businesses are discovering that remote work has the potential to be a more efficient and more cost-effective new normal. Hybrid work models are everywhere, driving demand for more specialty workspaces and data centers.
Similarly, the ensuing silver tsunami is a sure sign that there are returns to be had in health-care facilities, senior housing and assisted living facilities. Growing in its attraction, the senior housing market is being shaped as we speak. Although demand is steady and rising, major inefficiencies have come to light throughout the duration of the pandemic.
Owners and operators will be overwhelmingly rewarded for improvements to design and investments in experience-assisting technology. Investments in the sector that prioritize integrated tech, design innovation and a higher standard of health care will be well positioned for steady returns.
Another pandemic-born trend is the shift to e-commerce, a move that experts are considering semipermanent. Not only are retailers around the world disappointed by the holes in their supply chain operations, they’re also in need of more self storage, cold storage and safety inventory space. E-commerce is a new driving force in the market and the specialty real estate that supports it can be considered a safe bet.
Elaborate on the opportunities arising due to these shifting trends.
Jaffer: A recent report by CBRE compares investor interest in different alternatives from 2016 through 2020. The largest spikes are seen in the health-care and data center sectors.
Health-care employment often has an inverse relationship to economic performance, growing faster in times of economic duress. More employment will be linked to more space absorption and greater rental income. It’s not always a straightforward investment since health-care facilities are highly specialized and require sizable initial investments. But in the aftershock of the pandemic, demand is likely to rise and service offerings are evolving as we speak.
Already a key player in our ever-connected world, data centers will hugely benefit from the shift to remote and hybrid working. Growth in areas with strong infrastructure, tech literacy and power supply—Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tokyo, London and similar areas—will see the greatest returns, and markets with strong growth in tech-related positions will share in the momentum.
If we shift for a moment to the trends in e-commerce, one of the biggest spikes in demand has come from food and grocery sales. Perishables and refrigerated/frozen foods have introduced a completely novel need for cold space solutions and investors have taken notice.
As smaller retailers enter the market as newcomers, opportunities like sale/leasebacks, joint ventures with cold chain operators and metropolitan-adjacent build-to-suit developments are particularly attractive. And as cold storage spaces command higher rent premiums compared to dry spaces, owners and investors might consider space conversions—the transformation from dry to cold storage—as a place to introduce higher portfolio returns.
What can you tell us about today’s leading sectors of alternative real estate?
Jaffer: Roughly 12 percent of commercial real estate investment in the Americas is made up of alternative assets, with the most market activity coming from the U.S. While the market suffered the same pressures as other sectors in the COVID-19 economy, investor interest remains steady in the aforementioned fields.
The promises of alternative real estate still ring true—these assets tend to have less turnover and offer higher yields. Investors are attracted to the stable income and the way that alternatives investing can properly diversify a portfolio. Sectors like health care and student housing are also well known for their downturn protection.
Now, with the transformative force of COVID-19 leaving trends clear in the market, these sectors have added potential due to their involvement in our collective pandemic recovery. The demographic shift underway, combined with the technological and social changes that have been accelerated by COVID-19, present career-defining opportunities for specialty investors to grow the market and be involved in the road back to recovery.
What are the challenges of alternative real estate investment?
Jaffer: Competition is growing quickly and investors need both a clear strategy and an eye for innovation to find their fit in a fast-evolving market. In crafting an investment plan, successful investors are being rewarded for their fresh thinking, agility and, above all, patience. High returns often require the exploration of new sectors, the taking on of risk and an active engagement in the complexities of operation.
In the past, the operational expertise required in the alternatives sector made it a space largely dominated by owner-occupier investments. While it’s clear that new capital in the space will be rewarded, it’s imperative that investors familiarize themselves with the nuances of the spaces they take on. Value-add investors that partner with operators to maximize their understanding will be well positioned. Investors that can identify, comprehend and capitalize on the opportunities present in the alternatives sector will create a winning platform to reap the coming rewards.
How do you see the alternative real estate sector going forward?
Jaffer: My outlook is that the real estate sector holds immense promise and it is likely to become more mainstream in the future. Market information is already more available than it has been in years past and improved transparency in the sector will continue to be beneficial. It’s my opinion that competition in the sector will only be increasing.
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