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Real estate group opens the door for return to the office – Financial Times

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Few companies are more motivated to promote the return to the office than those in real estate, whose portfolios of office property could be in serious trouble if the pandemic entrenches working from home.

Brookfield, the Canadian-owned investment group, says that three-quarters of employees at Brookfield Place, its US headquarters at the foot of Manhattan, have been back in the office since late November — and it has a playbook that it says other businesses can follow.

Regular Covid-19 testing is central to the effort, it says, along with more cleaning, and dealing with staff concerns over the use of public transport.

“It was important to demonstrate to our tenants that it was possible to bring people to the office,” said Brian Kingston, chief executive of Brookfield’s real estate group. “It is possible to do this and do it safely.”

That soothing message has yet to register with other New York businesses. Weekly surveys of commercial property occupancy show at best a tenth of offices are being staffed, according to the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade association.

Expectations are that by the middle of the year, occupancy rates will approach 50 per cent, helped by the rollout of vaccines.

Line chart of Weekly survey shows at best a tenth of offices being staffed showing Office workers remain at home in New York City

But in surveys of leading Manhattan employers last year, the Partnership for New York City noted that “the real estate industry has been the most aggressive in bringing employees back to the office”.

Many tenants in Brookfield-owned buildings are ready to start making preparations now that vaccines are being distributed, Kingston said. To aid them, he said, “we have created a white paper which is a starting point for how they can think about bringing their employees back to the office”.

Brookfield partnered with Carbon Health, a healthcare provider, to open a testing facility in Brookfield Place last summer. It runs 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides Covid tests for workers, conducted every two weeks and paid for by Brookfield.

Every day workers log into the Carbon Health app and provide a self-assessment. In situations where they feel unwell, they are told not to come to the office and a doctor will call them for an online diagnosis. 

The app is linked to each employee’s badge and when they swipe to enter Brookfield Place, anyone who has not completed their self assessment is flagged by the system. Temperature screening devices guard the way to the lifts.

Staff started returning to Brookfield Place in late June, since when there have been 42 positive cases among 750 employees. In cases of positive tests in the office, nearby workers have been isolated, sent home and then tested later. “There have been no instances of community spread,” said Kingston.

Brookfield has inked another partnership, with a ride share app called Via, which has designated part of its fleet exclusively for the company. Employees can call up the app and be driven home or to the office for $5, with Brookfield paying Via the rest of the cost of the trip. Drivers are regularly tested and the vehicles are cleaned every day.

“This made a big difference for our staff who rely on public transportation,” said Kingston. Parking spaces for those driving into the office were also expanded, he added.

On average there are about 500 people in the Brookfield office on a work day. Getting to and from the elevators involves following a one-way system, while an open plan office is now divided into cubicles via plexi-glass partitions. Employees must wear a mask whenever they are not seated at their desk.

Kingston said Brookfield had also arranged for cleaning to happen more regularly. When he gets up to make a coffee, his desk has usually been cleaned during his absence, he said.

Air filtration has been upgraded and Brookfield Place has installed a new system incorporating technology typically used in hospitals — technology it has extended to the office buildings and shopping malls it owns across the US and Canada.

The next step, the company says, is playing an active role in the logistics of vaccinations, if called upon. “We want to help roll out vaccinations and provide facilities in our buildings,” said Kingston. “We are working closely with New York State on their rollout strategy.”

As for its own staff, Kingston said Brookfield employees “will get it when they are eligible”, but not that the company would mandate it for those who want to be in the office.

Brookfield said: “We plan to partner with Carbon Health to make the vaccination available to employees when possible and will encourage all employees to participate.”

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Canadian Real Estate May Get Cooling Measures As Early As This Month: Scotiabank – Better Dwelling

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One of Canada’s big banks expects cooling measures for real estate soon. Derek Holt, Scotiabank’s Head of Capital Markets Economics, sees the Spring Budget including cooling measures for real estate. In a note penned to investors, the economist highlights how policy has been overly loose. He feels the next budget likely includes measures to cool the market, which can come as early as the end of the month.

Canadian Home Sales Are Unusually Strong For A Pandemic

Canadian home sales are extremely strong. Not just for a recessionary environment, but in general – they’re better than they were in Canada’s best economy. Holt points to Toronto home sales reported earlier this week. Sales were up 15.9% for the previous month, when  seasonally adjusted (SA). This follows a 3.1% monthly increase in January, which followed a 21% monthly increase in December. He also notes these increases are accompanied by fast rising home prices.

Greater Vancouver also reported an equally hot market just a day before Toronto. National sales data will be released later this month, and is likely to show similar trends across Canada. This is occuring in the winter, which Holt emphasized multiple times. He further adds, “Apparently, there are a lot of masochists out there who are not fussed one bit about moving in -20’C or colder weather and heavy snow!”

Canadian Home Permits Increased Over 7% 

Canadian new home permits are also a point watching, according to Holt. He highlights house permits increased 7.3% m/m in January. This breaks down as 15.1% m/m for singles, and 4.1% m/m for multiples. This doesn’t just highlight a rapidly expanding market, but “reinforces the move to the ‘burbs” narrative, he stated. 

“If Canadians are taking out permits and buying resales at such a pace during the winter, what does that say when the key Spring housing market and vaccines arrive?” Holt wrote. Adding, “Policy is arguably overly easy and macro prudential changes may be afoot in a Spring budget.”

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These are the cheapest real estate listings in Calgary right now | Urbanized – Daily Hive

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Good news for YYC house-hunters – you don’t have to break the bank to purchase your own home.

In this month’s roundup of Zoocasa’s cheapest real estate listings in Calgary, affordable properties can be found throughout the city for under $300,000.

A lower budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise your standards, as most of these properties offer updated kitchens and bathrooms, recently replaced flooring, and state-of-the-art appliances.

If you’re in the market for a new home, take a peek at these Calgary real estate listings.

5. $299,992: 6420 26th Avenue NE

Courtesy of Zoocasa

Listing details: 

  • Three bedrooms
  • One bathroom
  • 826 sq ft

This Pineridge home is close to schools, playgrounds, and shopping, making it a convenient location for anyone. The property offers a detached garage and a fully-fenced yard.

4. $274,900: 21 Copperstone Villas SE

Courtesy of Zoocasa

Listing details: 

  • Four bedrooms
  • Two bathroom
  • 1,132 sq ft

Located in Copperfield, this townhome features a fully developed basement, spacious tiled front entryway, and upgraded appliances in the kitchen. This is an end-unit property boasting tons of natural light and electric fireplaces.

3. $225,000: 14625 Shawnee Hill SW

Courtesy of Zoocasa

Listing details: 

  • Two bedrooms
  • Two bathrooms
  • 1,174 sq ft

This bungalow-style condo is located in The Highbury building in Evergreen Estates-Shawnee Slopes. The unit was recently updated and has stainless steel appliances, a spacious master bedroom, a walk-through closet, and luxury vinyl plank flooring throughout. Condo fees include everything except electricity.

2. $219,900: 3 – 812 McNeill Road NE

cheapest real estate Calgary

Courtesy of Zoocasa

Listing details: 

  • Two bedrooms
  • One bathroom
  • 441 sq ft

In this Mayland Heights bi-level home, house-hunters will find large windows, a dining area with a cozy built-in bench, and a spacious balcony with downtown and mountain views. The unit has been freshly painted and boasts new laminate floors.

1. $179,000: 32 – 3800 Fonda Way SE

cheapest real estate Calgary

Courtesy of Zoocasa

Listing details: 

  • Three bedrooms
  • One bathroom
  • 1,099 sq ft

Live in this new Fonda condo, featuring a renovated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a main floor office, and laminate-engineered hardwood flooring throughout. The upper level is home to a spacious master bedroom and recently renovated four-piece bathroom.

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Real estate company says demand for housing in Niagara will continue to grow – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

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A Hamilton-based real estate company says Niagara’s economy as well as its real estate market are poised for continued growth.

After placing a renovated 12-unit apartment on Drummond Road on the market, Crescendo Equity secured a total sale of $2.9 million. That translates to $247,000 per unit, compared to a previous benchmark of $176,000 for units in the area.

The company predicts demand for housing in Niagara will continue to grow through 2021.

”Market conditions are being strengthened by interprovincial migration, as home buyers and renters from the Greater Toronto Area, Peel and Halton regions look to Niagara for more space and better affordability,” said Mathew Moxness, Crescendo Equity’s founder.

The Drummond Road property is part of the company’s larger strategy to take older, underperforming stock and reposition properties for maximum occupancy and potential.

“With growing demand for multi-family housing throughout Ontario, repositioning aging and underperforming assets will help to supply the segment and provide housing for those who need it,” Moxness said.

The company, which offers opportunities to private and group investors, purchased a shuttered retirement home in Niagara Falls last year, and plans to convert the property into apartments.

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