Over the past few months, many countries have been in and out of lock-downs from COVID-19 and our lives have completely changed since then. We are now coping with the new normal in the way we live, work, shop and travel.
From basic necessities to leisure, COVID-19 has taught us not only the impact that a pandemic can bring upon, but also the multitude of investment opportunities to be had. For instance, sales activities in residential real estate have picked up since cities exit lock-downs with an increase in prices due to such reasons as high demand, historically-low interest rates and governments' own policies of removing stamp duties for certain types of properties.
What caught our eyes this week?
A surge in private residential units sold by developers in June 2020
The easing of circuit breaker measures and reopening of showflats from 19 June was a major contributor to new home sales surging to 998 units in June 2020. When compared to data from the first half of 2019, the total number of private homes sold in first half of 2020 is only 6.6% lower at 3,911 - still an impressive feat and it just shows that the market remains fairly resilient in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UK housing mini-boom is gathering pace
BRITISH property website Rightmove said a mini housing market boom is gathering pace after a stamp duty tax relief on property purchases up to £500,000 (S$876,000) announced by UK's finance minister Rishi Sunak with immediate effect until 31st March 2021. The number of sales agreed in England jumped by an annual 35 per cent in five days after this July 8 announcement with agreed sales up by 15% in June.
US sales of existing homes jump 20% after a 3-month slump
Americans stepped up their home purchases in June by a robust 20.7% after the pandemic had caused sales to crater in the prior three months. The housing market has managed to avoid a deeper slump from severe recession due to COVID-19 in the face of ultra-low mortgage interest rates. This has resulted a 3.5% rise in the median price of an existing home over the previous year to $295,300. Despite this, the whole housing industry could still struggle to rebound significantly in the face of the resurgent viral outbreak and a low supply of homes for sale.
Chicago office building constructed with coronavirus-fighting features
When a 90-000 sq ft Fulton East opens later this summer, the $26 million Chicago office building will be one of the first in the country to boast features designed to address COVID-19 health, safety and wellness concerns that were brought out from the pandemic. These, among many others, include touch-free elevator system, air and surface sanitisation, as well as separation of distinct corridors and restrooms to maximise social distancing guidelines. Experts predict such features would be higher priority over energy savings and aesthetic considerations and will not just affect office buildings but also retail outlets, restaurants and apartments.
Manchester and Liverpool among top global locations for startups
In the latest report looking at top global ecosystems for startups compiled by Startup Genome, the Manchester-Liverpool region is currently ranked ninth out of 270 places (and 5th out of 38 major European cities) as an emerging location even after incorporating the impact of COVID-19. This region scores high in particular for business prospects, global connectivity, local talent, infrastructure, housing and investment, funding and market reach. It is estimated that the value of this ecosystem is US$9.2 bn.
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