The trend of home offices is continuing to rise, and wasn’t just a result of the pandemic. In fact, it was already on the rise before the pandemic started. Some people already had spaces for a home office, others attempted to make do with what space they had. Now, builders and renovators are catching on and looking for ways to incorporate home offices into their plans.
The problem that designers are tackling is creating a space that works for everyone. Builders know that the space needs to be flexible, so they’re making flex spaces, usually on the main floor. But many people also want their home offices to be private. Sharing office space, even with someone who lives with you, can be loud or distracting. Combined with the fact that many homes don’t have a lot of space to work with, spaces for home offices must be large enough to do the work you need to do, yet small enough to be a separate space. It’s a difficult balance.
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Some trends are already appearing in how COVID-19 has impacted real estate decisions. The economy is going to recover at some point, so some trends are likely to be temporary. However, there will certainly also be long-term impacts as experiencing the pandemic has altered people’s outlook on approaching real estate decisions, and even decisions made for the here and now could have lasting effects.
The less permanent changes include fiscal troubles at the state and local levels as revenue from commercial real estate taxes drops, retail vacancies, and a drop in urban desirability, expected to be temporary because of urban districts’ importance in certain industries once job recovery is underway. With this drop in urban desirability comes people wanting affordable suburban housing. This is being achieved now by many people moving to the Southern US, which already features low-cost suburban housing.
In the long term, however, we expect plenty of attention to enabling more affordable housing through government action and zoning changes, as well as programs to help traditionally low-income groups, such as minorities, get into the real estate game. These programs would be a direct response to COVID-19, but with lasting impacts. Another such change is greater attention to health and safety within the technological infrastructure of commercial buildings such as hotels and restaurants, which need not be eliminated post-pandemic. But there’s also a major change that was brought about by the pandemic, but addresses a different issue entirely, and that is office size. The prediction is that companies will want more, smaller offices, in more spread-out locations. This is because companies recognize both the feasibility of remote work and also the importance of office space for coworker cohesion and training. Their solution is small offices where a few coworkers can reliably meet up regardless of where they live while they aren’t working at home.
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While confined to their homes during the pandemic, people have had plenty of time to take a good look at what their homes offer them — and what they don’t. Homeowners are reevaluating what’s important in a home purchase. Previously, many homebuyers were looking for a place close to everywhere they may want to go — likely in the city. Now, buyers don’t care too much about proximity to destinations if their own home offers them most everything they could want. That means single family residences with plenty of square footage and extra rooms.
Reshaping the home’s function is so important to people now that they don’t even want to wait until their next purchase. According to a survey by Porch.com, 78% of houseridden homeowners are increasingly looking at renovating their homes, commonly by adding a pool, home gym, or home office. A third are considering upgrading their home internet connection.
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On October 19th, Compton Mayor Aja Brown announced a pilot program called the Compton Pledge. The Compton Pledge is a guarantee of monthly payments over a two-year period to some irregularly employed residents, immigrants, and formerly incarcerated persons, and is expected to reach 800 people. The exact amount of the monthly payments is not yet determined, but will be approximately a few hundred dollars.
The Compton Pledge is not the first guaranteed income program in California. Due to the success of the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, the Compton Pledge has received strong support. It currently has about $2.5 million in funding.
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Free flu shots will be available at select LA County libraries while supplies last, and select Kaiser Permanente locations through at least November 14th. Insurance is not required and you do not need to be a Kaiser Permanente member. Flu shots are especially important for those with weakened immune systems or who regularly live with or care for someone who is at risk. This can be due to chronic conditions or age (both under 18 and over 65), but also remember that pregnancy can result in a temporarily weakened immune system.
The following link, provided by California Senator Steven Bradford, provides more information about locations and times that you can get your free flu shot:
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[UPDATE] As of Oct 18, there is some additional guidance regarding holiday activities. Buying and carving of pumpkins is allowed, as long as the pumpkin patches follow safety guidelines. Some outside gatherings are now permitted, a change from the prior guidelines. These gatherings can have a maximum of 2 other households, can last no more than 2 hours, and require face coverings and social distancing across households. There are also new recommendations for Dia de los Muertos. These include displaying your altar outside or in a front window, utilizing virtual spaces such as email or social media, and limit cemetery visits to your own household with masks and social distancing.
LA County has issued its regulations regarding Halloween activities, if restrictions continue through October 31. Many traditional activities won’t be permitted, and others are allowed but not recommended. The activities not permitted include carnivals, festivals, haunted houses, live entertainment, gatherings, and parties with non-household members, whether or not it is outside. Of note, trick-or-treating is not listed as a non-permitted activity, but LA County Public Health does not recommend it.
The guidelines also provide a list of suggested activities that are safer. Drive-in movie theaters, outdoor dining, outdoor museums, and car parades are still allowed, subject to the normal regulations. Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer is hopeful that no more COVID-related regulations will be necessary by Thanksgiving or Christmas.
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You may have heard the term MID in the context of purchasing a home or filing taxes. But what does this term mean? MID stands for mortgage interest deduction, and is a type of reduction in taxable income available to homeowners with a mortgage on their first or second home, or secured by their first or second home. When filing taxes, you can either take the standard deduction or itemize your expenditures. It’s common to simply take the standard deduction because many people aren’t sure how to itemize and may not even benefit from doing so. However, MID is one reason homeowners with a mortgage may want to itemize, since it is one of the itemizable deductions. The amount that the MID reduces your taxable income varies from 10% to 37% based on your homeowner’s tax bracket. It’s still possible that you would be better suited taking the standard deduction, depending on your expenditures and tax bracket.
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For more specifics regarding the MID, please see the full article at https://journal.firsttuesday.us/tax-benefits-of-ownership-the-mortgage-interest-deduction-2/73853/. You can also call or email us with any questions you may have.
By now you all should have received your ballots for the upcoming election. You may even have already voted, but if you haven’t and are struggling with understanding Prop 15, here’s an explanation.
Prop 15 aims to close a loophole created by Prop 13 that reduces property taxes for investors and businesses. Under Prop 13, property taxes are based on their purchase price rather than current market value, and caps increases at 2% per year. In California, property values increase at a rate higher than 2% per year, which means removing this limit and switching to assessments based on current market value would certainly increase property taxes. But if you’re struggling to pay property taxes on your home, have no fear — Prop 15 won’t remove the cap for everyone, only commercial and industrial properties. The measure also excludes properties zoned for commercial agriculture and small businesses whose properties are worth $3 million or less.
If Prop 15 passes, the changes will begin to be phased in in 2022, over three to four years. Reassessment for commercial and industrial properties would be required at least every three years. 40% of the estimated $6.5-11.5 billion in additional property tax revenue would go to schools and community colleges, with the remaining 60% going to cities, counties, and special districts.
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It’s been demonstrated that senior citizens are a vulnerable group for COVID-19 and experience worse symptoms, with 73.6% of COVID-19 related deaths being those age 65 and over. It’s important to keep them safe and isolated. Senior living communities, on the other hand, are often multi-family. Even though they do frequently have health care workers on-site, that doesn’t negate the proximity to other people. This means fewer seniors are going to want to live in a senior living community if they can avoid it, instead living at home.
Those not yet at the normal retirement age have also had to change their plans. Some purposefully retired early in order to lessen their exposure to COVID-19. Others were unfortunately forced into early retirement, as a result of losing their job at an age when it’s near impossible to re-enter the workforce. These groups will also be living at home. They’ll be hoping to later sell, but in the meantime will suffer from reduced or no income and have no guarantee of getting a good price when they do eventually sell. This in turn impacts other age groups, as more homes are occupied and unavailable for purchase by first-time prospective buyers, especially with residential construction being inadequate.
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What was previously known as San Pedro Public Market has been rebranded as West Harbor, and is expected to open in 2022 after delays due to COVID-19 that have pushed the date back from the previously expected 2021. The San Pedro Fish Market is definitely staying, and the U.S.S. Iowa may have a new location within West Harbor. Likely or confirmed new additions include AltaSea, Harbor Breeze Cruises, another Gladstone’s location, at least two other restaurants, a farmer’s market, and an amphitheater. Also in the works are plans for a brewery and beer garden, a barge, and possibly a beach. West Harbor is also getting a new nautical theme and color scheme.
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