Real Estate Technology
Article | July 18, 2022
Florida’s real estate market is on the up amidst a COVID-driven boom. But, as homebuyers flock to the Sunshine State, they are bringing with them a checklist that consists of more than just sun, shores and southern fun.
In recent months, there has been an average of 1,000 people moving to Florida each day, resulting in more than a 50% increase in home sales in some parts of the state.
Alistair Brown, CEO of Alistair Brown International Real Estate (ABIRE), an international real estate sales and marketing company that has particular expertise in the Florida market, explains the cause of the boom.
“The pandemic has shifted behaviors and ways of life in more ways than one and, as a result, our living arrangements have had to adapt.
“For example, the rise in remote working, restrictions on leisure activities and social distancing guidelines have all caused a spike in demand for homes that are outside of crowded cities, have more space and COVID-safe amenities on offer. Many of Florida’s high-end houses provide just that.”
The migration has been particularly popular among families who, pre-COVID, resided in densely populated cites. But, with virus risks significantly higher in these areas and a threat of future outbreaks still looming, a rural escape seems to make perfect sense.
But, while some favor a permanent move to the state, a vacation home is an attractive investment opportunity for others – whether that is for domestic getaways, as travel restrictions remain in place, or a sense of home comfort, as you enjoy an extended stay with self-isolation periods.
However, no matter what the reason may be, the root motivating factor is an interesting one, and one that Alistair believes has inspired a new list of requirements among home buyers.
“The pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate the way they were living. We all have visions and desires for how we want our lives to play out and at no point have these been more magnified than during the virus outbreak.
“While the threat to our health and livelihoods has been worrying, the thought of a life with unfulfilled aspirations, confinement and heightened risk has become another significant concern.
“Many have accepted that the virus is not going away any time soon and the chances of returning to what we knew as normalcy are slim. So, rather than living a life of regret, it is time to adapt and fulfil those wishes while we still can, as well as inspire new ones in the wake of our current reality.”
But what exactly do these new desires entail? Well, Alistair explains they have a lot to do with the architectural design of homes.
“For those who experienced lockdown restrictions in confined living spaces, particularly in populated cities, the need for a home with room will be stronger than ever.
“Home buyers will be looking at the size and space available in specific areas of the house. For example, kitchens will need to have ample room to cater for an increase in cooking at home, as well as a dining area that is fit for the whole family.
“Outside space will also become a priority. Whether that is a private backyard, decking area or a communal garden, families will be looking for homes with outdoor living spaces in which they can enjoy the Sunshine State to its fullest, no matter what COVID-restrictions are in force.”
“One of the biggest enabling factors of the migration trend is the rise in working from home. While this was a requirement during the peak of the pandemic, many companies and employees will choose to make the switch permanent.
“Consequently, home buyers will be seeking properties with purpose-built home office spaces. These will also need to be spacious rooms that can accommodate everything from desks, filing cabinets and high-speed connectivity.
“Home offices need to be areas that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Not only does this provide privacy and minimize distractions when working, it also allows people to properly switch off after a long day.
“Balancing both home and work life can become incredibly difficult, especially when both are contained by the same four walls, so homes that allow for the separation of the two will be favored much more.”
“An incidental effect of the pandemic has been the reduced environmental impact of our restricted movement and new, minimalist lifestyles. Having recognized this, many will be seeking ways to continue going about their lives with greater awareness of their actions.
“At home, this will include things, such as efficient energy usage or growing their own food. Of course, this will require homes to have modern heating, plumbing and electricity systems in place, as well as gardens in which fruit and vegetables can be grown.”
“While it would be wrong to assume people were living in unclean conditions prior to the pandemic, the threat of the virus’ long-lasting existence on surfaces has only heightened people’s hygiene concerns.
“Therefore, homes that can be easily cleaned, or better, self-cleaned, will be more sought after than those in which risk prevails. Take for example, voice activated technology that can turn lights on and off or stop-start electrical appliances, without the need for manual intervention. And, while air conditioning units are a common feature of Floridian properties, they can be updated with smart technology solutions, such as those provided by RespirTech.
“As well as cooling the home, the new system will be constantly cleaning the air and surfaces using photocatalytic technology, which emits small parts of hydrogen peroxide. Such equipment will be increasingly at the forefront of consumer’s minds, as they seek to minimise physical interaction with products and systems.”
“With risks and restrictions remaining in place at many entertainment venues, leisure facilities at home are becoming a must. This may include bar areas, private swimming pools and home gyms to name but a few.
“While community amenities are still important in fulfilling our innate need for social contact, buyers are seeking properties which have more on offer at home than out.
“As well as protecting them against any of the risks associated with shared facilities, more home entertainment options will ensure any quarantine periods or future lockdowns cause little disruption to people’s daily routines.
“Ultimately, post-COVID living will focus more on maximizing comfort while minimizing the potential impact of any future chaos. And, like most things in life, that starts at home.”
Notes to editors
About Alistair Brown International Real Estate
Alistair Brown International Real Estate (ABIRE) is a boutique real estate consultancy and creative agency that brings together the most distinguished properties from around the globe. Offering a diverse portfolio focused exclusively on the world’s most desirable locations, its specialist team is committed to providing nothing but the very best in high-end property.
Under the direction of founder Alistair Brown – who has more than thirty years’ worth of experience in the sector – the firm has attracted some of the finest real estate professionals in the business today.
Laying a primary focus on Florida and the Caribbean, ABIRE has acquired an in-depth knowledge of the real estate market in each of these areas. Successfully navigating the complexities of premium real estate through creative thinking, worldwide networking and a distinct marketing approach, ABIRE’s longevity in the industry is a direct result of its ability to exceed the expectations of its clientele.
Real Estate Investment, Asset Management
Article | May 5, 2023
The belief that green properties bring multiple benefits for both residents and developers is becoming universal. The real estate buyers are realizing the integral role played by the green buildings in minimizing carbon emissions and contributing toward one of the biggest global agendas – Climate Change. Across the UAE, some landlords are evaluating the cost and the benefits of making their portfolios greener to meet the expectations of the property buyers as well as the tenants who are becoming more environment-friendly.
Rising international focus on climate change, Conference of the Parties (COP26) summit and UAE’s net-zero initiative to minimize emissions and pledging to invest almost $165 billion in clean energy by 2050 are the other major reasons for the landlords to construct green buildings.
Covid-19 has created an urge for employee safety to ensure they feel comfortable coming to the office. To take employee safety to the next level, corporations are choosing green properties to prioritize employees’ well-being and adapt to their occupational strategies and achieve their sustainability goals.
What is a Green Building?
The World Green Building Council (WGBC) defines a green building as – “a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment.”
Some of the features suggested by WGBC which make a building green include –
Efficient use of energy, water, and other resources
Use of renewable energy, such as – solar energy, pollution, and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
Good indoor environmental air quality
Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical, and sustainable
Consideration of the environment in the design
Construction, and operation
Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design
Construction, and operation
Design that enables adaptation to a changing environment
Exponential Rise in the Demand for Greener Properties
There has been a huge rise in the demand for greener and energy-efficient properties not only in the UAE but across the Middle East. As per the Knight Frank – 2021 survey – proximity to green space and good air quality topped the list of location features and are more important to home buyers in the Middle East than their global counterparts. Half of the respondents cited the energy efficiency of their next home as being a ‘very important‘ issue, compared to 42% of global buyers.
There has been a rising demand for green and energy-efficient properties in the UAE. The region is at the pinnacle in the Middle East in the national concentration of sustainable buildings and stands at the 14th spot in the world with 869 green-rated buildings, according to the 2nd edition of Knight Frank’s (Y)our Space report – 2021 which surveyed almost 400 businesses worldwide on their workplace strategies and real estate needs.
This sends a strong signal to the developers and planners to embrace building green properties to attract eco-friendly homebuyers in the UAE.
Reasons for Rising Demand for Green Properties
Here are the top 7 reasons for the rising demand for Green Properties in the UAE
1. Increasing Awareness
The last decade has witnessed a colossal rise in the awareness among the UAE real estate developers and homebuyers about sustainable construction practices and the adverse effects of climate change, rising energy consumption, and carbon emission on their health and life which has significantly increased the demand for greener properties.
The rising awareness about the advantages of green buildings is very evident from the leading studies conducted recently. The research conducted by EcoMENA in 2021 titled – ‘Green Building Trends in the Middle East’ reveals that in the last decade, green building design has become a top priority of real estate developers across the Middle East. The number of LEED-registered buildings has increased rapidly across the region, from 623 in 2010 to more than 2500 in 2020. UAE is ranked among the top 10 countries that hold LEED certifications in the world with Dubai ranked 3rd in the list of cities having the highest number of LEED-certified buildings. UAE has more than 600 LEED-certified projects.
2. Supportive Government Policies
UAE has launched the ‘Net-Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative’ to reduce carbon emissions and will invest over AED 600 billion in renewable energy to minimize carbon emissions and move the nation towards cleaner energy.
Other initiatives launched by the UAE to reduce carbon emissions which will increase the sales of green properties include – UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Centennial 2071, and the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which sets a 50% target for clean energy in the country, among others. The UAE government has already established several sustainable development goals which serve as a guiding principle for most upcoming real estate projects in the region.
3. Lower Construction & Operational Cost
Research conducted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reveals that the cost of installing green building features and technologies is significantly overestimated. Many developers perceive that the upfront cost of a green building is, on average, 17% higher than the original cost of a similar traditional building, however, that’s not true.
The research by the U.S. Green building Council (USGBC) reveals the initial cost of a green building is only 2%-3% higher than its non-green counterpart. Moreover, green buildings consume 25%-35% less energy than non-green buildings and have 14% less operation and maintenance costs than their traditional counterparts.
Modern property owners also prioritize renting or leasing green buildings or apartments due to their cost benefits. Green buildings also allow developers to save 20% of the initial construction cost annually by reducing energy consumption. Furthermore, green buildings allow developers to complete large-scale green projects at a much larger scale resulting in more revenues and business expansion.
Using incentive technology such as Virtual Power Plants (VPP) combined with an onsite solar asset will further allow real estate developers to reduce the operational cost and utility cost and explore new models of maximizing income outside of increasing rent and making their properties more attractive for eco-friendly homes buyers.
4. Lower Rents & Service Charges
Green properties are a win-win situation for every stakeholder. Due to their lower construction cost and energy consumption, green buildings have minimal operational costs. This is indeed good news for the homeowners and tenants as lower operational cost of the building leads to a reduction in their energy bills, service charges, and rents.
The lower service charges and rents often result in higher resident satisfaction and occupancy rate for the landlords and developers.
5. The rise in Environment-friendly Buyers
Rising awareness about the adverse impact of emissions on the health of humans as well as on the environment has attracted a number of homebuyers toward green properties. This is encouraging real estate developers to construct more green properties to foster quick sales.
Two years ago we had to convince property developers to go green and think about efficient energy. The majority didn’t know what ‘green’ meant and assumed there was an extra cost attached. Now developers want to go green and some are achieving Leadership of Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, an internationally recognized green building rating system. Many large developers are creating their own green design guidelines to be followed by smaller developers building on their plot of land.”
Khalid Bushnaq, CEO of Energy Management Services (EMS)
There has been an exponential surge in buyers prioritizing green properties as they support a cleaner environment for future generations.
6. Investors Prioritizing Greener Properties for Letting & Sales
There has been a rise in the investors and businesses prioritizing the green credentials of a property while making their purchase decision. This will indeed spur their saleability and rentability in the coming days. To cater to the demand of modern and environment-friendly buyers, real estate developers are coming up with greener properties and are evaluating the cost and the benefits of greenifying their portfolios.
7. Rising Sustainability Concerns
There have been rising concerns about sustainability among both residential & commercial clients. Corporates across the globe are showing great interest in going sustainable and prioritizing sustainable buildings for their offices.
According to the 2nd edition of Knight Frank’s (Y)our Space report, “40% of firms have set a net-zero carbon target and, of those, 77% are aiming to achieve this by 2030. 87% of firms surveyed had less than half of their current global real estate portfolios either ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’.
Rising sustainability concerns among the buyers will accelerate the sales and rents of the green properties and will play a crucial role in minimizing the emission rate of the UAE.
Here is the summary of the article –
There has been a rise in the attractiveness of greener properties among buyers across the UAE to reduce carbon emissions and move towards a healthy lifestyle.
Climate change, COP 26, and UAEs investment in clean energy by 2050 have been the major drivers in raising awareness of green properties
Along with the residential, the commercial sector is also prioritizing moving their offices to green properties to prioritize employee’s safety and adapt to their occupational strategies
A Green building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment.
The Knight Frank – 2021 survey on Middle East buyers reveals that proximity to green space and good air quality topped the list of location features. Half of the respondents considered the energy efficiency of their next home to be a ‘very important’ issue, compared to 42% of global buyers.
UAE is ranked 14th in the world with 869 green-rated buildings
The top reasons for the rising demand for green properties are as follows
Supportive government policies
Lower construction & operational cost
Lower rents & service charges
Increase in environment-friendly buyers
Investors Prioritizing Greener Properties for Letting & Sales
Rising sustainability concerns among the buyers
Real Estate Technology
Article | July 21, 2022
Early in 2020, the market was extremely liquid for real estate investors and operating companies. Interest rates were relatively low, asset values were high, unemployment was low, and there was little inflation—overall, the market was performing well. And then the lending market began to change in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of defensive draws by companies to preserve their liquidity has been unprecedented, and the number of loans has drastically increased. Other forms of capital have slowed due to the inability to forecast risk. It’s a challenging time for real estate companies to stay abreast of market trends, as well as quantify the current and anticipated business impacts in this dynamic environment. With data constantly changing, how are real estate companies navigating this seemingly open-ended period of uncertainty? On April 17, EisnerAmper hosted a “Real Estate Principals Virtual Roundtable” with the Bay Area Council, Kennedy Wilson, and Wells Fargo. This online event provided a forum for industry leaders to share their experiences regarding the current lending market and to hear first-hand from their peers regarding how they’re navigating the current environment. Here are some key takeaways from that discussion.
Real Estate Advice
Article | June 7, 2022
For first-time homebuyers, making the transition from renter to homeowner can be exciting, overwhelming, and scary all at once. Yet as Gary Keller and Jay Papasan write in the second edition of Your First Home, “Those who live the most fulfilling lives base their decisions on facts, not fears.”
Below, we’ve outlined four powerful facts from Your First Home to help move anxious homeowners toward the fulfillment and abundance Keller and Papasan nod to. Delivered with empathy, care, and your expertise – these facts can help ease fears and move clients closer to experiencing all the bounties homeownership brings.
Fear 1: “I can’t afford to buy a home now.”
Fact: Until you do the math, you don’t know what you can or can’t afford.
If you are currently paying rent, generally you can afford to buy. From a financial point of view, in the United States, the tax savings on mortgage interest alone usually make up most of the difference between your rent and mortgage payments – the tax write-offs you get at the end of year will generally help you save a lot of money.
Additionally, depending on your credit score, you can end up affording more than you realize. Note: The credit scores used for mortgage lending tend to take on a much larger picture of your overall credit score.
Finally, although there may be a higher initial cost to buying a house, if you’re planning on staying in one place for a few years, the equity you build can end up being a financial boon.
Fear 2: “I should wait until the real estate market gets better.”
Fact: There is never a wrong time to buy the right home.
Whether “right” means the right price or the right property for you, waiting for the perfect market timing seldom works to your advantage. If you don’t believe us, look back to the Great Recession when the bubble around the housing market burst, GDP declined 4.5% and unemployment rose to around 9.5%. Everyone still feels the impact of this incredible financial event. But, like those who endured the Great Depression, the people who lived through the Great Recession made it through, and benefited from an era of financial growth. In fact immediately following the Great Recession, the United States entered the longest period of rising prices and general prosperity since World War II. The fact of the matter is, even the biggest economic downturns are, well, normal. Even when there were some events that threatened to dampen the economy, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market still continued to thrive.
In the end, there are two ways to make money in real estate: timing and time. That is you happen upon the right moment to purchase your home before the price appreciates, or you hold it for a long enough time so that appreciation makes your purchase investment right. If you miss the first, you can most certainly count on the second.
Fear 3: “I don’t have the money for a down payment.”
Fact: There are a variety of down-payment options available to you.
While many people believe that making a home purchase requires a substantial down payment, as as much as 20%,, this is seldom true. Options are always available to you that require much less than this number, as low as 5%, some even less. Moreover, most states have down-payment assistance programs that can help you afford to buy.
House-hacking can also be a great way to make homeownership a more affordable option. House-hacking is when you purchase a piece of real estate and lease out one of the bedrooms or units. This rental income can then be applied toward your mortgage. Or, you can participate in home rental programs like Vrbo or Airbnb. While it may not be ideal all of the time, you could always make your month’s mortgage payment by renting your place while you’re on vacation.
Fear 4: “I can’t buy a home because my credit score isn’t good.”
Fact: A less-than-perfect credit score won’t necessarily prevent you from buying a home.
Although it’s valuable to have a good credit score, a poor one shouldn’t necessarily prevent you from talking to lenders to explore your options. You can expect that a good loan officer (or mortgage specialist) will be able to help you resolve your credit challenges, often simply by showing you how to move or consolidate your debts, or by referring you to a credit counselor who will put you on a plan.
If you’re facing the challenge of having no credit history because you are new to the workforce or have not made regular purchases on credit, there are still possible solutions that you may want to explore. One is to secure financing with the help of a cosigner, such as parents or a close relative, who is willing to stand by your ability to make the payments. Another can be finding a lender who is willing to use alternative forms of history such as student loans, rent, and utilities.
Looking For More Homeownership Resources?
Head over to the Your First Home webpage for freebies, including information on how to build out your real estate dream team and for your clients, a resource on how to determine their homeownership criteria.