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Is the US Housing Market Slowing Down?

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There are signs that the US housing market, buoyant for several years with prices soaring, is slowing down as even properties in popular ‘hot spots’ such as Seattle, parts of Texas and Silicon Valley are taking longer to sell and sometimes not making their asking prices.

Economists predict the overall gain for property prices across the US will only be five percent for 2018 and will be down to three percent in 2019. The rise of home improvements – well over $300 billion is being spent on various house remodeling projects per year – show Americans are staying put and improving their present home rather than moving.

Versatile, top quality home improvements and ‘add-ons’ such as attic and garage conversions, and easy-to-install storage such as weatherproof prefabricated sheds that can add more space in a matter of hours, are giving people the chance to increase space in and around their properties for a fraction of the costs of moving home.

Pricing and interest rate rises

What has slowed the market?

Accelerating house prices – they’ve finally outstripped house buyers’ ability to afford them; rises have mostly been fueled by hitherto low housing stock in hot markets such as California and the Miami area.

Interest rate rises – recent interest rate rises make it not only more difficult for buyers to afford the repayments on what is likely to be a high mortgage, but have caused confidence to dip as people wonder if more are on the way.

Not a full blown slump

Many analysts, including Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller – who predicted the ‘dot com bubble’ bursting back at the turn of the millennium – don’t predict a big downturn like that experienced during the financial crisis of 2008.

They’re saying it’s more a sign of demand naturally tailing off for a while as the market corrects itself and housing stock increases. It certainly has done in property hot spots such as Seattle where supply rose by well over 20% compared to late 2017.

Confidence has waned somewhat in the property market; even though the US economy is doing well only some 65% of Americans consider it a good time to buy – the lowest percentage since the world wide slump of 2008 when the property market was severely affected.

Certain areas such as Alabama are actually seeing property sales rise as these are areas that are still relatively affordable compared to the likes of California, where prices still make it hard for people to buy.

House builder stocks falling

An indication that all is not well in the housing market is the significant fall in homebuilding company stock values: overall stocks are down 21% this year, so very much in 2008 recession territory and worthy of caution.

Good for investors but less good for buyers

The lowering of prices and the rise of housing stock makes it good news for investors as properties offering decent yields may become reality again.

Ironically, a strong economy allied to low unemployment – the lowest since the late 1960s – increases the risk of interest rates continuing to rise as the Federal Reserve tries to keep inflation under control. That has the consequence that confidence is lower for potential house buyers, as is their ability to buy.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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How to Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

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Due to the current financial climate, it is more critical than ever before for companies to stand out against their competition. The damage caused to the economy by COVID-19 has led to job losses and business closures. Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 5.0% in Q1 2020 and then dropped to 31.7% in Q2 2020. While you may not be able to control the events that caused the economic downturn, you can take steps to ensure that your business has the best chance of success and survival in these challenging times. One crucial way to protect your business for the longterm is to find ways to give your company a competitive edge. 

A competitive edge enables your business to become a major competitor in your industry and differentiates your company from the many similar businesses operating in your sector. You need your business to be the one that consumers think of first, when they have a need for the products and services that you offer, and you want them to keep coming back time and again. The question is, how do you develop a competitive edge? Read on to find out:

Differentiate Your Company From the Competition

The phrase USP or unique selling proposition is one that you would hear bandied around a lot in marketing departments in the past. Nowadays, the term USP is so well worn that it is practically overlooked. However, the importance of finding a way of differentiating your business from your competitors is a lot more than mere marketing jargon; it is an essential tool to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Ask yourself, ‘what makes my business different from the many others out there?’ Then use this to your advantage by communicating it to your customers.

Spot Opportunities

Being the first in your industry to capitalize on an innovative new trend or idea is an excellent way to edge your way ahead of the competition. To spot these opportunities, you need to be on the lookout for ideas and inspiration. A perfect way to spot opportunities that your competitors may have missed it to keep up with news from around the world by reading the international press, for example, israelnationalnews.com. Keeping up with international news will enable you to spot potential markets for your products and services and to capitalize on these opportunities.

Offer Exceptional Service

While there are many ways that you develop a competitive edge for your business, it is vital that you don’t neglect the basics. Offering exceptional customer service is crucial for keeping a step ahead of your competitors. Many consumers become frustrated when a business attempts to attract new customers while neglecting existing customers. Ensuring that both returning and new customers are offered the same level of outstanding customer service is sure to give you a significant edge over the competition.

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3 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Company Culture

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upgrade company culture

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone’s lives in some way. That includes businesses across the world. Unfortunately, many of them have had to shutter completely. Others, however, are trying to figure out how to reopen and restructure safely and effectively. 

As of August, the United States had only regained 22% of the millions of jobs lost due to the virus. UK job losses hit a record high

If your company has been fortunate enough to remain standing through this pandemic, and you’re wondering what to do next, now is the perfect time to consider your overall workplace culture. 

Whether you want to attract new employees or you realize it’s time for a change, upgrading your company culture can make a big difference in the success of your business as you move forward into a “new normal”. 

With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways you can upgrade the culture of your company from within, in order to make positive changes that employees and customers/clients alike can appreciate. 

1. Upgrade the Look of Your Business

It might not seem extremely important, but giving your company an external makeover can make a big difference in the environment you’re trying to create. First, start by decluttering your office space. Creating an environment that encourages working together in open spaces can make everyone feel more welcome and invited. 

Next, let in more natural light. If you have large windows in your building, put them to good use instead of covering them. Invest in a Glass Polishing company to make them sparkle for you. Natural light can boost energy and productivity. 

Even the colors you choose for your office can make a big difference. Color psychology is a real thing, so do your research on the best colors that will promote creativity and encourage productivity. 

2. Arrange Weekly Meetings – With Everyone

We’re living in uncertain times. Just because employees are heading back to work doesn’t mean those uncertainties simply go away. It’s important to keep employees in the know as much as possible. So, why not just make it a rule within your company? 

One of the best ways to do that is by holding weekly meetings with everyone. You can choose different ways to do that. You might benefit from having everyone in one room to talk about the state of your business and where you want to go. Or, you could branch off into different groups and meet with a different section of your business each day. 

Whatever the case, make communication and transparency a priority in your workplace environment. It will help everyone to feel more comfortable, more equal, and more valued. It will also boost your employees’ spirits by giving them a voice and making them aware that their ideas and opinions truly matter within your business. 

3. Encourage Positivity

Remember, no matter what the state of your business may be, you’re in charge. As a result, the things you say and do will set the tone for your company. So, it’s important to be as positive as possible, as often as possible. 

Even if things aren’t going well, or you’re worried about the state of your company, keeping a positive attitude will carry over to your employees and help them to feel better about the work they are doing. 

That doesn’t mean you need to hide things from them. If the business is struggling, it’s okay to talk about it. But, put a realistically positive spin on it. Most of the time, things can be fixed. You can recover. Use that mindset and attitude to motivate your employees and encourage fresh, new ideas. No one wants to work in an environment that is constantly negative or induces stress. You can change the entire culture of how people feel about coming to work by showcasing positivity every single day. 

Not only can it help to boost the work your employees are able to produce, but it will improve everyone’s attitudes toward each other. Now, more than ever, kindness and patience are important. A positive environment can foster more of those things, and create a more welcoming workplace for everyone. 

As you can see, it doesn’t have to be difficult to upgrade your company culture. Whether you want to make adjustments to some of your business practices or actually change the look and feel of your company, now is the time to pull the trigger on changing your workplace culture. Not only will your business benefit but your employees will feel more empowered than ever.

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Covid-19 Causes Online Deliveries to Rocket

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The high street is being forced to change. Whereas in yesteryear, high street chains held the fort and commanded attention from the shopping masses, it has now all changed. Today, the high street is struggling. Unfortunately, due to concerns over Covid-19 and the number of customers allowed inside at any given time, sales have been less than a stirring success.

People are worried about going out to even pick up the items that they’ve purchased. This has led to a surge in online orders and deliveries to the consumer’s door.

Has Shopping Changed Forever?

Will customers return the shops or stick to online shopping? While the worries surrounding the virus have kept many off the high street, since non-essentials shops have reopened, some people have bravely ventured out.

Nonetheless, for the most part, people are taking to the internet in droves, pushing online e-commerce sales rocketing up. Amazon.com, for instance, has seen a significant increase YoY while eBay has also confirmed their sales were up over a third in 2020 compared to the previous year.

The Shift to Deliveries to the Door

Deliveries to the door have become extremely popular. People can drop an item off safely and keep a distance away from the homeowner or renter when they complete the delivery. People feel comfortable with that approach and prefer the convenience versus venturing into a shop, where many people queue up at the entrance or mill about in the interior.

The trouble with deliveries is that many companies aren’t properly equipped for it. They cannot cover the cities and towns that they’d like to. There isn’t a team of delivery drivers available for them either. Even if they try to create something internally or use a commercial delivery system, the results are less than ideal.

Flexible Time Slots Are Needed by Consumers

One limitation with delivery bookings is a complete inflexibility about the available date and the time of the booking. Quite often, the date is many days or several weeks ahead due to limited delivery capacity and a recent surge in online orders due to Covid-19. Given the lack of flexibility, people are often stuck with a single date availability to book even if it’s inconvenient to them. Or, it has no time specified, so they need to stay in all day which is a real bummer.

Fortunately, consumers can now use Shift.Online. This is an independent delivery service that provides reasonably dated bookings that don’t start in October when your order was in August… They also have one-hour timeslots to pinpoint when the vetted delivery driver will arrive. This makes it far more agreeable to the shopper who cannot wait around all day for a package.

“A Man with a Van”

Shift also has a “Man with a Van” service to transport goods from one location to another. This is useful when moving personal items out, transporting goods into a storage location, or for other purposes. So, they do more than just assist shoppers.

At a time when deliveries to the last mile are the key component that’s often either missing or poorly done in the UK, it’s good to know that new operators are filling the gap. It will help smaller online shops, traditional retailers and consumers to solve this sticking point together.

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