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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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Matica’s CEO Sandro Camilleri speaks about security in digital payments

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One thing is for sure: the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many behaviors and trends that once were holding their pace. A great example can be found in digital payments and online shopping. According to Rakuten Intelligence, from March through mid-April, e-commerce spending in the United States increased more than 30% compared to the same period last year. When it comes to worldwide scores, it reaches the surprising increase of 74%.

Although books and cleaning products led the ranks mapped by Rakuten, specialists argue that digital payments and online shopping are here to stay, as much as it has already been observed in Asian countries. In this sense, securing financial transactions and protecting consumer data became a mandatory issue to be addressed both by companies and the government.

As a leading European company in the processing and printing of cards and identification documents for security systems, Matica Technologies is dedicated to granting safety and technological solutions to businesses dealing with financial transactions online. According to the CEO and founder of Matica, Sandro Camilleri, the advent of digital payments is a revolution similar to that which technology has caused and is currently causing in other areas, such as transports. “It is an inevitable revolution, which citizens will have to get used to, and which must therefore be managed in order not to risk unintended consequences, being the key issue obviously safety,” he argues.

Camilleri stresses that there are two different phases when it comes to digital payment security. A first one is about information and personal data storage, one of the greatest topics of our time and also a potentially enormous market sector. The second, less discussed though equally important, is guaranteeing strength and security for the financial transaction itself — and this is a purely technological issue. “The use of chips that are equipped with incredible memories, high precision lasers and holograms makes it extremely difficult, not to say impossible, for any attacker to clone a card produced by us. Secondly, the transaction must be secure thanks to specific and constantly updated software,” explains Matica’s CEO.

Now, when it comes to privacy, Camilleri states that people must be aware of what is at stake when data is leaked and why such occurrences are so alarming. With more and more appliances being automated and connected to computers and to the internet, such as is the case for cars and home security systems, cyberattacks could lead to consequences that are not only terrible, but tragic. 

In such situations, Matica’s CEO believes that only biometric data could spare individuals from having their systems hacked, though this data must be filed with care and used only for strictly necessary purposes. In any case, Camilleri argues that using biometrics is becoming day by day more inevitable with the increasing rhythm of automation, and this is a feature that can already be found in some of Matica’s available systems, such as is the case of the passport series.

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The Importance of Branded Clothing

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When it comes to the basics of branding, it’s essential that you don’t skip out one of the most important aspects of your store; clothing. When it comes to creating a professional image for your business, first impressions count and you want your customers to believe that you are a credible and reliable business. The best way to achieve this excellent first impression is to pay more attention to the appearance of your staff and creating a consistent company image.

So here are a couple of tips that will explain the importance of branded clothing and why you should invest in it.

Creating a sense of team spirit

One of the biggest advantages of having branded clothing in the workplace is inspiring a sense of team spirit. It’s important to have everyone on board when it comes to running your business. It could be your brand message, commitment to customer service or even your values as a business. Whatever the case is, having everyone wear the same uniform can help promote teamwork in the workplace.

It’s an inexpensive way to show professionalism

It’s surprisingly cheap to purchase customer embroidered badges to sew onto plain shirts. This is an inexpensive way to create a branded uniform and also means that you can remove the badges when the shirt is ruined and then stick it to another shirt. It also means you can just buy blanks in different sizes instead of having multiple shirts printed. This is usually a much better option than pre-printing a bunch of shirts and hoping that they fit a new staff member. If you take this approach, you’ll find that you can easily create a sense of professionalism on a budget.

Showing who the staff members are

When you first walk into a store, it’s easy to tell who the staff members are if they’re wearing branded clothing. They’re easy to identify and recognize which enhances the customer service, especially in a relatively large store. For instance, if you run a clothing store with multiple floors, then having staff members in uniform will ensure that your customers know who to speak to if they need assistance.

It inspires confidence in your shoppers

You might not notice it immediately, but people will react more positively to your brand if they see that you and your staff are proud of your work. Having a branded uniform means that your staff are more than happy to represent your business, and this inspires a sense of confidence in shoppers that is difficult to achieve in other ways. They want to see that your staff have faith in your brand and a branded uniform can show this in a subtle way.

At the end of the day, a business doesn’t need to force its staff to wear a specific uniform. We’ve probably all seen or experienced it before; a store clerk or staff member that isn’t wearing a specific uniform. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t create a consistent and professional brand image with your clothing.

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5 Main Advantages of Colocation Hosting for Your Business

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Your organization requires a data center business plan if it is going to move forward to expand smoothly. Thus, you must look at your IT needs and decide what is to come so that your business can grow. If you are not sure whether outsourcing to a colocation facility is right for your organization or not, read on to learn what to consider.

1. Many Connectivity Options

Rather than building a private data center, which is a major capital expenditure, many companies choose a migration of their data instead. The range of connectivity choices available makes colocation a great choice in several cases, particularly if expanding the company’s infrastructure is necessary. Rather than laying down and integrating expensive cables, it is often more budget-friendly to use colocation facilities that easily connect to leading providers of internet services, network services, and more.

2. Scalability

When your current data solution is no longer enough, then it is time to consider scaling the IT infrastructure so that your business can continue to grow. Using a colocation provider allows you to agree together on service terms that allow you to scale services as necessary. If you’re interested in this scalable solution, check this page out for more information.

3. Less Downtime

A big benefit of colocation hosting is less downtime. An outage is costly for any company because it means less work is being done then, which equals fewer sales. Significant work must go into catching up on operations afterwards too. Thankfully, colocation data centers reduce downtime and maintain hardware because they have many supports, including different power sources and physical security.

4. Data Security

This point is essential. Your business has data that you need to ensure is secure for your customers and for the organization generally. Keeping patented data out of competitor hands is important, and you have an ethical obligation to your customers to safeguard their personal details too. Thankfully, colocation data centers have cutting-edge security measures in place. The colocation facility also has many policies that align with compliance regulation for various types of data, which means you won’t have to worry that you are vulnerable to lawsuits.

5. Lower Costs

Finally, colocation reduces costs in many ways for your growing organization. For example, you will save money as you will consume much less power after the relocation. Not only that, but you won’t have to own and operate hardware for networking because that is taken care of by the trusted colocation provider.

Deciding to Make the Move to Colocation Hosting

If your business has complex needs for an internet infrastructure, colocation can offer significant benefits, including saving money, state-of-the-art security methods, and scalability. It’s nice not to have to worry about infrastructure anymore too.

When your business moves to a colocation data facility, you can then focus on daily operations and an expansion strategy, rather than spending time managing an on-site data center. You can spend your time efficiently by outsourcing in this way, which makes it a successful part of building your company’s future.

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