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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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6 Tips for the Ideal Desk Set Up to Unlock Your Potential

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Today’s ideal desk setup is a little different from the one that professionals a few years ago were used to. It is still possible to see office desks with huge amounts of tangled cables on and around it. These are often the ones that have been converted into more modern solutions, but they were not initially ready to welcome the number of devices and tech items we need to make our job more fruitful. 

Make Space for Your Phone, Laptop, and Tablet

Ensure that there is space on your desk for a laptop, keyboard, phone, and tablet. Even if we all try to stay off technological devices as much as possible, we rely on them for several activities. 

Positioning them so they are easily reachable and in order could be essential to speed up most processes. 

Using stands and holders can also help you keep all of your incoming notifications under control without interrupting your workflow to check your phone. This is an essential part of the best desk setups in modern offices.

Keep the Cables in Order

Keeping the cables in order on your desk is one of the biggest challenges for most office professionals. However, since you will always be using the same plugs and tables, you could opt to implement easy-to-use clips and cable ties to keep all the cords in place and out of your way.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Stick to the Good Old Pen & Paper.

While most of your tasks will be completed thanks to computer software, there is nothing better than a simple pen and paper to note down important information or to-do lists. Having post-it notes around you can help you be more efficient and less forgetful. 

For a complete kit, you could use recycled paper and a vintage, old-school pen that can enhance your desk’s look. No matter what innovation you introduce in your company to get out of your startup shell, a pen and paper will always be there!

Opt for a Versatile Standing Desk

Using a standing desk has been seen as beneficial under many viewpoints. Indeed, this habit can help you find a more in-depth focus, more motivation, and cut our distractions. All this while limiting the strain on your back and neck.

At the same time, standing for long hours can be not as beneficial for your legs, especially if you suffer from knee problems. In this case, finding a versatile solution that allows you to sit when you need it and stand when you need to be more productive can be optimal. 

Clean and Sanitize the Area Often

While offices have started to reopen, the risk of contagion has not significantly decreased. Therefore, limiting the number of items and decorations on your desk can help you keep your area clean and tidy. Of course, this can also make the process of sanitizing surfaces much more straightforward. 

Have a Plant Nearby!

Having a plant in a room can be extremely beneficial. Adding one on your desk has been seen as capable of encouraging creativity, lowering stress levels, improving air quality, and stabilizing mood. All this while making your workplace more stylish and attractive.

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Six Tips For New eCommerce Businesses

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eCommerce is a constantly evolving sector, and as a new business, it can feel overwhelming. In this post, we’ll take a look at six of the hottest eCommerce tips to help you get your new eCommerce business up and running. 

Your website is your first impression. 

As a new eCommerce site, customers will have very little knowledge of your brand, and so you have just a fraction of a second to make a good impression. A website that is slow to load, poorly designed, and difficult to use will not build trust and confidence and will lose you sales. Take the time to make sure that you create the best website that you can for your budget and conduct the necessary UX testing to ensure that it is functional. 

Make sure that you’re mobile-friendly.  

The average person spends more than 100 minutes on their mobile phone every day, and so it is essential that your eCommerce site is fully functional on mobile and tablet devices as well as on laptops and desktops. With more and more people now using their phones as personal computers, shopping is becoming increasingly mobile, so having a mobile-friendly site is key. 

Invest in quality stock 

It should go without saying, but quality must always be put above quantity when purchasing or making items to sell in your store. There are a number of different wholesale sites out there, such as Alibaba, Oberlo, and Doba, and they can be a minefield to navigate. Learn how to buy from alibaba.com here. 

Social media will be your best friend.

It is virtually impossible to launch a thriving eCommerce business without a social media presence. Social media gives you a glimpse into the wants and needs of your potential customers and target audiences, but it is also an invaluable free and paid marketing tool. In particular, Instagram is now known as the number one social media platform for eCommerce sites, but for maximum reach, don’t forget to build a presence on other social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok too.

Invest in your images 

Pictures tell a thousand words, and when it comes to eCommerce, they are also processed by your customers much faster. With 60% of people being visual learners, images are invaluable to your business, so do invest in a good photographer and take some professional pictures to ensure that your customers have all the pictures they need to make their decision. 

Use a live-chat

Lastly, as a small eCommerce business, you likely do not have a customer service department, but that doesn’t mean that you can neglect customer interactions. A live-chat feature makes it easy for you to answer customer questions and to speak with customers while they are on your site, just as if they were shopping in a real store. 21% of people who shop online say that live-chat tempts them to buy, 46% of people think that live-chat is the perfect digital communications tool, and 62% of shoppers say that they are more likely to return to a site that has live-chat installed. 

So there you have it – six tips for new eCommerce businesses, did you find them helpful? Why not share your own suggestions in the comments.

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3 Tips For An Easy House Move

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Moving home is so exciting, right? A fresh start, a lovely new place, a new neighbourhood to explore. You feel like a little kid again – those night-before-the-move jitters and arranging all your furniture into a great new space is an unbeatable feeling. However, as we all know, moving can also be expensive and stressful. Especially with lots of furniture, children, pets and a limited amount of time, the task can feel insurmountable. Here are three tips for an easy house move.

1. Hiring Your Own Lorry

Removal companies are great if you have all your own furniture, and no way of transporting it. However if you have a partially furnished let, wherein you’ll have some,but not all of your furnishings already set up in the new property, you could hire your own truck. This will save a lot of money and will ease your move. You can hire the lorry for as long as you need it, and you can have a fun road trip all of your own!

Ensure that when you hire or buy your own lorry, you look into lorry insurance and invest in proper precautions. 

2. Asking For Help With Child And Pet Care

If you are moving with young children, dogs or cats, the move can become infinitely more complicated and difficult. If you have close friends or family who can take care of your children or pets for you, this would help your move immensely. Having to take care of small children whilst lifting heavy boxes and organising a million things at once can be a big challenge, and can even lead to accidents. Children can be overwhelmed by moving house, so it is much better to have them come to your new home when you have had a chance to organise the space and make it feel like home.

Similarly, dogs and cats can become stressed by a change in location. If the place is in disarray, the animals can become even more frightened and restless. It is better to have a friend, family or professional pet care company take care of them whilst your house move is taking place.

3. Time Off Work

Although it can feel wasteful to take holiday from work just to move house, you’ll thank yourself later for taking the time. Moving into a new house might only take one day, but the unpacking, organising and cleaning process can take far longer. If you take a few days, or even a week, to complete your move, you can return to work with a fresh slate, knowing you’ll be coming back to an organised, calm home!

Plus, this way you can actually enjoy your move, rather than treating it as a stressful nightmare! You can make the most of the new space, experiment with the layout, and truly transform this house into a home which you will be enjoying for years to come.

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