Stripe Is Offering $20,000 Bonus To Employees Who Relocate To Less Expensive Cities, But It Comes With A Pay Reduction


Topline

Stripe is offering a $20,000 bonus to employees who move away from San Francisco, New York City or Seattle but it comes with a 10% pay reduction, spokesman Mike Manning told Forbes, making the e-commerce and mobile payment processor the latest tech company to implement pay cuts for workers who chose to relocate to less expensive cities as remote work policies are extended because of the pandemic. 

Key Facts

Stripe, which has more than 2,800 employees, has relied on remote work for years and in May announced it would hire at least 100 remote engineers, saying remote workers have helped the company stay close to customers so they can tailor Stripe’s products accordingly. 

Stripe joins other technology companies that have said they’ll cut the pay of employees who move to less expensive cities, including the social media companies Facebook and Twitter and enterprise software companies VMware and ServiceNow, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Further Background

Just as many white-collar Americans are reconsidering the cost of living in expensive cities if remote work policies continue, many companies are also reconsidering expensive office costs. Some companies have had market-based salary policies in place for years, meaning pay is adjusted based on the cost of living or cost of labor in the area. 

Tangent

The job search marketplace Hired surveyed 2,300 tech workers and found that 55% said they would not be willing to accept a reduced salary if their employer made work from home permanent. An overwhelming 90% said the same job should receive the same pay, regardless of if the person works remotely, but 40% said they support location adjustments. More than half, 53%, said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to move to a city with a lower cost of living if allowed to work from home permanently. 

Further Reading

Stripe Workers Who Relocate Get $20,000 Bonus and a Pay Cut (Bloomberg)

Why Silicon Valley workers who relocate for remote work face pay cuts (Fox Business)

2020 State of Salaries Report: Salary benchmarks and talent preferences (Hired)



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Reports Of The Death Of Cities Are Being Greatly Exaggerated


One of the familiar refrains of the pandemic is that it is the epitaph of the city. No longer are we working from home, we are now living at work. Consequently, people, like salmon, are retreating to the rural utopias from whence they spawned. Equipped with wifi and a Nespresso machine, they have all they need to work remotely. 

It is an attractive proposition, this notion of an idyllic existence away from the humdrum of the city with its pollution and crowds and cramped apartments and commutes. Remote working seems a catharsis for the stresses of modern life. But it is a mirage, and like all mirages, it will evaporate as soon as you get close enough.

The lure of technology

For centuries, cities have drawn people towards them with the promise of better jobs, better people and better lives. They have been a hive of innovation and endeavour, conversation and opportunity. Cities, through time, have bestowed myriad advantages upon its denizens; from cultural accomplishment, cosmopolitanism, public transport, expertise, emergency services, material choice to education and social utility. But first and foremost it has provided urban citizens with access to technology.

From roads to radio, printing press to plumbing, electricity to the internet, the inventions that transform our society all come to the city first and in many instances are still most effective in urban areas. The city is always the first kiss of progress and its status as the sandbox of innovation is more acute today than ever before.

Those technologies bestow significant economic and social advantage to those who live within their optimal range. There are still many parts of the developed world where having a video call is difficult and starting an ecommerce business is impossible due to poor internet speeds. Most governments find it difficult to justify significant spending on infrastructure to support small scattered populations of people living in rural areas, especially in the current economic climate. This is the city’s sustainable competitive advantage. It will continue to be far easier to develop and deploy new technologies and services to a large market living in close proximity.

The next decade will see cities transformed

It is, however, the new, not the old technologies that will ensure the city maintains its dominance. We find ourselves on the cusp of the next systemic technology shift. The mainstreaming of massive interconnectivity through IoT, faster Internet through 5G, interoperability through ubiquitous APIs, decision making AIs and immersion through mixed reality technologies will transform urban living utterly. 

Cities, in the next decade, are going to be brought to life. These technologies will animate them in a way never seen before. Every city will have its own distinctive virtual canvas, layered on top of the physical infrastructure and designed by the unique users, sensors and observations of the city itself. Sensors will become ubiquitous, recording human, device and atmospheric data, and then storing that data on city clouds. City AIs will analyse this data and spit it back out as a resource for citizens to make their city more competitive and their decisions more effective. 

Many of these technologies will not be feasible in rural areas, making those areas altogether less habitable. Rural areas will enjoy diminished access to decision-making assistance, safety tools, economic opportunity and basic service utility. Take, for instance, self-driving vehicles. Autonomous vehicles require a massive infrastructure of live data feeds from cameras, GPRS, smart devices, infrared, Bluetooth and sensors in order to ensure that a car or drone can operate safely. These data feeds are not going to exist on country lanes and byways in rural areas.

Virtual economies will be layered upon urban spaces

The physical infrastructure of cities is unlikely to change significantly over the next decade, restricted as they are by limitations of space, cost and cement, but the technologies we depend on to interact with them will. Enhanced reality technologies will allow wearers of mixed reality eyewear, including contact lenses, to interact with virtual environments layered on top of the analogue environment around them. Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs), a technology protocol that allows for the creation of certifiably singular digital assets to be tied to a unique user, will enable virtual pets, avatars, gaming, sales interactions, environmental customisation, new jobs and income streams will require 5G and IoTas well other users. Cities will become canvases upon which we paint our own realities. To deliberately remove yourself from cities is to deliberately isolate yourself from the professional and social opportunities presented by virtual economies. 

There will be challenges as the gap between urban and rural widens. Property prices in advantageous areas where data can be monetised will rise precipitously, resulting in higher levels of income and wealth inequality and impeding social mobility. It is likely that, in some countries, this will lead to greater social division amongst urban and rural dwellers as those in rural communities make a case that the infrastructure that their taxes pay for resides primarily in cities. Those who do live in cities will see a substantial degradation of their privacy rights as surveillance becomes a way of life. 

Cities will compete with each other for residents based on proprietary technologies, analytics and data. Which city has the best cloud infrastructure? Or free access to commercialisable data or APIs? These questions will determine where people want to live and businesses want to work. Does your city provide free access to traffic or football data? Standard APIs to draw data from atmospheric sensors or drone routes? Sentiment analysis and premium data markets? Can the city manage massive amounts of data exchange? Big data sophistication will determine city competitiveness and will likely lead to the rise of second and third cities as places like Manchester, Milan and Marseille strive to combine technical sophistication with quality of life.

So despite rising rents, air pollution, income and wealth inequality and stress, the city is not dying. The evolution of the techno-infrastructure of urban landscapes will make cities an economic and socio-cultural necessity for most people in the next decade. IoT, 5G, robotics, cryptoassets and enhanced reality technologies will turn cities into an interactive landscape of information and opportunity that rural living could never hope to compete with.



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For Buyers Ready to Leave Major Markets, Smaller Cities Offer (Relatively) High Supply


The ongoing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the years-long supply and demand problem in the U.S., which has seen chronic lack of inventory driving up prices in nearly every corner of the market.

The problem is especially acute in major cities, and with a global pandemic added to the mix, high-end buyers have a host of reasons to consider taking their searches to secondary markets and smaller cities, which in many cases have more coveted single-family home inventory, and at relatively reasonable prices.

“The inventory shortage has been with us for a few years, and the pandemic [combined with interest rates dropping] has really accelerated this imbalance,” said realtor.com senior economist George Ratiu. “With quarantines lifted, sellers have still been on the sidelines, with buyers now returning really strongly back to the market, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on prices.”

Among the places where opportunities exist is Naples, Florida, according to realtor.com data produced for Mansion Global on U.S. metros that have the highest ratios of high-end listings on the market. For this data set, that means the number of $1 million-and-up listings per 10,000 households in June 2020.

Naples topped the list, with 83.7 listings available for $1 million-plus per 10,000 households in June, and 1,354 such listings in total. However, those numbers represent a 15.4% drop in inventory from the previous year, as the data revealed that even in the markets with relatively high supply, inventory is seeing steep drops, as buyers rush to secure properties before a potential second wave of Covid-19. At the same time, many would-be sellers are still taking a wait-and-see approach, exacerbating the supply problem.

Across the board, even metros with comparatively high supply levels are seeing inventory fly off the market, meaning that buyers looking to snap up deals may want to move quickly.

Other cities that had relatively high ratios of high-end listings—and therefore opportunities for interested buyers—include:

    • The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk section of Connecticut, with 2,516 listings available for $1 million-plus, or 72.9 per 10,000 households, a 24.2% year-over-year drop in inventory.
    • Barnstable, Massachusetts, which had 69.2 luxury listings per 10,000 households and 667 in total, a 22.6% annual decline.
    • Kahului, Hawaii, which had 65.6 luxury listings per 10,000 households and 393 in total, a 17.2% decline.
    • Santa Barbara, California, which had 48.3 $1 million-plus listings per 10,000 households and 720 in total, a 13% yearly decline.

Ratios of High-End Listings in Small Cities in U. S.

“We’ve been tracking it weekly, and total inventory has been accelerating on a downward trend, meaning it’s evaporating from the market faster than it did a year ago,” Mr. Ratiu said. “In the first two weeks of March, new listings were growing 5% year-over-year. In the week ending July 25th, new listings were down 11% year-over-year.”

Though markets are evolving rapidly (and inventory is moving accordingly), this data can offer a jumping-off point to buyers and investors looking for better value than what’s on offer in the biggest luxury markets, and a potential upside if prices continue their upward push over the next few years.

‘Secondary’ Markets With Strong Fundamentals

Brokers in the cities that topped the list confirmed that since stay-at-home orders were lifted, buyer demand has more than made up for the months when transactions were on hold, and market activity is brisk.

“The trend is toward lower density combined with an attractive location,” Mr. Ratiu said. “All of these [cities] are places where people want to be for the location and what it offers.”

While there is still inventory to be had (particularly when compared to options in larger cities), deals are moving quickly, and in many cases, time that properties spend on the market has decreased. All of which means that time is of the essence for would-be buyers who may otherwise be tempted to wait and see how markets play out as the crisis wears on.

“In Santa Barbara, for June, July, and the beginning of August, we’ve seen what we’d normally see in the spring, times 10,” said Maureen McDermut, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty. “There are multiple offers, at all price points. Everybody has said, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this in our history of selling in this area.’”

In Naples, sales for single-family homes between $2 million and $5 million are up 14%, and days on market for these properties has edged down, from a typical pace of 120 or 130 days to something closer to 108, said Florida-based Compass agent Dennis Bowers.

“With Covid-19, there was initially the perception by some that the market was going to tank. The reality is that sellers pulled back more than buyers did—the buyers have returned,” said Mike Dodge, director of market research at John R. Wood Properties/Luxury Portfolio International in Naples. “Of the sellers who removed themselves from the market in March, I figure about 40% have yet to return to the market. Year-over-year new listings are down as well, while there are increases in buyer activity.”

Similar stories are unfolding in luxury markets across the country, as high-end buyers seek space to ride out any future shutdowns, homes that can double as vacation destinations in lieu of traditional travel, and the added upside of diversifying their investment portfolios in a volatile financial market.

“Generally speaking, our inventory has gotten very tight. We have communities that are down by 50%, it’s a dramatic change. I’ve seen clients lose two or three houses because they were outbid,” said Connecticut-based John DiCenzo, director of sales for Westport & Wilston at Halstead, which is merging with Brown Harris Stevens.

There’s still opportunity to be found in the area, however, particularly for buyers looking at higher price points. “The higher end had been the soft part of our market for a decade,” Mr. DiCenzo added. “We’re seeing more energy there [now] than there has been.”

Bidding Wars Haven’t Translated to Huge Price Hikes—Yet

Though tight inventory and high demand have led to frequent bidding wars in these markets, there’s still a broad sense that buyers aren’t willing to overpay, and prices have yet to notably increase. But the longer term is likely to be a different story.

“I’m not convinced that we’re seeing upward pressure on price yet,” Mr. DiCenzo said. “We’re definitely seeing a boom in closings. You have to have transactional volume rise first before prices rise, and we’re in the first phase of that. If we sustain this for a reasonable period of time, we’re going to see the impact on pricing.”

Even with the recent rush of buyers into the Santa Barbara area, Ms. McDermut said, “certainly sellers are taking advantage of the fact that there’s low inventory. But buyers are not going to overpay just because the sellers have put these higher prices. There is pressure, but you can’t just put any price on the market.”

However, these smaller markets are poised to see steady appreciation, a strong potential draw for luxury buyers looking with an eye to value and investment stability.

“The astute, optimistic investor, might find some good deals over the next two years,” Mr. Ratiu said. “Realistically, this combination of remote work plus newfound appreciation for quality of life will continue to favor some of these smaller markets for at least two to possibly even as long as four years. In the medium term, I see these markets seeing continued interest.”

Mansion Global is owned by Dow Jones. Both Dow Jones and realtor.com are owned by News Corp.



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Pricey Cities Become Cheaper, Cheaper Cities Become Costly


While the rental market remains far from robust, two important factors — rent decreases in the country’s most expensive cities and rent increases in more affordable cities — suggest the coronavirus pandemic is causing a squeezing effect on rental prices across the country. 

According to online rental platform Zumper, this seesaw effect has continued to accelerate this summer as the outbreak persists and more Americans are opting for cheaper places to live while working remotely.

“In our August national rent report, seven of the 10 priciest markets had larger year-over-year percentage decreases than the month prior,” said Anthemos Georgiades, co-founder and CEO of Zumper. “Additionally, five of these cities had larger month-over-month percent decreases this month than last. Meanwhile, of the top 10 least expensive cities in this report, only one city experienced a decrease in rent.”

The two priciest markets continued their downward trajectories with San Francisco and New York City one-bedroom rents down 11% and 7%, respectively, since this time last year.

Of the top 10 least expensive cities in the 100 tracked in the report, only one city, Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a decrease in median rent for one-bedrooms.

“As historically expensive cities become cheaper and historically cheaper cities become more expensive, the gap between the price distribution of rentals across the country seems to be closing,” said Georgiades.

Overall, the national one-bedroom rent increased 0.3% to a median of $1,233, while two-bedrooms grew 0.6% to $1,493. On a year-to-date basis, one and two-bedroom prices are up 0.7% and 1%, respectively.

Here are the top five rental markets:

1. In San Francisco, one-bedroom rent dropped another 2.4% last month to $3,200, while two-bedrooms decreased 3% to $4,210. Notably, both one and two-bedroom rents are now down over 11% since this time last year.

2. New York City, similar to San Francisco, continued to see rents drop with one-bedrooms declining 1.7% to $2,840 and two-bedrooms decreasing 0.3% to $3,200. Both one and two-bedroom prices in this city have fallen around 7% year-over-year. 

3. Boston saw one-bedroom rent drop 2.5% to $2,350, while two-bedrooms dipped 3.1% to $2,810.

4. San Jose, California held on as the fourth priciest market with one-bedroom rent remaining flat at $2,300, while two-bedrooms decreased 1.4% to $2,820.

5. Oakland, California moved down one spot to become the fifth most expensive market with one-bedroom rent falling 3.5% to $2,220, while two-bedrooms grew 1.8% to $2,900.

In stark contrast to the nation’s most expensive cities, median rents in less expensive cities have been steadily increasing. Tulsa, Oklahoma, inched up one position to become the 99th priciest market with one-bedroom rent growing 5.1% to $620 and two-bedrooms increasing 1.2% to $820.

Memphis catapulted up eight spots to rank as 76th. One-bedroom rent jumped 5.1% to $820, while two-bedroom units climbed 4.8% to $880.

Durham, North Carolina moved up nine positions to 43rd with one-bedroom rent growing 4.8% to $1,090. Two-bedroom rent had a more modest growth rate, increasing 1.6% to $1,250.

Providence, Rhode Island moved down four spots to rank as the 22nd priciest city and tied with Washington, D.C. for the largest rental decline last month, falling 4.8% to $1,400.

Washington, D.C. remained the sixth priciest market and similar to Providence, Rhode Island, saw rent drop 4.8%, settling at $2,160, while two-bedrooms decreased 1.4% to $2,880.

Nationally, median rents continue to tick up during the summer moving season. Overall, the national one-bedroom rent increased 0.3% to a median of $1,233, while two-bedrooms grew 0.6% to $1,493. On a year-to-date basis, one and two-bedroom prices are up 0.7% and 1%, respectively.



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New York City Real Estate Industry Set To Reopen. Will It Follow The Reality In Other Global Cities?


As New York enters the second phase of reopening its economy on Monday, the real estate industry in the Big Apple is also readying for a restart after several months of halted in-person home showings and contract signings.

What the post-lockdown housing market in New York City would look like remains anyone’s guess but some agents are looking to global prime cities, which exited quarantine earlier, for clues.   

“Global cities such as London and Hong Kong will be good indicators of how the New York real estate market will perform,” said Susan Landau Abrams, real estate broker with Warburg Realty. “Like New York, these cities consist of dense populations, mass transit systems, a multitude of businesses, tourism, entertainment and a daily flow of workers and residents.”

London experiences price declines amid pent-up demand

In London, in-person showings resumed in mid-May, with housing professionals reporting a three-fold increase in inquiries as pent-up demand finally found an outlet, Mansion Global reported.

“Buyers and sellers had already moved into recovery mode after an uncertain response at the start of the lockdown,” global prime real estate firm Knight Frank writes in a recent report. “The rebound in the number of inquiries via all internet and social media channels in the first week of re-opening was higher than the so-called ‘Boris bounce’ after the general election and the largest figure over the last year.”

The firm anticipates its clients to spend £52 billion on London’s high-end real estate. Having revised down its original forecasts, Knight Frank now says that prices in the British capital will decline by 5% this year before rebounding 8% in 2021.

London may be a good base for comparison because its latest real estate cycle has tracked somewhat similarly to New York’s. As Knight Frank outlined in its 2020 Wealth Report, released earlier this year, after several years of prime price reductions due to regulatory changes in both cities, their upscale housing markets finally started to heat up in the first two months of 2020.

New York City’s real estate gained traction in early 2020

For New York City’s price homes, this observation is also supported by real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraisal company Miller Samuel. Their joint Manhattan report for the first three months of this year shows that the number of co-op and condo sales overcame two quarters of decreases to post a 13.5% gain year-over-year.

After several years of sustained increases (that depressed price growth), inventory across property classes declined. But some of that decrease could be attributed to sellers pulling out of the market due to the uncertainty that existed pre-Covid. Think the slow-down in the global economy, the trade standoff with China and the upcoming, polarizing presidential election.

Hong Kong remains resilient despite political uncertainty

In Hong Kong, meanwhile, pro-democracy protests scared some affluent home buyers, leading Knight Frank to predict a 2% slump in prices earlier this year. (Prior to the pandemic, in New York City, the firm expected a 3% price fall.)

Yet, Hong Kong’s real estate has shown resiliency in the face of a global health crisis and political turmoil that threatens its autonomous status. Having gradually reopened through April and May, Hong Kong saw a 6% jump in transaction volume in April month-over-month, while annualized prices inched up slightly by a little over 1%.

With London registering price drops and Hong Kong small gains, whose lead is New York City more likely to heed?

“I think we will see a short-term dip in contract prices versus asking prices and I think there will be a segment of the market that needs to sell thus creating opportunities for buyers and investors,” said Christopher Totaro of Warburg Realty.

New York City’s listing service StreetEasy’s price index dropped 2% in May in Manhattan, which charted the smallest decline in a year. Brooklyn’s price index registered the largest decrease in the city of 2.7%, meanwhile. This is on the backdrop of historic low levels of active inventory throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Come Monday, most real estate agents do not expect a surge of new stock. Neither do they anticipate a rush from buyers to tour properties in-person.

“While the summer months may not be as robust as many New Yorkers and tourists delay returning to the city, New York City real estate will ultimately come back,” said Landau Abrams.

How fast that happens would depend on the wider economy and the course of the virus. While historically low mortgage rates may incentivize some buyers in the city, for instance, long-term work-from-home arrangements could push others to permanently relocate away from New York.

Moreover, a potential second wave of infections could dampen real estate transactions, which could further suffer the longer it takes for various businesses and institutions to reopen.

“The outlook is encouraging but we are unique,” said Bill Kowalczuk, real estate broker with Warburg Realty. “We have to wait and see. Schools reopening on time will be, in my opinion, the #1 factor. That’s something buyers and sellers alike can’t ignore. Entertainment, restaurants, public events will be another thing.”



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Cities And Counties Halt Evictions To Fight The Coronavirus


As the nation responds to the coronavirus outbreak, moratoriums on evicting renters take hold in cities and counties as means to curb the spread of the novel virus and mitigate the social and financial distress caused by it.

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) estimates that 43 million households or 109 million people in the U.S. are renters. According to the Eviction Lab, a Princeton-based endeavor led by sociologist Matthew Desmond, evictions occurred at an estimated rate of four every minute in 2016.

Apartment List, an online marketplace for rentals, states that 3.7 million American renters have experienced an eviction. The latter disproportionately befalls households with children, who are twice as likely to face housing insecurity regardless of marital status, Apartment List says.

Displacing renters amid the coronavirus outbreak, which led President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency this week, could intensify the transmission of the disease.  

“It would be both wrong and dangerous to kick people out of their homes during this public health emergency,” Laura Curran, county executive of Nassau County in Long Island, New York, said on Twitter.

On Friday, Curran placed a moratorium on evictions.

Also yesterday, the Real Estate Board of New York, REBNY, together with apartment owners representing over 150,000 rental units pledged to suspend eviction warrants for the next 90 day in light of “the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.”

“We will help our residents weather this crisis safely in their homes,” REBNY Chairman William C. Rudin and REBNY President James Whelan stated in an open letter signed by nearly 30 building owners and managers.

“Starting immediately, we are voluntarily pledging that we will not execute any warrant of eviction for the next [90] days unless it is for criminal or negligent behavior that jeopardizes the life, health or safety of other residents,” the letter reads. “With all the stress, health risk and economic suffering going on now, no one should have to worry about losing their place to live during this crisis.”

No evictions for those who can prove adverse impact by COVID-19

Across the country, in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed issued a city-wide moratorium on evictions on Friday. The executive order, which will initially last for a month, will shield residents from losing their homes due to financial hardship related to business closures, layoffs, working hours cuts or medical expenses incurred because of COVID-19.

“This moratorium will help people stay stable if they lose income because they get sick, a family member gets sick, or their job is impacted by the economic damage the coronavirus is causing,” Breed said in a press release.

Under Breed’s order, tenants struggling to meet their monetary lease obligations because of “a COVID-19 related impact” must notify their landlords and substantiate their inability to pay rent with documentation. After the emergency declaration is lifted, tenants will have up to six months to catch up on any back-due rent.

Rent help rather than eviction halt

Breed’s measure resembles the ban on evictions approved by city lawmakers in San Jose, California, earlier this week. There, rental property owners, who face penalties and fees if they do not comply with the moratorium, protested the measure, San Jose Spotlight reported.

The news outlet cites Yolanda Chavez saying, ““I’m a mom-and-pop landlord who has worked three jobs to pay rent while I attended San Jose State University full time. I worked hard and I’m still working hard. I have to make my payments, how am I going to make my payments and pay my mortgages?”

Addressing the challenges that landlords could experience because of eviction prohibitions, the NMHC is advocating for federal short-term financial assistance to renters, instead.

In a press release yesterday, the Council made its case by quoting Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program Fellow Jenny Schuetz, who writes, “Short-term financial assistance would help poor families continue paying rent and buying food until the broader economy stabilizes. It would be more effective than a temporary moratorium on evictions (as some jurisdictions have enacted), since landlords also need money to pay their mortgages, property taxes, and utilities.”

Yet, eviction moratoriums, achieved through executive measures, court orders or police declarations, are also in place in Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Miami-Dade County in Florida, Montgomery County in Virginia, Travis County in Texas.

More eviction moratoriums considered

Meanwhile, city council members in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are pushing for a halt on evictions.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter, “As we work to contain the spread of coronavirus, we must ensure people aren’t being evicted from their homes. I strongly support the proposal for a temporary moratorium and will work with the City Council to get it passed as quickly as possible.”

In Seattle, the largest city in Washington, the state where most COVID-19 cases have been reported so far, Mayor Jenny Durkan said yesterday that she will issue a ban on evictions. Her announcement followed a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.

“We cannot let individuals lose their homes or go hungry at this critical time,” she said in a statement. “Over the coming days, we will announce more support from the City for individuals and families and be prepared to connect more individuals with other non-profit and philanthropic resources.” 

While cities and counties are considering individual, local actions, four Assembly members in California’s State Legislature penned a letter on Friday to Governor Gavin Newsom and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to stop evictions and eviction lawsuits state-wide for a minimum of 45 days.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also called for “an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and on utility shut-offs.” The U.S. Senator spoke Thursday in his home state of Vermont.  

On federal level, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) published a joint statement yesterday, urging President Trump to “to issue an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on and evictions” from properties owned or insured by federal agencies or enterprises.

“Foreclosure and eviction moratoriums have previously been implemented in response to a variety of natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, and tornados,” the senators state. “Considering that Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has already proven to be equally or more disruptive, deadly, and widespread, the precedent for weather related natural disasters should inform our decision to restrict foreclosures and evictions in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health pandemic.”



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These Are The Best Cities In The World For Wellbeing


We live in an era where people no longer flock to cities that will make them rich. They go to those that will make them feel “well”.

So strong is the wellness catchment that on Wednesday, Knight Frank, a global real estate consultancy, released its first “City Wellbeing Index” in order to identify “the cities that are increasingly focused on the quality of life they are able to offer.”

The index tracks things like personal security, lifestyle, healthcare, crime, work-life balance and access to green spaces, crunching the numbers of each to find the best city for wellbeing.

European Cities Are The Well-est

All bar three of the top 10 cities in Knight Frank’s wellness ranking are in Europe and two of the top three are Scandinavian: Oslo is first, followed by Zurich and Helsinki in joint second place.

Vienna (4) and Madrid (5) round off the top five. Sydney (7), Montreal (9) and Singapore (10) are the only non-European cities in the top 10.

Much of Europe’s dominance here comes down to size, explains Liam Bailey, head of Knight Frank’s Research Department. A smaller city means better air quality, safety and more access to green spaces. Oslo leads the way thanks to the amount of green space in the city, while Helsinki has the best air quality.

Bigger cities, like Singapore and Sydney, rank highly on bigger issues, like governance and healthcare (Singapore has the world’s best healthcare according to the Legatum Prosperity Index).

U.S. Cities Are Not Very Well

New York is the well-est city in the U.S., but ranks 21st globally. Overall, U.S. cities are poor for your wellbeing according to Knight Frank. The few others that made the cut include Miami (23), Los Angeles (27), and San Francisco (28).

The U.S. healthcare system means these cities rank poorly on a global level, but they suffer individually as well: Los Angeles’ famous smog is only slightly better than the air quality in Istanbul. Safety in San Francisco is on par with Buenos Aires.

Why Does Wellbeing Matter?

These wellbeing results might look out of place in the Knight Frank Wealth Report, an annual study of the super-rich, which published them. But increasingly cities, and real estate agencies, are finding that wellbeing equals wealth.

“The battle line for employers at the moment is the battle for talent: How do you attract the best employees?” asks Bailey. The advantage that the high ranking cities have is “in the longer term they’re able to deliver a high quality of life which is attractive to high skilled workers and entrepreneurs.”

High-skilled workers and entrepreneurs, the argument goes, create jobs and prosperity that trickles down to the rest of a city’s residents. But there is also money to be made from wellness.

Knight Frank found that 80% of UHNWIs (people worth over $30 million) are planning on spending more time and money on their personal wellbeing. For real estate developers this means houses with the best air filtration systems, access to green spaces and even private boreholes.

Even something as simple as sound proofing now matters to house buyers. Bailey mentions one developer who insisted on sound proofing at a time when nobody really thought it necessary. “He was ahead of where clients were because no one actually asked him for this but he noticed [noise] was a common complaint. It resonated and it really helped the sales there.”

How Can A City Become More Well?

So how can Los Angeles learn lessons from Lisbon, or Shenzhen from Stockholm when it comes to wellbeing? “Some of the innovations you’re getting in these European cities are offering lessons for other parts of the world,” says Bailey.

Reducing crime and improving healthcare are the obvious improvements. But others are much simpler.

Take green space, for example. Half of those polled by Knight Frank said access to nearby green spaces for recreation and leisure was the most important thing when choosing a new home. Singapore scored highly thanks to its abundance of greenery atop skyscrapers.

However, should the wealthy really embrace their wellbeing, they might start avoiding cities altogether. Safety, air-quality and happiness are, on the whole, more abundant in the countryside. And if green space really matters that much, then surely its better to buy a house surrounded by the stuff?

Some are going even further, says Alasdair Pritchard, a partner at Knight Frank. “If you are super-wealthy then the whole purpose of wellness is a retreat,” says Pritchard, who has helped families buy property in “far flung” parts of New Zealand and Colorado, simply so they can escape the relentless pace of cities.

These people want their properties to be cut off and with poor internet, he says. “People are buying with the mind to helping their family chill out and there’s more to life than connectivity.”



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