Blog :: 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the relationship that landlords have with their tenants across all property types. This article focuses on the office market. With many people working from home, companies are now questioning how employees will use office space moving forward.
- For leases that have expired during these uncertain times, many companies have sought to sign short-term leases, while trying to evaluate the future needs of their employees.
- While traditionally preferring long-term leases, landlords have been very receptive to short-term deals. Keeping a space full or filling a vacancy for a short-term is typically preferable to guessing on how long an office space may remain empty.
Wellness & Airflow:
- Many tenants have concerns regarding wellness, cleanliness and air flow, so they have been making special requests in those regards to landlords. These requests may include an increase in frequency of common area cleanings, availability of hand sanitizer and masks for building visitors, and improving or replacing HVAC systems.
- Landlords have generally been flexible with these requests, provided they are reasonable, as they want to work with tenants to ensure a safe and clean environment for everyone.
- With some employees returning to the office, the demand for parking spaces has increased as many do not feel comfortable/safe taking public transportation.
- Landlords are working hard to come up with parking alternatives for tenants, but this will likely get more challenging as more and more companies begin to return to work. Additionally, the increase in driving will almost certainly lead to an increase in traffic in and around Boston.
With companies evaluating their office real estate strategies, this has tended to increase the level of communication with their landlords. Due to the nature of these conversations, they can be stressful, uncomfortable and challenging. As real estate agents, we understand our role is as important now as ever. We are experienced in representing both landlords and tenants. If you would like assistance with addressing a challenging office situation, please don't hesitate to contact us.
With an abundance of vacant apartments in the (traditionally) most sought after neighborhoods in Boston, it is now a "renters'" market. According to some reports, there has been a 7-9% increase in empty apartments since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In a drastic change from recent years, landlords are looking to sweeten the deal for tenants by offering free month(s) of rent, a paid broker's fee and rent reductions.
We currently have a great selection of apartments to choose from. A few are highlighted below:
200 Warren Avenue, Boston (South End)
Renovated one bedroom on Warren Ave. Cozy, sun drenched apartment with hardwood floors throughout. Kitchenette with stainless steel appliances. The apartment has an in unit washer and dryer, and central air conditioning. Amazing location steps to everything the South End has to offer and quick walk to Back Bay. This is a must see! $1,995/month. ***Offering 2 months rent free and brokers fee paid for***
34 Isabella Street, Boston (Bay Village)
Very spacious 3 bedroom on Isabella Street! Features hardwood floors, high ceilings, gorgeous detail, eat in kitchen, one large bedroom, two good size bedrooms. Heat and hot water included! $3,795/month. ***Offering 1 month rent free and brokers fee paid for***
Victorian, renovated parlor front studio with new hardwood floors, decorative fireplace and a large, brand new kitchen and bath. Heat and hot water included, and laundry in the building. Awesome deal for this space! $2,150/month. ***Offering 1 month rent free and brokers fee paid for***
For more available apartments, check our Featured Rentals page. As always, feel free to contact us - our apartment experts can help you navigate the options to hone in on those that best fit your criteria.
Feeling claustrophobic, lonely, or overcrowded? Many renters coming to Cabot & Company are feeling at least one of these in their current living situation. COVID has made our world feel small and our home even smaller. All of sudden our homes are our workplace, our gyms, and if you are a parent, our daycare and children’s school.
This year, we have clients looking to accommodate their “stay at home” lifestyles. Common requests are an extra room or alcove to transform into an office, outdoor space and in-unit or on-site laundry. Nearly all clients are looking for more elbow room to feel safe, productive and content. People still want to be close to restaurants, public transportation and coffee shops, as they are hopeful they will return to work sooner rather than later.
Here are some great rental options offering that live, work and play opportunity:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic influx of apartments on the market for rent in Boston. In the not-too-distant past, inventory was low and it had been a "landlords' market" for several years. However, these days, incoming tenants looking for a deal can certainly find one.
As a landlord, a recommended strategy right now is to make your apartment as attractive as possible. If it hasn’t been renovated in 10+ years, this is the time to do it. Price is important, but today's discerning renters are looking for "new and shiny", generally preferring nicer apartments over the absolute lowest-priced options that are not well maintained.
Here are a few improvements to consider, based on the feedback we receive from tenants evaluating apartment options:
- Kitchen updates are among the most important. Consider installing new cabinets - if that's not in the budget, then consider having the cabinets repainted and replacing the hardware.
- Stainless steel appliances are becoming a "must have" for many renters.
- Refinish the hardwood floors and apply a fresh coat of paint to all walls.
- Update the bathroom(s).
With the inventory out there, expectations are high. Here are some "before" and "after" pictures of an apartment that was just renovated. It tremendously helps with the marketing - not just now, but for years to come.
If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, contact us here. We can schedule a visit to your apartment and suggest improvements that prospective tenants would most likely request. During our visit, we can also present a pricing and marketing strategy to help you get your vacancy filled so that your investment property can maintain a positive return!
There is still a lot of economic uncertainty across the country, and the globe, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day seems to bring new bankruptcy and business closure announcements. Even if there were a miraculous turn-around in the second half of this year, our economy in Massachusetts has already lost a lot in 2020.
But how do things look in the long-term?
The chart below was compiled from Boston Business Journal data, identifying the 20 largest employers in Massachusetts. While this is just a snippet of the overall picture, it shows the diversity of our economy – a mix of health care, higher education, technology and other industries.
To be sure, some of the businesses on this list are facing challenges and others may join them as the pandemic wears on.
Some of the hardest hit industries nationwide have been the Accommodation and Food Services industry and the Retail Trade industry. According to a recent report by the Boston Planning & Development Agency, those industries made up only 8.0% and 4.6%, respectively, of the State’s total jobs. Here, as elsewhere, those industries will continue to face headwinds in the coming months. However, Boston – and Massachusetts – seem well-positioned to persevere.
From a real estate perspective, it is important to understand who these large employers are and how they are faring. News from these companies can impact the real estate market positively (growth/expansion means more jobs, commercial space occupied and generally more demand for housing) or negatively (layoffs/closures lead to fewer jobs, commercial space vacancy and negative pressure on the housing market).
I started a “small” decorating and renovation product at my home back in October 2019. The initial plan was to redo my dining room, and I hired an interior designer. What was originally just one room, morphed into the entire first floor, including the kitchen, living room, den, and front hall. What I found is that when you do one room over, it makes all the adjacent spaces look old and tired.
When I started this project, coronavirus wasn’t even a figment of my imagination, it was all but inconceivable. Fast forward to February 2020, and the pandemic began to wreak havoc on the construction process. My kitchen cabinet doors and drawers had all been removed to be sprayed (painted) off site when the painting contractor informed me that his painters no longer felt comfortable working at my house with the virus spreading. So I lived with my new “open concept” kitchen for several months, until they felt comfortable enough to return, wearing masks and socially distanced.
In these uncertain times, a home security system can enhance safety and peace of mind for urban residents. Since COVID-19, many city-dwellers are working from home and have groceries and packages delivered. A personalized security system enables residents to check what’s taking place in and around their property through surveillance cameras and smart phone communication, whether they are staying at home or monitoring from afar.
There are 2 general types of security systems for condos and apartments: wireless systems (DIY & unmonitored) and traditional (professionally monitored and hardwired). Here are some pros and cons of each:
1. Easy and fast install
2. Hooks up to smart phones for increased access and control
3. Portable security cameras and ability to see activity in your home from smart phone or tablet
4. Minimal equipment
5. Short contracts
1. Electro-magnetic interference from other devices make these systems less reliable and easier to get hacked
2. Battery operated
3. You’re on call
1. More reliable
2. Can be hidden in walls, ceilings and floors
3. Service company on call
1. Installation done by professional
2. More expensive
3. Long-term contracts, less flexibility
4. May require approval of condo association or landlord
As many offices have been closed for several months – and some expected to remain that way for the next several months – many workers have had to scramble to set up home offices. For many in Boston, where space is at a premium, that wasn’t part of the plan when they were searching for their homes. Here are a few useful tips we have seen/heard/implemented:
1. Find the Best Spot in Your Home
If you live in a “cozy” apartment, this can be a challenge. Sitting on your bed or on your couch is not ideal if you’re going to be working for an extended period. If you don’t have any room to spare, the dining table or breakfast bar may be best. Another good option can be a “corner desk”, which can work well in tight spaces.
2. Comfortable Seating
Unless you have a standing desk, we spend a lot of time sitting. Chairs in the office sometimes get a bad rap, but they tend to be relatively ergonomic. A good chair can be a solid investment.
3. Increase Internet Speed
Most of us weren’t planning to work from home full-time for an extended period. Especially if you share your home with others, there may not be enough bandwidth for everyone’s phones, tablets, laptops and TVs to all be running simultaneously – especially if people are streaming music or videos or videoconferencing.
4. Improve Lighting
Speaking of videoconferencing, lighting is an important consideration. Working in a dark corner might make the most sense space-wise, but if you’re going to be videoconferencing, then a small lamp should help ensure your colleagues and clients can see you. Unless you’re going for that doom-and-gloom vibe.
5. Set Up Your Workstation like Your Office
You’re at home… it doesn’t “feel” like the office. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can impact your ability to get into the type of rhythm that you can have while at your office. Organizing your work area with all of your necessary supplies nearby – and eliminating distractions (give Netflix the pleasure of being right that you are NOT still watching) – can help.
BONUS TIP: FIND A NEW HOME WITH YOUR IDEAL HOME-OFFICE SET-UP
It is looking increasingly likely that working from home will be part of the “new normal” for some time. More and more companies seem to be looking for ways to let employees work remotely. If the past few months have been a struggle to find space in your home to squeeze in a workspace, or perhaps your roommates are on different schedules which is creating other challenges, then maybe it’s time to explore options.
Whether you want to search for a new home to rent or search for a home to purchase with room for an office, we can help! Feel free to dive right in and look around. But you can also contact us and one of our experienced agents can help serve as your guide.
One of the many adjustments we have made in recent months is to substantially increase our ability to provide virtual tours of available apartments. To be sure, a video tour is not able to provide the same experience as physically walking through a potential home. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes in searching for apartments in and around Boston.
We are striving to keep this library continuously updated, but we highly encourage you to connect with our Rental Team. Our experienced team can answer questions you may have about apartments you have virtually toured, and they can also perform a comprehensive review of our available apartments to help make sure you see all available options that match your criteria.
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