Free for all

PropertyEU, the pan-European real estate industry magazine, is making its online content temporarily free to everyone to read given the surge in demand for information from us, including European companies and individuals that are struggling in this crisis. Our sister publication, PropertyNL, has done likewise for the Dutch market.

We hope you gain something from the selection of articles our reporting team is bringing you. The team is spread out across the Netherlands, the UK, and Italy, working safely from home as indeed are most of our readers.

From my perspective, these are some of the things which stood out in the barrage of news today:

1. Signs of some degree of normalisation coming back to parts of China. If we see that some folk are returning to their Shanghai offices after nearly two months of remote working starting in January, and Savills is even planning to reopen in Wuhan, should we dare to think it will be around the end of May when we can all safely return to offices as well? Not less than three months seems to be the popular belief, though, which takes us more to June/July.

2. In the UK, tenants of commercial properties that cannot pay their rent will not be evicted.

3. Carl Icahn is short selling the US commercial mortgage bond market. He believes many of the country’s shopping mall owners will default on loans extended to them over the last ten years. That would also create a big buying opportunity, would it not? Tom Barrack of Colony Capital says commercial mortgages are on the brink of collapse. Will Europe be any different?

4. The crisis is producing a sad domino effect in practically any avenue you look. One small example speaks volumes: BuildAid is a UK charity that provides vital construction projects for people in need all around the world. Its chosen fundraising platform, Wonderful.org, is closing because it was supported by technical staff from a sponsor company which can no longer help due to the increase in working from home and the impact upon its telephone conference business.

5. As hospitals in European countries struggle with rising Covid-19 cases, it seems more hotels might be used as emergency isolation centres as they were in China. Fletcher Hotels and Van der Valk are two hotel chains in the Netherlands which have offered space.

6. Some countries that seem to have limited coronavirus cases have been far stricter in controlling people going out even for food shopping. In some provinces in Argentina, for example, people are allowed out to the supermarket only on specific days according to whether their national ID number ends in an odd or even number. Then again, Argentina was very late in suspending footfall matches.

7. In Australia, ordinary members of super funds are being allowed to draw down up to AUS$20,000 of savings over two years to help them get through.

8. Real estate professionals are not super-human. It is not easy to stay in control of home schooling, which is being rolled out across many EU countries.

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