…is really the beginning. In California retail shops are now allowed to open, in Vegas casinos are opening up on June 1, and filming and TV productions may be starting soon. I am eagerly waiting for Season 2 of the Mandalorian. Now, if only hair and nail salons would open up, life will be back to a (new) normal.
Since the first week of March I have been to 3 places: home, office and the gas station down the street, and that one I only went once because my full tank of gas only needed to be filled up once since early March. I think I am one of the lucky ones because I did get to start up the car and drive it the requisite 4 miles round trip to get to work everyday. I had a client who came in for a social distanced signing and was a little nervous her car would not start back up again because she hadn’t used it in a while. That is just sad.
In this month’s newsblog I am just going to muse about some pandemic inspired changes and then I am going to give you some pandemic related funnies because really, how much more depressing news can we absorb? I have done some serious thinking and here are some questions I ask myself as the country slowly opens up:
- How nervous will we all be getting into an elevator with other people? Will we limit each ride to only 2 people at a time? It’s doubtful the elevator cab space is 6 feet diagonally, right? In high rise buildings with many, many floors, can you imagine the people willing to (1) wait for the next elevator that is not crowded, (2) squeeze in with the 10 other people for a 2-3 minute ride without breathing, or (3) take the stairs?
- How many companies/workers will find working at home a better solution now that they have tried it for 3 months? I have relatives in high tech and escrow peers in the title industry who say their companies are already planning the work-at-home route from here on out. So here are a few questions along this line:
- With social distancing, will companies who require brick and mortar office space need bigger space for social distancing guidelines?
- Will workers working from home need a bigger home to accommodate the working at home environment? It’s one thing to work at the dining room table for 3 months, but forever?
- What will be the outlook for commercial landlords if companies decide to go the work-at-home route and need less (or no) office space?
- Will “Executive Suites” be the next big thing? Some companies may need a conference room location from time to time only for that face-to-face meeting that can’t be handled by teleconferencing. Maybe all they need is an address where packages and deliveries can be delivered. Commercial landlords should be transitioning to small spaces that can be divided and rented out separately.
- Will we have a truly international mix of professionals if there will be no requirement that staff be stationed in one particular location? The trend towards off-shore servicing in the last decade is an example. How many times have we called to report a problem and ended up chatting with someone in India? Now it may be that the hiring of professionals for upper level services will look much more attractive. The whiz engineer from India can make top US dollars to spend at his home without having to immigrate to the States!
- What’s going to happen to those big commercial landlords who are holding the leases for the stores declaring bankruptcies – JCPenney, J Crew, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, Pier 1 Imports? After 3 months of shopping online (whether it is Amazon or other online stores), will mall shopping actually come back?
- Which letter will the recovery look like? U, V, W, O or L ?????
- Will Zoom be here to stay?
RENT FRAUD is my pet peeve of the month. Fraudsters are always seeking to make that illegal buck, separating potential tenants from their money. The pandemic does not stop fraud; the fraudsters practice social distancing, too. Case in point – one of our staff had a person knocking at her door to look at her apartment. Apparently, a picture of the outside of the apartment and a fake picture of an interior was posted on Craig’s list, generating interest. The interested tenant did not give a deposit check, but he did give the fraudster his credit information for a “credit check”. That’s probably worse than giving that check, in the short run.
It’s not just potential tenants though, property owners are also victims. Fraudster tenants who know how to scam the system can live rent free for half a year as the landlords seek to evict them. If you are a landlord, fraudulent online rental applications have become a major problem. And during the pandemic, landlords are hampered by what they can do to evict.
Surprisingly, not too long after what happened to our staff member, we had an interested person come knocking on our office door seeking to look at our premises. Apparently, our address was listed as being open for leasing. It caught us by surprise because who is out looking to rent office space in the middle of the pandemic? However, we think it might have been a typographical error as there is a “West” and an “East” to our street address. Nevertheless, just cautionary tales for all to think about.
The moral to this, and any kind of fraud is, as the FTC says, to be diligent , aware, and do not release any personal information to anyone. COVID-19 fraud is “pandemic”. If you know of any attempted fraud, report it to the FTC complaint site.
WATCH THOSE STIMULUS CHECKS – This is my public announcement of the month. The government stimulus checks may be coming out in Visa Debit Card form. If you are like me and throw away all those marketing mail to sign up for credit cards, please watch out that you don’t trash the stimulus debit card, too. Now that would truly be throwing taxpayors’ money away!
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE
For those of us who grumble and complain about living with COVID -19 and the Stay At Home Order, we need to get a perspective on this. Here is one that someone thoughtfully put together which resonates for me. Hope it does for you, too.
Imagine you were born in 1900.
On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and later ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.
At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you are 55 you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or die.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you are called to stay home and sit on your couch.
Life is short and enduring is a most important human attribute.
Okay, so enough of the pensive, serious thoughts. Here are some lighthearted funnies to help us bridge over to June when we can all go to Vegas and do the Living La Vida Loca.
Be sure you have audio!
Quarantine is a ten letter word
Zooming with Olive and Mabel – Hilarious!
James Corden and Tom Cruise – Skydiving
Letterman and Jay Thomas – The Lone Ranger Story
Phoenix Chamber Choir – “The Longest Time” a Social Distance-Sing Project
SPACE, THE FINAL FASHION FRONTIER
While SpaceX and NASA made the historic blast off we also got a historic view of the newest space suit fashion. Can you imagine the astronauts docking at the International Space Station, greeting the Russians and other astronauts up there, and everyone looks them up and down and hmmm … This look is even pre-Jetsons, right? Ugh.
Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary:
Day 1 – I can do this!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!
Day 7 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds; some have 235 seeds. Who knew?
Day 8 – 8 p.m.: Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
Day 10 – Today, I tried to make hand sanitizer. It came out as Jell-O Shots!!
Day 14 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
Day 19 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going bar hopping.
Day 22 – Struck up a conversation with a spider today. Seems nice. He’s a web designer.
Day 28 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”
Day 33 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
Day 35 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
Day 40 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 195 times this month and it’s only the 13th?
THINK ESCROW! I am now on YouTube to bring “escrow” understanding to anyone interested. Do you have questions on Title and Vesting? Check out my video regarding the topic here.
You Have Questions? We Have Answers!
Juliana Tu, CSEO, CEO, CBSS, CEI, SASIP
“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s.