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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (February 1, 2018)

The Fed held rates steady at last meeting headed by Janet Yellen, reports the Wall Street Journal. Forbes looks at real estate investment cash flow killers. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Yellen Hands Off Go-Slow Approach to Rate Rises as She Departs Fed “As Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen concluded her last policy meeting Wednesday with a decision to hold rates steady, she left her successor the challenge of deciding whether to pick up the pace of rate increases to prevent the economy from overheating. Fed governor Jerome Powell, who is scheduled to be sworn in as chairman Monday, will have to weigh how closely to stick with Ms. Yellen’s approach of very gradually raising interest rates from still-low levels.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. 10 U.S. States Most in Need of Trump’s $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan “Noting America ‘is a nation of builders,’ he stressed the importance of revamping roads, highways, bridges, airports and the like. But so far, the administration has sketched only a broad outline. Congress is waiting for a formal written proposal. Meanwhile, the states are hanging on every development, and our annual America's Top States for Business study finds some need more help than others. Our Infrastructure category, worth 400 of our 2,500 total points, uses government data to grade the roads, bridges, ports, airports, rail systems and utilities in all 50 states. These are the states that we find need the most work.” (CNBC)
  3. Cash Flow Killers to Your Real Estate Investment “Every seasoned investor should be familiar with the obvious expenses that go into a rental analysis when determining if a potential investment property will be profitable. There’s the mortgage, the taxes, the insurance, the reserve fund, the maintenance; if all these add up to be less than the monthly rent, leaving you with a 6-8% profit, you have a good case for a profitable investment. But what about the other factors involved with owning a rental property that don’t have a clear dollar amount associated with the bottom line?” (Forbes)
  4. The LGBT Litmus Test “In the early 1990s, gay and lesbian professionals in commercial real estate formed a professional networking group to help each other find jobs. But you could say the group was in the closet. That’s because it wasn’t until years later that it actually named itself — as the Gay Real Estate Group, or GREG — outing itself in the process. ‘GREG wasn’t called GREG until [relatively recently]. It didn’t have a name; it was just a group,’ said Mitch Draizin, president of the Midtown-based investment firm Longview Capital Advisors. ‘It’s not a big deal to be gay in the real estate business anymore.’” (The Real Deal)
  5. Bon-Ton Shares Sink as Company Announces Locations for 42 Store Closures “Bon-Ton Stores Inc. shares are down 7.7% in Wednesday trading after the company announced which of its stores will be among the 42 closing in early 2018. Another five closures were previously announced, and four of those stores have shut. The new wave of store closures will span across Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and other states. Bon-Ton has partnered with Hilco Merchant Resources, a third-party liquidator, to help manage the store closures, including store closing sales, which will begin Feb. 1 and last 10-to-12 weeks.” (MarketWatch)
  6. Misconduct Allegations Against Steve Wynn Put Big Casino Project at Risk “Sexual-misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn are threatening to derail Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s lucrative casino project in Massachusetts as regulators revisit a contentious debate on the company’s license to operate in the state. Massachusetts gambling commissioners are set to meet Wednesday to discuss the allegations against Mr. Wynn, including a $7.5 million settlement paid in 2005 to a manicurist who told people at the time that Mr. Wynn forced her to have sex with him. State gambling commissioners can revoke the Wynn license.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  7. ‘Seeing Someone Cry at Work is Becoming Normal’: Employees Say Whole Foods is Using ‘Scorecards’ to Punish Them “Whole Foods has a new inventory-management system aimed at making stores more efficient and cutting down on food waste. And employees say the retailer's method of ensuring compliance is crushing morale. The new system, called order-to-shelf, or OTS, has a strict set of procedures for purchasing, displaying, and storing products on store shelves and in back rooms. To make sure stores comply, Whole Foods relies on ‘scorecards’ that evaluate everything from the accuracy of signage to the proper recording of theft, or ‘shrink.’” (Business Insider)
  8. IRR Report: Cautious Optimism for Moderate, Steady Growth in 2018 “The firm’s 25th edition of the annual report provides a detailed look at the local and national commercial real estate market across five key property types—office, industrial, retail, hospitality and multifamily. It also examines economic trends and how they are affecting interest rates, capital markets and housing. An analysis of the emerging marijuana real estate sector, along with sections on senior housing, golf courses and Caribbean hospitality are also featured.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  9. H&M Is Struggling to Figure Out E-Commerce “It turns out a master of fast fashion is having troubling mastering e-commerce. Hennes & Mauritz, the Swedish purveyor of cheap but trendy clothing, admitted in a earnings report on Wednesday it is struggling to get a handle on e-commerce, a surprising admission from a company that has outmaneuvered countless retailers globally, particularly department stores and specialty apparel chains, for years and peppered the planet with its stores. The chain, known informally as H&M, also said it would drastically slow the pace of net store openings.” (Fortune)
  10. HMC Real Estate Team Spins Off to Bain Capital “Harvard Management Company’s real estate team officially became part of Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital Thursday, finalizing a move months in the making. Harvard’s 22-person real estate team, led by Daniel W. Cummings, will continue managing the University’s more than $3.4 billion portfolio—but as Bain employees. The group may incorporate portfolios for other investors, the Boston Globe reported in December.” (The Harvard Crimson)
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