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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry (February 15, 2019)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will pay the U.S. Treasury $4.7 billion in dividends, reports Reuters. Economists have cut down GDP growth forecasts for the fourth quarter, according to CNBC. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Fannie, Freddie to Pay U.S. Treasury $4.7 Billion in Dividends by March “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said on Thursday they will pay a combined $4.7 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury Department by March as the housing finance agencies posted stronger annual 2018 net incomes than a year earlier. In September 2008, the government took control of the two government-sponsored enterprises in a $187 billion bailout during the global credit crisis after they were exposed to soured subprime mortgages. The two agencies have handed over their profits to the U.S. Treasury under the terms of the conservatorship.” (Reuters)
  2. Economists Slash Growth for Fourth Quarter After Big Retail Sales Drop “Economists slashed fourth-quarter GDP forecasts Thursday, and now see growth closer to 2 percent than 3 percent, after a surprise drop in December retail sales. According to the CNBC/Moody's Analytics Rapid Update, economists in the survey see growth tracking at a median 2.4 percent pace, down 0.7 percentage points. December's retail sales fell 1.2 percent, compared to an expected gain of 0.2 percent.” (CNBC)
  3. This Is What Amazon ‘HQ2’ Was Going to Cost New York Taxpayers “Winning the bidding war for Amazon’s secondary corporate headquarters came with a steep price tag — $3.4 billion. That’s the total amount in tax incentives and grants that state and local officials in New York and Virginia offered the e-commerce giant as part of their bids to house ‘HQ2’ in Long Island City, N.Y., and Arlington Country, Va., respectively. Before the HQ2 announcement, Amazon had received roughly $1.61 billion in subsidies from state and local governments over roughly the past two decades, according to data collected by Good Jobs First, an advocacy group that tracks corporate accountability.” (MarketWatch)
  4. Retailer Payless ShoeSource Set to Shutter its U.S. Stores: Sources “U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The move would make Payless one of the most high-profile victims of the string of bankruptcies that have hit the brick-and-mortar retail sector as more shopping is done online. Toys ‘R’ Us and The Bon-Ton Stores are among the retailers that shut their stores in liquidations in the last 12 months.” (Reuters)
  5. The Least Vegas Neighborhood in Vegas “Azia Skeen discovered Las Vegas’s little-known (to tourists, anyway) Arts District by chance. Her plane home to San Diego was delayed, and at 19, she was too young to gamble in the casinos. With 12 hours to kill, she wandered into the Arts District, an 18-square-block area of low-slung commercial properties and current and former auto-repair shops that’s hidden between the towering Stratosphere and the faded glory of Fremont Street. On Ms. Skeen’s first visit, the neighborhood was in the throes of First Friday, a monthly event that attracts thousands of visitors to venues such as the Arts Factory, home to the studios and small galleries of some two dozen local artists.” (The New York Times)
  6. Fannie and Freddie Stock Trades May Be Insider Trading, Watchdog Group Suggests “Inspectors general for the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency should investigate whether federal officials improperly shared information about their intent to release Fannie Mae  and Freddie Mac from government conservatorship, two watchdog organizations said Thursday. The groups, Public Citizen and the Revolving Door Project, sent a letter to the two inspectors general noting that shares of the two mortgage guarantors surged in the early part of January after languishing throughout 2018.” (MarketWatch)
  7. New Hotel and Residential Tower Eyed for Dallas’ Design District “A new project on the way on the edge of Dallas' Design District is planned with a combination of hotel rooms and residential units. Dallas-based JMJ Development is planning the high-rise for an old industrial site on Riverfront Boulevard overlooking the Trinity River. ‘We are planning to build a hotel with condos as well as a (rental) component,’ said JMJ Development CEO Timothy Barton.” (Dallas Morning News)
  8. The Four-Letter Word All Property Managers Need to Know “Most people wouldn’t think of ‘getting to mow the lawn’ as a perk. But back in my renter days, I actually saw lawn care as something special. So when I moved into a three-story walk-up managed by someone who actually allowed me to do a little landscaping, I was thrilled. Ms. Wong was a bit of a character, but she let me cut the grass the way I liked and paint my kitchen cabinets a dark blue. My apartment felt like a home, not just a unit, and I wound up staying there for years.” (Forbes)
  9. New York Biggest Commercial Landlords Hit Record Highs in 2018 “Brookfield Asset Management, which gobbled up Forest City Realty Trust, General Growth Properties and Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue is en route to becoming New York’s largest commercial landlord, had a record year in 2018. The Toronto-based alternative asset manager generated $7.5 billion of net income last year, a record for the firm, which reported its year-end results on Thursday. Last year, Brookfield’s net income was about $4.6 billion, marking a 65 percent increase in net income for 2018.” (The Real Deal)
  10. The Best Tweets About the Amazon-NYC Breakup “Amazon announced its engagement to New York (and Virginia, but we don’t judge) in November, but the decision was met almost instantly with protests from local politicians and workers’ unions, which argued that the company’s move to LIC would only increase the neighborhood’s gentrification problem and that one of the world’s most successful corporations owned by the world’s richest man does not need billions of dollars in tax breaks. Never ones to miss out on an opportunity to soapbox about politics or make light of a current event, the folks of Twitter got to work. As always, there are some real gems.” (Commercial Observer)
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