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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (April 13, 2016)

10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (April 13, 2016)


  1. Why the American Dream may be withering in some cities “But what happens when their parents can't afford that dream because of soaring home prices in some cities and stagnant wages? Social mobility for young people may decline, with unaffordable rents and home prices eating up more than 40 percent of household income, according to research from real estate research firm Zillow. Ironically, some of today's least affordable U.S. cities have historically served as locations where poor children once found the most opportunities, such as parts of the Northeast and California, Zillow noted, citing research from Harvard University economist Raj Chetty.” (CBS)
  2. The best U.S. cities to grow old in — even if you’re poor “Low-income residents in certain U.S. cities are more likely to live longer, according to the study published in the April edition of the Journal of American Medical Association, based on mortality data and anonymous tax records and nearly 7 million deaths among individuals living in the U.S. between 1999 and 2014. Life expectancy improved among the bottom 25% of earners between 2001 and 2014 in New York, in the California cities Santa Barbara, San Jose and Los Angeles, as well as in Miami. Among that same income group, however, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla.; Indianapolis and Gary, Ind.; and Las Vegas have the lowest life expectancy. ‘Our findings show that inequality in life expectancy is not inevitable,’ the study concluded.” (MarketWatch)
  3. How secretive shell companies shape the U.S. real estate market “What many Americans might not realize is that foreign-owned shell companies play a big role in the U.S. economy through the real estate market. When purchased through a shell company, an offshore company or a trust, U.S. real estate offers wealthy foreigners a stable and secretive investment. In the last quarter of 2015, 58 percent of all property purchases of more than $3 million in the United States were made by limited liability corporations, rather than named people. Altogether, those transactions totaled $61.2 billion, according to data from real estate database company Zillow. Since many of these companies are registered anonymously in the U.S. -- often in states like Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming that offer secrecy and tax protections that rival traditional offshore destinations -- it’s impossible to know just how many are owned by foreigners.” (The Washington Post)
  4. Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall as U.S. Consumers Scrimp “Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly fell in March, raising concern consumer spending is losing momentum. The 0.3 percent drop in purchases followed little change the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday in Washington. The median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent gain.” (Bloomberg)
  5. Fannie and Freddie rally on report that Treasury knew of profitability at time of sweep “A report that the government knew the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were money-making enterprises when it decided to “sweep” all their profits sent shares of the pair soaring Tuesday. In 2012, the government changed the terms of its crisis-era bailout, arguing that the two agencies were so financially shaky that it was necessary to sweep all future profits from them to the Treasury in order to protect taxpayers. But documents released Monday cast doubt on that claim. Susan McFarland, a former chief financial officer at Fannie, said that in 2012 she told Treasury that Fannie ‘would be able to deliver sustainable profits over time.’” (MarketWatch)
  6. Report: LA Rents Are Going to 'Soar’ “Most non-millionaire Angelenos have probably come to terms with the idea that they will be delaying buying a home for a while (especially if they're first-time buyers) and instead are now focused on trying to pay their ever-increasing rents. Bad but predictable news, guys: rents are expected to keep going up for at least another two years, according to an annual rental market forecast out from USC. The 2016 USC Casden Multifamily Forecast predicts that, for at least the next two years, vacancy rates will ‘continue their gradual decline’ and rents will continue their upward trudge. More specifically, the forecast predicts that in LA County, the average rent will rise—actually, they say "soar"— from its 2015 average of $1,307 up to a countywide average of $1,416. The vacancy rate will stay about the same, at 4.1 percent—just under its 2015 rate of 4.2 percent, says a press release.” (LA Curbed)
  7. State takes next big step in $1 billion Javits expansion “The state took a major step toward expanding the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Tuesday—one of several infrastructure projects that Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled in January. Cuomo announced that the state released a request for qualifications, which will allow officials to vet potential builders. Additionally, he said interested firms will be able to use a process called design-build, which the state says has reduced construction costs on a handful of Empire State projects, including the Tappan Zee Bridge.’Javits is the busiest convention center in the nation—but we need to keep building and growing if we want to remain competitive, and that is exactly what we are doing,’ Cuomo said in a statement. Responses are due May 10. The state will then start whittling the companies down to three finalists, which will be asked to submit their vision for the project.” (Crain’s New York)
  8. Kushner, Rosen to buy Watchtower building, Jay Street site for $700M: report “A group of investors led by Jared Kushner and Aby Rosen are reportedly set to lay out $700 million for two of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ coveted Brooklyn properties. Kushner Properties, RFR Realty and LIVWRK are in advanced talks to buy the group’s 733,000-square-foot headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Downtown Brooklyn, known as the Watchtower, and a 135,000-square-foot right site at 85 Jay Street in Dumbo with 1.1 million square feet of as-of development rights, the New York Post reported.” (The Real Deal)
  9. Simon Planning Luxury Hotel, High-Rise at Houston’s Galleria “A luxury hotel and high-end residential tower will be the newest additions to The Galleria in Houston by owner Simon Property Group, which has already spent at least $250 million transforming the city’s 46-year-old iconic shopping center in the past few years. Spanning 2.4 million square feet, the complex, which also features two high-rise hotels and three office towers, is already the largest in the state of Texas and the fourth largest in the United States.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. Former Six Flags park in New Orleans East to be appraised “The list of possibilities for the former Six Flags park in New Orleans East, the largest lingering piece of post-Hurricane Katrina blight, ran long during an intense debate of the New Orleans Industrial Development Board on Tuesday (April 12). But nearly all of the ideas got a tepid reception from the board, the keepers of the city-owned property. The Industrial Development Board, which has maintained the 227-acre property on behalf of the city, voted Tuesday to take a conservative approach: first find a real estate appraiser to perform a valuation of the land.” (The Times‑Picayune)
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