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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (April 3, 2018)

U.S. bank regulators are allowing more commercial loans to go through without independent property appraisals, reports Reuters. Forbes looks at 15 in-demand real estate markets. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. More U.S. Real Estate Deals Can Go Ahead Without Appraisal—Regulators “U.S. bank regulators on Monday agreed to relax commercial real estate lending rules and allow more deals to go ahead without an independent appraisal of the property’s value. Under the new rules, commercial real estate worth more than $500,000 must have an independent third-party check on the property value before a bank can lend against it. The threshold had been $250,000. The new standards were agreed to by the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).” (Reuters)
  2. What Retailers Can Learn from Kohl’s Small Store Strategy “Kohl’s is the rare retailer bucking the trend of closing stores despite declining sales at many of its physical locations. Instead, the company has taken a different tack: shrinking hundreds of stores in its 1,160-location fleet from 90,000 square feet or so to 60,000 or so. It is also refining an even smaller 35,000 square foot store model at 12 locations and could roll it out to even more, a move that could increase its store count and allow it to hit new markets, including city centers.” (Fortune)
  3. L.A.’s Land Use Rules Were Born Out of Racism and Segregation. They Are Not Worth Fighting For “Like many people in Los Angeles, I like detached houses. My family lives in a single-family home that was built in 1923 by a woman from Hollywood. Houses like mine are an important part of L.A.'s built environment, history and housing stock. In a region with a housing shortage and homelessness crisis, all homes are good homes. Somewhere along the way, however, our attachment to single family homes went awry.” (Los Angeles Times)
  4. 15 Booming Real Estate Markets That Are Trending in 2018 “The real estate market is heating up. Of course, some markets are hotter than others and have been seeing sales surge in recent months. Plenty of metropolitan areas in North America are reaching new heights in property sales and are on the verge of popping before your very eyes. Below, 15 members of Forbes Real Estate Council share what cities are currently worth considering for a real estate investment.” (Forbes)
  5. How to Get Your Tenants to Help Pay for Major Improvements “If you own apartments in Los Angeles, you might not know about one of the most valuable programs available to owners. It’s through the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) and called the Capital Improvement Program. It has the ability to have a truly major positive impact on your profits. The concept is simple: You are eligible to recoup from your tenants as much as 50% of the cost of major improvements to your property, by applying to HCIDLA for this specific program.” (Forbes)
  6. Is the REIT Bloodbath Finally a Buying Opportunity? “In December MarketWatch took a balanced view on investing in real estate investment trusts. REITs may be “cheap enough to warrant another look,” we wrote then. The pro-REIT camp liked the macro fundamentals underpinning the investment — not to mention their cheap relative valuations — believing that those factors outweighed concerns about rising interest rates, investor disinterest and the Amazon effect that’s been clearing out the traditional shopping malls that anchor many of these funds.” (MarketWatch)
  7. Target Reveals Locations of Three New Small-Format Stores in New York “Target has chosen three New York neighborhoods in its plan to attract younger shoppers and expand in key urban areas. It expects to operate 130 small-format stores across the U.S. by the end of 2019, and already has smaller stores downtown in New York's Tribeca neighborhood and across from Macy's at Herald Square. The retailer also has a larger location uptown in Harlem.” (CNBC)
  8. The Anatomy of Construction Corruption “In New York City’s $45.3 billion construction industry, it’s a network of middlemen that choreograph the rise of buildings. From supply companies to electrical workers, developers rely on a consortium of professionals to assign contracts and oversee the flow of millions of dollars — sometimes with little to no oversight. ‘There are hundreds and hundreds of products, hundreds of different workers on the job. It’s a large undertaking,’ said Barry LePatner, a construction attorney and founder of LePatner & Associates.” (The Real Deal)
  9. Real Estate Board, Brokers Outraged About Vacancy Tax Talks “As Mayor Bill de Blasio jumps on the ‘vacancy tax’ bandwagon, the Real Estate Board of New York and brokers are crying out in opposition. Details on a potential vacancy tax—which would levy landlords that let their retail spaces sit vacant for long periods of time—have been scant, but Blasio said he would support one in an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC last Friday.” (Commercial Observer)
  10. Toys ‘R’ Us Shuts Down Web Operations “Bargain hunters hoping to find a deal at the Toys ‘R’ Us or Babies ‘R’ Us liquidation sales are going to have to do so in person. Toys ‘R’ Us has discontinued online sales as its going-out-of-business event continues. A message on both brands’ websites alerts visitors ‘We have shut down the website for any purchases, but our brick and mortar stores are open and holding going-out-of-business sales.’” (Fortune)
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