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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (January 17, 2019)

Eight of 12 Federal Reserve districts reported modest to moderate growth in the past two months for the Fed’s Beige Book report, according to MarketWatch. CNBC looks at the story of a $1,500-a-month Silicon Valley apartment where the tenants are two cats. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Fed’s Beige Book Says Contacts in ‘Many’ Districts Have Become Less Optimistic “Eight of 12 Federal Reserve districts reported modest to moderate growth in December and early January, with St. Louis and Kansas City reporting flat or slight growth and St. Louis and Dallas reporting a slower pace of growth, according to the Fed’s Beige Book report released Wednesday. What happened: ‘Many’ districts reported that contacts “had become less optimistic” in response to a litany of woes: increased financial market volatility, rising short-term interest rates, falling energy prices and elevated trade and political uncertainty, the report said.” (MarketWatch)
  2. U.S. Shutdown Turns Washington into Ghost Town During Quite Travel Season “Washington hotels have cleared out entire floors. Restaurants have considered taking out loans to stay open. Phones have stopped ringing at tour companies. In the nation’s capital, where more than 20 million tourists typically visit each year, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history has threatened businesses that depend on the patronage of government workers and the attraction of federal monuments and museums to bring in tourists.” (Reuters)
  3. Gymboree Files for Bankruptcy Protection, to Liquidate Some 800 Stores “Gymboree has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than two years. But this time it has no plans to revamp its business. The children’s apparel retailer, which operates more than 900 stores under three banners (380 Gymboree, Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack) will close all its Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores. It is pursuing a sale for its higher-end Janie and Jack brand, which has 139 stores, and also for Gymboree’s intellectual property and online platform. Gymboree Group listed assets in the range of $100 million to $500 million and liabilities of $50 million to $100 million, according to its court filing.” (Chain Store Age)
  4. Europe Restricts Steel Imports to Counter U.S. Trade Policies “The European Union Wednesday set restrictions on steel imports to manage disruptive U.S. trade policies, making permanent a policy that has the unintended consequence of helping enforce President Trump’s metals tariffs. Europe has faced surging imports since Mr. Trump announced a 25% tariff on almost all steel imports to the U.S. in March. The EU response balances protecting European steelmakers against avoiding harm to consumers, such as the auto makers, that rely on imports.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  5. Silicon Valley Dad Spends $1,500 a Month to Rent an Apartment for His Daughter’s 2 Cats “Troy Good, 43, is paying $1,500 per month to rent a San Jose apartment for his daughter’s cats, Tina and Louise, in a scenario that has been called ‘peak Silicon Valley.’ Good’s 18-year-old daughter couldn’t bring the cats to live with her in her dorm when she began her freshman year at Azusa Pacific University outside of Los Angeles. But Good didn’t want the cats staying in his new apartment, either, because he was concerned they’d gang up on his fiancée’s dog.” (CNBC)
  6. Federal Government Steps Up Probes into Foreign Real Estate Deals “A little-known federal rule change could be making it harder for foreigners to invest in Oregon’s real estate market. In November the Trump administration took steps toward implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, broadening the scope of the committee that investigates business transactions involving foreigners. The recent policy changes make it much easier for investigators to flag foreign real estate dealings of any kind, sending a shockwave through the real estate market.” (Oregon Business)
  7. REBNY Takes On Real Estate’s Diversity Problem “In the beginning of 2018, the newly installed chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, William Rudin, announced that diversity was a key item on the organization’s agenda. Rudin’s direction came during a political climate that has forced a reckoning in real estate, and many other industries over the inclusion and representation of women, people of color and other underrepresented minorities. Currently, REBNY’s membership and upper echelons are representative of the industry: they are overwhelmingly white and male, and are therefore wholly unreflective of the city in which they operate.” (Commercial Observer)
  8. Fed Says Student Debt Has Hurt the U.S. Housing Market “The Federal Reserve has linked rising student debt to a drop in homeownership among young Americans and the flight of college graduates from rural areas, two big shifts that have helped reshape the U.S. economy. The effect of student debt on the economy has been debated in recent years, as the total has soared to $1.5 trillion, surpassing Americans’ credit-card and car-loan bills. Congress and various White House administrations have pointed to federal student loans as a key way for Americans to pay for college and boost their career earnings.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  9. 10 Hottest Affordable Neighborhoods in America for 2019 “Owning a home is often cited as one of the best ways to build wealth, and real estate site Redfin recently revealed America’s hottest affordable neighborhoods to buy in 2019 — they are on the outskirts of major metros, like Philadelphia and Baltimore. ‘A lot of people are moving away from the city center into places that feel more like suburbs,’ said Redfin agent Rebecca Hall. ‘They’re moving to areas that ... have more of a neighborhood feel.... You can get larger single-family homes ... and they’re less expensive. Some of these pockets are also known for desirable charter schools.’” (CNBC)
  10. Facebook Leases 800 KSF Bay Area Office Project “Kylli Inc., developer of the Burlingame Point office campus in the San Francisco suburb of Burlingame, Calif., has landed a tenant for the 803,000-square-foot project. Facebook preleased the property in its entirety. Designed by Gensler, Burlingame Point will encompass four Class A buildings ranging in size from approximately 155,500 to 245,000 square feet on an 18-acre site along San Francisco Bay in San Mateo County.” (Commercial Property Executive)
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