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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (March 8, 2019)

The housing market gained momentum in early 2019, reports the Wall Street Journal. Driverless cars will have an impact on commercial real estate, according to These are among today's must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. US Housing Starts Jumped in January "Home building in the U.S. rose robustly in January, a sign the housing market gained momentum in early 2019 as mortgage rates eased. Housing starts rose 18.6% in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.230 million, the Commerce Department said Friday. Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, rose a more modest 1.4% from December to an annual pace of 1.345 million. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 9.5% increase for starts and a 2.7% decrease for permits." (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. Heads Up, Real Estate World, Driverless Cars Are Coming "With BMW and the maker of the Mercedes-Benz joining forces to work on technology for driverless cars, everyday use of this technology is around the corner. Matt Caywood, CEO of TransitScreen, says this will affect commercial real estate. His company works closely with the real estate industry. It provides real-time, live information about public and private transportation and shared mobility that serves specific buildings." (
  3. Airbnb Acquires HotelTonight to Expand Travel Portfolio "Airbnb says it plans to acquire HotelTonight, a service for travelers seeking last-minute hotel bookings, in a deal that will expand the lodging-rental company’s portfolio with traditional and boutique hotel listings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition values HotelTonight in the vicinity of its last private valuation, $465 million, said two people who were briefed on the deal and were not authorized to disclose the price. That would make it Airbnb’s biggest acquisition." (The New York Times)
  4. Abercrombie is Planning to Close Up to 40 Stores in 2019 "Abercrombie & Fitch said Wednesday it plans to close up to 40 stores by next February, with the majority of closures slated in the U.S. Abercrombie joins a number of other retailers like Victoria's Secret and Gap announcing a fresh round of store closures. In the first two months of this year, retailers announced 4,300 store closures, according to a note from Coresight Research." (CNBC)
  5. US Households See Biggest Decline In Net Worth Since The Financial Crisis "Americans' net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet. Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a decrease of $3.73 trillion from the third quarter, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The fall amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent." (CNBC)
  6. Inside the Chrysler Building’s Stories Past—and Uncertain Future “She’s the shimmering queen of Midtown’s night sky — a mirage of brightly lit triangular forms riding sensuous, sculpted layers to a radiant peak. The Chrysler Building after dark seems a feminine foil to the Empire State Building’s muscular lines. A popular postcard by artist Hudson Talbott depicts Chrysler as a sexy lady on the arm of a tuxedo-clad Empire State.” (New York Post)
  7. Power is Shifting to Buyers in Most California Housing Markets in 2019 "Zillow is reporting this week that a limited U.S. housing inventory and rapid price appreciation have kept sellers firmly in the driver's seat for several years as the United States recovered from the housing market collapse in 2008. Now, buyers are gaining more negotiating power as the housing market slows, especially in some of the nation's hottest markets." (World Property Journal)
  8. Mortgage Rates in U.S. Dip in Early March "According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. mortgage rates rose in early March 2019, after weeks of moderating. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, says, "While mortgage rates very modestly rose to 4.41 percent this week, they remain below year-ago levels for the fourth week in a row. In late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point from the prior year, which was one of the main reasons that weakness in home sales continued into early 2019. However, the impact of recent lower rates and a strong labor market has led to a rise in purchase mortgage demand as we start the spring homebuying season."" (World Property Journal)
  9. Edward Lampert’s New Sears Faces Legal Troubles “Edward Lampert has been at the helm of the new Sears for just weeks, but the retailer is already sparring with the old company left behind in bankruptcy as well as with Stanley Black & Decker Inc. Mr. Lampert’s new Sears, known as Transform Holdco LLC, claims the old Sears, still known as Sears Holding Corp., intentionally delayed payments to vendors and shortchanged it on promised inventory, breaching the purchase agreement between the two companies. Mr. Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., paid $5.2 billion for 425 Sears and Kmart stores in early February after a bankruptcy-court auction.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  10. Subway Extension Linking Westside to DTLA Will Have Major Impact on Real Estate Market Area, Industry Leader Says "The expansion of the Los Angeles Metro Purple Line and the newly announced approval of funding for the project’s third phase presents major opportunities for developers and investors, according to real estate expert Alex Radosevic of Canon Properties. The third phase of the Purple Line project is expected to include approximately 2.6 miles of track and is slated to connect Century City and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood. When completed, passengers will be able to travel between West Los Angeles and the city’s downtown area." (Newswire)
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