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Eight Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (March 21, 2020)

The government is trying to stave off evictions for homeowners and renters, reports The New York Times. Taubman Centers is closing most of its malls at least until the end of the month, according to MarketWatch.

  1. Home Builders Still Hammering Away, But Fear a Slowdown Looms “While much of American business has shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, home builders are still building houses. But these companies are bracing for a sudden drop in demand due to the outbreak and the weakening U.S. economy, which is likely to slow construction and exacerbate the national housing shortage. Most parts of the country have allowed housing developments to continue, but other issues threaten to derail some projects.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. Racing to Head Off Evictions and Foreclosures “A reprieve for some renters may be in the works at the federal level. President Trump suggested Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development would suspend evictions of those in public housing for 60 days, though Housing Secretary Ben Carson said later on Twitter that it was a goal being discussed with Congress.” (The New York Times)
  3. Bit Staff Shortages, the 3-Feet Rule and No More Metal Detectors: Inside Amazon Warehouses During the Coronavirus Outbreak “Amazon has had to walk a difficult tightrope as the coronavirus spreads globally. One the one hand, a pandemic has been great for business. Demand is spiking as people choose to stay at home and order in food and other supplies. On the other, a pandemic may affect its warehouse staff members, thousands of whom often work shoulder to shoulder to pack people's orders quickly. Amazon must keep those workers safe, even as it encourages them to work harder.” (Business Insider)
  4. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Instruct Servicers to Offer Moratoriums on Mortgage Payments If Borrowers Suffer Hardship “Some U.S. homeowners and renters who are reeling under the financial effects of the coronavirus outbreak will not need to fear losing their homes to foreclosure or being evicted during the public-health crisis, officials said this week. The Federal House Finance Agency announced Wednesday it had told Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend all foreclosure actions and evictions for at least 60 days because of the coronavirus national emergency.” (MarketWatch)
  5. The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations and 32BJ Announce Initial Agreement to Support New York City’s 60,000 Residential and Commercial Building Service Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic “The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB) and 32BJ today announced an agreement on a package of enhanced protections and extended health benefits for residential and commercial building service workers.  The two parties are working hand-in-hand to ensure employees are being taken care of during the crisis and that critical building services continue.” (Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations)
  6. Rising Construction Costs Impact Capital Markets “Denver is in the midst of strong development in nearly all commercial real estate asset types. In conjunction with high development demand comes increased, and still increasing, construction pricing. While most of the discussion around capital markets pricing is driven by debt markets, the availability of capital and the cost of that capital, construction pricing is having a growing impact on valuations, seen in a variety of ways in investment sales and owner/user sales.” (Colorado Real Estate Journal)
  7. Pandemic’s Next Victim Could Be Philly’s Retail Renaissance “Central Philadelphia’s shopping and restaurant scene has been on an upswing for years. The new coronavirus could change that. Business closures aimed at containing the pandemic are all but certain to result in a surge of vacancies, just when dealmaking for future leases has come to a virtual halt due to travel bans and economic jitters.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  8. Taubman Centers to Close All But 2 of its Malls, At Least Through March 29 “Taubman Centers Inc. TCO, 3.268% said Thursday that it will close all but two of its U.S. malls starting the close of business, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The real estate investment trust said the shopping center would remain closed through March 29, or later if required by state or local government. ‘We are clearly in unprecedented times and this is right decision for our shoppers, retailers, employees and these communities,’ said Chief Executive Robert Taubman.” (MarketWatch)
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