August 14, 2018

The Common Markers Are Essentially Present

A report from USA Today on Tennessee. “In Nashville, the median home price was up 8.6 percent annually at $263,000. That came on the heels of four consecutive years of double-digit price increases, Moody’s figures show. But the soaring prices have taken a toll. Homeowners devote 35.1 percent of their monthly income to housing costs, up from a 27.8 percent average over the past 13 years, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Metro area sales fell 4.3 percent in 2017 year and are down 0.5 percent so far this year.”

“‘Things have slowed down,’ says Sher Powers, president of Greater Nashville Realtors. ‘It’s not a bad thing for the market. It can’t sustain itself endlessly. There has to be some correcting. It’s still a sellers’ market.’”

From Crain’s Detroit Business in Michigan. “Real estate market watchers are looking for clues on the next downturn as home prices continue to rise on shrinking inventory in Metro Detroit. Housing price bubbles have been on the minds of some real estate market observers, Realcomp said in its monthly market statistics analysis.”

“Demand is still strong — a decline isn’t forecast as imminent. But ‘the common markers that caused the last housing market downturn are essentially present,’ as wage increases aren’t keeping pace with climbing home prices, the Realcomp news release said. Worries about lack of affordability could lead to falling sales.”

From Multi-Housing News. “Real estate players have been gearing up for the next phase in the cycle for a while now. Borrowers and lenders alike are watching closely as the Federal Open Market Committee continues to raise short-term interest rates. Josh Migdal, partner with Mark Migdal & Hayden, specified. ‘In the wake of the financial crisis, banks have become more discerning as to whether borrowers should qualify for loans. This included larger down payments and lower levels of debt-to-income ratios. However, in recent years, people have begun to forget about the crisis. In fact, the Financial Times reported in March 2018 that subprime mortgage bond issuance in the first quarter of 2018 went from $666 million to $1.3 billion.’”

“In some cases, non-bank lenders have taken advantage of the opportunity, Migdal explained, leading to situations where loans get approved through less lenient vetting procedures. ‘I believe that lenders are really trying their best to vet proposed borrowers based on well-thought-out underwriting guidelines, but are also getting somewhat creative for these loans to be pushed through and ultimately reach approval.’”

“Developers are finding ways to offer incentives to buyers. G&L Real Estate Development, the American division of Empresas Guzmán & Larraín, has put together a special lending structure for the company’s first U.S. luxury project, One Bay Residences. ‘The lending structure we offer our buyers allows them to purchase a residence with up to 97 percent financing, with the remainder of their deposit going to cover closing costs and upgrades, additionally removing the need to dip into their savings. This is essentially unheard of in Miami’s condo market, where deposits can range from 30 to 50 percent,’ according to Nicolas Guzman, CEO of G&L Real Estate Development.”

The Herald Tribune in Florida. “The Sunshine State’s delinquency rate rose by 1 percentage point from May 2017 due to the continued effects of Irma’s widespread destruction in September 2017, according to the CoreLogic. Florida had the third-highest delinquency rate of any state at 6.2 percent. Analysts say it’s the ongoing aftermath of Irma, which damaged homes, put some people out of work at least temporarily and left some homeowners unable to make their payments promptly.”

“In Charlotte County, May’s delinquency rate reached 4.1 percent, an increase from the 3.2 percent mark last year. ‘Serious delinquency rates continue to remain lower than a year earlier except in Florida and Texas, the hardest-hit states during last year’s hurricane season,’ said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. ‘We have observed continued challenges for families to make mortgage payments in regions impacted during the 2017 Hurricane season.’”

The Tampa Bay Times in Florida. “The priciest house for sale in the Tampa Bay area could soon become its biggest foreclosure. A Miami company has filed a lis pendens on a Clearwater mansion that was once part of the storied Century Oaks estate and is now on the market for nearly $19 million. Built in 1915 on a huge lot overlooking Clearwater Harbor, the 23,919-square-foot house has had a tangled recent history.”

“In early 2017, powerboat racing champ Hugh Fuller sold it to Princess Yenega Properties LLC for $11.18 million — the highest price ever paid for a bay area home — and Mystery Key LLC took out a $14 million mortgage. The managing members of both companies are Blaise Carroz, whom Bloomberg News once described as a ‘French-born, Dubai-based real estate developer,’ and Marata Tapsoba Carroz. The couple, who had been leasing the house from Fuller, put it back on the market just four months later for $19.75 million. The price was lowered in March to $18.999 million.”

“In 2013, a Louisiana bank foreclosed on a $5 million mortgage on the 28,000-square-foot Tampa home of former corporate raider Paul Bilzerian. That house, on a lakefront lot in the gated Avila community, once was priced at $18 million but sold two years ago for $2.85 million.”

From on California. “Napa County is known for its premium wines—and premium housing. Which makes it an unlikely candidate for one of real estate’s most ignominious titles. We usually don’t see grand, French-inspired estates in Northern California falling into the hands of creditors, but Villa Vigne is the exception. The nearly 40-acre spread is on the market in Saint Helena for $5.5 million—making it the most expensive foreclosure in the country.”

“If you think bank ownership means you can make a lowball offer to score a deal, don’t get your hopes up. Listing agent Julie Larsen notes that both she and the bank carefully researched the right price for the property. ‘They are not into the idea of giving properties away,’ she says.”

Cash Negative From Day 1

A report from the Voice of San Diego in California. “In recent years, downtown San Diego has become an epicenter of a lot of that new construction at the high end of the market. But there’s a big problem: We need people to start living in those new apartments. As of April, MarketPointe Realty Advisors estimated that a glut of luxury rentals in downtown could account for as much as a full percentage point of San Diego’s approximately 4 percent rental vacancy rate. That figure came before the opening of at least two more luxury towers in East Village, and at least three more are opening in the near future, including the largest project to date, Ballpark Village.”

“But a statistical analysis of downtown residency is not necessary to know that plenty of housing units go unoccupied. Just look up at the towers that even years after opening, have half of their lights off in the evening. That’s not because folks are out at local restaurants, it’s because they’re sitting empty.”

From Bloomberg. “Isaac Sitt and Elliot Tamir had been investing in real estate for years when they stumbled onto the idea. They decided to put up ads at the nearby Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, expecting to lease to doctors. Instead, they got medical students. With jobs scarce, tons of people were going to school, they realized. Sitt remembers thinking, ‘Hey, this is a good business,’ even in a downturn. ‘Not only does it make sense, but I think we can raise equity for it.’”

“Today, Sitt and Tamir run Vesper Holdings LLC, one of the largest owners of student housing complexes in the U.S. It’s been a lucrative niche. One of the few dangers for the business is bringing back the draft, Sitt jokes. ‘That would be a problem for the college population,’ he says. The other, he adds, ‘is overbuilding.’”

“That second danger is no joke. Too many of those dollars flowed to projects around schools where there were low barriers to development, such as Texas A&M and the University of Oklahoma. Landlords in those areas have had to offer discounts and freebies to get ‘heads on beds.’ Some properties are going bust, leading to downgrades of bonds that backed the development. Now, veteran investors in student housing say they’re being careful about their next moves, even as money continues to pour into the industry.”

“Analysts caution that there’s a broader demographic shift under way that could hurt demand—or at least cluster it around a few flagship schools. Millennials, one of the biggest generations in the U.S., are aging out of their college years, says Hans Nordby, managing director at CoStar Portfolio Strategy. ‘The tide’s going out,’ he says. ‘There are fewer of these kids every day.’”

From News OK in Oklahoma. “Upperclassmen move into campus housing Wednesday at the University of Oklahoma, but many rooms will be vacant. OU’s efforts to entice more students to live on campus after their freshman year began last fall with the opening of two elegant residential colleges that together can accommodate 600 upperclassmen. Officials predicted there would be a waiting list to get into Dunham and Headington going forward.”

“But this fall’s occupancy for the two residential colleges is at 70 percent, OU spokeswoman Erin Yarbrough said. Another 1,230 beds for upperclassmen are available for the first time this fall with the opening of Cross Neighborhood, a luxury complex that has an occupancy rate of 28 percent for the fall semester. New OU President Jim Gallogly said earlier this summer the residential colleges were ‘cash negative from Day 1.’”

“They feature spacious dining halls, made-to-order food options, private courtyards, game rooms, comfortable lounges and libraries filled with books and artwork on loan from the campus museum. Before he took office July 1, Gallogly announced the university has been losing money every year. Total debt is nearly $1 billion at the Norman campus and debt service costs are almost $70 million a year, he said.”

“‘Our debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years as we’ve been on a building campaign,’ Gallogly said. ‘As a result of that, we have a beautiful campus and a lot to be proud of, but during that period of time, we spent approximately $730 million and that’s why the debt has gone up to that level.’”

The Colorado Business Journal. “The combined markets of Denver and Colorado Springs are major markets tracked by our national firm and, compared to the same period in previous years, 2018 has been strong. In the first six months of 2018, the markets added just under 5,500 new units. During the same span two years ago, that number was only 1,100. The area has been experiencing a new construction boom, and the flow still is increasing. In addition to the new supply delivered this year, 11,000 units already are under construction.”

“These likely will be entering the markets within the next 12 to 18 months. For reference, a total of 9,000 units have been delivered in the last 12 months. The areas absorbed almost 6,500 in the first two quarters and over 9,800 units year over year. After adding more units than were newly rented in the opening half of 2017, it’s a positive development that absorption has outpaced new supply by 1,000 units in 2018.”

“But, for markets still amid a construction boom, it bears noting that there appears to be less room to run than even two years ago. At the top of the segment, average occupancy ended June at about 78.5 percent. Because this is the segment with new construction activity, an average occupancy below the stabilization threshold isn’t a surprise.”

From North Jersey. “The luxurious new complex rising up on South Van Brunt Street in Englewood boasts a myriad of amenities, including a fitness center, cinema and putting green. But not everyone can move into this exclusive enclave: Prospective residents of The Bristal at Englewood must be at least 55. It’s the latest in a slew of cushy developments for senior citizens that have been cropping up throughout New Jersey and the nation as well-heeled baby boomers aim to age amid luxury: with swimming pools, five-star chefs, elegant decor and daily housekeeping.”

“But living the high life doesn’t come cheap. A two-bedroom at the Assisted Living in The Bristal starts at $8,300 a month. (Studios and one bedrooms are less.) That price includes meals, but not medical care or recreational costs. The average price for a unit in a Toll Brothers Active Living community, which features a golf course, tennis court and swimming pool, is $800,000.”

“And Arbor Terrace in Teaneck, an independent living facility, offers a full-service restaurant, a 24-hour concierge service and a movie theater at prices starting from $4,820 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. A three-bedroom goes for $6,700. But Teaneck Deputy Mayor Elie Katz notes that the more upscale senior housing facilities in town tend to have more vacancies, while the affordable senior apartments have a 10-year waiting list. ”

“Nevertheless, developers are confident they have found a lucrative niche. The luxurious properties are being built across the nation, said Steven Krieger, a partner of the Garden City, New York-based Engel Burman, which is developing and managing assisted living communities in Englewood, Woodcliff Lake, Wayne and Somerset. ‘We want to offer every single amenity that we can think of to make their lives more enjoyable,’ he said.”

From Globest on Florida. “Conventional wisdom dictates that investing in Miami area condos today is tricky because there’s a market glut throughout South Florida. But two reports this month indicate that when it comes judging factors such as supply, it all depends. That’s due to two considerations: What price level is being considered. And location, too.”

“CondoVultures took a different approach to looking at condos. They were more selective about prices. Their August report found nearly a 70-month supply for condos. But those were costing at least $1 million. That included an area in the tri-county South Florida region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. CondoVultures, which regularly reports on the subject and long ago predicted a glut, says it only tracks Greater Downtown Miami condos listed for sale. It does not factor in the nearly 47,500 new condos currently in the development stage east of Interstate 95 in the tri-county South Florida region.”

“But the Miami Realtor numbers were not looking at the same basis for their numbers. ‘Miami condo home buyers are finding great opportunities particularly in the $250,000 to $600,000 range,’ Miami Chairman of the Board George C. Jalil said. One obvious conclusion is that a lot of condos are selling at prices under the luxury threshold of $1 million. And Naranja in Homestead north of Leisure City had only an 8-month supply with at least a few condos priced under $100,000.”