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Affordable Housing, Economics, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Industry News, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Residential Real Estate Index, Twin Cities Real Estate

St. Thomas Real Estate Analysis: Super-tight Housing Market Drives Metro Area Median Sale Price to Near Record Levels

High demand and low supply helped drive the median price of a Twin Cities home in

May 2016 to within $1,000 of the record set back in the bubble days of June 2006.

mortgagesIt has taken a full decade, but the median sale price of a home in the Twin Cities in May 2016 almost reached the all-time record high set back in the housing-bubble days of 2006, according to a monthly analysis conducted by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business. Fueled by low supply and brisk demand, the median sale price of a home in the 13-county Twin Cities region reached $237,000 in May. That’s just shy of the highest median price on record, which was $238,000 back in June 2006. While the selling prices are similar, there are many differences in the 2016 market when compared to 2006. Each month the St. Thomas center tracks the median price for three types of sales: non-distressed or traditional; foreclosures; and short sales (when a home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance). In addition, it looks for trends in the market and creates a monthly composite index score by tracking nine data elements for those three types of sales.

Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university, observed that the supply of homes on the market dropped to its current low level in early 2013 and has remained historically low since then. He said possible reasons include difficulty in finding and purchasing a replacement home at a reasonable price; higher standards to qualify for a new mortgage; lackluster wage growth over the last several years; and homebuilders not building as many single-family homes as they used to. Meanwhile, on the demand side, Tousley said low interest rates, an improving economy, and a tight rental market are key reasons why the number of sales has steadily been increasing to near pre-recession levels.

“In spite of all of the new apartments that have been built over the last few years we remain in a very tight rental market,” he said. “The area has been absorbing all of the new units and vacancies continue to remain historically very low. The result of a low vacancy and a tight rental market is high rent growth. In 2015 the average rent in the Twin Cities increased by 5 percent. Repeated large rent increases over the last several years have many renters considering the idea of homeownership as an alternative, creating additional potential homebuyers.”

Comparing 2016 to 2006

The Shenehon Center for Real Estate compared May 2016 housing-market statistics with those of 2006. While the selling prices are very similar, some characteristics are quite different. A few examples: in May 2006 there were 5,079 closed sales and in May 2016 there were 6,234; in May 2006 there was a 6.7-month supply of homes for sale and in May 2016 there was a 2.8-month supply; in May 2006 there were 11,458 new listings and in May 2016 there were 8,676; and in May 2006 there were 30,235 homes for sale and in May 2016 there were 13,501.

10 yrs after- then & now

Another way of looking at the impact of low inventory on sale prices is to create a ratio for the number of homes available for sale divided by the number of homes sold that month. For example, if the ratio was 5, it means there were 5 homes available on the market for each buyer. A lower number indicates a tighter market. There were months back in 2007 to 2010 when the ratio was 10 to 14; it has dropped significantly. Tousley said that for most of the previous 14 months the ratio in the Twin Cities market has been less than 4, and in May 2016 the ratio hit an all-time low of 2.17. “When the ratio gets lower and the market gets tighter, the median sale price increases,” he said.


Sales Pressure - May 16

The St. Thomas indexes.

Here are the Shenehon Center’s monthly composite index scores for May 2016. The index, which tracks nine data elements for the three types of sales (traditional, short sales and foreclosures), started in January 2005. For that month, the center gave each of the three indexes a value of 1,000.

The May 2016 index score for traditional sales was 1,163, up 3.7 percent from April 2016 and up 8.6 percent from May 2015.

The May 2016 index score for short sales was 980, up 1.6 percent from April 2016 and up 7.7 percent from May 2015.

The May 2016 index score for foreclosures was 859, up 3.2 percent from April 2016 and up 9.4 percent from May 2015.

The May 2016 score was the highest ever for the traditional sale index. “It is the result of a very tight supply situation and continuing high sales activity, indicating the continued health and resurgence of the Twin Cities housing market,” Tousley said. There are far fewer distressed sales now than there were during the height of the Great Recession. In May, the 79 short sales represented 1.3 percent of total sales and the 341 foreclosure sales represented 5.5 percent of total sales. “As the number of distressed sales continue to return to pre-crash levels, the foreclosure index will continue to diminish in importance,” Tousley said.

Index Chart June 2016

Data - May 2016









The Shenehon Center’s complete online report for May can be found at: http://www.stthomas.edu/business/centers/shenehon/research/default.html.

The report is available free via email from Tousley at hwtousley1@stthomas.edu.



Affordable Housing, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Residential Real Estate, Twin Cities Real Estate

Entry Level Home Construction Makes a Comeback

The number of U.S. home builders offering entry-level housing last year rose 25% compared to the year before.

An entry level home from D.R. Horton Express
An entry level home from D.R. Horton Express

Maybe the starter home isn’t dead. Our analysis of the latest Builder 100/Next 100 data shows a surprising trend in one type of housing offered by U.S. home builders last year: an uptick in entry-level. This segment of the market, which has been floundering since the recession, prompted BUILDER to declare starter homes nearly extinct last year.

So editors were surprised to see a rise in the number of builders on our 2016 Builder 100/Next 100 list that reported devoting at least 50% of their business to entry level product. It was a substantial increase, with 45 builders reporting entry level work compared to 36 the year before, a 25% rise. (Click here for a report on one entry-level builder.)

To be sure, the number of builders engaged in the entry-level market is still way short of the 70 builders that reported working in that segment in 2010, and it remains to be seen whether this year’s numbers become a trend or are just a blip. But it appears that more young buyers are coming into the market, according to Metrostudy’s Brad Hunter. “The re-entry of the entry-level buyer has begun, but this group’s next moves will be gradual. Income challenges remain, and there are still relatively few new home developments who target this group,” he says in this BUILDER article.

This graphic illustrates the top product types over the past six years:

Entry Level HomesIn addition, 2016 Builder 100 data shows that two other important product types—move-up and luxury/custom–leveled off in 2015. Nevertheless, move-up housing continued to dominate the list with 107 builders reporting activity in that sement in 50% or more of their business. ( Click here for a report on one of them.)

Three firms reported building 50% or more of their homes for affordable housing–Habitat for Humanity, NeighborWorks America, and Tropicana Properties. One builder—Stock Development—reported at least 50% of its business was in the vacation market.

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor at BUILDER. Connect with her on Twitter at @Jenn4Builder.
Economics, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Twin Cities Real Estate

Some Facts Regarding Today’s Changing Home Buyer

Summary of an National Association of Realtors report by John Burns, John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Let me summarize for you some of the key findings from an NAR report on home buyer and seller generational trends. So often, useful facts get lost in big reports.Market Report

Household Compositions

  • 13% multigenerational living. 13% of buyers have multiple generations over the age of 18, with 21% of those buyers headed by someone aged in their 50s. This ties in nicely with our last Consumer Insights survey of more than 20K home shoppers, where 50% of those in their 50s said they planned on living multigenerationally, either with a parent or a child. 37% of multigenerational buyers had an adult child, while 21% of buyers had an aging parent.
  • 73% couples. Married people buy 65% of all homes sold, with unmarried couples buying 8%.
  • 16% single women double the men. Single women are almost twice as likely to buy as single men, purchasing 16% of all homes sold compared to 9% of all homes for single men. After the age of 50, purchases by single females rise even more.
  • 65% childless. Homes designed for adults rather than families make more sense, as 65% of all home buyers do not have children. Resale homes were primarily designed with families in mind.
  • 11% foreign born. Consistent with our demographic findings that 23% of those born in the 1970s were born abroad and that foreign born buyers are less prone to purchase, foreign purchases are heavily skewed to those born in the 1970s. 17% of buyers aged 35–49 are foreign born—nearly double the percentage of any other age cohort.

Changing Buying Habits

  • 43% finding their home online. 43% of buyers found the home they purchased online, ranging from 51% of those aged under 35 to 34% of those aged 60–68.
  • 25%+ of Gen X and Gen Y buyers finding their home on their smartphone. More than half of Gen X and Gen Y used a mobile device in their search, and more than 25% found the home they purchased on their mobile device—meaning 75% did not.
  • Bigger more important than smaller. Only 10% of buyers cited home size as the primary reason to move, with 7% wanting larger homes and 3% wanting a smaller home. We show more on this below.
  • 70% suburban. Suburbs dominate, with suburbs including small towns capturing 70% of demand. This is consistent with our demographic findings, which also include a finding that urban has taken market share from suburban in the last 15 years.

mortgages Young Buyer Profile (under 35)

  •  Mostly first-time buyers. Young buyers comprised 32% of all buyers, and 68% of the buyers under age 35 purchased their first home.
  •  Less desire to renovate. Younger buyers who chose a new home did so to avoid to renovation headaches, while older buyers (60+) were slightly more likely to be drawn to new homes by the amenities.
  •  Convenience trumps affordability. Consistent with our demographic findings that today’s young buyers value their time more than prior generations at the same age, young buyers buy for job convenience (74%), affordability (58%), schools (44%) and parks (28%), in that order. Older buyers placed far less importance on these factors.
  • The down payment is the hurdle.
    • High LTV required. 63% of young buyers put 10% or less down, and 45% put 5% or less down. Without FHA financing and a recovering mortgage insurance industry, this buyer would be almost extinct.
    • 31% get help. 31% of young buyers received a gift or loan from a friend or relative.
    • Student debt a big hurdle. Student debt was cited by 54% of young buyers as the biggest impediment to saving the down payment. We estimate that student debt resulted in 8% (414,000) fewer home sales in 2014 than would have been the case if debt levels were the same as in 2005.

Big Differences between Move-Up and Move-Down Buyers

Younger move-up buyers sold at a tidy profit to buy a larger home, while older move-down buyers sold at a small loss to buy a smaller home. The key stats by age are as follows:

  • Under 35: Owned prior home 5 years (2009) and sold it for $73K profit to buy a 590sf larger home
  • 35–49: Owned prior home 9 years (2005) and sold it for $69K profit to buy a 450sf larger home
  • 50–59: Owned prior home 11 years (2003) and sold it for $9K loss to buy a 40sf smaller home
  • 60–68: Owned prior home 13 years (2001) and sold it for $13K loss to buy a 160sf smaller home

Those who bought in 2009 or later have clearly fared far better than their predecessors. Older buyers are able to sell at a loss because they have paid down part or all of their mortgage and have other financial resources.

In summary, the US home buyer has become quite diversified, including a rising number of foreign born and far more DINK (double income, no kids) and single female home buyers than ever before. Urban homes and homes closer to work have appreciated much faster, which our consulting team has verified in markets across the country. High-LTV programs have played a huge role in the housing recovery. All of these factors combine to create great opportunities for entrepreneurs who understand their local markets and can respond to these increases in demand that cannot be met by the resale market.


Economics, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Industry News, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Twin Cities Real Estate

Home Ownership Vs. Renting


The latest data on homeownership show another decline; here’s the ‘so what?’

Homeownership rates are declining since a peak of 69.2% in fourth-quarter 2004, per the U.S. Census.

Mark Zandi frets about homeownership rates. We should listen to Mark; he’s chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and one of housing’s smarter, plainer-speaking sages.

But should we worry? What does the quarterly headline about a declining homeownership rate have to do with our business?

Or, maybe the question is the other way around: what do our businesses have to do with the 10-year drop in homeownership rates from a peak of almost seven-in-10 American households (69.2% in Q4 2004), to today’s homeownership rate of 63.7%, which it hasn’t been since I was 12 (a long time ago)?

What we might worry about–from a business standpoint–is that homeownership rates may be heading so low and for such structurally unprecedented reasons that it will become more difficult to make a living in the for-sale new residential construction industry.

We think a home builder–large, medium, or small–should look at the data points as if looking into an aquarium tank, with interest perhaps, but not with invested attention. In fact, a healthy disdain for such data may be in order. Legendary coach John Wooden advises we focus on our character, not our reputation. Too, if home builders and developers focus on doing best what they do, homeownership rates–like a reputation, will take care of itself.

Wall Street Journal staffer Laura Kusisto quotes Zandi in her account of how the “U.S. Homeownership Rate Hits 48-Year Low,” based on data released yesterday from the U.S. Census’ Housing Vacancy Survey series. Kusisto’s Zandi quote is this:

“In general, I think rising homeownership is a plus for the economy and it signals a strong economy. The fact that it is falling is generally not a good thing.”

What we might well infer from Zandi’s quote here is that he believes–all things considered–that homeownership rates should be rising at this point, not falling. That demographics and the economy should have already established an earlier baseline, closer, say, to the 25-year average homeownership rate of 66.3%.

Quick relevant diversion. We’re currently at an offsite in Miami, which is busting out in cranes–once again, the state bird–from Bay Harbor Island down along Collins Avenue in South Beach. Dial back 10 or 11 years, and it would have been the “cabana boys” at our hotel beach front who would have been excitedly talking up their investments in multiple new condos in these locations.

New condos and construction cranes everywhere in Bay Harbor Island, Miami.

That’s not happening this year.

Point is, the high-point of almost 70% homeownership is now widely acknowledged to have been a fantasy-turned-nightmare, policy-fueled catastrophe. A certain percentage of that homeownership rate was pure fiction at every age level, and the process of the past decade has been to sieve out the population that would not have been there in the first place–cabana boys and executive assistants owning and flipping new condos, for instance.

A correction needed to happen. An over-correction is what, we think, has happened, as excesses and shortages balanced one another out. Which would suggest that an inflection point, where homeownership rates “hit bottom,” stabilize, and, perhaps, around some unseen corner in the months ahead, creep back up toward their 25-year norm.

Clearly, the blow to household balance sheets and consumer sentiment (remember, 9 million jobs were lost starting in 2008) contributed, in part, to the over-correction in homeownership. So, too, post-Dodd Frank regulation and lender business practices account for a chunk of the decline.

What’s still anybody’s guess has to do with the question of whether renting a home is “the right thing” for more people–a greater than 35% share of adults–in the U.S. economy going forward or not.

And a related question is, if that should be the case–that a greater percentage of U.S. adults should rent their home rather than own it–what does that imply for for-sale developers and home builders?

The big focus points on homeownership patterns tend to be on what’s going on with the 30-to-34 year-old population segment, and what’s happening with 35-to-39 year olds.  New Strategist Press editorial director Cheryl Russell looks at the trends here for those cuts of the greater adult pool, assuming that those two age-groupings tend to act as a proxy for “first-time home buyers.”

Fact is, when you look beyond the age-demographics of the decline in homeownership rates among Americans, and check out the numbers for income, you see the real story of the change. You can see in the Census release itself, on page 10 of the PDF, the breakdown of homeownership rates by “Family Income.” The rate of homeownership for families with incomes over and above the median family income only fell 4 percentage points during homeownership’s “lost decade” between 2004 and 2015.

For families with income below the median U.S. family income, the percentage drop in the homeownership rate was 7 points.

It probably means that, for many of those families, homeownership was not a reasonable proposition.

Now, the challenge of the economy is to get people in those income tiers to believe in and work for their ability to be economically mobile, to move into the “above median” income grouping, so that they too may enjoy the American Dream of homeownership.

That’s when the inflection point is likely to occur, when there’s a belief shift from skepticism about economic mobility to hopefulness.

Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Industry News, International Real Estate, Think Outside The Box, Urban Planning

Rising Towers Escalate Need for Faster Lifts

 The following article by  was reposted from the current issue of Urban Land Magazine

December 1, 2014


When Shanghai Tower opens as China’s tallest building next year, the 2,073-foot (632 m) tower will feature elevators capable of traveling 40.3 miles (64.8 km) per hour, or 59 feet (18 m) per second, a new milestone. That bests the 55.1 feet (16.8 m) per second achieved by the elevators in the current record holder, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which was completed in 2004.

But Shanghai Tower likely will not hold the title as world’s fastest for long. Builders of the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, which is scheduled to open in 2016 in Guangzhou, China, have promised elevators capable of traveling 66 feet (20 m) per second, or 45 miles (72 km) per hour. The elevators will take passengers from the first floor to the 95th floor in about 43 seconds.

The question facing the industry today: how fast can elevators go without sacrificing comfort?

“This is a new day,” says Steve Edgett, partner in Edgett Williams Consulting Groups, which works on elevator designs. “We’re in uncharted territory.” Some analysts believe mankind may be close to the limits of elevator speeds using modern technology. “I think there is a limit, not to building, but what we can do efficiently,” says Johannes de Jong, head of technology for Finland-based Kone Elevators.


Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m). (Kone Corporation)

The biggest obstacle for faster speeds is the variance in air pressure from the bottom to the top of tall buildings. A superfast elevator leaves no time for the body to adjust to the changes in pressure, similar to the effect experienced by divers surfacing too quickly in the ocean.

For elevators to go faster, something will have to be done to accommodate the human ear, which is extremely sensitive to pressure changes. Commercial jets typically take 20 to 30 minutes to descend from their highest altitude and help passengers adjust, yet earaches and complaints are still common. “One thing we cannot do is change the laws of physics,” de Jong says.

For the Guangzhou tower, Japanese tech firm Hitachi, which is building the elevators, will use a sophisticated control panel that can respond to “changes in atmospheric pressure correctly” to smooth the acceleration and deceleration process and “relieve the feeling of fullness in the ear as a result,” a company spokesperson says. This adjustment technology will reduce the abrupt pressure changes inside the elevator car, while special “active guide rollers” will compensate for even tiny lateral vibrations, Hitachi says.

But there is no guarantee the measures will provide a comfortable ride. Every person’s physiology is different; people with colds or earaches may be more susceptible to ear problems. At 66 feet (20 m) per second, even the slightest vibration will create a shock for passengers.

In Taipei 101 and other existing tall buildings, the elevators are usually set to descend much slower than they ascend in order to ease the ride. Nevertheless, passenger complaints are common. “At nine meters [30 feet] a second, I felt my ears pop,” Edgett says.

In the one-kilometer-tall (0.6 mi) Kingdom Tower under construction in Saudi Arabia—which likely will become the next “tallest building in the world”—Kone expects elevator speeds to peak at 33 to 41 feet (10 to 12.5 m) per second. “It’s up to the client,” de Jong says. “We have to show him how it feels.”

However, Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m), using a new carbon fiber cable designed by Kone called UltraRope, which is dramatically lighter and stronger than steel cables.

Read the entire article at http://urbanland.uli.org/planning-design/rising-towers-escalate-need-faster-lifts/?utm_source=uli&utm_medium=eblast&utm_campaign=120114



Commercial Real Estate, Industry News, Investment Real Estate, Real Estate Law, Real Estate Trends

Rezoning, new tax credits, economic shifts hit real estate law

Wells FargoThe folowing was reposted from an article written by the staff of the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

We asked leaders of the biggest real-estate law practice groups to tell us about mistakes clients make, cases they’re interested in and how the practice is changing. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Thomas Bray, shareholder at No. 1 Briggs and Morgan

What are the most common mistakes clients make in real estate law?“The two most common mistakes I see are first, clients assuming their property is free of title concerns, and failing to identify and resolve potential title issues before undertaking to sell or mortgage the property. The second common mistake is clients failing to appreciate the costs and disputes that can arise from an unfavorable or poorly drafted lease, and devoting inadequate time and attention to lease review and negotiation.”

What real estate cases issues in Minnesota are you following right now?“The 2006 amendments to the eminent domain statute made it significantly more difficult for municipalities to work with developers on certain types of redevelopment projects. If the economy continues to strengthen, we will be curious to see if municipalities will attempt to persuade the Legislature to expand that authority of municipalities to use eminent domain for redevelopment. We are also closely following St. Paul’s development of the zoning ordinances that will govern redevelopment of the Ford plant.”

Christopher Dolan, real estate group chairman at No. 2 (tie) Fredrikson & Byron

What areas of real estate law are growing and which are contracting? “We have a significant number of health care clients who have been active for the past few years in developing, leasing and purchasing real estate projects. We also have a strong corporate department that has been very active in the merger/acquisition markets. These deals often include a substantial amount of real estate that have kept many of our real estate attorneys busy over the past few years. As for markets that have declined, foreclosures and work-out matters declined as the real estate market improved. While the level of development work is getting much stronger than in the past, we have not yet reached the levels we experienced before the Great Recession.”

Todd Urness, shareholder at No. 2 (tie) Winthrop & Weinstine

What areas of real estate law are growing and which are contracting? “ The recently enacted state historic tax credit provides additional assistance for the rehabilitation of historically significant buildings. We have noticed keen interest in clients using this subsidy to preserve historic structures, particularly in the North Loop and Minneapolis riverfront. Also, the demand for luxury rental housing construction has created a lot of demand for legal services in that area. Some areas of real estate finance and development, such as loan securitizations and condominium development, have not participated in the recovery, and demand for these types of legal services continues to be depressed.”

Mark Hamel, real estate and land use department head at No. 9 Dorsey & Whitney

What real estate cases in Minnesota are you following right now? “I rarely follow real estate cases. Real estate cases are the domain of trial lawyers. I try to steer my clients as far from litigation as possible. I read real estate decisions after they are handed down by the courts.”

Commercial Real Estate, Industry News, Investment Real Estate, Medical Office, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Brokerage, Retail Real Estate

Building Owners Brace for Tall Order: One Way to Measure Space

 Reposted fron a Wall Street Journal article that apperred on May 27th

Ilona Billington

The MetLife building used to be listed at 2.4 million square feet. Now it is listed at 3 million square feet. Getty Images

Coalition Plans to Announce Measurement System in June

One of the biggest complaints of office tenants is that building owners throughout the world use different systems for measuring how many square feet or square meters tenants are leasing, deviating as much as 24% from one another.

Now an international coalition of real-estate organizations formed last year is hoping to change that. The International Property Measurement Standards Coalition in June plans to announce a single measurement system for the global office market.

“The current situation on measuring standards is totally unacceptable,” said Ken Creighton, chair of the coalition’s board of trustees.

But whether or not building owners adopt or ignore the standards remains to be seen. The coalition doesn’t have the clout to require owners to follow its standards and many landlords don’t want to change their current systems, which can mean millions of dollars in extra rent.

For some building owners, adopting a new measurement standard would mean that their building would shrink in size and lose value. “There is a risk that some firms may be sitting on balance sheets that are actually worth significantly less when measured by a common standard,” said Scott McMillan, chief of real estate at the International Monetary Fund.

For many, the debate might seem surprising. After all, landlords throughout the world are governed by the same laws of physics.

But they use widely different systems for measuring space and this affects rents, which typically are charged on a price-per-square-foot or price-per-square-meter basis.

For example, for a space that measures 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet), some landlords will simply charge rent based on that amount. But most will increase the size by some factor depending on what formula they use for apportioning public space in the building—lobbies, bathrooms, hallways—to tenants.

Landlords also vary in whether they begin their measurement from inside or outside an exterior wall. Some begin measurements at their building’s farthest extremity, like the nose of a gargoyle.

In some cities, including New York, landlords generally have increased loss factors over the years. For example, in 1979, architectural guides listed the Pan Am Building at 2.4 million square feet. Today the tower, which has been renamed the MetLife Building, is listed at 3 million square feet.

Tenants say consistent standards are greatly needed. “I would have preferred this to have happened five years ago, but better now than in five or 10 years’ time,” said Billy Davidson, group property director of Vodafone. VOD.LN 0.00% Vodafone Group PLC U.K.: London GBp209.50 0.00 0.00% May 30, 2014 4:38 pm Volume : 63.70M P/E Ratio 0.01 Market Cap GBp55.39 Billion Dividend Yield 7.13% Rev. per Employee GBp420,129 05/29/14 Vodafone to Meet With Indian O… 05/27/14 FCC Could Use Merger Concessio… 05/22/14 Why is Vodafone Flogging a Net… More quote details and news » VOD.LN in Your Value Your Change Short position “This is the right thing to do.”

The Standards Coalition was formed in 2013 by a group of international property organizations including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the U.K., the Building Owners and Managers Association in the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund. The move was partly in response to increasing pressure from large global tenants that are frustrated by the numerous measurement systems.

A group of 18 experts representing 11 countries have been working on the standards. Proposed standards have been circulating for comment among real-estate professionals for months.

Coalition members expect the standards to be controversial. “In any initiative in standardization there will inevitably be winners and losers,” said Marc Mogull, an executive with the investment firm Benson Elliot who also is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

There is also the question of implementation. Building owners will have to voluntarily accept the new standards and it isn’t clear how many will do so, especially if it could mean a financial loss.

Many real-estate executives in New York are skeptical that new standards will change the minds of the city’s landlords. “It’s an important enough market that they can make their own rules,” said Mark Weiss, vice chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

But tenants could put pressure on building owners to accept standards by avoiding properties that don’t. “I need the confidence from my suppliers to know when they give me comparable details that it’s really comparable,” said Vodafone’s Mr. Davidson. “With [the new standards] I can say that I won’t consider your building unless you show me the measurements based on these standards.”

Some government agencies say they will help pressure owners to accept the standards. One such agency is Dubai’s Land Department, according to Mohamad Al-Dah, a senior director. “From our own point of view we don’t have very fair standards in Dubai, but once the Land department begins using it, we will encourage businesses in Dubai to adopt it,” he said.

Write to Ilona Billington at ilona.billington@wsj.com

Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Industry News, Medical Office, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Uncategorized

Medical Offices Now Work as Timeshares

 The following article was reposted from Globe Street.com

By Carrie Rossenfeld | Orange County

Dopp-Grech: “The next step is for independent operators to offer this format without a specific hospital affiliation.”

IRVINE, CA—Like executive suites in the office market, shared medical space to accommodate multiple practices is being explored by medical landlords, Sonya Dopp-Grech, SVP/director of healthcare services for NAI Capital, tells GlobeSt.com exclusively. The concept allows for physician mobility and maximized use of the space.

“The healthcare industry is showing movement toward time-share concepts, allowing physicians to serve different geographical areas without the need to open additional offices,” says Dopp-Grech. “The concept has already been widely used by hospital groups to allow various specialists to reach out into the communities they serve. The next step is for independent operators to offer this format without a specific hospital affiliation.”

Medical landlords are beginning to explore this option with vacant or underperforming space in their buildings. The caveat is finding a responsible and reputable source to manage this type of space, which would look like a regular medical office with a common waiting area, receptionist and exam and treatment rooms. They may also contain a shared lab, equipment and other amenities.

“It’s like Regus does in the general-office market,” says Dopp-Grech. “Doctors go in and out and don’t need private offices so much anymore. They have their laptops and they see patients, but this way they can see patients at all ends of the county and don’t need to find a long-term lease in each location. It makes great sense, since the way of the future is consolidations.”

The concept makes sense for smaller independent practices or those who want to combine with a larger group. From the landlord perspective, if one is faced with vacant space, this presents another way to fill it with medical tenants.

As GlobeSt.com reported in January, consolidation is the keyword for medical practices today as they search for operating efficiencies. Since healthcare is moving away from the hospital setting into more of a retail environment, this consolidation presents challenges for larger medical practices seeking space to accommodate their needs.

One solution has been for larger groups to lease retail space that formerly held sizable stores such as Barnes & Noble, Dopp-Grech told GlobeSt.com. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier, as healthcare moves toward retail settings, many retail landlords are finding themselves for the first time involved in build-outs and tenant improvements for medical practices. While this trend is welcome among most landlords, they may not be prepared for the high cost of some of these improvements, according to Dopp-Grech.

“Consolidation is occurring because health systems want to make everything efficient for the groups,” says Dopp-Grech. “Smaller groups won’t be able to survive with malpractice insurance [and other costs]. So they’re consolidating and going into larger retail buildings, such as a Barnes & Noble that got vacated.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld
Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the West Coast region of GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City for 11 years before moving to Southern California in 1997 to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics ranging from intellectual-property licensing and giftware to commercial real estate. She recently edited a book about profiting from distressed real estate in a down market and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.Email
Economics, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Residential Real Estate, Residential Real Estate Index, Twin Cities Real Estate, Uncategorized

House Prices and Lagged Data

mortgagesThe following is a posting from one of my favorite blogs, the Calculated Risk Blog.                -Herb Tousley

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Two years ago I wrote a post titled House Prices and Lagged Data.  In early 2012, I had just called the bottom for house prices (see: The Housing Bottom is Here), and in the “lagged data” post I was pointing out that the Case-Shiller house price index has a serious data lag – and that we had to wait several months to see if prices had actually bottomed (the call was correct).

Now I’m looking for price increases to slow, and once again we have to remember that the Case-Shiller data has a serious lag.  (Note: the following is updated from the post two years ago). All data is lagged, but some data is lagged more than others. In times of economic stress, I tend to watch the high frequency data closely: initial weekly unemployment claims, monthly manufacturing surveys, and consumer sentiment. The “high frequency” data is lagged, but the lag is usually just a week or two.

Most of the time I focus on the monthly employment report, quarterly GDP, housing starts, new home sales and retail sales. The lag for most of this data is several weeks. As an example, the BLS reference period contains the 12th of the month, so the report is lagged a few weeks by the time it is released. The housing starts and new home sales data released recently were for February, so the lag is also a few weeks after the end of the month. The advance estimate of quarterly GDP is released several weeks after the end of the quarter.

But sometimes the lag can be much longer.  Two days ago, the January Case-Shiller house price index was released. This is actually a three month average for house sales closed in November, December and January. But remember that the purchase agreement for a house that closed in November was probably signed in September or early October. So some portion of the Case-Shiller index will be for contract prices 6 to 7 months ago!

Other house price indexes have less of a lag. CoreLogic uses a weighted 3 month average with the most recent month weighted the most, the Black Knight house price index is for just one month (not an average).

But, if price increases have slowed – as Jed Kolko argues using asking prices – then the key point is that the Case-Shiller index will not show the slowdown for some time.   Just something to remember …

Follow this link to the Calculated Risk Blog: http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/


Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Housing, Housing Trends, Industry News, Multifamily, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Uncategorized

Developer Makes a Bet on Prairie-Home Boom

Related Paid $300 Million for Apartments in Texas, North Dakota

 This article was reposted from the Wall Street Journal on March 18, 2014. It was written by Craig Karmin and Eliot Brown

A two-bedroom recreational vehicle at North Dakota Housing’s RV Park in Watford City rents for $2,350 a month.  -North Dakota Housing

Related Cos., the developer best known for luxury condominiums and big commercial projects, is turning its sights to low-slung apartments on the North Dakota and Texas prairie, where a shortage of housing tied to the energy boom is allowing landlords to command some of the highest rents in the country.

The company, run by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, last week paid around $300 million for 20 apartment complexes with 3,000 units in Midland and Odessa, Texas, according to people familiar with the transaction. It also is in advanced talks for a deal on an existing project in North Dakota’s Bakken region, and plans to raise up to $300 million for a fund focused on shale-rich communities from desert areas near the Mexican border to the Appalachian basin in the East, the people said.

Mr. Ross is following a small band of investors, including private-equity giant KKR & Co. and real-estate firm Westport Capital Partners, into the residential and commercial markets of new and resurgent energy towns a world away from the cities and suburbs where they usually build or buy. They are drawn by rents that would seem more reasonable in Midtown Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the result of almost nonexistent unemployment and low supply.

A two-bedroom apartment in Williston, N.D., for example, can go for $3,000 a month, or more. In nearby Watford City, North Dakota Housing LLC rents a two-bedroom trailer for $2,350 a month. The same rent could fetch a spacious luxury apartment in cities like Las Vegas or Phoenix, or a studio in new towers in New York.

“We think it’s a unique opportunity,” says Justin Metz, managing principal of Related’s fund-management group.

The boomtowns in Texas have been around since oil-drilling rushes of previous decades, but those in North Dakota began sprouting about five years ago as energy companies started to pull oil and natural gas from shale-rock formations through a process known as fracking. Their populations have skyrocketed, overwhelming the existing housing stock. Many workers continue to be housed in barrack-like “man-camps.” While riding a boom is risky, investors point out that they are getting compensated with high yields. For example, Related is expecting the initial annual income from the apartment portfolio it purchased last week will be more than 10% of the purchase price, according to people familiar with the matter.

By comparison, investors on average are getting a yield of about 6% on rental-apartment acquisitions and that figure can dip below 4% in major cities like New York, according to data firm Real Capital Analytics. “Typically, pricing gets ahead of real-estate fundamentals,” says Mr. Metz of Related, referring to high employment and rapid economic growth in the oil and gas-rich regions. “Here you have strong real estate fundamentals and pricing hasn’t caught up with it yet.”

Still, some analysts are warning that job growth eventually will level off and begin to fall after the initial labor-intensive effort of drilling wells is complete. Employment in the rapidly growing petroleum sector of the North Dakota Williston Basin, for instance, is projected to rise from 14,153 in 2009 to more than 53,000 in 2020, before falling to 40,000 by 2030, according to North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.

Meanwhile, developers already are adding to supply, causing Moody’s Investors Service last month to issue a report warning that rents in North Dakota boomtowns are “well above sustainable” levels. “It really intrinsically doesn’t make sense for a town with no physical barriers to entry to command the same rents as New York or San Francisco,” says Tad Philipp, director of commercial real-estate research at Moody’s Investors Service.

Not all bets have been winners. For example, Flathead Glacier Group LLC, a Bozeman, Mont., real-estate company, defaulted on a $24 million loan backed by 134 rental apartments in Williston and Watford City just four months after it was sold into a mortgage bond, according to Trepp LLC. Last week, Trepp reported the loan went to 90 days delinquent from 60 days. Inquiries to Flathead were directed to a firm run by loan sponsor John Dunlap, who didn’t respond. But a spokeswoman for Halliburton Co. confirmed that it terminated its lease for 40 units owned by Flathead in August when Halliburton completed construction of housing for its workers in Williston.

Still, many investors and planners believe it could be years more before supply catches up with demand, pushing rents down. For some of the early real-estate investors in the latest boom, cash is pouring in as rents rise. Average rents in Williston have risen from about $1,000 a month in 2009 to nearly $2,500 at the end of 2012, the latest available data, according to the Williston Regional Economic Development Corp.

KKR was one of the first big-name investors to show up, announcing a 164-acre master-planned community in Williston in 2012. The private-equity firm expects to complete this summer eight rental apartment buildings on the site. The apartments have been coming to market gradually and KKR officials say they are leasing 20 to 25 a week. KKR and its partners are spending about $150 million to build the apartments, and to prepare vacant lots that they are selling separately to home builders.

Follow this link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303287804579447463140236306?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303287804579447463140236306.html&fpid=2,7,121,122,201,401,641,1009

Write to Craig Karmin at craig.karmin@wsj.com and Eliot Brown at eliot.brown@wsj.com