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Commercial real estate improves, but economic recovery disappoints

On all fronts, commercial real estate is improving, but the economy continues to be a disappointment.



commercial real estate

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the outlook on all major commercial real estate sectors are seeing slight improvements, but state that the economic growth in the first quarter of 2014 was “disappointing.”

This sentiment is echoed in Transwestern’s Insights + Trends + Opportunity report which notes that the economy and job growth continue on a slow and steady pace, though the overall picture is disappointing compared to previous recovery cycles; however, steady tapering should remove some of the all-too-familiar uncertainty that has plagued business decision-making and capital investment

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the sluggish growth experienced in the first quarter is not indicative of the actual health of the economy. “Gross Domestic Product should expand closer to 3 percent for the remainder of the year. The improved lending for commercial loans and continuing job gains we’ve seen this spring bode well for modest progress in commercial real estate leases and purchases of properties.”

Dr. Yun cautions that with rising long-term interest rates on the horizon, consistent economic growth is imperative to solid commercial real estate investment in the years ahead.

Looking into the future

NAR reports that vacancy rates in the office market are forecast to decline 0.2 percentage points over the coming year, while international trade gains continue to boost use for industrial space, which forecasts a decline of 0.3 point.

The outlook for personal income and consumer spending is favorable for the retail market, likely leading to a vacancy decline of 0.2 percent.

“The multi-family sector continues to be the top-performer in commercial real estate with the lowest vacancy rates. However, tight availability – despite new construction – is causing rents to currently rise near 4 percent annually in many markets,” said Dr. Yun. “Many renters who are getting squeezed may begin to view homeownership as a more favorable, long-term option.”

Multifamily market performance in Q1

According to NAR, Multifamily should see vacancy rates edge up from 4.0 percent in the second quarter to 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, with added supply helping to meet growing demand. Vacancy rates below 5 percent are generally considered a landlord’s market, with demand justifying higher rent.

Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are New Haven, Conn., at 2.3 percent; Ventura County, Calif., 2.4 percent; and New York City; San Diego; Hartford, Conn.; Oakland-East Bay, Calif., and San Diego, at 2.5 percent each.

Average apartment rents are projected to rise 4.0 this year and in 2015. Multifamily net absorption is expected to total 221,400 units in 2014 and 173,100 next year.

How did the office market fare?

Office vacancy rates should decline from an expected 15.8 percent in the second quarter of this year to 15.6 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

Currently, the markets with the lowest office vacancy rates in the second quarter are New York City and Washington, D.C. at 9.4 percent; Little Rock, Ark., 11.5 percent; San Francisco, 12.6 percent; and New Orleans, at 12.8 percent.

Office rents are projected to increase 2.5 percent in 2014 and 3.2 percent next year. Net absorption of office space in the U.S., which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is likely to total 39.7 million square feet this year and 49.8 million in 2015.

Vacancies expected to decline in the retail sector

Vacancy rates in the retail market are expected to decline from 10.0 percent currently to 9.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

Presently, markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates include San Francisco, at 3.2 percent; Fairfield County, Conn., 3.8 percent; and San Jose, Calif., at 4.7 percent. Northern New Jersey; Long Island, N.Y.; and Orange County, Calif., all have a vacancy rate of 5.3 percent.

Average retail rents are forecast to rise 2.0 percent in 2014 and 2.3 percent next year. Net absorption of retail space is likely to total 11.5 million square feet this year and 19.6 million in 2015.

Industrial market is looking good

Industrial vacancy rates are anticipated to fall from 9.0 percent in the second quarter to 8.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Orange County, Calif., with a vacancy rate of 3.5 percent; Los Angeles, 3.9 percent; Miami and Seattle, 6.0 percent, and Palm Beach, Fla. at 6.5 percent.

Annual industrial rents should rise 2.4 percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2015. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is seen at 107.8 million square feet in 2014 and 107.1 million next year.

Staff Writer at The Real Daily, Tara Steele has long covered real estate news, technology news and everything in between. She has analyzed economic data for ages, and relishes in telling the real story behind the real estate industry.


Why it’s about to get more expensive to get a mortgage

(FINANCE) Borrowing money is getting more expensive, especially for those looking to get a mortgage. But why?



bonds and mortgages

Although there have been some blips, bonds have grown substantially in value since the 1980s. They’ve performed extremely well for a number of reasons, not least of which is the big slowdown in inflation over that time period.

The result, for investors, has been that anything “bond-lik,e” i.e. capable of paying a regular income – like a high-dividend stock or even a property like your home – has shot up in value. A reversal of bond prices would mean less support for such investments.

That’s what the economy is currently experiencing. According to Financial Times, American worker wage growth is hastening the sell-off of bonds by the US government, which is decreasing the overall price of bonds. As bond prices go down, the interest rates that they offer new investors go up. That rate jumped to 2.85 percent last Friday, the highest level since 2014.

Since the rates at which banks lend their money are largely based on the interest rates offered by bonds, regular folks looking to take out a mortgage or a loan are facing higher costs.

How does this work?

If we’re talkin’ bond prices, we’re talkin’ yield. When the price of a bond goes up, the yield of that bond goes down! Let’s say you’re getting paid $5 each year. If you pay $50 for that right, then you’re making a 10% “yield” (5/50 = 10%). But if you pay $100 for that right, then you’re making a 5% “yield” (5/100 = 5%).

It’s the same thing with the price of a bond because the amount a bond investor gets paid (usually) is fixed. And so, when the bond goes up in value, the “yield” goes down – and vice versa.

For realtors, its important to help clients shop for the best rates to improve their confidence in this market. Leveraging the right online and local financing resources can help potential buyers get the best deal. Explaining broader market context is also critical. Historically, a three percent interest rate is still very low.

According to Investopedia, mortgage rates averaged 7.81% in 1996 and 10.19% in 1986. Instilling confidence with information will put buyers and sellers in the right place to make moves.

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How does this soft jobs report impact the housing market?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) When we see a soft jobs report, does that hurt or help the housing market? We talk to two economists about it.



In a year of political uncertainty, the release of any jobs report is polarizing. Political figures and armchair policy wonks will read into the data as they wish, but not housing economists.

That’s who we look to in these times, because we all know that jobs is the cure-all for a recovering economy, but payroll growth slumped in September as the U.S. Labor Department reports that employers added only 156,000 jobs.

This fell short of the 172,000 originally projected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Hidden positives in the report

Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Trulia said, “While the September jobs report came in below expectations, the continued addition of jobs to the US economy will help buoy demand for homes, both on the for-sale and rental side of the market.”

He observed another positive hidden in the Labor Department result. “In addition, wage growth kicked up again, which will help bolster the savings of first-time homebuyers trying to scrape together a downpayment.”

Real estate remains unchanged

“Given no major surprise in the data, the national outlook for real estate market remains essentially unchanged, with home sales expected to squeak out slight gains in 2016 and 2017 while commercial building vacancy rates should continue to fall,” said NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun.

Yun adds that “we should note that men have been underperforming as 68.4% of adults have jobs, down from historic norm of around 75%. Meanwhile, 55.8% of women have jobs, roughly matching the historic norms.”

Pointing out that the data is being “digested” through the perspective of the upcoming election, Dr. Yun notes that, “among men, those with a college degree 72% of adults are working while only 54% of those with only a high school degree are working.”

Dr. Yun observes, “There will surely be a big divergent voting patterns among men versus women and among those with college education and those without in November.”


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Mortgage companies hiring time travelers to uncover missing documents?

(MORTGAGE NEWS) – Mortgage companies are hiring for an interesting new position that may speak to their role in the economic crash of 2008.



During the Great Recession of 2008, it’s been estimated that around seven million Americans lost their home. Many of the homes that went into foreclosure did so because people lost their jobs, and just gave up on their home. In some, people got kicked out based on false documentation, faulty paperwork or just downright illegal mortgage servicing. Numerous lawsuits have been filed and won by homeowners who were wrongfully evicted.

In California, in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corporation, the California Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs held the right to contest foreclosures when documentation (in this case, a mortgage transfer that was allegedly void) was not handled correctly. The Court didn’t determine validity of the document in Yvanova’s case, just that she had the right to contest the foreclosure.

New jobs in mortgage documentation

According to David Dayen, who wrote Chain of Title, this phenomenon has brought new jobs to the market. Career Builder lists a job for a “Default Breach Specialist” posted by a recruiting firm in Jacksonville, Florida. The primary characteristics for this position:

“The Default Breach Specialist responsibilities include ensuring all breach letters are issued as required by investors, insurers and/or State Law.  Responsible for ordering title, reviewing title and all security documents to identify missing assignments needed to complete the chain of title prior to foreclosure referral.”

Seeking time travelers

According to Dayen, all the assignments of mortgage should have been prepared and recorded at the time of the sale or transfer. He questions why any mortgage company would need to order these documents.

In Yvanova’s case, it’s alleged that the mortgage was not converted into the trust in a legal fashion. In many of the cases involving foreclosure, third parties were hired to produce the paperwork that conveyed a mortgage into the trust. Dayen alleges that many of these companies “mocked up” documentation.

Although it is possible that the mortgage company is simply looking for someone to make sure everything is in the case file, it’s also possible (some would say highly likely) that some documents may never be found because they don’t exist.

The failure to follow the law as it pertains to property records is so bad that companies are now hiring chain of title specialists to manage the problem. This does not put the real estate industry in the best light.

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