How to Find Continued Value in Apartment Acquisitions

With concessions ticking up and rent growth slowing, is it time to question or finetune allocation levels and strategies in multifamily investing?

The stability, durability and continued capital flows into multifamily investing permeate today’s headlines, with industry pundits believing apartments to be the most popular product type with real estate investors in 2018, second only to industrial. Mixed signals abound among varying markets, and it’s important to dissect and triangulate the real data as the analytics don’t always tell the full story.

A first quarter report from Fannie Mae cited:

  • Positive, but slowing net absorption in 2018 compared with 2017 (CoStar)
  • Surging apartment development, peaking at over 440,000 units nationwide and up 16 percent from 2017 (Dodge Data & Analytics)
  • Rising nationwide vacancy rate predicted to approach recent historical average of six percent by year-end (Fannie Mae)

With concessions ticking up and rent growth slowing, is it time to question or finetune allocation levels and strategies in multifamily investing? Two principal factors are worthy of consideration here: geography and investment horizon.

Nationally, development is projected to keep pace with net absorption, as Fannie Mae projects net rental demand of 380,000 to 460,000 units in 2018. However, parsing geographies more discerningly reveals that new multifamily construction has been heavily concentrated in America’s largest cities, where pockets of oversupply are projected. New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco present some of the highest unit construction per capita in the country, yet are all projected by Moody’s Analytics to experience job growth in 2018 that lags the national forecast of 1.5 percent.

All markets do not bear these metrics though, especially in select secondary markets where Fannie Mae reports the ratio of projected population and employment growth to rising apartment inventory is more favorable. Cities such as Houston, Dallas, Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., even while seeing brisk construction, are forecast to increase job growth between two to three percent amid continued rental escalation. Two markets worth investigating include Phoenix, where projected 2.6 percent employment growth forecasts the demand for 10,000 units against projected 2018 delivery of 8,000 units, and Las Vegas, where projected 2018 absorption is double the number of units under construction.

Development nationwide should peak in 2018, as planned units in comparison to those under construction taper off, even in cities with the most active pipelines. This suggests that investors with a longer hold horizon may see their patience rewarded when new supply is absorbed and vacancy rates level off. Several long-term demographic trends also bode well for multifamily absorption and rental rates:

  • Householders continue to delay marriage and childbirth, thus tending to remain in apartments
  • Population growth in many areas, particularly in the Southwest, is being fueled by immigrants who tend to be renters
  • Real household income growth is occurring only in the upper 20 percent of earners, rendering home ownership less affordable for many
  • Student loan debt, which doubled as a percentage of GDP between 2006 and 2012, stymies home ownership for younger households
  • Conversely, the 65+ baby boomer generation, America’s most rapidly growing domestic cohort, is demanding more rental housing as they age out of owned homes and reevaluate their investment and retirement options

In our view, investors who choose their geographies wisely and take a long-game approach should see their properly selected multifamily investments buoyed by these market and demographic trends, while enjoying relatively predictable cash flows in the interim.

Read more from National Real Estate Investor

 

Nine Things To Keep In Mind About Blockchain In Real Estate

Blockchain is the next frontier of the real estate market, making inroads at a fast clip.

The use of the technology will make it possible to have transparent transactions that sellers and buyers will benefit from. From real-time ledgers to full-on shared databases and processes, blockchain throws the doors wide open with possibilities in real estate. However, does it come at a cost?

Some agents think it might, while others are embracing it with abandon. Yet, there is much to learn and consider before adopting blockchain into your business processes.

Nine members of Forbes Real Estate Council share the thing that everyone in their profession needs to know in order to safely and efficiently begin adopting blockchain or the tools it enables.

Read more from Forbes

 

 

San Francisco’s homeless crisis is driving tourists away

San Francisco’s hotels are facing a serious problem.

The city’s idyllic image of the Golden Gate bridge and grandiose views of the bay are being replaced by concerns about needles and feces littering the streets, homeless citizens sleeping on sidewalks or in Bay Area Rapid Transit stations and aggression toward visitors by people with untreated mental illness. Visitors are noticing and rethinking booking events and vacations at hotels around the city.

San Francisco’s homeless population was down by 0.5% in 2017 compared to 2015, but is about 17% higher compared to 2013, according to SFist. While homelessness is nothing new for the city, hoteliers and local business say street conditions have worsened.

Within 153 blocks in downtown, there were over 300 piles of feces, 100 drug needles and trash on every block, a recent report by NBCBayArea revealed. Complaints of poor street conditions to 311 have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2016, 311, a city agency where visitors and residents can report issues or seek information about the city, received 44,000 complaints of encampments, human waste and needles, up from 6,300 complaints in 2011, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“[Visitors] are noticing it and hearing about it and saying, ‘well, why would I bring my conference here?’” Hotel Council of San Francisco Executive Director Kevin Carroll said.

Visitors often have rave reviews for the local restaurants and hotel service, but say they will not come back or will not bring their families here, he said.

San Francisco is not the only major West Coast city dealing with issues of homelessness and street conditions impacting tourism and hospitality. Anaheim, home to Disneyland with its spotless, litter-free Main Street, U.S.A., has the stark contrast of homeless people who live just outside the park. The city has been looking into ways to help its homeless population, such as providing emergency shelter and employment opportunities. Honolulu also took action in recent years on cleaning up the streets, including around its popular Waikiki area.

Read more from Bisnow

 

 

 

Google says it’s close to owning enough downtown San Jose properties for ‘viable’ development

Google is nearing ownership of enough downtown San Jose properties and parcels to create a “viable” transit-oriented development.

The development will take place near the Diridon train station, a top company executive told a key advisory group this week.

During a meeting of the Station Area Advisory Group, formed to gather and process citizen input about Google’s proposal to develop a massive transit village near Diridon Station, Google executives offered the company’s first major presentation of its development philosophies and plans for downtown San Jose. The search giant also indicated that it is creating a critical mass of properties where it could build a transit-oriented community downtown.

“Just to get the sites together by itself is obviously very complicated, and it’s not completed yet, and it’s taking a while,” Mark Golan, Google’s vice president real estate development, told the advisory group during its Monday night meeting. “But we are getting close to having a site that is viable.”

Mountain View-based Google and its development ally Trammell Crow have spent at least $221.6 million buying an array of properties on the western edges of downtown San Jose, within and near a one-mile stretch that begins north of the SAP Center and reaches south nearly to Interstate 280.

Among the major recent deals: The Google and Trammell Crow venture bought a large site that now is occupied by Orchard Supply Hardware, and the search giant has struck a deal to purchase a huge property from Trammell Crow that is approved for 1 million square feet, hundreds of residences and retail.

Despite the extensive work and investments that have occurred already, construction isn’t going to begin tomorrow, Google executives cautioned.

Read more from Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

 

Wiener scales back bill that would allow taller housing near public transit

State Sen. Scott Wiener scales back a controversial housing proposal.

The proposed bill would strip local governments of their ability to block construction of taller and denser apartment and condominium buildings near public transit stops, and conceded the bill might not make it through the Legislature this year.

The San Francisco Democrat introduced amendments to his SB827 late Monday that would lower the maximum height of buildings that could go up as a result of the bill to five stories from eight. Also, the bill would take effect in 2021 instead of 2019.

Wiener made the amendments ahead of the bill’s first hearing April 17 in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. If passed, the bill will then head to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

“The bill is not guaranteed to survive either committee,” Wiener said Tuesday. “It’s a hard bill. Hopefully, we pass through these committees and live to fight another day, but if not, then we will try again next year. It’s very common in the Legislature that for hard bills, sometimes you have to try multiple times.”

The measure would override local height limits on proposed four- and five-story apartment and condo buildings in residential areas if they are within a half mile of major transit hubs, such as a BART or Caltrain station. It also would limit cities’ ability to block denser buildings within a quarter-mile of highly used bus and light-rail stops, but amendments eliminated new height requirements.

Read more from San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

Oakland parking garage next to City Hall could join development wave

More Oakland parking is being studied for new development.

A closed garage next to Oakland City hall could join the development wave that’s transformed over a thousand parking spaces into new buildings.

Oakland city staff are studying the demolition of the 335-space public parking structure at 1414 Clay St. and construction of either a new hotel or office building. The garage closed in December 2016 due to seismic safety concerns.

A city report recommends that Oakland seek an office project on the site because it’s more financially viable than a hotel. It also recommends requiring 51 parking spaces rather than 273 spaces, which would replace some of the previously used parking but could threaten the financial viability of a new project.

The stance is consistent with Oakland’s efforts to cut parking in new downtown projects and promote the use of public transit, “rather than continuing to subsidize the cost of private vehicle ownership and use,” according to the report.

Patrick Lane, the city’s manager of public/private development, said there isn’t a schedule for seeking developers for the site and it would likely happen after the city updates its public lands policy. The City Council may require higher fees and on-site affordable housing in new projects on public land, as activists push for more funding for low-income residents.

The city is also seeking development of two other public sites at 1911 Telegraph Ave. and 1800 San Pablo Ave, which could also be subject to the public lands policy.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

 

 

Silicon Valley grapples with security risks after YouTube shooting

Tech offices are modeled after college campuses.

Will they rethink their layouts? A shooting outside the offices of YouTube on Tuesday prompted an outpouring of support from fellow technology workers, as well as a sense of dread over whether other corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley were vulnerable to similar attacks.

YouTube’s campus in San Bruno, California, where three people were injured by gunfire, is laid out much like other tech offices nearby. It consists of a group of buildings within close proximity, spread across a suburban area. There’s outdoor seating and grassy pastures inviting colleagues to congregate. Visitors and employees can wander freely together in the vicinity, and security guards typically stay at desks inside the buildings.

“Companies invest in security but purposefully keep physical security measures discreet because the vibe is casual and relaxed,” said Joe Sullivan, the former chief security officer at Uber Technologies Inc. and Facebook Inc. who’s now an independent consultant. “Leaders want to stay connected with their teams, generally choosing less visible security than you would see in traditional finance or media companies.”

A woman — identified by police as Nasim Aghdam — shot and injured at least three people before killing herself. She was found at the scene and appeared to be dead of “a self-inflicted” gunshot wound, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said at a press conference Tuesday. No motive was given for the shooting.

In an American age where shooting rampages have become increasingly common, openness can work against companies, said Jeff Harp, a retired agent at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco who consults for technology companies. While employees are required to badge into buildings, access to many outdoor areas is generally accessible to all.

The episode could prompt executives to tighten security, Harp said. “Companies are going to be asking themselves, ‘Maybe our guard services need to be where they pull into the parking lot.’”

Read more from Bloomberg

 

 

Nine Proven Strategies To Make 2018’s Peak Rental Season Vacancy-Free

In much of the country, the start of peak rental season is just a handful of weeks away, meaning that now is the time to get ready for the rush.

The beauty of peak season is that more people are looking for places to live, which means your pool of potential applicants is bigger — but the flip side is that all of your current tenants are also more likely to move on.

Whether this is your first peak season or your fiftieth, these nine strategies can help minimize the chances that any of your units sit empty, even when turnover is high.

Read more from Forbes

 

 

Housing for North Berkeley BART?

BART and city leaders recently took the first steps toward a mixed-use housing development on the station’s parking lots, but there’s still a long road ahead.

In its early days, BART bulldozed houses to build massive parking lots for commuters to San Francisco, devastating several low-income communities in the East Bay. But then in the mid-1990s, the transit agency started a shift toward building housing, office, and retail around its stations instead. And during the past 15 years or so, the agency has been planning developments at most of its stations with surface parking lots — including projects at Ashby station in Berkeley and at most of its above-ground Oakland stations.

But the stations surrounding some of BART’s most desirable real estate have been excluded from development planning so far. For example, despite high home prices around the Rockridge BART station in North Oakland and the fact that it’s only a 20-minute ride to downtown San Francisco, BART has produced no development plans for the area to date.

For North Berkeley, a 25-minute ride from San Francisco, BART has at least considered building on the land. An overview of BART’s transit-oriented development strategy provided to this reporter last year included a map of existing, planned, and future development. North Berkeley was listed as a site for potential future development with 100-percent affordable housing, but BART had no more specific plans than that.

Read more from East Bay Express

 

 

Five Workplace Trends The Commercial Real Estate Industry Must Prepare For

The most significant innovations of the last century have a couple of common elements: They solved simple problems in the lives of everyday people, and almost nobody recognized that these problems needed to be solved.

Legend has it that Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Modern transportation, internet you can take with you, the ability to easily connect with someone on the other side of the planet — no one really wanted these things before they were invented. But soon after these innovations became widely available, people could not imagine life without them. Chances are, you never knew you needed a smartphone. But now, imagine giving it up for a day and being without directions in your pocket or the answer to any question at your fingertips. There’s simply no going back.

But despite such large shifts, one daily environment has remained stubbornly unchanged for decades: the office.

Despite a tight labor market putting pressure on employers to attract talent, the vast majority of the corporate workforce still works in dull, cubicle-laden office buildings, designed solely for space efficiency and with no regard for human-centered design. Yet we know environments can have a profound impact on our mental health and work output, and we know that experience matters more and more for the next generation of leaders. The office of today is not very conducive to the innovative thinking needed to create the products of tomorrow.

As the co-founder of a workplace hospitality platform, I’ve consistently heard from the 250,000 people who walk through our doors each year that they want their own offices to look and feel more like the ones shared and alternative workspaces provide on a short-term basis, replete with more flexibility, choice and experience in their office environment.

That means that we need to forget “office” and start thinking in terms of “workplace” — a mindset shift that will help commercial real estate professionals understand the trends that will challenge our industry’s most fundamental assumptions in the coming years.

Read more from Forbes