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Property Taxes Surge on Higher Values

Rising property taxes can be a problem for both tenants and landlords.

Corporations that have been focused on the potential windfall that tax reform will bring are getting a reality check when they look at their property tax bills. Commercial and multifamily properties across the country are seeing a spike in property taxes as assessors continue to reset values to higher levels.

It has taken property tax appraisals time to catch up from the bounce back in values that has occurred after the recession. Some jurisdictions assess commercial property values every year, while others reassess values on a two or three-year cycle. In some cases, such as with the Carolinas, assessments occur every seven years, notes Dorothy Radicevich, a principal in the state and local tax practice and national property tax leader with accounting firm BDO. Most markets are now up to speed on property values, which have now exceeded pre-recession levels in many areas of the country.

“There have been major re-evaluations in commercial properties in all of metro Atlanta for the past two years and especially this year,” says John Hunsucker, owner of Property Tax Consulting LLC in Atlanta. Some of the lower valued properties don’t get as much attention. But this year most of the counties in metro Atlanta reassessed values on higher-end properties that resulted in tremendous increases, he says.

Although some states and jurisdictions do have a cap on how much taxes can be raised annually, such as 2.0 percent to 3.0 percent, Georgia has no such cap. Some taxing authorities in metro Atlanta have gotten very aggressive with tax assessments that have jumped by more than 300 percent, notes Hunsucker. In Fulton County, for example, some of the 2018 assessed values on high-end apartments are higher than what properties could trade for in the current market, he says.

 

 

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After two projects sank, can San Francisco find developers for decaying waterfront?

The new effort is one of the largest but also potentially costliest redevelopment opportunities in the city.

The Port of San Francisco is seeking ideas for new uses at 13 historic waterfront piers, in one of the largest but also potentially one of the costliest redevelopment opportunities in the city.

The agency wants proposals from both large developers and smaller tenants such as nonprofits, arts groups and retailers to revive the piers, which are now vacant or used for parking or storage.

Some previously renovated piers have been financial successes. Waterfront offices at the Ferry Building and Piers 1 1/2, 3 and 5 have signed tenants for rents over $100 per square foot. Control of the Piers later sold for $103 million in 2016, and the Ferry Building is expected to be sold to Hudson Pacific Properties for around $300 million, according to sources tracking the market.

But two recent redevelopment efforts failed because of the high costs of rehabilitating and seismically protecting piers. A study for the Port found that $74 million to $10 million would be required to bring a single pier up to code. Last year TMG Partners and Premier Structures, Inc. exited an office, event and restaurant space proposal at Pier 38 after the cost to repair the pier was expected to be as high as $122 million.

 

 

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

 

China Trade War Threat May Have Died Down, But CRE Is Still On the Front Lines

Chinese presence in U.S. commercial real estate seems to be waning, trade war or no trade war.

The fate of the off-again, on-again specter of an impending U.S.-China trade war may be uncertain, but regardless of what happens with tariffs and exports, the U.S. commercial real estate industry continues to feel the effect of both China’s cold shoulder and the stricter U.S. regulatory environment surrounding foreign investment.

Chinese companies and financial institutions were active in U.S. commercial real estate in recent years, both on the equity side and the debt side, but their presence seems to be waning, trade war or no trade war.

In New York City alone, Bank of China was involved with originating about $5 billion in loans for prominent commercial properties in 2013 and 2014. Bank of China has been party to loans of more than half a billion dollars each for trophy properties in the Big Apple, including the Sony Building at 550 Madison Ave. (originated in 2013), the One Astor Plaza headquarters of Viacom and its MTV studio (2012) and the 63 Madison Ave. home of tenants such as IBM (2015).

Other big Chinese players in the U.S. real estate market over the past few years have included the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which financed New York properties including the Bush Tower at 130 W. 42nd St. (2015), and Anbang Insurance Group, one of China’s largest insurance groups.

 

 

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Bitcoin won’t encourage cryptocurrency for real estate, but cryptoeconomics will

As Bitcoin enters the mainstream economy, a number of homebuyers and sellers are starting to use the cryptocurrency to conduct real estate transactions.   

Last year, Southeby’s International Realty sold one of the first single-family homes in Austin, Texas using Bitcoin. The Austin home was sold when Bitcoin prices were $3,429 in September 2017.

In addition to these transactions, other residential real estate properties are being listed for Bitcoin. A recent Forbes article describes how Canter Companies, a full-service investment firm specializing in real estate and asset management projects, recently listed two multi-million dollar homes for sale in Bitcoin. The homes are collectively priced at under $20 million in Bitcoin. And recently, a 27 acre piece of land in Silicon Valley has been listed for sale in Bitcoin, Ether and XRP with a starting price of $16 million.

However, while there are a handful of homes currently listed for sale in Bitcoin, some believe that using Bitcoin for real estate transactions will not result in widespread adoption — At least not until the real estate industry starts to utilize blockchain technology, which in turn will drive the adoption of cryptocurrency transactions.

While Bitcoin is stepping into society’s massive adoption as a decentralized cryptocurrency, the next-generation blockchain technology  brings a lot more to the real estate world than just a payment alternative. For example, Propy is based on the Ethereum blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around, while also representing the ownership of property. Ultimately, this enables title deed transfers to take place entirely online. Imagine a world where you can buy or sell your property while sitting on your couch – now this is a reality with blockchain technology, Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy, told me.

According to Karayaneva, the only way to encourage homebuyers and sellers to take advantage of cryptocurrency for real estate transactions is to take a “cryptoeconomics” approach, which goes much further than simply putting homes up for sale in Bitcoin.

Cryptoeconomics lays out the framework for the way in which cryptocurrency ecosystems thrive and function across a decentralized network, known as the blockchain. These ecosystems are able to allow a number of entities who do not know one another to reliably reach consensus across an anonymous, trustworthy network through the use of cryptocurrencies. This is achieved by using a combination of economic incentives and basic cryptographic tools.

 

 

Read more from Forbes

 

 

 

The Blockchain For Real Estate, Explained

There is a lot being written about blockchains, bitcoin and related technologies, and for many real estate professionals, this is part of a brave, new, confusing world of technology.

Like the original internet, the blockchain is a revolution in technology that will touch all people and all businesses. So people are paying attention, but many still don’t understand what the blockchain is.

Imagine that you and your best friend Bob are standing on a stage in an auditorium, and there are 1,000 people in the audience. In front of these 1,000 people, you hand your car keys to Bob, and Bob hands you his Rolex. You declare, “Bob, you now own my car.”

Bob declares back to you, “You now own my Rolex.” There are 1,000 witnesses who can each declare, without doubt, that your car now belongs to Bob, and the Rolex belongs to you. If anyone in the audience later tells a conflicting account of who owns the car or the Rolex, the other 999 people will refute it. And, if you take a spare set of your keys and try to give that same car to someone else, the 1,000 audience members will confirm that Bob owns the car, as each of them witnessed the “transaction.” This is the essence of how the blockchain works.

In its most simple sense, the blockchain is a series of computers (thousands to potentially millions of them) that each keep the same record of an event or transaction in a ledger that is open to the public. Each record is encrypted, and the ledger is virtually hack-proof. Since all these computers see the same thing, they offer consensus that the recorded event or transaction is valid. The most important value of the blockchain is that it allows two or more parties to interact with, say, a financial transaction, with no middleman.

 

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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

 

 

Could cryptocurrency be the future of real estate buying?

In August 2014, a secret buyer contacted the realty arm of Martis Camp, a luxury real estate community in North Lake Tahoe in California, with an unorthodox deal: a purchase of land for 2,739 Bitcoins. At the time, the cryptocurrency that recently turned the Brothers Winklevoss into a pair of Bitcoin billionaires was worth about $580 per coin. Multiply that 2,739 times over, and the buyer paid $1.6 million for a 1.4-acre piece of land.

“Many of our buyers are in the tech sector and are early adopters of Bitcoin. We understand the importance of adapting to cutting-edge purchasing methods,” said Martis Camp sales director Brian Hull, who described the buyer only as a “Silicon Valley entrepreneur.”

That Bitcoin-financed real estate transaction was one of the largest, but it was not the first. Five months earlier, in March 2014, another secret buyer purchased a villa in Bali for 800 Bitcoins, or roughly the equivalent of $500,000. Two months later, a suburban home in Kansas City, Missouri, sold for the same amount. Last September, a buyer—identified only as working in the tech industry—bought a single-family home in Austin, Texas.

Most of these transactions involved the buyer converting Bitcoin into U.S. dollars to make the purchase—a liquidation of assets, much in the same way a first-time homebuyer might use investment dollars to afford a down payment.

Then, in late December, what was considered to be the first Bitcoin-only real estate deal went down when Ivan “Paychecks” Pacheco, co-founder of cryptocurrency website Bits to Freedom, transferred 17.741 Bitcoins ($275,000) to a seller to buy a two-bedroom condo in Miami. In early February, Bitcoin investor Michael Komaransky sold his Miami mansion in a deal where the buyer—again, anonymous—paid the $6 million listing price almost entirely in Bitcoins (455, to be exact).

Read the full article from Curbed

Will commercial real estate values fall? This is how investors can prepare

Will the commercial real estate market always go up? Of course not.

But investors have been spoiled by two decades of double-digit returns that were too good to last. In 2016, returns on institutional-grade property fell below a 20-year 10.1% average for only the first time since the Great Recession, and the latest Urban Land Institute’s Real Estate Economic Forecast puts estimated 2018 and 2019 returns around 6%.

Commercial real estate is cyclical, so it’s logical to expect a downturn at some point. But conventional wisdom holds that it won’t come soon. Colliers International’s 2018 Outlook on U.S. property markets says 2017 was the market’s peak, but the commercial real estate industry is expected to show continued growth, albeit at a more moderate pace, making a real estate market crash less likely.

Although the commercial real estate market’s outlook is still respectable, should investors be deterred by a potential decrease in returns from investment properties in the coming years? As the founder of a real estate investment firm, my informed answer is no. In fact, I believe investors should own private commercial real estate in every market cycle for the following reasons.

Read more from Forbes

 

As Rents Rise, Advocates in Multiple Markets Push for New Rent Control Laws

In most parts of the U.S., lawmakers are currently not allowed to create new rules to limit by how much landlords can raise rents at their properties.

In November 2018, voting ballots in California might include a question on rent control. Right now, California law restricts the spread of rent regulations on housing built after 1995, in addition to many older properties.

Some housing advocates want to change that. A proposed law that would have allowed more rent regulation died in the state legislature in 2017. Now advocates including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the San Francisco Tenants Union are pressing the same proposal as a ballot initiative.

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What Do Single-Tenant Net Lease Deals Offer High-Net-Worth Investors?

HNW investors are especially attracted to single-tenant net lease deals in the retail sector.

For more and more high-net-worth (HNW) real estate investors, dollar stores and drugstores make for a winning combination, although these assets can turn into losers if the sole tenant leaves.

Office and hotels still draw a lot of attention—and dollars—from HNW investors. But a rising number of them are betting on single-tenant net lease properties such as dollar stores, drugstores and fast-food restaurants to help round out their portfolios.

By and large, net lease properties are magnets for HNW investors because they’re viewed as safe, recession-proof assets that preserve cash flow and yield.

Read more from National Real Estate Investor