Is a Community Land Trust the Right Buyer for Your Property?

Our broker Max Rattner recently closed an impossible deal. The property was an eight-unit multifamily in Berkeley, but with a code violation, a majority of the tenants under Section 8, and roughly $500K of deferred maintenance.

Seller, buyers, tenants…everyone’s in a rough spot there.

But like a young George Bailey, Max’s team found a miracle of modern real estate: The Community Land Trust.

Land Trusts have existed since the time of kings as a means of public stewardship of land. Typically they’re public spaces like parks. But in 1968, several activists began what has become a growing trend of housing CLTs in the US.

CLTs are non-profit orgs that will acquire your property at market value and then own it permanently. Yet they’ll then “sell” equity in the property back to tenants, in what’s essentially a long-term lease. In lieu of paying (rising) rents, tenants earn a stake in homeownership. When a tenant then chooses to sell, he/she receives a portion of the property’s appreciation, while the Trust remains owner.

In an era of difficult housing affordability, CLTs are growing as an option for many people. There are SEVEN of them in the Bay Area alone. And for property owners, a CLT might present an opportunity to sell a challenging property at a fair price.

Those transactions still aren’t easy. Nonprofits are traditionally short-handed and bootstrapped. Their resources for navigating transactions are limited. But that’s where our agents fill an extra role in expediting deals. Max Ratter, Kevin Flaherty, Derrick Reedy and Tina Qi architected this sale perfectly, and know this landscape better than anyone.

We’ve made this nuanced option a specialty, and if the situation is right for you, we can open your property to a Community Land Trust.

So if you’re sitting on a property you may have thought was limited, think again. Contact us any time and we can explore this unique option.  

Big Tech Throwing Big Money at Housing Crisis

It seems every week we’re hearing about another BILLION dollars or more coming into the Bay Area housing market.

Most recently it’s Apple with $2.5 billion, one-upping both Facebook and Google’s earlier $1 billion each. Amazon and Microsoft are doing the same in Seattle.

Why is this a “trend” though? Why is there a tech “arms race” on this issue? The answer is one of the simplest Things You Learned in Kindergarten lessons:
 You Break It, You Buy It. 

Imagine the span of about 18 months from late 2007 to early 2009: 1) Apple introduces the iPhone; 2) Google releases the Chrome browser; and 3) Facebook hit critical mass, shifting from a little campus thing into a real social network and brand platform.

That’s when the world changed. Since then 500,000 tech jobs have been created. Every one tech job yields five non-tech jobs. And yet, only 50,000 new homes have been built. A recent McKinsey report estimates that 3.5 million new homes are needed by 2025 to close the gap.

So tech brings in thousands of bodies, throws tons of money at them, and demand+prices skyrocket. Now they’re throwing more money at the problem they helped create.

But money alone isn’t enough, according to experts who say the answer is “a combination of relaxed suburban zoning and permit regulations from local governments, aggressive home building over the next decade, public transportation alternatives, and a wider array of housing options beside single-family homes.”

And this is why we need to talk to you. 

The answer is taller multifamily properties, preferably near transit centers. So what are you sitting on? Ask yourself: 

  • Do you have a property near a BART or CalTrain station? Or major bus line?
  • If you could get zoning changed, could your current property be developed into housing? 
  • If you could get height limits changed, do you have a property that could be a higher-rise multifamily site? 
  • Could you get access to any of the $4.5 billion earmarked by tech to improve housing? 

Governments are ready to adapt, and you might have an ideal situation for a developer able to navigate City Hall. Contact us, and let’s look at all the commercial real estate investment opportunities that you might benefit from as the rush to build housing continues. 

A little perspective on the retail apocalypse

Payless_Store_Closing-2

Our friends at the listing and research platform CoStar have released another interesting report on the impending retail apocalypse.

The Amazon Effect, and the societal retreat into robotic Instagrat lifestyles, is turning 2019 into the heaviest year ever for retail store closures. However. If you read between the lines, you see that while more stores are closing, less square footage is involved.

More than 10,000 stores have announced a closure this year, almost twice last year, and 3,000 more than during the downturn in 2008. Yet while last year saw 155 million square feet close, this year that space is down roughly 30%.

So it appears the Sears, Kmarts, JCPenneys, and similar anchor tenants of yesteryear have gone through their New Economy purge, and now it’s time for the GNCs, Gymborees and Payless stores. E-commerce has its sights on 10,000 sqft and under this year.

But more importantly, these numbers do NOT show a death knell for retail. It’s really more of a cleansing and realigning. Deliverable retail goods — those that can’t be offered via a better user experience than direct-to-your-door convenience — are taking their mid-/small-/boutique stores down. But! There’s growth in the Un-Amazonable.

This includes personal services, restaurants, grocery/drug stores, fitness and sports, healthcare, and even movies and entertainment outlets. These retail establishments are all showing a healthy upward trend.

So. If you have a retail property — or you’re in the market to invest in one — but you’re uncertain about what tenants are promising and which might be at risk, then talk to us.

US Neighborhoods with the Best Property ROI

The San Francisco Business Times released this report yesterday after crunching some Zillow numbers, showing the 20 neighborhoods in the US that have delivered the best return on real estate investment in the past 10 years. 

Many of the most lucrative markets lie north of San Jose…right in our wheelhouse. 

Now granted, this list looks at residential real estate. But we’ve all heard that rumor about a rising tide lifting other boats. As the Bay Area and Northern California has grown, it has ALL grown.

Let’s walk through this logically. People want to live in the dynamic City of San Francisco, or near their jackpot job in Silicon Valley. But they don’t want to spend what it costs to live there. So they fan out into the perimeter, raising demand in Richmond, Stockton, Merced.

Well guess what? It’s not just home-buyers in that scenario. It’s renters of multifamily units too. And now those people want shopping centers and auto repair shops and chiropractic offices. 

So if you’re looking for an ideal spot for a commercial investment, you might look at where the people are. Here’s where demand has grown the most.

Want to think about buying or selling in these areas? Consult with one of our advisors. 

How to Make Profitable Investments Throughout the Real Estate Cycle

Opportunities for profitable investments exist at every stage of the real estate cycle. Here’s how to identify which strategy is best for where the market is now.

During the recovery phase, just after a recession or pullback in the market, there is low demand for housing and high vacancy rates. Prices and interest rates are low, so if you have the liquidity, it’s a great time to buy properties below value, or to refinance.

When the market starts to recover, we enter the expansion phase. New construction begins and interest rates are still comparatively low, so your value-add properties’ equity is ready to capture with a refinance. Reinvest in new development, re-development, or purchasing additional value-add assets.

In the hypersupply phase, the market has become overconfident. An abundance of inventory compared to the demand means prices are ready to decline, and construction slows. This is the tipping point for high sales prices; sell now or buy a stable asset for long-term cash flow to get you through the next cycle.

Time for trouble: the recession phase. Over-inflated growth causes demands to plummet and default rates on mortgages and loans to soar. This is your chance to buy properties for rock-bottom prices, especially distressed sales. Go for value add.

Of course, in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered in any stage of the real estate market, you need to know where we are currently; for an in-depth analysis and “You Are Here” guidance, contact one of our advisors.

Source: Million Acres

5 US cities with the highest cost of living

According to a recent report by Move.org, the Bay Area’s major cities continue to rank in the top five for the highest cost of living nationwide. San Francisco holds the top slot, with New York City close behind, followed by San Jose, Oakland, and Boston. The report measured the average monthly cost for rent (a 1-bedroom apartment), food (groceries and some restaurant meals), gas, utilities (electricity, water, etc.), and internet for each city.

Surprising no one, San Francisco, California is the most expensive, with rent among the highest in the nation; rent makes up 80% of the $4,210.60 monthly cost of living in the city. The city also has some of the highest gas prices at $197.88 per month, though residents who commute via bike or public transit can avoid these costs. Food is expensive, around the 80th or 90th percentile, but utilities are comparably cheap at $123.22 per month, about 30% of the national average. Internet costs are pretty middle-of-the-road compared to other cities, averaging about $66.62 per month.

New York, New York is just $250 behind SF, with an average cost of living of $3,956.11. Food is the problem here, costing over twice as much as San Francisco, at $468.60 per month. Rent is also extremely high, at $3,126.35. Gas is more expensive than the national average, around the median value, at $155.55 per month, and internet is just about average at $62.77. Utilities cost a little less than elsewhere, around $142.84 per month.

San Jose, California is the third most expensive city to live in, with lower rents than SF or New York but high gas prices and above-average food costs. The $3,289.07 cost of living includes $2,555.85 for rent, $186.15 for gas, $359.85 for food, $63.36 for internet, and $123.86 for utilities (significantly cheaper than the national average).

Despite Oakland’s reputation for being cheaper than the City, its cost of living is still fourth-highest nationwide, at $3,212.14 per month, only about $1,000 less than San Francisco. Rent and gas are the highest costs compared to the median, at $2,481.65 per month and $175.95 per month. Food is just a little more expensive than the national average, around the 30th percentile, at $347.33 per month. Internet and utility costs are pretty average, at $65.00 and $142.21.

In the last spot of the top five is Boston, Massachusetts, with New York’s high rent and food costs. An average cost of living of $3,211.51 includes $2,420.26 for rent, $435.78 for food, $145.35 for gas, $62.97 for internet, and $147.15 for utilities.

Source: Move.org

Bay Area cities rank in top 10 for most LEED units

California has more LEED-certified multifamily properties than any other state, over 57,000 units worth, and the Bay Area has over 12,000 of these green apartments and condos, with three cities ranking in the top ten statewide. Just behind Los Angeles, San Francisco ranks #2 for the most LEED units, at 8,090, and San Jose is just two spots behind at #4 and 2,545 units. While Oakland hasn’t quite caught up to these levels, it still ranks in the top ten, at #8 with 1,648 units. 

According to Multi-Housing News, “While LEED certification positively impacts the health and well-being of people, as well as the planet, it’s a valuable feature for investors, as it translates to faster lease-up rates and higher resale value.” Owners of LEED multifamily buildings are primarily real estate investment trusts; AvalonBay Communities, owner of the various Avalon, AVA, and eaves complexes in the Bay Area, and the Essex Property Trust, owner of over 80 Bay Area buildings, hold over 9,000 units between them.

The green housing trend really took off in 2008, jumping from 315 LEED-certified apartments and condos statewide in 2007 to 1,947 the next year. The numbers continued to grow through 2017, with a slight dip last year from 7,378 in 2017 to 6,185 in 2018. The developments still are mostly an urban trend, clustered in and around California’s major population centers, though the report only included communities with at least 50 residential units.

Source: Multi-Housing News