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Three New Housing Bills to Impact Multifamily Real Estate Market

The multifamily commercial real estate market is likely to be impacted by three housing bills currently making their way through the California legislature. Senate Bills 330 and 13, and Assembly Bill 1485, each seek to relieve the state’s housing crisis by allowing additional construction and streamlining the approval process.

Sponsored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), SB 330 will limit how strict cities can make their zoning. According to Bisnow, the proposal “prevents governments from downzoning until 2025; setting parking minimums or imposing housing moratoriums; or enacting other local measures that have made housing development nearly impossible in space-strapped areas.” It also “limits the number of public hearings on a zoning-compliant housing development proposal to five, and the length of time its permits can be considered.” Ideally this will make it easier and faster (and therefore cheaper) to build multifamily housing.

Assembly Bill 1485 aims to expand on 2018’s SB 35, a bill that was supposed to remove “discretionary review and other processes for mixed-income, completely zoning-compliant housing development proposals in cities not meeting their state-determined housing needs.” But due to strict qualification requirements, only three projects have been able to take advantage of the original law’s streamlining effort. The new law clears the pathway to more projects by loosening restrictions. Under AB 1485, 20% of new development units would be reserved for incomes of less that 120% of the area’s median income, a reduction from the previous requirement of 50%.

Finally, SB 13, sponsored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), is designed to encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by removing or decreasing fees. In addition, it “allows for automatic approval of an ADU permit application if a local agency has not acted upon the application in 60 days” and “removes the requirement that the owner of an ADU live in the main home while renting out the ADU, meaning both the main dwelling and accessory unit can be rented.” While this will not directly apply to the multifamily industry, the additional availability of ADU rental units may soften the rental housing market.

If they make it through the committee and amendment processes, each of these three bills will be voted on in early September.

Source: Bisnow

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

Transit-oriented development on the rise

Cities across the Bay Area are opening up to transit-oriented development, building high-density housing with ground-floor retail near BART stations, including on BART-owned land. Despite neighbor complaints, cities are revising their zoning restrictions to allow bigger buildings near major transit hubs.

Most of the development is happening in the East Bay, with completed projects near at least eight stations and more under construction including a 402-unit apartment complex at MacArthur Station with 13,000 square feet of commercial space; 94 units at Fruitvale Station; 200 units at Pleasant Hill Station; 410,000 square feet of commercial space at West Dublin/Pleasanton Station; and 596 units at Walnut Creek Station. Planned projects in Millbrae, West Oakland, Lake Merritt, North Concord/Martinez, Balboa Park, and Fruitvale total over 2,300 units and over 2 million square feet of commercial space.

As zoning codes begin to relax near transit, future development opportunities could open up, strengthening the local markets for existing multifamily buildings as well as retail and office assets.

Source: SF Chronicle

How are developers preparing for sea level rise?

The Bay is expected to rise up to 10 feet in the next 80 years; how are local developers protecting their waterfront projects? According to the SF Business Times, “With the right planning, project designs and innovative construction, new developments can not only survive the effects of climate change, but in some cases, can help protect the region from flooding and erosion.”

Depending on what changes the world makes (or doesn’t make) to slow climate change, California estimates that waters will rise 1.1 to 2.7 feet by 2050 and between 2.4 and 10.2 feet by 2100. Most developers and project planners aim to be ready for 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2050 and 6 feet by 2100.

One solution is to truck in dirt to raise the level of the ground before building; Brooklyn Basin, a master-planned community on Oakland’s waterfront, elevated the land 3 feet with this method, and it is also being used on Treasure Island. The Treasure Island development is also using the strategy of siting buildings farther away from the shoreline to allow room for future retaining walls or levies. Terracing is also an option; India Basin and Pier 70 in San Francisco are building homes on sites that already sit well above the water, even if it means they’re a little farther from the waterfront. A more back-to-nature approach is restoring the Bay’s wetlands and marshes, which absorb water and slow flooding.

New developments have many strategies to survive sea level rise, but it remains to be seen how older buildings and infrastructure can be protected. There are currently 48,895 homes in the Bay Area worth a total of $31.8 billion that are at risk of flooding due to sea-level rise, on 48 to 166 square miles of threatened shoreline.

Source: SF Business Times

The San Francisco office pipeline is overflowing

The SF office pipeline is overflowing. The city only has enough cap space to approve about 2.1 million square feet of office space, but over 8.1 million square feet are currently proposed. So what happens to the developers who want to add that extra 6 million?

The Planning Commission can only approve 950,000 square feet of office development per year, with any unused approvals rolling over into the next year. When there’s not enough cap space to go around, the commissioners get to develop their own policies to decide which projects will go forward and which will have to wait until next year. One such policy approves projects in phases, so a given project might be able to start work on half of its square footage this year and resubmit the second half for approval next year; the idea is that this helps projects get started moving forward more quickly. However, it also means that they take longer to complete. From The San Francisco Business Times: “Doing so means ‘uncertainty, and it means a longer approval process,’ said Ryan Patterson, a partner at Zacks, Freedman & Patterson. ‘Time is money. So longer approval processes mean more expense. And that means even higher office rents.’”

Some developers have been able to carve out exemptions by getting voters to approve them; the Shipyard project in Hunter’s Point got its 5 million square feet of office space approved this way. The current system doesn’t seem likely to go away, though, leaving commissioners with a lot of power and developers with a lot of waiting.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

How to take advantage of “Opportunity Zones”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created new rules for “opportunity zones,” underdeveloped neighborhoods, sheltering your investments from federal taxes with minimal limits and employment requirements. You only have a few more months to maximize the benefits of this program: so how does it work?

When you sell a property, you can immediately reinvest that gain, tax-deferred, into an Opportunity Zone by depositing it into a qualified Opportunity Zone fund (either one you create or a traditional one). Then you have two choices; buy a property in one of the zones, or invest in a business in the zone. We’ll focus on the property option.

You have 31 months to purchase your new property, whether it’s multifamily, retail, industrial, or office space. Eventually, you need to invest the same amount of money as the property’s structures (not land!) currently are worth; if the current building is worth $100,000, you need to spend $100,000 remodeling, rebuilding, or otherwise upgrading the building. This means if you buy a property with a structure worth very little, you don’t have to do much to get the tax benefits.

Speaking of benefits, not only is the tax on your original gains deferred until 2026, but if you hold it for seven years, 15 percent of that gain will completely avoid federal capital gains taxes. (You only get 10 percent if you hold it for five years.) And if you hold it for ten years and your new investment appreciates? None of that appreciation is taxable under federal capital gains taxes. This is an opportunity indeed!

There are 102 opportunity zones designated around the Bay Area, including in Oakland, Concord, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, and even San Francisco; visit the SF Business Times’ site for maps and stats about the zones, or contact one of our advisors to find a property that matches your investment goals.

Sources: BizJournals.com, Tax Policy Center

Read our June 25, 2019 newsletter

Housing development and building pipeline up to a record high in San Francisco

In San Francisco in 2019 the overall pipeline of housing being developed hit a record 72,865 units, up over 5,050 from Q1 2018.

The number of units in developments which are currently under construction and should be ready for occupancy within the next year or two has increased, from 8,100 at the end of last year to 8,500 in the Q1 2019, which is within 3 percent of the current cycle peak of 8,800 set in Q3 2015.

Around 16,800 permitted and approved units are in play, while some major housing projects in Treasure Island, Park Merced, and Candlestick area.

Read more on Socket Site

 

What are San Francisco’s plans for Mid-Market?

 Mid-Market’s vacancies, stalled developments trigger plants to activate dormant sites.

Stalled developments have meant boarded-up walls, vandalism and empty storefronts have become all too common along the upper stretch of Market Street. The city is hoping a new type of temporary permit will spark change.

Read more on NAI Northern California’s newsletter

How are Tech IPOs affecting Bay Area Housing?

How upcoming tech IPOs could affect the Bay Area housing market.

Last week, San Francisco-based ride-hailing startup Lyft finally filed to go public – the first of what is expected to be a number of area startups (such as Uber, Slack and Pinterest) that could be making the leap from the private market this year. To understand what this means for those living and working in the Bay Area, I talked to a couple of people in the real estate industry to get their thoughts. The short answer: The IPOs will almost certainly impact inventory and pricing.

Read more on NAI Northern California’s Newsletter

What are the Golden State Warriors’ latest plans for Downtown Oakland?

Warriors won’t practice in Oakland next season but will leave downtown facility in hands of youth programs.

The Golden State Warriors announced Monday they won’t stick around to practice in their downtown Oakland basketball facility next season as they make their move to the under-construction Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood a complete one. But that doesn’t mean the Warriors are totally abandoning the city that’s been their physical home — if not their namesake — for almost half a century.

Read more on East Bay Times