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US homebuilding rose in October on a rebound in multifamily housing projects

U.S. homebuilding rose in October amid a rebound in multifamily housing projects, but construction of single-family homes fell for a second straight month, suggesting the housing market remained mired in weakness as mortgage rates march higher.

Other details of the report published by the Commerce Department on Tuesday were also soft. Building permits declined last month and homebuilding completions were the fewest in a year. Housing starts increased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.228 million units last month.

Data for September was revised to show starts dropping to a rate of 1.210 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.201 million units.

Building permits slipped 0.6 percent to a rate of 1.263 million units in October. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.225 million units last month.

The housing market is being hobbled by rising borrowing costs as well as land and labor shortages, which have led to tight inventories and higher house prices. This is making home buying unaffordable for many workers as wage growth has lagged.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering at a seven-year high of 4.94 percent, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. Wages rose 3.1 percent in October from a year ago, trailing house price inflation of about 5.5 percent.

Residential investment contracted in the first nine months of the year and housing is likely to remain a drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter. Economists expect housing activity to remain weak through the first half of 2019.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by Tuesday’s housing starts data.

Single-family homebuilding stalls

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 1.8 percent to a rate of 865,000 units in October after declining in September.

Single-family homebuilding has lost momentum since hitting a pace of 948,000 units last November, which was the strongest in more than 10 years.

A survey on Monday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders dropped to a more than two-year low in November, with builders reporting that “customers are taking a pause due to concerns over rising interest rates and home prices.”

Single-family starts in the South, which accounts for the bulk of homebuilding, fell 4.0 percent last month. Single-family homebuilding jumped 14.8 percent in the Northeast and fell 2.0 percent in the West. Groundbreaking activity on single-family homes dropped 1.6 percent in the Midwest.

Permits to build single-family homes fell 0.6 percent in October to a pace of 849,000 units. These permits remain below the level of single-family starts, suggesting limited scope for a strong pickup in homebuilding.

Starts for the volatile multifamily housing segment surged 10.3 percent to a rate of 363,000 units in October. Permits for the construction of multifamily homes fell 0.5 percent to a pace of 414,000 units.

 

Read more on CNBC

 

 

How the stock market’s wild ride could affect CRE investment

Stock market volatility may spur investors to allocate more funds to direct ownership of real estate.

The stock market’s recent rollercoaster, with October’s sharp correction followed by a post-midterm election surge, can put the investment community on edge, including commercial real estate investors.

“People who invest in real estate don’t invest in a vacuum,” says Mark Dotzour, a real estate economist who spent 18 years as chief economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University before opening a private consultancy three years ago.

It’s impossible to completely separate one’s emotional reactions from financial behavior, says Mike Ervolini, CEO of Cabot Investment Technology, which sells behavioral finance software to professional equity fund managers. Ervolini previously served as a portfolio manager and CIO with AEW Capital Management.

Real estate investors pay close attention to what’s happening in the stock and bond markets and while they may be able to overlook recent volatility, they’ll need to keep an eye on longer-term trends to determine if commercial real estate investment is still the best bet for their financial portfolios, according to Dotzour. For now, it seems the answer is yes.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

Are food halls a magic elixir for retail owners?

The concept of the food hall has taken deep root in U.S. retail properties, with scores up and running and hundreds in the pipeline.

Though a popular addition for struggling retail properties, celebrity chef Todd English said that without the right approach, food halls are not always the solution for owners. English spoke at the recent Second Annual International Council of Shopping Centers-Baruch College Real Estate Conference, as reported by Real Estate Weekly.

He warned that some food halls are merely “glorified food courts with better options.” He further called food halls a WeWork model, a kind of coworking space that “has to be about more than just food.”

Food halls are a draw because of their perceived authenticity, as local eateries, healthier options and craft breweries edge out standard food court fare (fast food, that is).

While not every food hall is going to feature chef-curated or otherwise expensive options, they have to be creative in some way, English said during the ICSC conference. “It’s not just another great turkey sandwich or croissant, or whatever the latest trend is, it’s something that brings people in.”

For retailers, a successful food hall is thus not a matter of simply setting up a food hall. With the increasing number of food halls, they too need to stand out to be competitive.

 

 

Read more on Bisnow

 

Identifying lucrative value-add multifamily opportunities as the cycle lengthens

There are ways to drive returns on value-add multifamily investments without spending a fortune on redevelopment.

The appetite for value-add multifamily investments remains strong—and in light of this increasing competition, many investors are struggling to identify and secure assets that present high-reward opportunities.

While some investors have turned to extreme measures, including taking on projects that require extensive remediation and complete overhauls—or even repurposing entirely different product types for multifamily use—some of the greatest opportunities for growth and stability lie in strategically identifying and refreshing functional, yet under-managed vintage communities.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

Apartment rentals make up a larger share of new housing units in the U.S. than they have in decades

New preferences, low affordability of new homes drive greater demand for apartment rentals.

Apartment rentals have been luring residents away from other kinds of housing since the housing crash—and that is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Apartments should continue to play a role in the total housing market that goes beyond the historical norm,” says Greg Willett, chief economist for Real Page Inc., a property management software and services provider based in Richardson, Texas.

In the years after the Great Recession, millions of people lost homes to foreclosure and had to move, often into apartments. The extra demand for units was not expected to last more than a few years. However, today—more than a decade after the collapse of Lehman Brothers—the percentage of American households that own their own home is still near its low point. New households are still much more likely to chose to live in rental housing than in the years before the crash.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

 

The 10 top emerging trends that will shape real estate in 2019

The Urban Land Institute’s annual look at the year ahead focuses on technology and transformation at an uncertain moment.

It’s complicated. In the course of compiling its annual Emerging Trends report, the Urban Land Institute found that the only certainty in its outlook for 2019 was uncertainty. Expert analysis points to a more complex, multi-layered series of overlapping trends, with unpredictable results, as opposed to a few strong narratives.

Will technology offer more opportunity and enhance competition and efficiency, or help consolidate the industry and drive out smaller players? How will shifts in demographics and shopping patterns challenge current investment practices? Will the U.S. ever get a grip on its housing affordability issues?

The report, a joint project of ULI and PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers unveiled during its fall meeting in Boston this afternoon, considered the responses of more than 750 real estate professionals in creating an high-level overview of the trends it believes will impact the real estate world. While the report expects an overall economic slowdown next year, emerging trends and markets in flux that could provide new opportunities.

 

 

Read more on Curbed

 

 

 

Powell sees bright moment for economy with more hikes ahead

Ten years after the peak of the financial crisis, Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve sees a U.S. economy capable of humming along without support from monetary policy.

Unemployment is low. Inflation is stable and anchored. Financial conditions merit watching, but don’t look overly worrisome. And against that backdrop, policy makers are raising interest rates gradually despite renewed criticism from President Donald Trump.

They made an expected rate increase on Wednesday, their third in 2018, while telegraphing another before year-end. In an optimistic press conference, the chairman also indicated that the path is clear for future hiking well into 2019.

“It’s a particularly bright moment,” Powell said of the economy. He praised the value of gradual rate increases, which have allowed the Fed to watch their policy moves play out.

“What we’re going to be doing, as we go through time, is asking at every meeting whether monetary policy is set to achieve our goals,” Powell said.

 

 

Read more on Bloomberg

 

 

Mayor wants to lure modular housing factory to SF to provide both homes, jobs

As San Francisco officials continue to scout locations for a factory that can churn out modular housing units, Mayor London Breed is lining up the city to be the first customer.

Breed is expected to announce Monday that the city is prepared to spend $100 million on hundreds of modular apartments that would grow the city’s stock of affordable housing.

Who will run the modular housing factory won’t be known for some time, though the leading plan is to seek a private operator on city-owned or city-leased property. And even after a site is selected, it will take years to get a factory up and running.

But Breed and other officials hope the early — and sizable — promise to buy will entice interested operators to set up shop in San Francisco.

Read more on SF Chronicle

UC Berkeley professor blames rent control for California’s housing shortage

Kenneth Rosen hopes to sway voters against Proposition 10.

Kenneth Rosen, a UC Berkeley economist and real estate consultant, published a paper Wednesday titled The Case For Preserving Costa Hawkins, in hopes of swaying voters against Proposition 10.

Proposition 10, which will go before voters in November, would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, a state law that severely curtails rent control in California cities. For example, under Costa-Hawkins, only San Francisco apartments built before 1979 may be subject to rent control.

Passing Proposition 10 would not in and of itself create any new rent control housing, but it would allow cities to expand rent control stock for the first time in decades if they so choose.

Rosen, however, argues that turning the clock back to 1994 will stifle new housing and drain apartment stock.

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

Markets may be signaling rising recession risk: Fed study

A narrowing gap between short-term and long-term borrowing costs could be signaling heightened risk of a U.S. recession, researchers at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank said in a study published on Monday.

The research relies on an in-depth analysis of the gap between the yield on three-month and 10-year U.S. Treasury securities, a gap that like other measures of short-to-long-term rates has narrowed in recent months.

Several Fed officials have cited this flattening yield curve as a reason to stop raising interest rates, since historically each time it inverts, with short-term rates rising above long-term rates, a recession follows.

The study, published in the San Francisco Fed’s latest Economic Letter, bolsters that view.

“In light of the evidence on its predictive power for recessions, the recent evolution of the yield curve suggests that recession risk might be rising,” wrote San Francisco Fed research advisers Michael Bauer and Thomas Mertens.

Still, they noted, “the flattening yield curve provides no sign of an impending recession” because long-term rates, though falling relative to short-term rates, remain above them.

 

 

Read more on Business Insider