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Homes are Finally Getting More Affordable; Will Apartment Downside Risk Follow?

Housing price growth has moderated and mortgage rates have declined, leading to increased housing affordability at the same time as rising consumer confidence and incomes have prompted developers to start building more quickly. What will this mean for the apartment rental market?

According to CoStar Analytics, both existing and new home sales rose in August, with new single-family home sales increasing all summer and existing home sales increasing two months in a row. And single-family housing starts increased in August for the third month in a row despite continually rising costs, delays, and lot scarcity. This has resulted in the lowest home price growth since 2012, below 4% per year. Mortgages are getting cheaper as well due to monetary policy and 10-year Treasury yield changes; CoStar reports “NAR’s housing affordability index based on fixed rate mortgages was up more than 10% in July compared to a year ago.”

However, homeownership rates have not yet increased; overall, they continued to decline over the first half of the year. But as new data becomes available for the second half of the year, multifamily investors are advised to proceed with caution.

Source: CoStar Analytics

Top investment sales firm NAI Northern California continues expansion in first half of 2019

Leader in Bay Area multifamily, retail, and office investment sales and leasing transactions has aggressive growth plan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – August 21, 2019 – As the second quarter of 2019 has come to a close, Bay Area commercial real estate brokerage NAI Northern California has continued its expansion with an aggressive growth plan. President James Kilpatrick remarks, “We are well on track to top our total sales volume this year as we expand our team and continue to develop tech-forward strategies to serve our clients.”

NAI Northern California and its brokers were recognized both locally and nationally in the first half of the year. The brokerage was ranked as a Top Sales Firm by CoStar in both the San Francisco and East Bay/Oakland markets, and vice president Tim Warren was named a Top Sales Broker for his work in the East Bay/Oakland market. Investment advisor and rising star CJ Brill was awarded a scholarship for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon conference in Las Vegas. The company’s top-producing agent for Q1 through Q2 was senior investment advisor Rudas Gebregiorgas, followed closely by Mary Alam, Grant Chappell, Alex Barker, Doug Sharpe, Joby Tapia, Tim Warren, Kent Mitchell, Jordan Geller, and Joshua Ballesteros.

The company expanded into the greater Silicon Valley area with the hire of Tod Rudee as Executive Vice President in San Jose. Tod brings nearly 30 years of extensive experience in commercial real estate strategy, transaction services, and brokerage performance management in Silicon Valley. His previous background includes leading the San Jose office as Managing Director for CBRE as well as management roles with Colliers International and Premier Properties. 

The majority of the company’s business was multifamily investment sales for Q1 and Q2. Notable sales included Joby Tapia’s $18 million sale of the Central Valley Homes Apartments, a 24-unit complex in Mill Valley; the Mitchell Warren Team’s $14 million sale of 44 units at 888 Vermont Street in Oakland; and the $11.3 million sale of the Terrace at Fair Oaks complex in Carmichael by Rudas Gebregiorgas and Grant Chappell.

For the first two quarters of 2019, single tenant NNN and multi-tenanted retail center sales were a close second. The $25 million in sales completed by the Mary Alam Team included a $6.7 million Walgreensa $3.8 million retail complex in Tracy, and a $3.65 million Regal Cinemas sold by the Mary Alam Team and Ganga Balebail.

Industrial and office properties rounded out NAI Northern California’s sales for the first half of the year. The most notable assets were a $12 million mixed-use development site in South Beach, San Francisco sold by Alex Barker; a $2 million office/warehouse building in West SOMA, San Francisco sold by the Geller Williams team; and a $2.5 million medical office redevelopment deal in San Jose sold by the Mary Alam Team. Vacant land and mixed-use buildings made up the rest of the properties sold by the brokerage. 

Commercial leasing is an increasing part of the company’s business, with leases to boutique and multinational businesses from a range of industries. Spaces leased by NAI Northern California during Q1 and Q2 ranged from 1,100 square feet to 35,000 square feet, for both office and industrial uses. 

Coming into the second half of the year, NAI Northern California has an aggressive growth plan and is currently hiring commercial real estate agents and senior investment sales advisors for all their offices (San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose) as well as additional leadership roles for both their San Francisco and Oakland offices. Community outreach and volunteering efforts have also been a key component of company life with volunteer days at Project Open Hand in Oakland and San Francisco.

 

About NAI Northern California

NAI Northern California is a full service commercial real estate firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Our team delivers technology-enabled commercial real estate services that create value for our clients, industry, and communities.

NAI Northern California is a partner of NAI Global, the largest commercial real estate brokerage network with more than 350 offices worldwide and over 6,000 professionals completing in excess of $20 billion in commercial real estate transactions globally.

Recently on the San Francisco Business Times Book of Lists, NAI Northern California hit the top 5 and 6 spots in San Francisco and the East Bay and top 10 Bay Area wide. NAI Northern California is part of the NAI Global network, recently recognized by Lipsey as the number 4 most recognizable commercial real estate brand.

Bay Area markets rank in top 5 for most expensive office space in the Americas

Downtown San Francisco and the Peninsula rank #3 and #4 for the most expensive commercial office space on the continent, according to Globe Street and CBRE. For Q1 2019, the cost per square foot per year for prime office space downtown was $130.51, with office space in the Peninsula costing an average of $116.28 per year. New York City still holds the top two slots, with the Midtown-Manhattan and Midtown-South Manhattan markets, and Boston’s Downtown is just behind the Peninsula at $106.60 per sq. ft. per year.

Office space costs in the Americas continue to rise, 3.7% higher than Q1 of last year, and they’re rising faster; Q1 2018 was only 3.2% more expensive than the previous year. Globally, rents for prime office space rose 3.6% compared to 2.5% the year before.

The most expensive office markets worldwide are Hong Kong Central, at $322; London’s West End at $222.70; and Hong Kong Kowloon at $208.67 per sq. ft. per year. Downtown San Francisco and the Peninsula rank 11th and 13th, behind Beijing’s Finance Street, Beijing’s Central Business District, Tokyo, and the City of London.

How would San Francisco’s proposed fees on empty storefronts affect retail and mixed-use properties?

This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to require owners of vacant storefronts unoccupied for more than 30 days to register their properties and pay an annual fee. This is one of the proposals they are considering to get a better idea of and start to remedy the glut of unused storefront space around the city.

Read more on Curbed San Francisco

WeWork takes new downtown San Jose site amid expansion

WeWork is leasing a new downtown San Jose location, a clear indication of an ongoing expansion by the co-working titan in the core area of the Bay Area’s largest city.

The newest WeWork location is at 152 N. Third St., a downtown San Jose office building owned by a group led by Gary Dillabough, a realty investor who is partnering with WeWork on the Bank of Italy office tower project a few blocks away.

The interest from WeWork in the North Third Street building appears to point to a rising focus on downtown San Jose, spurred by potential major developments in the area by tech titans such as Google and Adobe Systems.

WeWork agreed to lease 75,000 square feet at 152 N. Third St., according to commercial realty experts and information from sources with knowledge about the WeWork plans at that office building. The WeWork operation on North Third Street also shows up on the company’s website as a “just announced” location.

“It’s very encouraging that WeWork is getting more interested in downtown San Jose,” said Mark Ritchie, president of Ritchie Commercial, a realty firm.

In addition, WeWork has taken space in one of the Riverpark Towers office high-rises at 333 W. San Carlos St. and the tower at 75 E. Santa Clara St.

“WeWork is now into four buildings in downtown San Jose,” Ritchie said. “152 N. Third St. should function very well as a co-working building.”

 

 

Read more at The Mercury News

 

 

The shopping mall’s savior is starting to eat itself

Restaurants, one of the supposed saviors of regional malls, have been hurt in the past 12 months by too much expansion and a slowdown in consumer spending.

Stephen Wall’s restaurant chain Pho is the kind of tenant that mall landlords would love to attract. The Vietnamese menu is right on trend, the business is expanding and, even better, it has a track record of success in shopping centers.

Yet he thinks that even restaurants like his won’t be the savior of malls suffering from the rise of internet retailing and mobile phone addiction.

As competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc. and Asos Plc intensified, British mall owners looked to food as a way to stay relevant. People would come to the restaurants to eat, buy some clothes in the shops while there, and the extra spending would allow the landlord to boost the rents. A simple, virtuous circle.

Instead, food and beverage operators have been hurt over the past 12 months by a combination of rapid expansion and a consumer-spending slowdown. An influx of private-equity investment into restaurants led some chains to open too many outlets that aren’t breaking even. Popular names like Gourmet Burger Kitchen, pasta place Carluccio’s and the Jamie Oliver chain — often found at big malls like Westfield and Bluewater around London or Manchester’s Trafford Centre — have been among those suffering. Nationwide, the number of restaurants going insolvent rose 24 percent last year, compared with 2017.

 

 

Read more on National Real Estate Investor

 

 

 

Square takes over enormous Oakland building

Uptown Station, once meant to be Uber’s Oakland HQ, nets a new tech tenant.

Not too long ago, the circa 1929 Beaux-Arts building in Oakland now known as Uptown Station was meant to be the East Bay home of Uber, which had ambitious plans for the historic and recently refurbished locale.

But Uber sold the building almost exactly a year ago, netting $175 million from Oakland-based investment firm CIM Group but leaving the future of the sometimes neglected unofficial landmark up in the air.

On Thursday, CIM and Square announced that the SF-based payment app company owned by Twitter CEO (and Benioff antagonist) Jack Dorsey will lease much of the building, completing the locale’s long transition into an East Bay tech hub.

“Square has signed a lease for the entire office space in the iconic Uptown Station building,” according to a Thursday press release from both companies, a deal covering more than 350,000 square feet.

The building at 1955 Broadway first opened as an HC Capwell department store in the ‘20s, at the time apparently a very big ticket for Oakland as thousands showed up to see the mayor overturn the first shovelful of dirt on the future shopping hub.

Eventually, the building transitioned into being a Sears store instead, and for many years now has laid mostly dormant.

Developer Lane Partners spearheaded efforts to turn the disused retail Mecca into a new mixed-use office building before selling to Uber in 2016.

Square won’t actually move in until the end of 2019, possibly because CIM Group is still overseeing work that’s being done on the nearly century-old building.

“Oakland is committed to attracting businesses whose values align with our community. […] I believe Square can be that company,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

San Jose moves toward ordinance limiting Section 8 discrimination

Landlords in San Jose would no longer be able to advertise that they don’t take rental vouchers.

San Jose took a step toward making it harder for landlords to turn away would-be tenants who use vouchers to help pay the rent.

This week, the San Jose City Council directed the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance aimed at giving renters with subsidies, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, a fair chance on the private rental market. The so-called source of income ordinance would not force landlords to take the vouchers, but it would ban them from judging potential tenants who use subsidies differently from those who don’t and from explicitly advertising “No Section 8” on apartment listings.

If everything goes according to plan, the council will vote on the ordinance in the spring.

While a number of landlords blasted the proposal, saying it would force property owners to navigate convoluted regulations and paperwork, the city’s Housing Department said an ordinance is necessary to make sure families are able to find affordable housing.

Right now, there’s no law that prevents landlords from turning away voucher holders, and a city survey found most do, leaving low-income families scrambling to find homes in one of the nation’s tightest housing markets. Several national studies suggest that when cities and states have such ordinances in place, the percentage of landlords turning away voucher holders goes down and more people with vouchers are able to find places to rent.

“Voucher discrimination is happening in San Jose,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, the city’s housing director.

Several landlords told horror stories about Section 8 voucher holders who left rental units in bad shape. But tenants and tenant advocates countered that there’s no evidence voucher users are any better or worse than people who don’t use subsidies.

“We can’t judge the actions of a few and put it on the majority of the people,” said Robert Aguirre, who has used vouchers. “Not all Section 8 holders destroy property or disrespect the people around them.”

“We see clients all the time who are not able to rent housing, have to move away from San Jose, have to live in cars. … it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see that and this ordinance would help,” said Nadia Aziz, an attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

 

 

Read more on East Bay Times

 

 

New SF hotels, WeWork-backed waterfront school among ideas for historic piers

Developer Simon Snellgrove has an idea: A new 65-room boutique hotel just south of the Ferry Building.

The problem: Hotels are illegal on Port of San Francisco land unless voters authorize them.

Snellgrove’s concept is one of 52 responses received by the port to revitalize 13 historic waterfront piers that dot the city’s scenic Embarcadero.

For the past three years, the port has sought public uses to bring new life for the piers, some of which were built over a century ago. The projects have big financial hurdles, requiring millions of dollars in renovations to withstand future earthquakes and sea level rise. But previous projects like the renovated Ferry Building and AT&T Park are a testament to the public’s love — and the lucrative business — of waterfront development.

The port received a diverse mix of ideas, including basketball and tennis courts, art galleries, an Italian Innovation Hub, and an International House of Prayer of Children. Boston Properties, the city’s biggest office owner and majority owner of Salesforce Tower, said it was open to operating nonprofit, maker and research space.

 

 

Read more on SFGate

 

 

 

 

Major S.F. tech company eyes one of Oakland’s largest vacant office buildings

San Francisco-based fintech Square Inc. has eyed Oakland for a big lease, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The payments processing company reportedly looked at Uptown Station, a 356,000-square-foot refurbished, mixed-use building that is one of the largest blocks of office space available in Oakland.

“There are large tech tenants looking at Uptown, but none have landed yet,” Edward Del Beccaro, a managing director of Transwestern, told the Chronicle.

Landlord CIM Group has been chasing tenants for the space since it bought the building in December 2017 for $180 million. The approximately $40 million renovation of Uptown Station by Truebeck Construction is expected to finish early next year.

CIM picked up the property at 1955 Broadway from Uber Technologies, which had planned to move up to 2,000 employees into the space, but decided to consolidate in San Francisco instead.

Square has been on a growth tear as of late. Over the summer, it added 104,100 square feet to its San Francisco headquarters at 1455 Market St. for a total of 469,000 square feet there. It is also growing outside the Bay Area and internationally.

In addition to Uptown Station, Oakland has a handful of similar historic rehabs, including projects from TMG Partners and Harvest Properties.

Read more on San Francisco Business Times