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Posts Tagged ‘developers’

Some Markets Starting to Shift from Seller’s Markets to Buyer’s Market

In a Fortune Magazine article by Chris Morris, published in February,  it is reported that in January 2019, there was more inventory available and houses sat on the market about a week longer than in January 2018.

As of January, there was an available inventory of 1.59 million homes overall, versus 1.53 million in December 2018.  Of course, the article is lacking by treating the entire country as one monolithic real estate market. Needless to say, there are hundreds of markets, and they don’t always perform in lockstep.

Nevertheless there is a subtle shift, even in mentality, that is more favorable to buyers as opposed to sellers, who until recently reigned supreme. Since we are primarily buyers  (and then we hold for the long term), a buyer’s market is a positive for us.

Adjusting expectations

It is interesting to note, and one of the reasons I am posting this blog based on an article several weeks old, is that while in January 2019 sales were flat, in February 2019 sales surged up, but then dropped only slightly. This is likely to continue to lower rates and sellers having to adjust expectations. Overall, we can see that while there is a shift towards buyers in many markets, the market is still hovering near a relatively stable point. With the low interest rates and more friendly sellers, this becomes a positive for the investor.

We like to buy brand-new homes. Clearly, the sellers for us are builders. Some builders don’t want to sell to investors. Our market teams successfully convince the builders that it pays to work with our investors, as they get good volume from us. As the mood changes, these very builders may become more receptive to working with buyers, and perhaps even offer more incentives.

This will be discussed in more depth in a podcast on our Premier Members area soon. We will also talk about this during our next ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo on May 18, 2019

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New Homes Begin to Dominate Investor Purchases

Investors who have been buying older homes from bank foreclosures during the recession, are now realizing some of the benefits of buying new homes built this year, in 2015 direct from developers (or minimally a massive renovation – like new). The lower future incidence of repairs, the warranties, the potential developer giveaways–possible only in new home purchases (a builder can give the buyer a covered patio which may be a $6,000 option, but only costs the builder $2,000 to build) and the modern amenities and floor plans are starting to attract more investors.

Since buying homes is in its core a long term investment, starting with new homes is a great send-off with many extra years of performance available. Getting loans on new homes is usually one of the easiest procedures, and with today’s low rates, locking in a 30-year fixed rate loan on a brand-new home is an excellent “stake in the ground” for anyone’s future. Of course investors should not just blindly buy brand-new homes. The locations have to have the numbers – the right rents for the right prices.

There are some excellent markets providing very good numbers and cash flows in good areas.
For more information, you are invited to attend our quarterly ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo this Saturday. You will not only meet teams frrm the most relevant markets and see the possibilities for yourself, but there will be expert speakers on important topics such as the new twists in Asset Protection (you must know about this), buying real estate from your Self-Directed IRA, and getting real estate financing for purchases from within your IRA.

There will be information for new investors and established investors on how to move forward powerfully. There will also be lenders to update us as to the ever-improving loan possibilities for investors (domestic and foreign), and lots of great Q&A and networking. The event is near the San Francisco Airport this Saturday, March 7th, from 10AM to 6:30PM. You may also register by emailing us at info@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504.

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Can We See Real Estate Trends by Media Headlines?

Media headlines have been a pretty good gauge on the overall mood and trends in the real estate industry.  During the big boom of 2005 and 2006, the headlines were screaming, “When is the bubble going to burst?” (A sage point to ponder as it turned out.) During the dark ages of 2008 – 2010, the media headlines took pains to emphasize just how much prices were down in so many markets – a good tip for the savvy buyer.

What does it look like these days?

Within the past couple of months here are a few headlines: October 20th in the Wall Street Journal, the headline to an article by Jeffrey Sparshott says, “Builder Optimism Hits 10-Year High.” I believe you can guess what the article is about. In any case due to the blessed internet – you can just look it up. Another headline, again from the Wall Street Journal, by Anna Louise Sussman and Laura Kusisto says, “Home Sales Head for Best Year Since 2007.” Again pretty self-explanatory.

The above two articles convey good optimism and strong home sales. For real estate investors this may not always be the best news, as naturally they hunt for bargains. Nevertheless having a strong real estate market in many cities lends itself to strong occupancy, builder (built) homes (always an attractive investor buy due to builder incentives, and new homes bode well for a long hold with minimal potential repairs, and usually the best financing). Having solid real estate markets is a strong backdrop for our tried-and-true-buy-and-hold-with-a-30-year-fixed-mortgage strategy. Add this to low rates still existing today and you have some very good opportunities to expand your portfolio, lock in super low rates forever and change your financial future.

And about those rates – isn’t the Fed just about to raise rates? Let’s look at this headline from the November 24, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle article by Kathleen Pender, “Rate Hike Won’t Hit Too Hard – At First.” I concur—rate hikes will most likely begin by ¼ of a point for short term debt. In addition this anticipation may already be baked in the current mortgage rates. It will most likely be a while before the needle moves on mortgage rates in a significant manner.

With that being said the Fed’s intention highlight yet again that we operate within a “golden window” of super low mortgage rates. For new investors this seems like the norm. For veteran investors, we recognize these rates as the lowest in decades. If anyone has the ability to fix these rates forever in a loan that never keeps up with inflation – now may be the time.

During our quarterly 1-Day Expo THIS SATURDAY – December 5, 2015, we will have a sophisticated asset protection attorney—back by popular demand—Brett Lytle, who will speak on asset protection. Brett always has the most cutting-edge information on protecting our assets and the pros and cons of the type of entities we form.  Ron Stempek, MS-Tax, CPA, will speak on optimizing your taxes for reporting 2015—important must-know information for optimizing tax dollars, and actions to take going into the new year. Christopher Orr, Director of Institutional Products at PENSCO will be speaking on retirement savings goals by using self-directed IRAs, buying properties from a self-directed IRA, and using this vehicle to further your wealth.  As always, we have cutting edge markets teams, lenders, networking and lots of Q&A time. 

Anyone contacting us and mentioning this blog can attend free (email to info@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504). If you email us, put in the subject “I read your blog on Blogger” and give us your name and phone number so we can confirm with you.

Looking forward to seeing you, and Happy Holidays!

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Single Family Homes in Suburbs Ever More Popular as Downtown Affordability Wanes

An article in Forbes magazine by Joel Kotkin on August 31st titled “U.S. Cities Have A Glut Of High-Rises And Still Lack Affordable Housing,” Mr. Kotkin tells us how urban high rise condos in many cities are completely unaffordable to the middle class. He talks about objective metrics showing the Millennials and others prefer buying single family homes in the suburbs.

This makes perfect sense, as these are better environments for families, and the affordability can be far better. As always, we recommend buying homes in suburbs of large metropolitan areas and use them as rental properties, preferably being financed with 30-year fixed rate loans, which are not pegged to inflation.

We will discuss these issues plus much more in our ICG quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO THIS SATURDAY 9/9. There will be market teams from all over the US, as well as expert speakers on issues critical to all investors. You can attend for free with guests – just email us at info@icgre.com and mention this blog, or call (415) 927-7504.

I am enclosing Mr. Kotkin’s article in its entirety.

U.S. Cities Have A Glut Of High-Rises And Still Lack Affordable Housing
Joel Kotkin CONTRIBUTOR
I cover demographic, social and economic trends around the world. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 
A view of new residential buildings under construction in the Hudson Yards development, August 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Perhaps nothing thrills mayors and urban boosters like the notion of endless towers rising above their city centers. And to be sure, new high-rise residential construction has been among the hottest areas for real estate investors, particularly those from abroad, with high-end products accounting for 8o% of all new construction.

Yet this is not an entirely high-end country, and these products, particularly the luxury high-rises in cities, largely depend on a small segment of the population that can afford such digs.

No surprise, then, that we see reports of declining prices in areas as attractive as New YorkMiami and San Francisco, where a weakening tech market is beginning to erode prices, much as occurred in the 2000 tech bust, John Burns Real Estate Consulting notes. There have been big jumps in the number of expired and withdrawn condo listings, particularly at the high end; last year, San Francisco saw a 128% spike in the number of withdrawn or expired listings for condos over $1.5 million.

Several factors suggest the high-rise residential boom is over, including a growing recognition that these structures do little to relieve the housing affordability crisis facing middle-class residents, the inevitable aging of millennials and their shift to suburbs and less expensive cities, and the impending withdrawal of some major foreign investors who have come to dominate the market in many cities.

Cost And Affordability

One common refrain among housing advocates and politicians is that high-rise construction is a solution to the problem of housing affordability. The causes of the problem, however, are principally prohibitions on urban fringe development of starter homes. Critics also note that high-rises in urban neighborhoods often replace older buildings, which are generally more affordable.

One big problem: High-density housing is far more expensive to build. Gerard Mildner, the academic director of the Center for Real Estate at Portland State University, notes that development of a building of more than five stories requires rents approximately two and a half times those from the development of garden apartments. Even higher construction costs are reported in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the cost of townhouse development per square foot can double that of detached houses (excluding land costs) and units in high-rise condominium buildings can cost up to seven and a half times as much.

Almost without exception, then, the most expensive areas are precisely those that have the most high-rise buildings: New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami. More to the point, these buildings don’t tend to be occupied by middle-class, much less working-class, families. And in many cases, these units are not people’s actual homes; in New York, as many as 60% of new luxury units are not primary residences, leaving many unoccupied at any given time.

Even worse, a high-density strategy tends to raise the price of surrounding real estate. As Tim Redmond, a veteran San Francisco journalist, points out, luxury apartments often tend to be built in areas with older, more affordable buildings. The notion that simply building more of an expensive product helps keep prices down elsewhere misses the distinction between markets; the high-rises in Washington, DC, are not the affordable units that the vast majority of city residents need.

Other cities favored by luxury developers – like VancouverTorontoSeattle and San Francisco – have also seen deteriorating affordability and, in some cases, a mass exodus of middle- and working-class residents, particularly minorities. San Francisco’s black population, for example, is roughly half of what it was in 1970. In the nation’s whitest major city, Portland, African-Americans are being driven out of the urban core by high-density gentrification, partly supported by city funding. Similar phenomena can be seen in Seattle and Boston, where long-existing black communities are gradually disappearing.

The New Demography Works Against This Trend

It is common in retro-urbanist circles to maintain that more Americans, particularly younger ones, will opt to remain customers for ever-greater density, a preference that could sustain an ever-growing market for high-rises. Yet that notion may be past its sell-by date, with demographic evidence suggesting that most Americans, including younger ones, are looking less for an apartment in the sky than for a house with a little backyard. 

Suburbs, consigned to the dustbin of history by many urban boosters, are back. Demographer Jed Kolko, analyzing the most recent Census Bureau numbers, suggests that population growth in most big cities now lags that of their suburbs, which have accounted for more than 80% of metropolitan growth since 2011. Even where the urban core renaissance has been most prominent, there are ominous signs. The population growth rate for Brooklyn and Manhattan fell nearly 90% from 2010-11 to 2015-16.

The real trend in migration is to sprawling, heavily suburbanized areas, particularly in the Sun Belt. To be sure, there are high-rises in most of these markets – quite a gusher of them in Austin, for instance – but the growth in all these regions is overwhelmingly suburban.

The most critical factor over time may be the aging of millennials. Among those under 35 who do buy homes, four-fifths choose single-family detached houses, a form found most often in suburbs. Surveys consistently find that most millennials see suburbs as the ideal place to live in the long run. According to a recent National Homebuilders Association report, more than 66%, including those living in cities, would actually prefer a house in the suburbs.

The largely anecdotal media accounts of millennial lifestyles conflict with reality, Kolko notes. Although younger Millennials have tended toward core cities more than previous generations, the website FiveThirtyEight notes that those ages 30-44 are actually moving to suburban locales more than in the past.

The China Syndrome

Given the limits of the domestic market, the luxury high-rise sector depends heavily on foreign investors. Already, harder times for some traditional investors – Russians and Brazilians, for example – have hurt the Miami market, long attractive to overseas buyers. There is now three years’ worth of inventory of luxury high-rises there, with areas such as Edgewater, Midtown and the A&E District suffering an incredibly high inventory of seven and a half years. Miami Beach is faring a bit better but is still a buyer’s market at a little over two years of inventory.

Still, the greatest threat to the luxury high-rise market may come from the Far East, the region of the world with the most surplus capital and, given the rapidly aging society, often the fewest profitable places to put it. Korea and Japan have lots of money sitting around looking for a home. Japan and its companies, according to World Bank data, are hoarding more than $2 trillion in unused liquid assets.

But as in all things East Asian, China stands apart. Last year, the country had a record $725 billion in capital outflows, according to the Institute of International Finance. China is now the largest foreign investor in US real estate.

But now the Chinese government has placed strong controls on these investments, which could leave some places vulnerable. In Downtown Los Angeles, according to local brokers, many of the new high-rise towers are marketed primarily in China. (LA claims to have the second-highest number of cranes, behind only Seattle.)

These expensive units are far out of reach for the younger people who tend to inhabit the neighborhood, instead serving as what one executive called “vertical safe deposit boxes” for people trying to get their money out of China. If the new crackdown on such investments is strongly enforced, this could leave a lot of expensive units without buyers. Prices have already softened, and with several new luxury buildings coming up, Downtown is likely to experience a glut.

Even in Manhattan, another market long dependent on foreign investment, projects are now stalled, including some once-hot properties in Midtown that are delaying their sales launches. Overall sales of condos over $4 million dropped 18% last year from the high levels of the previous three years. The ultra-premium market for condos over $10 million saw a 5% sales decrease in 2016.

Changes Ahead

The current slowdown, and perhaps longer-term stabilization, could lead to lower rates of migration out of the expensive cores. Yet this trend is not likely to reverse the movement of younger people to less dense areas. Luxury high-rise units were not built for families, and they are often located in areas with poor schools and limited open space. They may simply become high-priced rentals, attractive no doubt to childless professionals but not to middle- and working-class families.

In the end, the real need is not for more luxury towers. What is needed, particularly in America’s cities, from the urban core to the urban fringe, is the kind of housing middle- and working-class families can afford.








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Affordable New Construction Homes Getting Scarce

In an article in the Wall Street Journal from May 7th, 2016 by Chris Kirkham, we learn how builders of new homes have to focus more on the second-tier and higher product. The reason is that land costs (including local fees) have increased, as well as building costs. Builders have a harder time squeezing a profit from the lower-priced new homes.

This is becoming an issue with families seeking to buy new affordable homes.

As investors, this points to a certain window in time in which we can get brand new homes at reasonable prices.  We are still buying new homes for $130K-$170K, mostly in the middle of this range. Rentals are strong (partly because some would-be-owners become tenant due to lack of affordable homes to buy), and needless to say, if the more affordable homes will become scarce, it is likely to bode well for their appreciation, as the higher priced home in a subdivision will provide comparable values which will help the appreciation of the more affordable homes. This is how it happened historically.
The ability we still have as investors to buy the more affordable (yet quality) product, coupled with the still-low mortgage interest rates, create a sweet spot in time to add to our real estate investment portfolio. 
The WSJ article by Chris Kirkham can be found here
We will discuss this , as well as a host of other relevant and important issues, at our quarterly ICG 1-Day Expo near the San Francisco Airport THIS SATURDAY – May 21st. For details, see: www.icgre.com/events. Anyone mentioning this blog can attend free – just email us at info@icgre.com and write in the subject line, “Read your blog on construction homes getting scarce.” We will have experts about complete insurance and umbrella coverage nationwide, 1031 exchanges, property management, and lending, among others. Looking forward.
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