Give us a call: (415) 927-7504

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

2016 and the Real Estate Investor

The year is off to a decent start–the fears many investors had that mortgage rates will go up very quickly due to the Fed’s raising the short-term rates recently have not only not materialized, but actually mortgage rates have gone down twice. I will address it in a separate blog entry but as you can see there is no immediate correlation. Needless to say mortgage interest rates WILL go up at some point which in part serves to frame the most important aspect of 2016.
During 2016 mortgage interest rates are likely to remain quite low for the entire (or most of the ) year. As single family homes investors, those of you with decent credit and not a huge portfolio can still qualify and get these coveted 30-year fixed rate loans that you can only get on Single Family Homes (technically 1-4 residential units).

This is the year to focus and be effective in buying solid homes financed by these 30-year fixed rate loans at these incredible interest rates and lock them forever. You will feel like a genius later on after rates have climbed and here you are with an under-5% loan fixed forever, and never changing with the cost of inflation. In a continuous manner, inflation erodes your fixed loan, and the tenant is paying it off one little month at a time.

Do this in 2016. Do this several times. You will be setting up your financial future.

As far as markets, there may not be large appreciation swings in most markets during 2016. In a funny way the ever-solid Texas is appreciating decently now, but people have some questions about its overall economy.

Oklahoma City with brand-new homes (under 50% of the property tax bite of Texas; it is poised to provide better cash flow on similar rents and home prices – which it has) is a very serious candidate for solid investments.

Jacksonville, Florida is the market least appreciated in the state so far and carries the best appreciation potential. Also in 2016 the Panama Canal project is slated to be finished, potentially generating major large-ship traffic into the Jacksonville port. Will they finish this gargantuan project on time? Will it drift over to 2017? Regardless, it is a dominant event.

Get those good single family homes and finance them with low 30-year fixed rate loans. Rinse and repeat. You will very likely be quite happy in the future when you look back at what you have done. We will be discussing this in detail, along with market teams and incredible experts, during our next quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO on Saturday March 5th. Everyone citing this blog can attend for free with guests. Just email us at info@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504.

Happy New Year!:

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.








Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Home Prices Pass Peak, Go Down In Most Expensive Markets

Since 2012 there has been significant home price appreciation in many U.S. metropolitan areas. Some markets reached levels of unaffordability and continued on a tear until recently. Markets such as San Francisco, New York City and parts of Miami have reached unprecedented highs, accompanied with worries about social clustering, lack of affordability, and the need for long commutes for “regular” (most) people.
In the markets we are interested in and are investing in, there are more diverse scenarios. In the Phoenix and Las Vegas metropolitan areas, prices have indeed gone up quite a bit since 2012 (Phoenix over 100% and Las Vegas almost 100%).  In these two metropolitan areas, affordability is still not an issue. Prices started going up from an exaggerated low point that was the knee-jerk reaction to the Big Crash. Even at today’s prices in Phoenix and Las Vegas, affordability is still not an issue. Most buyers are homeowners and they can use the amazing FHA loan with 3.5% down payment and the lowest possible interest rate, which makes them less price sensitive.
For investors, Phoenix and Las Vegas are less interesting to buy in at this time, as rents have not moved up very much while prices essentially doubled since 2012. Cash flows are nowhere to be found (and investors can’t use the special FHA loan).
The Texas markets have started their ascent around 2013. In the major metro areas in Texas prices went up significantly (around 40% in many cases). This is not as extreme as in Phoenix but enough to make investing in the major TX markets less attractive, especially with the high property tax in the state of Texas.
Florida is a bit of a mixed bag. Expensive properties in Miami Beach are through the roof. Parts of Orlando are up about 50%. However areas in the larger metro area may still be appealing for investment, such as Winter Haven and perhaps Deltona. Tampa is up about 40% but further areas like Zephyrhills are only starting to roar.
In Jacksonville there have been some price appreciation but in the areas we primarily look at, prices are still attractive. Partly this is due to foreclosed homes still hitting the market in an AS-IS condition, pulling comparable sales down. The foreclosed properties showing up in the market is an all-Florida phenomenon, as Florida is a judicial foreclosure state and well-defended foreclosures can last many years.
Oklahoma City has been relatively stable with so-far modest price appreciation. It is close to Dallas and the prices are much more affordable, rents are similar, and property taxes are 40% as much! It is a market that is appropriate for investing in at this time. The large oil reserves in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) area, which is not far from Oklahoma City, may bode well for future economic upturn (despite the city already being a strong economic market).
While the most expensive metro area prices are beginning to sag somewhat, investors interested in the range $100K-$200K can still find appropriate places to buy. Couple that with the still super low interest rates (get 30-year fixed rate loans – inflation starts eroding them from day 1 so the latter years are almost meaningless in terms of the real buying power of the dollar), and you get an excellent combination for the savvy long term real estate investor in the right markets.
Feel free to contact us to discuss. I delight in talking about these subjects. info@icgre.com
We will discuss in further detail, including having market teams talk about these and other issues, as well as expert speakers on important investment subjects, during our ICG 1-Day Expo on Saturday December 3rd. Everyone mentioning this blog can attend for free (email us at info@icgre.com). These events have been very useful to the attendees, and I learn a lot every time as well. The event is near the San Francisco Airport and starts at 10:00AM so people can fly in from Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland and so on.
Looking forward to seeing you!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

New Markets Join the Fray as Pricing Changes

Up until the beginning of 2012 there were some states that lead the way as far as investor interest: California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. That interest on the part of investors was justified, as these four states were the most clearly noticeable examples of recession housing prices. These four states were the “poster children” for extreme housing price collapse.

During 2012 and 2013 all four states exhibited strong housing price appreciation. Phoenix led everyone with a 70% jump. Las Vegas wasn’t far behind and California process improved rapidly. Florida prices went up but the uptick was tempered by far slower judicial foreclosure processes in Florida, as opposed to the quick and efficient trustee sale in the other three states.

Now, in the middle of 2014, Florida prices have improved quite a bit and yet, due to the slow foreclosure process, which creates a steady trickle of supply into the marketplace, Florida is still a place where investors look to buy. However buying in Arizona, Nevada and California has slowed significantly for now.Other states, which have not experienced such extreme price swings, are now becoming attractive investor destinations.

A prime example is Oklahoma City, with low unemployment and the benefit of the oil & gas industries. Rents are high and property taxes are low. Similarly, other “middle of the country” markets in states like Kansas and Missouri are starting to attract more buyers, as is the state of Texas (with a strong economy, high rents, but also very high property taxes and insurance rates) and states like Ohio.Overall it is possible that soon the effects of the recession will no longer be dominant and marketplace demand by investor will revert to parameters before 2008.

Some of these new markets will be present at our Real Estate 1-Day Expo this Saturday near the San Francisco Airport (see details at www.icgre.com). Call us (415-927-7504) or email us (info@icgre.com) and mention this blog entry and receive my book, for free, with registration at www.icgre.com.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why Americans Are Heading Back to the Suburbs

The trend towards moving out to the suburbs seems to be increasing as people seek more room for kids to play, a bit more privacy, and the usual amenities associated with suburban living, says Neil Shah in an article from last week in the Wall Street Journal.
For us as investors, this is an interesting trend as we have focused on investing over the entire metropolitan area with an emphasis on the suburbs, since homes in the suburbs usually mean a rental family, likely with kids, which translates to greater rental stability.

This movement plays right into our investment emphasis and is encouraging to see. We will discuss this trend and many more pertinent issues during our 1-Day Expo Saturday June 14th near the San Francisco Airport (click here to register.) We will have expert lectures on asset preservation, general financial planning and non-recourse IRA loans for houses. Our ICG Real Estate Investors team from the top real estate markets in the nation will be present all day providing learning tools and networking opportunities.

Below is the entire Wall Street Journal article:
Signs of a Suburban Comeback
More Americans Returning to the Land of Lawns and Malls, Census Data Show
By Neil Shah
May 22, 2014 12:00 a.m. ET

America’s big cities have grown faster than their suburbs in recent years, due in part to a slow economy that froze people in place and stunted the suburban swell. Though, a new Census report suggests this trend is starting to reverse. WSJ’s Neil Shah joins MoneyBeat with the statistics and what they mean. 

The long tug of war between big cities and suburbs is tilting ever so slightly back to the land of lawns and malls. After two years of solid urban growth, more Americans are moving again to suburbs and beyond.

Fourteen of the nation’s 20 biggest cities saw their growth slow or their populations fall outright in 2012-2013 compared with 2011-2012, led by cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

A housing subdivision outside of Chicago. Suburbs are seeing a recent increase in growth. Flickr Editorial/Getty Images

In some cases, fast-growing cities are slowing down: Austin’s growth rate decreased from 3.1% to 2.4%. In other instances, slower-growing cities grew at an even more diminished pace: New York’s rate decreased to 0.7% from 0.9%. A year earlier, 17 of the nation’s 20 largest cities showed faster population growth than the previous year. Suburbs and areas beyond suburbs within the same metro known as exurbs, meanwhile, are seeing an uptick in growth after expanding more slowly during the recession and its aftermath.
All told, just 18 of America’s 51 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people had cities growing faster than their suburbs last year, down from 25 in 2012, according to an analysis of census data by William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
“City growth may be bottoming out, as well as the downsizing of the outer suburbs,” Mr. Frey said. He said it remains unclear “whether the city slowdown signals a return to renewed suburban growth.”
Natalie Dorr and her husband Jon are among those who made the shift to the suburbs last year. The couple wanted to sell their condominium in Chicago and move out of the city much earlier, but the sluggish economy delayed their plans. Ms. Dorr, 29 years old, was pregnant with their second child and the couple wanted more space. Yet they waited, hoping the selling price of their condo would increase.
In April last year, the couple rented out the condo and moved to Deerfield, a Chicago suburb. Having sold the condo a week ago, they plan to buy a home later this year. They got $14,000 more for the condo than they would have if they had sold earlier, Ms. Dorr said. “It made sense to wait,” she added.

Overall, cities are still growing slightly faster than the suburbs—a historical anomaly after decades of American migration to the burbs. Some of the growth has been fueled by younger Americans and retirees preferring city life, either for life-style reasons or to downsize their living arrangements.
Anything resembling the post-World War II trend of Americans streaming to the suburbs appears unlikely given the difficulties many debt-strapped young Americans face in buying a home. Still, the Census numbers show a cooling off in the growth rate of urban dwellers.
Cities in metro areas greater than 1 million people grew at a 1.02% annual rate in 2012-2013, down from 1.13% in 2011-12, according to Mr. Frey’s analysis. Suburban areas, by contrast, grew at a rate of 0.96%, roughly on par with the 0.95% the prior year, Mr. Frey’s analysis shows.
At the same time, exurbs are seeing an increase in growth. When taken together, suburbs and exurbs grew at a 1.04% annual rate in 2012-13, up from 0.99% in 2011-2012, according to a separate analysis by Mr. Frey. Urban core areas saw growth fall to 0.81% from 0.91%.
The slowing growth in these urban cores and the increasing gains in the suburbs may be the first indication of a return to more traditional patterns of city-suburban growth,” said Ken Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire.

Write to 
Neil Shah at neil.shah@wsj.com

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail