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Real Estate News

The Commercial Broker Roundtable: The Amazon Effect

Editor’s note: The Commercial Broker Roundtable will take a quarterly look at the issues affecting the commercial real estate market and their ramifications for residential real estate.

Moderator: Deena Zimmerman, Vice President, SVN Chicago Commercial

Chris Bornhoft, CCIM, Broker, Commercial Sales and Leasing, Windemere Commercial
Tommy Choi, Co-Founder, Weinberg Choi Residential
Scott Maesel, Executive Managing Director, SVN Chicago Commercial
Emily Line, Vice President, Commercial Services, Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®)

Deena Zimmerman: The Amazon Effect is a disruptor in commercial real estate in all the right ways. It has changed the way we look at brick and mortar real estate, created a domino effect as it relates to industrial and land acquisitions, and a higher demand for office space…which then leads to an increase in home sales. How has it managed to impact so much in both the commercial and retail real estate sphere? Scott, what’s your take?

Scott Maesel: Traditional retail space was in a slow decline before Amazon moved into that territory. Amazon has added millions of square feet across the country in new ground-up distribution centers, capturing large amounts of industrial supply space—both existing and new construction. It has helped drive demand across the industry. The industry as a whole has seen better returns, and higher price per square foot, in space being leased than it has in decades.

Chris Bornhoft: I think it is difficult to accurately gauge the direct effect that Amazon specifically has had on retail space. As for trends in retail, those are much more easily identified. Service-based companies, like tutoring, restaurants, fitness, dance studios, and schools, are the type of tenants we are seeing open up. These are not things that you can get on Amazon.

Emily Line: Since the Amazon Effect, there’s been fear that retail focus is in trouble. I don’t believe that at all. It’s just a different experience with blurred lines between sectors. Retail and industrial sectors have much more opportunity together to fulfill the changing trends with shoppers. The more productive approach for commercial real estate practitioners surrounds a shift in mindset to support clients as they pivot on their business plans in order to remain viable. Jeff Bezos opened our eyes to a need, and that need was to rethink the customer focus with greater efficiencies for shopping. Brick and mortar is not going away. Space and business strategy are being reimagined to cater to the growing population that wants choice in how they shop or an opportunity to quickly get items in rural markets. An increase of distribution centers allows for more goods to reach those in smaller markets in a timely fashion, as well as creates economic growth in the form of jobs to those areas.

DZ: What are your thoughts on Amazon getting into the grocery store space?

SM: Amazon’s entry into the grocery space has produced two significant results. The first is in the noticeable price drop in Whole Foods goods. The other consequence of their entrance into the grocery space is a negative impact on small to mid-size independent grocers. Several independent produce-related grocers are already looking for exit strategies.

It should make all grocers better at the new “Google it first” online retail model. Consumers want convenience and Amazon is going to start delivering. If these other big-box stores don’t respond quickly, they are going to start looking like K-Mart parking lots. We still need places to go and pick up items, but imagine if I could order my toothpaste, milk, and a bottle of wine from Walgreens and they could have it delivered to my house in 2-4 hours, for free. Paying for a subscription service like “Walgreens Prime” could be the new competitor to Amazon and they already have a store on almost every corner. These big retailers need to step up their game.

DZ: What are the ramifications for residential real estate if Amazon HQ2 comes to Chicago?

Tommy Choi: The ramifications for residential real estate of Amazon building an HQ here would be increased demand of housing. I would imagine it would mirror what Google’s Chicago HQ equated to in the West Loop. We saw a competitive market for buyers with a shortage of inventory. The curve ball in this scenario would be what accessibility to public transportation will look like. If the HQ’s proximity to trains and buses are limited, most likely demand will heighten the need for employees to live within walking distance. Just like what Google did for the West Loop and Fulton Market, an Amazon would draw A+ retailers and restaurateurs. This would bring added amenities to the neighborhood, and more homebuyers looking for that prime convenience.

DZ: And that’s a scenario that’s likely to play out for commercial and residential real estate no matter where Amazon HQ2 makes its new home. It will be both a great opportunity and challenge for real estate professionals across the board.

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Uncover the Secrets to Real Estate Success in 2018

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Attend NAR’s Premier Broker Event
Mark your calendars! Join NAR in Nashville, Tenn., on April 4-5 for the 2018 REALTOR® Broker Summit. Learn from and collaborate with industry experts, tech entrepreneurs and top brokers to position your brokerage for success. Registration opens Jan. 8. Learn more.

Leverage Your Member Benefits and Save
In one year alone, over 800,000 REALTORS® saved a combined $74 million by taking advantage of at least one offering through NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program. Learn how you can save this year with industry-leading companies including FCA US LLC (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Placester, Intuit®, FedEx, DocuSign and more. Start saving!

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Southern California Homes Ignite Just Months After October Fire Siege

Just two months after the most destructive wildfires in California history—an event labeled the October Fire Siege—Southern California is now the target of various fires that have burned over 250,000 acres of Ventura, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Diego counties (as of Dec. 12). Five of these fires were 100-percent contained last week, while another five continue to burn.

Even the star-studded neighborhood of Bel Air was under strict evacuation measures. The 16-acre Moraga Estate purchased by Rupert Murdoch—founder of News Corp, of which Move Inc., parent company of realtor.com®, is a subsidiary—was also evacuated due to its proximity to the Skirball Fire. The evacuations have now been lifted, and the estate only suffered minor damages to its vines.

Over 190,000 residents are still under mandatory evacuations while firefighters are working on containing the fires. Most groups (around 4,000 firefighters) have been assigned to the Thomas Fire, which spans over 360-square-miles of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and reached the Pacific on Dec. 5 after starting 30 miles inland the day earlier. It has burned over 230,000 acres and has destroyed at least 1,000 homes and buildings. It was 20 percent contained as of Dec. 12.

Firefighters are struggling to contain the massive fires that are flaring up with the help of an enduring drought and Santa Ana winds, which essentially funnel the fires through California’s canyon landscape at high speeds. Last Wednesday, the helicopters and planes used in conjunction with firefighters could not fly because of the 50-plus mile-per-hour winds, delaying containment efforts.

Mike Kelly, REALTOR® at Keller Williams Realty in Sonoma County, who experienced the October firestorms in Northern California, believes the Santa Ana winds will play a role in future buying activity.

“I think the reoccurring Santa Ana winds will discourage folks from buying in those areas,” says Kelly. “Our ‘wind event’ up here was an abnormality in our overall weather patterns where the Santa Anas occur each year with more and more frequency and strength.”

The wind’s power will be a determining factor in how long it takes to put the massive fires out. New analysis from CoreLogic shows that over 86,000 homes in Southern California are at risk due to the firestorms. CoreLogic estimates that the reconstruction cost value (RCV) in Los Angeles and Ventura counties will total nearly $30 billion.

According to Zillow research, about $6.4 billion worth of residential real estate (an estimated 1,700 homes with a median home value of $2,859,000) are in mandatory evacuation zones for the Skirball Fire, while around $1.7 billion worth (about 3,100 homes with a median home value of $563,500) are in the burn zone for the Creek Fire (based on the Dec. 8 Evacuation Map published by CAL FIRE). This accounts for about 6.8 percent of Ventura County’s total residential real estate (by value) and about 6.3 percent by count, reports Zillow.

Real Estate in Northern California
While Southern California deals with the onslaught of fiery outbursts, their neighbors ot the north are still reeling from the impact of the October wildfires, which killed 44 people and reduced whole neighborhoods to ash. Adam Menconi, broker/owner of Prosper Real Estate in Sonoma County, had over 40 clients who lost their homes to the fires.

“If you were in the middle of a deal, the deal is literally toast. You can’t convey something that doesn’t exist; therefore, the deal falls apart,” says Menconi of the 2,000 homes the Santa Rosa market lost, which included apartments, mobile home parks, smaller suburban homes in the $500,000 price range, larger subdivisions in the $700,000-$800,000 price range, and Fountaingrove estates that vary from $1 million-$4 million.

According to Kelly, “Sales expectedly dropped in October following the fire. Prior to the firestorms, a very tight housing market existed.”

Kelly says the housing market was further impacted by the loss of 5,200-plus homes and the flood of buyers looking for replacement properties.

“Month’s supply of inventory is down 40 percent over last year with only a 1.4 month’s supply and [an average of] 44 days on the market (DOM),” says Kelly, adding that the new construction market is up 25 percent over last year and that the market is at 99 percent of listing price for all sales—signaling an incredibly tight market, as indicated by the number of sales that are over 110 percent of the asking price.

Displaced individuals are jumping at any opportunity to own a home again, even if it means purchasing way over market value and investing more funds than they may get in return when it comes time to sell.

“Once people started getting checks from their insurance companies, people started buying with “monopoly money” and the overbids started,” says Menconi. “[It was] getting excessive, but the bottom line was that they just needed a place for their family.”

Californians impacted by the wildfires are facing various challenges. Many are thinking of rebuilding, but may be priced out of the area. In addition, lots are selling for much less, but residents will have to wait and see if new building codes will be imposed. One of the biggest challenges are insurance claims, which are taking too long for buyers who need their reimbursement to qualify for a home loan, and certain policies are not enough to recoup losses. Menconi states that there have been varied results when it comes to insurance.

“Some clients who have great insurance are actually coming out ahead after the fire, and others, who didn’t have the best insurance, are getting left behind a bit and have very few options,” Menconi says. “They can’t afford to sell because their mortgage is high, and they can’t rebuild since the insurance doesn’t cover the whole cost of the rebuild. And remember, construction prices just shot through the roof, so people are dealing with that, as well.”

According to California’s insurance commissioner Dave Jones, property damage claims in response to the Northern California fires exceeded $9 billion. The figure encompasses data from 260 insurers that reported total claims as of Dec. 1, which included damage to more than 21,000 homes and 2,800 businesses.

“These numbers not only represent staggering losses to tens of thousands of Californians,” said Jones in a statement. “The October wildfires that devastated whole communities and tragically cost 44 people their lives have now proven to be the most destructive and deadliest in our state’s history.”

The newly displaced population, combined with price gouging and disaster fraud, is also exacerbating an already widening homelessness problem in Santa Rosa. The FBI has been called in to address fraudulent activity, such as duplicate claims, that dramatically increased in response to the fires; however, Menconi doesn’t believe these challenges will detract buyers from purchasing in the area.

“Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, and, yes, the fires in Southern California are still going,” Menconi says, “but there’s not a place in the world that I love more than Sonoma County, and I know many, many people feel the same.”

Although California has suffered unimaginable losses, and has to repeat the experience with the newly sparked wildfires in the south, real estate professionals and state residents are coming together in aid and support.

“As a community, everyone worked together,” says Menconi of the industry’s response to the Sonoma County fires. “Agents dropped the ego and really worked with each other, looked out for each other and started caring for each other as people again and not just competing agents. It brought back some humanity. Every conversation ended with ‘Be safe’—it’s hard not to care after that.”

While the real estate community has provided emotional support during the October Fire Siege and now the Southern California fires, it has also set up fundraisers and donation sites to help agents and families who have been impacted.

“One major fund here in Sonoma County raised in excess of $15 million in two weeks,” says Kelly. “We’ve been working on smaller outreach efforts with REALTORS® suffering loss, as well as families in need. Our regional North Bay Association of REALTORS®, which serves all fire-affected areas, has led a fundraising drive and kept records of membership touched by the firestorms.”

In addition to relief efforts provided by individual brokerages and agents, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) is offering financial assistance via grants to REALTOR® family members who have been affected by the wildfires.

“Grants provided by the fund are used to help members of the REALTOR® family—REALTORS®, their staff, and association members and their staff—who have incurred substantial losses due to wildfires and other disasters by distributing grants of $1,000 to $10,000,” says a statement the C.A.R. website, where individuals can donate to disaster relief.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Southern California Homes Ignite Just Months After October Fire Siege appeared first on RISMedia.

10 Housing Markets to Watch in the New Year

Dwindling inventory, high demand and even higher prices. Will the housing market shift next year?

According to a 2018 Housing Forecast by Trulia, the answer is contingent on many wait-and-sees. Definitive, however, is at least one indicator: the homeownership rate. In a continuation of its movement this year, the homeownership rate is expected to gradually track upward in the new year.

“Homeownership will continue its comeback story in 2018, as Gen Xers who were hard hit during the Great Recession become homeowners again, and as more millennials buy homes for the first time,” says Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist who developed the forecast, at Trulia.

A caveat: Across the board, buyers will contend with high costs, limited options and too-low wages—and millennials even more so.

“Homebuyers won’t be without challenges, as they’ll still face low inventory, slow wage growth and expensive starter homes,” McLaughlin says. “For millennials, they have the added hurdle of saving enough money to make a down payment and make competitive offers amid rising home prices.”

Buyers could fare better in some markets than in others. Considering economic indicators like employment growth, as well as entry-level supply, Trulia searches and vacancy rate, the forecast’s 10 housing markets to watch in 2018 are:

  1. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  2. Nashville, Tenn.
  3. Raleigh, N.C.
  4. El Paso, Texas
  5. San Antonio, Texas
  6. Fort Worth, Texas
  7. Austin, Texas
  8. Columbus, Ohio
  9. Madison, Wis.
  10. Cincinnati, Ohio

The forecast’s No. 1, Grand Rapids, is 11th in employment, 16th for its vacancy rate (the proportion of for-rent or for-sale supply that is vacant), and 17th in share of under-35 households—an indicator of a growing home-buying population.

One major what-if? Tax reform. If the mortgage interest deduction (MID) is capped at $500,000 (as proposed by the House plan) and the property tax deduction capped at $10,000 (as proposed in both the House and Senate plans), the burden will be higher for homebuyers along the California coast and in the Northeast. A broader consequence could include an easing of existing-home sales, home prices and housing starts, the forecast predicts.

View findings from Trulia’s American Dream Survey, and more from the forecast.

For more information, please visit www.trulia.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 10 Housing Markets to Watch in the New Year appeared first on RISMedia.

Out With the Old, in With the New: A 2018 Real Estate Outlook

If you’re German, you might join your family at midnight to drop molten lead into cold water and make predictions about the year ahead based on the shape it takes. If you’re Russian, you will gather at one minute to midnight, write a wish on a small piece of paper, burn it over a full champagne glass and drink the ashes before the clock strikes 12. And if you’re me, an American with a young family and a thriving national real estate business to answer to, you might be thinking less about the party and more about the steady direction of the real estate industry in the year ahead.

It’s not all conjecture: 2018 is shaping up to be a close reflection of 2017, which ushered in growing home prices across the country and solidified the recovery of the real estate industry. In other words, 2018 is starting to look pretty good.

That said, the biggest bane of the industry this year—low inventory—will continue in 2018. Unfortunately, new-home starts and property listings aren’t keeping pace with consumer demand. Additionally, agents across the industry will continue to focus on winning listings over finding buyers. This will place additional pressure on prices, which can be expected to remain high.

Another trend that will likely grow next year is the influx of foreign capital into the real estate industry, particularly from Chinese cash buyers. If this year is any indication, these investors—some of whom buy sight unseen—will continue to drive up prices in high-end coastal markets like Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. This will have the same effect it’s already had—making housing more difficult for priced-out first-time homebuyers.

Keep an eye on whether these investors—who will own a sizable part of the market in select cities—try to offload some of their properties as the industry continues to recover and they see financial gain in selling portions of their portfolios.

At ERA, we’re gearing up to spend time, energy and money on ways to help agents improve their efficiency and productivity in 2018. We’re investing in enhancements to our Leverage and Zap platforms to help agents take advantage of the very best practices from across our network and use predictive analytics to get more listings.

We’re also investing in new lead-generation capabilities and agent marketing, helping agents show off the competitive edge they’ve earned through mastery of their local markets.

Finally, our big New Year’s resolution is to help ERA® brokers recruit thousands of new domestic agents. And we’re sweetening the deal by providing a financial incentive to brokers who can attract and recruit great agents, making sure we’re doing everything possible to make their 2018 unforgettable.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I won’t be playing with lead or fire, but I won’t be turning down a little celebration, either. With so much to be excited about, I’ll probably be eagerly waiting to celebrate the first moments of another year full of opportunity (and just a little bit more inventory, please!).

Sue Yannaccone is CEO of ERA Real Estate.

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Out With the Old, in With the New: A 2018 Real Estate Outlook appeared first on RISMedia.

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