13 Midweek Must Reads for Real Estate Investors (Aug. 9, 2023)

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  1. Property Loans Are So Unappealing That Banks Want to Dump Them “Banks seeking to sell commercial-property loans are encountering a dried-up market with few options for an easy exit. Lenders including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have been trying to sell debt backed by offices, hotels and even apartments in recent months, but many are finding that tidying up loan books is no easy feat when concerns about commercial real estate have surged.” (Bloomberg)
  2. New Lending by Mortgage REITs Has Dried Up “Some of the biggest names in commercial real-estate lending have all but turned off the spigot. Blackstone Mortgage Trust and KKR Real Estate Finance Trust, two of the biggest mortgage real-estate investment trusts, have halted loans to any new borrowers. While these firms continued to provide financing related to existing loans, they didn’t originate any new loans during the first half of this year, according to the companies. Starwood Property Trust, another lender in the sector, has greatly decreased its appetite for new lending in recent quarters, securities filings show.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  3. GOP and CRE Team Up Over Treasury REIT Tax Law Proposal “Republicans in Congress and commercial real estate are teaming up against the Treasury Department and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over a proposed rule change that would impose new taxes on domestic real estate investment trusts (REITs) if they exceed a 25 percent threshold of foreign ownership. The squabble began earlier this year, but picked up steam in recent days after Republican Congress Members Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Carol Miller (R-WV) authored a July 28 letter to Yellen requesting that her agency withdraw a proposed rule change over how domestic investment tax structure vehicles are taxed.” (Commercial Observer)
  4. Most Pre-Pandemic Office Leases Haven’t Rolled Over, Threatening to Prolong Pain in CRE “The national office market has been on a bumpy ride since the Covid-19 pandemic. With more than half of pre-pandemic leases yet to roll over, a big challenge is on the horizon.” (Houston Business Journals)
  5. President Biden Urges Cabinet to Bring Federal Employees Back to Office “President Joe Biden is adamantly requesting that leaders of federal government agencies increase the number of employees who report for in-person work this fall. ‘As we look toward the fall, and with the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, your agencies will be implementing increases in the amount of in-person work for your team,’ Jeff Zients, White House chief of staff, sent in an email to cabinet leaders on Aug. 4. ‘This is a priority of the President — and I am looking to each of you to aggressively execute this shift in September and October,’ according to a report by Axios.” (Commercial Observer)
  6. Retail Real Estate Is Entering a Golden Age “Retail REITs (real estate investment trusts) trade very cheaply at 12.6X FFO (funds from operations) because they have been out of favor for the greater part of a decade. Retail was oversupplied and lost substantial market share to e-commerce which exacerbated the supply issue. Tenants had all the negotiating power resulting in rent as a percentage of retail sales dropping across all retail property types, in many cases getting to the mid-single digits.” (Seeking Alpha)
  7. Poor Returns Exacerbated Office Crisis “Offices were ill prepared for remote work and rising interest rates and now suffering the consequences.” (The Real Deal)
  8. Manufacturing Thrives Amid Construction Surges “The U.S. is witnessing a robust manufacturing boom, fueled by a surge in construction spending on advanced manufacturing facilities, according to the latest CommercialEdge industrial report. In May, the annualized monthly rate for new manufacturing facilities reached a record-breaking $194 billion, doubling since 2021. Major legislation, such as the CHIPS and Science Act and infrastructure bill, along with supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, have contributed to the growth.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  9. Zoom Abandons Fully Remote Work, Mandates Some Office Attendance “Zoom is the latest tech firm to extol the values of in-person collaboration as it calls employees back to the office. The videoconferencing platform, whose name became a verb for digital meetings as the pandemic took hold, is now requiring workers who live within 50 miles of a Zoom office to show up there at least two days per week.” (Bisnow)
  10. Regus Owner Counts on Hybrid Working Demand “Flexible workspace provider IWG has seen an uptick in demand from companies that embrace hybrid working, while seeking to bring down their real estate costs and keep employees happy. Landlords are also turning to IWG, the company said in a trading update this morning, as property owners see a chance of maximising returns while many tenants shun committing to long, expensive leases.” (Bloomberg)
  11. Fast Food Customers Are Giving Up on Dining In “Americans are eating their burgers, fries and nuggets at home, in their cars and at the office—increasingly anywhere but at the fast-food restaurants themselves. At McDonald’s and Burger King, booths are often empty. Customers pick up their orders and head out. People sitting at tables sometimes are workers on their breaks. Dine-in customers now represent less than 10% of visits in most U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, according to chain franchisees, compared with around a quarter of domestic sales before the Covid-19 pandemic.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  12. Office-to-Resi Conversions Are Financial Feasible, But Just Barely “Office-to-resi conversions aren’t financially feasible in every market, the National Bureau of Economic Research found.” (The Real Deal)
  13. How Many Projects Pursued LEED Certification in 2023? “During the first half of 2023, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded some level of LEED certification to 231 multifamily projects nationally, but only 179 of these made their information public, according to the institution’s data. These 179 projects totaled nearly 9.2 million square feet. By composition, this year’s volume featured 18 Platinum designations, 80 certifications to the Gold level, 78 to the Silver level and three projects received basic LEED certification.” (Multi-Housing News)



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