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Monthly Archive for November, 2011

Reports Show Real Estate Market Improving Nationwide

Nationwide, sales of multifamily properties in the first three quarters of 2011 totaled $33 billion, which is a 70 percent jump compared to the first three quarters of 2010, according to the CoStar Group. The total number of distressed trades dropped by one-third in the third quarter versus the second quarter. New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago and Dallas have already exceeded $1 billion in sales, which is higher than last year.

A report by the National Association of Realtors showed that year-over-year existing home sales—single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops—rose in October for the fourth month in a row. Sales jumped 13.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million. Median home prices, however, continued to fall.

Space available for leasing at neighborhood and community shopping centers nationwide will drop to 12.4 percent at the end of 2012, down from a peak of 13.3 percent in the second quarter of 2011, according to a forecast by CBRE Econometric Advisors. This will be the first decline in available space since 2005.

New shopping centers are planned for The Bronx including The Mall at Bay Plaza, a $270 million shopping center that will be anchored by a new Macy’s department store. Prestige Properties plans to break ground on the 780,000-square-foot project in the spring of 2012. Other new shopping centers are also planned for the former Stella D’oro cookie factory site and a municipal parking lot in Kingsbridge and a group of plots near the Hub.

Conference Board Report Shows Improving U.S. Economy

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.9 percent in October to 117.4 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in September, and a 0.3 percent increase in August. Conference Board economists were encouraged by the October numbers, attributing the bounce primarily to a sharp increase in housing permits, and predicting continued growth this winter and spring. One economist said, “The lack of confidence has been the biggest obstacle in generating forward momentum, domestically or globally. As long as it lasts, there is a glimmer of hope.”

The New York State unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent in October from 8.0 percent in September, the State Labor Department reported. While the number of unemployed in the state fell from 758,200 in September to 757,000 in October 2011, the number of jobs in the private sector decreased by 3,400 during the period. New York, however, has recovered 52 percent of the jobs it lost during the 2008-2009 recession. New York City’s unemployment rate rose slightly in October 2011 to 8.8 percent from 8.7 percent the month before. Nationally, the unemployment was 9 percent in October 2011.

The retail vacancy rate in New York City dropped slightly to 2.1 percent in the third quarter from 2.2 percent in the second quarter, with net absorption a positive 62,711 square feet. However quarter to quarter rental rates decreased to $54.11 per square foot per year. Major leasing deals for the year include Fairway Market moving into 45,283 square feet at The Ventura; eMusic.com, Inc moving into 31,250 square feet at 33 W 13th St; and The 22 moving into 21,300 square feet at Pier 62. The U.S. retail vacancy rate decreased to 7 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter.

By the end of 2011, the city will have a record 90,000 hotel rooms, and 7,000 more are scheduled to open in early 2012. The number of hotel rooms in New York City has increased by 24 percent from 2006, and 40 percent of the new hotel rooms will be in the outer boroughs. The hotels support the city’s $31 billion tourism industry, which employs an estimated 323,000 people.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz testified before the New York City Council in favor of promoting ground floor retail space along Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue corridor from Atlantic Avenue to the Atlantic Ocean. He wishes to expand the City Planning Department’s commercial rezoning proposal, which would only cover the area from Atlantic Avenue to 24th Street. During the summer Mr. Markowitz formed a task force to oversee 4th Avenue improvements including tree planting and intersection improvements, and has allocated capital funding toward the restoration of the historic façade at the 4th Avenue/9th Street subway station.

Strong Multifamily Sales Activity Reported for September

Multifamily Month In Review

New York City multifamily sales activity continued its strong pace through September 2011. For the month, there were 41 transactions comprised of 47 buildings totaling $402 million in gross consideration. Compared to August 2011, this represents a slight 9% dip in dollar volume but also represents a significant 31% increase in the number of buildings sold. It is more notable, however, that September 2011 figures are practically double the amount sold in September 2010, which saw 24 buildings trade with an aggregate consideration of approximately $204 million.

As expected, Manhattan continued to dominate market share with its 21 buildings sold accounting for 44% of building volume and its $290.5 million in gross consideration grabbing nearly 75% of total dollar volume.

With 14 buildings sold totaling $55.5 million, Brooklyn’s building volume more than doubled and its dollar volume more than quadrupled compared to August 2011 figures. Northern Manhattan and The Bronx also showed impressive gains for September, making overall sales activity more evenly spread out than the previous month. Queens lagged in September with only 2 transactions.

Steady activity through September suggests the multifamily market is poised for a strong finish through the end of the year.

Trailing 6-Month Sales Averages: For the six months ended in September (page 12), monthly average transaction volume remained relatively steady with 33 transactions per month, only one building higher than the August average. The 6-month average for dollar volume increased again, this time by a more modest $35 million compared to August numbers. This activity is in line with the recent trend that sales are steady but higher dollar volume is largely being driven by a small number of large, institutional level transactions.

Manhattan (below 96th Street): Building sales in Manhattan remain strong as September 2011 saw 16 transactions comprised of 21 buildings totaling over $290.5 million in gross consideration. Compared to August 2011, total transaction volume remained level but dollar volume declined by roughly 25% as this month’s sales consisted of smaller buildings and fewer assets priced at over $50 million. A notable trade was Benchmark Real Estate Group’s sale of 142 Sullivan Street for $9,425,000, or $581 per square foot. The group clearly extracted tremendous value as they purchased the building in 2009 for $5.9 million and did significant rehabilitation. 82 Christopher Street sold for $6.1 million, representing an impressive $956 per square foot. The building is a 6,375 square foot mixed use building containing 10 units. Stonehenge also completed its purchase of 1143 Second Avenue, a 103,000 square foot, 108-unit mixed-use building, which sold for $47.170 million, or approximately $456 per square foot.

Northern Manhattan: This month Northern Manhattan saw a higher level of transactions and dollar volume when compared to August. The 5 transactions in September consisted of 5 buildings and 148 units trade for a gross consideration $18.36 million. East Harlem in particular saw some significant action. An 8,000 square foot, 10-unit walk-up building at 170 East 100th Street sold for $1.96 million, representing $246 per square foot and $196,000 per unit. Also a 24-unit building at 452 East 117th Street sold for $2.95 million, or $180 per square foot.

The Bronx: With 5 transactions totaling $33.55 million in gross consideration, Bronx building sales ticked up slightly on a transactional basis but significantly on a dollar volume basis compared to August. This month’s transactions continue to illustrate increasing prices in The Bronx, which is most likely a result of higher prices occurring in other submarkets. One transaction is the sale of 261 East Kingsbridge Road, a 67-unit elevatored building in the Fordham section of The Bronx that sold for $6.4 million. This price represents $95,522 per unit and $95 per square foot. Also 750 Pelham Parkway South sold for $15.3 million. The price for this 139-unit, 166,000 square foot elevatored building represents $110,000 per unit and $92 per square foot.

Brooklyn: Multifamily activity in Brooklyn jumped up in September, registering the largest month over month increases for transaction volume, dollar volume, buildings traded and units traded, of all the markets. For the month there were 13 transactions totaling $55.5 million in gross consideration. These numbers tower over last month’s activity with a 160% increase in transaction volume and 333% rise in dollar volume. Even larger increases are seen when compared to September 2010. Notable transactions for the month include 93 India Street, a 20-unit residential building in Greenpoint that traded for $2.925 million, or $166 per square foot. Another is 541 Bergen Street, a 16-unit walk-up building that traded for $1.72 million, or $245 per square foot. Finally, a former dormitory owned by Brooklyn Law School located at 184 Joralemon Street sold for $10.756 million. The price represents $387 per square foot and the buyer plans on converting the building to luxury rentals.

Queens: Queens saw another slow month with respect to multifamily activity. September saw only 2 trades totaling $4.89 million. The two trades consisted of 91-17 172nd Street in Jamaica, which is a 16-unit walk-up building that sold for $1.54 million or $106 per square foot. On the higher end, an elevatored building in Rego Park at 64-56 Booth Street sold for $3.35 million, representing $180 per square foot and $197,000 per unit.

Please refer to our Comp-Trak application for a full list of transactions across the five boroughs.

Economic indicators
as captured by Ariel Property Advisors’ Landlord Dashboard show the following trends:

Unemployment: According to the NYS Labor Department, the New York State unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) for September came in at 8%. This is the fourth consecutive month that the State unemployment rate has remained constant at the 8% level. The New York City unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) also remained constant for the month, coming in at 8.7%. Both the State and City rates remain below the national average of 9.1% and lower than their September 2010 levels of 8.4% and 9.2% respectively.

Financing: For the month of October, shorter duration Treasuries exhibited modest increases, while longer durations paper saw continuing moves downward. The 30-year bond showed the largest move, declining 61 basis point from 3.51% to 2.9%, while the 10-year note was down 23 basis points to 1.92%. The 5-year note increased 6 basis points to 0.96% from Septembers’ 0.90%.note while the 1-year T-bill showed the smallest move, increasing 3 basis points to close at 0.13% for the month of October.

Rental Market / Vacancy: Citi-Habitats’ monthly rental analysis reports the vacancy rate for Manhattan at 1.08% of the rental stock, 8 basis points higher than the August rate. After steadily declining for the first 6 months of the year, the vacancy rate seems to have hit its low point in June with a rate of 0.69% and has now increased significantly for three consecutive months. September rents were unchanged for one, two and three bedrooms while Manhattan studios saw prices decline nearly 2%.

Expenses: Home heating oil prices increased slightly for September. The price per gallon of No. 2 oil rose 0.3 cents from 403.3 in September to 403.6 cents per gallon in October. Residential electricity rates for September decreased .33 cents/KWH to 16.42 cents/KWH.

Our Observations For the Week

The Conference Board in its Global Economic Outlook is projecting global economic growth at 3.2 percent in 2012; 3.5 percent from 2013-2016; and 2.7 percent from 2017-2025. “Advanced economy growth is expected to slow down from an already meager 1.6 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent in 2012. For 2013-2016, the outlook suggests some recovery in advanced economies, bringing these countries back to the pre-recession growth trend of a little more than 2 percent,” according to the report.

Non-traditional lenders — including major life insurance companies such as MetLife, Northwestern Mutual, Teachers, and Alliance — have become major players in financing multifamily housing deals in 2011. At the end of the second quarter, the share of life insurance company multifamily mortgage debt outstanding increased by $701 million from the first quarter to a total of $48.1 billion. While the sector holds 6 percent of the $802.2 billion in multifamily mortgage debt outstanding, it accounted for 18 percent of the overall $3.9 billion in cumulative increase in debt during the quarter.

New York City’s Industrial Development Agency has approved $1.7 million in tax breaks to entice Smith Electric Vehicle to open a new electric truck manufacturing and distribution facility in the Port Morris section of the Bronx. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company, which designs and produces zero-emission commercial electric trucks, is seeking to renovate, equip, and furnish a 90,000 square foot facility at 275-295 Locust Avenue. The Bronx site would be the company’s first factory on the East Coast.

Controversial sculptor Ugo Rondinone has purchased a defunct church at 2050 Fifth Avenue in Harlem and plans restore the 15,500 foot building and turn it into a community cultural space. The church was sold at an auction in 2008 following foreclosure procedures. Architect Henry Franklin Kilburn designed the church, which was built in 1880.

U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.0 Percent

The U.S. economy created 80,000 jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which attributed the gains to modest job growth in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, health care, and mining. The government sector continued to shrink. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 9.0 percent from 9.1 percent the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless 27 weeks and over) declined by 366,000 to 5.9 million, or 42.4 percent of the total unemployment.

The Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2012 report, released by PwC US and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), forecasts that office vacancy rates in the Manhattan market will drop to the lowest levels in the country and rents will increase ahead of other markets because of tight supply. The report also predicts that international tourists will continue to boost the hotel market, and condo and co-op values will increase.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the city must embrace smart planning and suggested that DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard could become a “Silicon Valley of the East.” Speaking to guests at the quarterly Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable, Speaker Quinn said, “If we want to create neighborhoods that are real clusters that have the potential for tech to grow and boom and make New York the tech capital of the world, we can do this.”

Park Power, which has development rights to a 20-acre site at the tip of Greenpoint, has resurrected plans to build the first of 10 luxury apartment buildings featuring 4,000 units on the property, the New York Observer has reported. The developer is currently seeking construction loans for the rental building and hopes to break ground in 2012. Brooklyn’s waterfront, which was rezoned several years ago to make way for housing, will also see a new 40-story tower rise in Williamsburg featuring a 500-unit luxury rental. It will be the first building constructed in Williamsburg since the financial crisis three years ago.