Multi-Family Properties Might Be The Way To Multi-Millions

In the current commercial real estate market, investing in multi-family homes should be on the radar. Multi-family properties don’t always have to be 20 floor sky rise apartments in a big city. They can be smaller duplexes, town homes Read more

New Real Estate View: Why The Homeless Are Big Business In New York

It's a grim scenario: In New York, there are more than 50,000 homeless. Of that number, 21,000 are children, an increase of 21 percent from last year, according to a report by the Coalition for the Homeless, a New Read more

Red Is the New Green – Chinese Investors Eye US Assets

***This blog entry is a guest post from Elton Steinberg, Marketing Associate at United Realty*** American fund managers should be aware of current and future trends that may make the Chinese account for a more significant portion of overall foreign Read more

Gimme Shelter - Foreign Investors Seek Returns and Safe Haven in US Real Estate

***This blog entry is a guest post from Elton Steinberg, Marketing Associate at United Realty*** Foreign investment has been a significant driver of the US real estate market recovery. Investors from across the globe have been responding to negative stimuli Read more

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The Virtual Reality of Commercial Real Estate and Mobile Technology

Real Estate and Mobile Technology
The commercial real estate market is rebounding, and with that bounce-back, comes the increased use of mobile technology.

Commercial real estate used to rely on newspapers, magazines, radio and television ads to carry the message to the consumer, but those methods simply aren’t as effective in the 21st century. A “direct line” is more often than not facilitated by satellites in space, GPS towers, and apps downloaded onto a smart phone. To reach people where they truly live, you must slip into the virtual reality inherent in cloud computing, social media, and viral Web content. In a very real context, change has indeed come.

A recent report by inMotion Real Estate cited that mobile usage in commercial real estate is up 61 percent. And we can reasonably expect an increase this year if the trend holds. The report lists the iPhone, iPad, Sony Ericsson LT 15i Xperia Arc, HTC EvO 4G and the Motorola Droid X, as the top mobile devices of last year, with 25 percent of Internet consumption in the U.S. derived from mobile devices. In short, we carry the future of commercial real estate in our pockets. And more people are taking advantage of this technology.

Last month, the BE-Mobile app (from Building Engines), marked 1,000 downloads, and this should come as no surprise. The app helps the user to manage key operational tasks including work orders, preventive maintenance, incidents, and inspections – it’s all paperless.

And here’s something else to consider: Google Maps can now host your property with its Google Maps Floorplans app, which allows tenants or investors to better understand a building’s accessibility, suite layout, parking field and more. Additionally, it can be combined with Google Maps in 3D and a 360 Panorama by Occipital and you have a real virtual reality tour.

See? The future is truly occurring in real time. Mobile technology is the great equalizer at play in today’s society. How we capitalize – and innovate – within this seismic shift will depend on our ability to embrace this new present for a profitable future.

It’s a reality, however virtual, worth pursuing.

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in News Leave a comment

United Realty Launches Students Scholarship Program

At United Realty Partners we believe that we can invest in our future by investing in education, which is why we have recently launched United Realty Students.  Our scholarship program is awarding $100,000 to students over the next 12 months.

In recent years the cost of attending college has skyrocketed.  Bloomberg reported that the cost of tuition and fees has risen at a rate of 1,120% since 1978, four times faster than the increase of the consumer price index.  Also, CNN Money publishes that the cost of a four-year public college has risen 4.8% in the last year. While many factors have contributed to the rise of prices, the amount of students needing help to pay for higher education is rising too.

Students Scholarship

In the years to come these students will be running corporations, taking seats in government, educating the youth and many other jobs.  We believe that students are the key to our future and we must invest in them the same way we would invest in our personal portfolios.

As tuition costs have continued to raise so has the average amount of student loan debt students are graduating with.  Government aid, parents’ and students’ incomes have not increased in conjunction with the rising cost of tuition.  Students are more motivated to look for alternative ways to pay for their education.  Scholarships provide great opportunities for students as they are awarded and are not required to be paid back.

United Realty Students is providing students with multiple prizes, awarded every two months.  Investing is at our core of our beliefs and we would like to hear from students about their thoughts on investing.  Entry for the scholarship is for students to submit a short, original, previously unpublished written response to the scholarship question, “How Do I Invest In My Future?”  Students can win scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 — just by writing a response to this short essay. Scholarships will be awarded on an ongoing basis.  The first submission period has begun, and will run until March 1, 2013.

Click here to Apply.

Posted on by Eric Fischgrund in News, United Realty News Leave a comment

Foreign Investors Pour Capital into New York Commercial Real Estate Market

Real Estate Investment BankMany New Yorkers have the view that their city is the capital of the world. Recent commercial real estate trends indicate they might actually be on to something.  Investors from Russia to the Middle East are pouring capital into Big Apple real estate in record amounts.

Indeed, foreign investment in the U.S. real estate  market has been increasing for the past 12 consecutive quarters. Overall foreign investment in the U.S. is also surging.  According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. attracted $28.7 billion in foreign direct investments between January and March 2012. The investment trend has been led by Europeans seeking a safe haven from their own debt crisis and uncertainty about the Euro’s viability as a currency.  In 2011, foreign investment in the U.S. totaled $234 billion, a 14% jump over $205.8 billion in 2010. Two-thirds of that cash came from Europe.

In the real estate sector, foreign investment has about $82.5 billion in the 12-month period ending in March 2012—up about 24% from the $66 billion they spent the year before — but only 9% of all residential real estate sales come from international buyers, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors.

The Americas as a whole experienced a 1.5% increase in its Capital Value Index in the first quarter of 2012, while the rest of the world saw flat growth, according to the global real estate advisory firm CB Richard Ellis. That growth was concentrated in prime properties in Central Business District (CBD) areas, such as New York City. Others CBDs that saw investor focus included Washington, DC, San Francisco and Boston. Foreign investors are coming in with cash looking for assets that are tied to the value of the US Dollar in order to shelter their investments from the riskier European currencies. The New York City commercial real estate market has become an attractive investment for those foreign investors worrying more about wealth protection than income generation.

Several Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and private fund offerings are attracting capital from foreign investors searching for a safe haven. That trend is expected to continue as long as yields on U.S. Treasury securities remain low and Europe continues to struggle.

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in Commercial Real Estate, Foreign Investors Leave a comment

Real Estate Thoughts: Hotel Markets

The hotel market is one that remains in a state of flux.

Hotel Room in Hotel Real Estate

Over the last several years there has been a significant lack of new construction of hotel properties, primarily due to the financing markets, as well as a decline in tourism nationwide. As our economy begins to recover there will a need for additional hotel capacity. At the same time, while the European economy suffers, this may result in a reduced demand for US hotel rooms from European tourists who will be traveling less frequently, creating a forecast for a relatively shaky market. The best opportunities appear to be in larger central business districts of major cities where occupancies are at or exceed 75%.

New York is a unique market, given that the cost of hotel rooms has risen to be generally unaffordable, except at the very top of the market. Therefore, the opportunity in a city such as New York is to convert non-hotel properties that lie outside of the central business areas but are connected by transportation hubs, so that tourists can find affordable hotel rooms close to but not in Manhattan. A current example of this is Brooklyn, a good bet for new or converted hotel rooms, especially with the construction of The Barclay’s Center. In other markets, one might wish to consider a prime location with an older property that has fallen into disrepair or lack or high vacancy. Buying those hotels both on “the cheap” and repositioning them, or renovating them and “putting a flag on them” (i.e. Marriott, Wyndham, etc.) could be an opportunity as well.

 

 

 

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in Commercial Real Estate, Hotels Leave a comment

Assisted Living Needs No “Assistance”

A recent report from the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry showed overall, the average occupancy rate for seniors housing properties in the second quarter of 2012 was 88.6 percent, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the prior quarter and a 0.9 percentage point increase from a year earlier. The seniors housing average occupancy rate has risen consistently during the past nine quarters and is 1.6 percentage points above its cyclical low of 87 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

The occupancy rate for independent living properties in the second quarter of 2012 averaged 88.5 percent, and the occupancy rate for assisted living properties averaged 88.7 percent. Both independent living and assisted living showed improvement over the prior quarter, rising 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively. The average occupancy rate for independent living is now 1.7 percentage points above its cyclical low, while occupancy in assisted living is 1.5 percentage points above its respective cyclical low. “Occupancy is now at a four-year high, and the supply-demand fundamentals suggest that the recovery will continue in the near-term,” said Michael Hargrave, vice president of NIC MAP®.

 In a recent column for Commercial Property Executive Magazine, Mel Gamzon, president of Senior Housing Investment Advisors Inc. said,  “Despite all the uncertainty in the capital markets, seniors housing witnessed its second-best year ever, with a more than $16 billion transaction volume, catalyzed by the ultra-aggressive healthcare REITs. From the second half of 2010 into 2011, the REITs closed more than $20 billion worth of portfolio transactions in this space using the REIT Investment Diversification and Empowerment Act (RIDEA) and triple-net-lease structures. The REITs and their institutional capital partners have put the seniors housing sector front and center with prospective industry investment sources that are seeking returns greater than other real estate asset classes can offer.”Seniors Housing Complex in Construcion

And a large, Ohio-based real estate investment trust has bought the Windsor at Lakewood Ranch assisted-living center and a memory care operation for $30 million. Health Care REIT bought the 70,000-square-foot and 35,000- square-foot centers, at 8220 Natures Way, from companies belonging to Timothy J. Buchanan and Stephen D. “Pete” Russell.

 

According to the Herald Tribune, Health Care REIT, founded in 1970, manages a $14.9 billion portfolio of senior-living centers, medical office buildings and inpatient and outpatient medical centers around the country.

Finally, NREI has a new report that says seniors housing pros expect more access to capital and an increase in construction starts during the next six months.

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in Housing Market Leave a comment

Taking The LEED

The 2011-12 BOMA/NY Pinnacle Awards were handed out earlier this month and included the highest total of LEED- and Energy Star-rated buildings in the competition’s history. The Pinnacle – New York’s competition of the TOBY (The Building of the Year) Awards of BOMA International – is the highest award given to owners and property managers in Gotham’s commercial real estate industry. This year’s competition recognized a number of green buildings.

The Norman Foster-designed Hearst Tower became the first LEED for New Construction Gold-certified commercial office building in New York City to subsequently earn Platinum under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system. Tishman Speyer manages the building in cooperation with Hearst. Since 2006, total annual energy consumption has dropped by 40 percent and water usage by 30 percent.

According to Crain’s, tenants looking for older, environmentally friendly buildings have a slightly better chance of finding one on the West Side than on the East. However, a mere 37 existing buildings in Manhattan have obtained LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC, which bestows the distinction.

There are 19 building on the West Side that were certified after renovations and retrofits, compared with 18 on the East Side, according to data from USGBC. The data does not include new building such as 11 Times Square or 7 World Trade Center, new skyscrapers that were designed with LEED certification in mind.

Three new speculative, LEED-hopeful office buildings are slated to come on line in 2013. Together, One World Trade Center, Four World Trade Center, and 51 Astor Place will deliver 6 million square feet of new space into the Manhattan office market.  The Wall Street Journal points out that the success of leasing efforts at the 2013 towers will have repercussions for other high-profile projects who will also seek LEED certification. 7 Bryant Park510 West 22nd Street and Related’s Hudson Yards project on the far West Side are three such projects.  While the more efficient use of office space is great for the environment, it’s not good for developers and landlords looking to fill up their buildings.

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in Commercial Real Estate Leave a comment

Banks Compete For CRE Lending

According to a recent report from the CoStar Group, banks have picked up their lending activity to commercial real estate in recent months – a sign the slow-but-steady economic recovery is beginning to pick up steam.

The report says banks that are lending again see lower risk owner-occupied properties and multifamily properties as preferred targets. But with lenders focusing on the same ‘safe shelter’ property sectors, it is creating widespread competition for the better-quality borrowers in those areas. The real battle ground may be next year from the coming opportunities in construction and development lending.

“The area of lending that we see being the most competitive on pricing continues to be the commercial real estate arena, with a lot of players in and including the life insurance companies,” said Kirk W. Walters, senior executive vice president and CFO of People’s United Financial Inc., a bank holding company in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Kelly S. King, chairman, CEO and president of BB&T Corp. in Winston-Salem, NC, told CoStar the competition is not yet so fierce that existing customers are getting picked off, but he did say banks are looking for more diversity as their own customer base is dwindling. Richard K. Davis, chairman, president and CEO of U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis, MN, told the website the two coasts are where the activity is most competitive. And Joseph Ficarola, chairman, president and CEO of New York Community Bancorp, said that his $42 billion holding company in Westbury, NY, is only targeting the best borrowers.

In its quarterly survey of senior loan officers, the Federal Reserve found that business lending, or commercial and industrial loans, was enjoying increased demand – and greater competition among banks. The Fed reported that this was the second consecutive survey in which reports of stronger demand for such loans by domestic banks outnumbered reports of weaker demand. Reflecting this, commercial loans at commercial banks in the U.S. have risen about 15% between March 2011 and April 18, according to Fed banking-industry data.

Within this loan study, The Fed says most domestic banks generally reported having eased their lending standards and having experienced stronger demand over the past three months. Standards on C&I loans to large and middle-market firms, and to small firms, were about unchanged. However, moderate to large net fractions of domestic banks eased many terms on C&I loans to firms of all sizes, with most indicating that they had done so in response to more aggressive competition from other banks or nonbank lenders.

Domestic banks also reported an increase in loan demand from firms of all sizes. In contrast, a small net fraction of foreign respondents again reported a tightening of their lending standards on C&I loans and a decrease in demand for such loans. A moderate net fraction of domestic banks reported having eased standards for commercial real estate (CRE) loans. As has been the case recently, significant net fractions of domestic banks reported that demand for CRE loans had strengthened. On net, foreign branches and agencies reported that standards and demand for CRE loans were little changed.

Posted on by Jacob Frydman in Commercial Real Estate, News Leave a comment