Blog

Foong on Finance: Real Estate Bubbles

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor When reporting on multifamily finance in the 2000s, I came across a common refrain from desperate mortgage bankers again and again: “There is a surplus of money chasing a limited amount of product.” This intensely competitive environment—for lenders, that is—went on for years, seemingly never ending. But the capital “surplus” environment did come to an end. What Sam Chandan, chief economist of Reis, said recently at the company’s third quarter briefing throws light on the situation. He cited an essay about banking crises. Such a crisis happened, famously, in Japan in the 1980s. The cycle…

Foong on Finance: Turning Point

The apartment sector had been holding out relatively well compared to other industries, but it too will succumb to the massive loss of jobs that is expected to accelerate as we go into 2009. Through the third quarter, the national apartment vacancy rate according to the Census Bureau was 10.7 percent, only 0.3 percent higher compared to the same period a year ago and still below the level in 2003-04, reported the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC). And rents continued to rise through September, albeit at a slower rate and less than the rate of inflation. The apartment fundamentals however,…

Foong on Finance: The Apartment Sales Market Slows Down

The apartment investment sales market since the financial market crisis occurred in mid-September has “freezed up” as apartment buyers and sellers face deep uncertainty over the future of the nation’s—indeed, the global—economic condition. According to the results of one study, reported here in the previous issue, apartment sales volume has plunged a whopping 69 percent. Indeed, one broker, Kitty Wallace, senior vice president at Sperry Van Ness, says that in her experience in California, multi-housing transactions have dropped 70 to 80 percent. The severe drop in apartment investment sales volume generally is attributed to a combination of negative sentiment and…

Foong on Finance: Relative Calm in the Midst of Turmoil

By Keat Foong It was certainly hair-raising to watch the stock market in the past week. By Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average had fallen from 9,955.50 on Monday to 8,451.19 points—a drop that was reportedly even worse percentage-wise than the 17 percent plunge in the week ending July 22, 1933. Part of the current panic has to do with the suspended financing markets—which one would think at its worse can lead to economic collapse. In this regard, the Treasury’s announcement this week of the plan to inject $250 billion into banks, guarantee inter-bank lending and backstop the commercial paper…

House Rejects Bailout Package

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor We are going from crisis to crisis. The House voted down the $700 billion bailout plan, and the Dow Jones Industrials plunged by 777.68, or nearly 8 percent—its worst drop in two decades. In the immediate aftermath, it looks as though banks’ short term  interest rates are spiking. That means higher benchmark for short-term, LIBOR-based multifamily borrowing. On the positive side, Treasury yields have fallen further. This is a plus for longer-term, fixed-rate loans, provided spreads do not widen further—which is a big if. If the bailout plan should eventually pass, that should have a…

In the Shadow of the Financial Crisis

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor Phew! What a week! Our very own event Multi-Housing World 2008 Conference and Exhibition was held in Denver last week. Within less than a week—a week—prior to the conference starting, the following happened: The government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the sale of Merrill Lynch was announced. And on the day the conference began, on Wednesday, the newspapers were filled with reports of the government bailout of insurance giant AIG. The next day, the stock market plunged. And by the end of our three-day educational and networking get-together, the…

Conclusion: Do Not Sell

By Keat Foong Speakers at a panel at the Multi-Housing World 2008 Conference and Exhibition held in Denver came down squarely against placing apartment properties on the market. The session was titled Apartment Investment Cycle: Is it Time to Sell, Hold or Buy? "Do not sell unless you have to," said Ronald Brock, president and CEO, Pierce Eislen Inc. "This is not the time to be selling." "Do not sell. This is not the time to be a seller," said Keith Rosenthal, co-founder and president of Phoenix Realty Group, echoing Eislen.  Brock, a market researcher, said rental apartment conditions are…