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Mar 1

Most Stable Form of Commercial Real Estate

by Mary Teresa Fowler
Commercial Real Estate - Most Stable Industries

Commercial real estate covers varied sectors such as apartment buildings, offices, industrial spaces, and retail outlets. Certain areas perform better than others in an economic downturn. Which commercial sector will be the most stable during a recession?


Health-care real estate will do better than other commercial sectors because the field involves a necessity. Health-care will attract consumers - regardless of the economy. An individual might wait to make a large purchase or take a trip until the economy improves but people will not put off health care until after a  recession.

Unfortunately though, the sad reality is that people have delayed a trip to the doctor because they do not have the proper insurance. The Obama overhaul of health care, however, is expanding the availability of health insurance. As a general rule though, consumers have (and will continue to) seek immediate help for serious health issues.


A similar necessity drives office real estate more than the hospitality industry in economic turmoil. Business owners might cut back on corporate trips during a recession but, most likely, entrepreneurs will hold on to their offices. Hotel REITs might not perform as well as other categories. Yet health-care REITs can move upward during poor economic times. Jeff Theiler, an analyst at Green Street Advisors, a REIT research firm based in Newport Beach, California, said that health-care REITs made the most acquisitions in the industry last year.

Health-Care Acquisitions

Ventas Inc., the largest U.S. owner of senior housing and assisted-living facilities, has agreed to acquire its rival, Nationwide Health Properties Inc., for $5.8 billion – the latest and largest biggest deal in a string of acquisitions by publicly traded health-care, real-estate companies in recent times. After this acquisition closes in the third period, Ventas Inc. will own 1,311 properties in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Their property breaks down into the following categories – senior housing (643), skilled nursing (379), medical facilities (234), hospitals (47), and other (8).


Consumers might wonder where Nationwide Health Properties Inc. made its mistake. After all, if health-care real estate is viable, why didn't this company survive the commercial crisis? Theiler believes that Nationwide did mot market as aggressively as other health-care companies. For example, Ventas has been active in the market. In October, 2010, Ventas acquired the assets of Atria Senior Living. In December, the company made a $6 billion HCP purchase.

Rising Demand

With more people accessing health insurance, the evolving trend towards outpatient facilities, and an aging population, there will be a growing demand for medical-office space.

Other Players

Of course, Ventas Inc. is not the only entity interested in health-care acquisitions. During 2010, health-care companies acquired $11.7 billion in medical-office and senior-living facilities. Following the February 28 announcement by Ventas, Health Care REIT Inc. agreed to acquire almost all of the real-estate assets of Genesis HealthCare, a privately held company based in Kennett Square, Pa., for $2.4 billion. Health-care REITs are not standing on the sidelines because they recognize the market potential of health-care real estate.

Demand for Senior Care Spurs Deals

Do You Expect A Continued High Demand For Health-Care Real Estate?

Image courtesy of hamiltonhospital.org

Feb 24

Real Estate – Driving Factors

by Mary Teresa Fowler
Real Estate Market Driving Forces

The real estate market fluctuates continually and values vary from region to region. Yet one constant remains amidst all this flux and diversity; specific factors drive the real estate market.

These factors have tremendous influence on society. Keep in mind that real estate accounts for a substantial percentage of people's wealth. Almost one-third of the average North American's net worth can be attributed to real estate. The value of the entire market amounts to about $20 trillion. Obviously, real estate is a lucrative market for investors especially in global centers such as New York City and Washington.


The demographics (data describing a population) affect real estate prices and the types of property in demand. Demographics include age, race, gender, income, and migration patterns, as well as population growth. Huge shifts in the demographics of a nation can have a major impact on real estate.

Indeed, significant changes can affect real estate trends for decades. Demographics make a big difference. For example, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are impacting the market as they start and move forward in retirement.

In this instance, investors are looking at the probable popularity of second homes in vacation hot spots as this group reaches retirement. Will baby boomers prefer smaller homes? After all, their children have flown the nest and they might have to rely more on that nest egg as they live on retirement pensions.

Baby boomers stated to retire in 2010. Yet savvy real estate investors anticipated this shift long before and geared their investment to match the approaching trend. They targeted the types and location of properties of interest to baby boomers.


Obviously, interest rates drive the real estate market. Rates matter to individuals and the market. When interest rates fall, the cost of a mortgage is lower, and there is a higher demand for real estate. Of course, more demand means increased prices. Rising interest rates will have the opposite effect.

In addition to residential real estate, interest rates affect real estate investment trusts (REITs). When interest rates fall, a bond value increases with the more desirable coupon rate. With falling interest rates, the value of REITs rises and their high yields look attractive to investors.


No doubt, the economy affects the real estate market. Economic indicators (GDP, employment data, manufacturing activity, prices of goods) are used to measure the economy. The old adage holds much truth – as goes the economy, so goes real estate.

REITs in certain investment areas can suffer during an economic downturn. A REIT centered on hotels might not perform as well in economic turmoil as a REIT focused on office buildings. Hotels are sensitive to economic setbacks because they are considered "short-term leases."

Under economic stress, an entrepreneur might reduce the number of corporate business trips and hotel room rentals. Yet the business owner will still hold on to his office (a longer-term lease). Real estate is sensitive to economic activity.

Check out additional factors that drive the real estate market.

Four key factors that drive the real estate market

Which Factors Do You Think Drive The Real Estate Market?

Image courtesy of landthink.com

Feb 1

2011 – Year of the Landlord

by Mary Teresa Fowler
Year of the Landlord

2011 is shaping up to be the "Year of The Landlord." As many people face the winter winds, we are reminded of a wise old saying.

"It's an ill wind that blows no good." ~ John Heywood (1497-1580)

In the case of the winds of change in real estate, falling house prices and slow sales have challenged many sellers but benefited more than a few apartment building landlords. More people are choosing to rent but others can find no suitable alternative to apartment living. Everyone has their own reason for deciding to rent property rather than buy a home.

Rent or Own

Sometimes renting is the best choice for an individual. Indeed, many renters prefer the apartment lifestyle. After all, renting a luxurious NYC condo does not seem like such a bad deal. Even renting any apartment has its perks such as more flexibility in relocation and less maintenance responsibilities.

Of course, other renters would sooner own a home. Often foreclosure forces homeowners to become renters. Sometimes potential first-time buyers discover that they cannot afford the financial commitment of a home. The Federal First-Time Homebuyers' Tax Credit is no more and not everyone has an "angel investor."

Whether people choose to rent or have no other choice, landlords are gaining tenants. Banks and lenders are also smiling – especially if the apartment building owner had been previously under financial duress. Borrowing has become less expensive with low interest rates.

This effect is noticed with commercial real estate of all types. The low rates have a positive effect on borrowing for office buildings, retail outlets, and company warehouses. The apartment market, however, is the healthiest of the commercial categories – mainly because of cheap financing.

Investing in Apartments

Obviously, investors are interested in apartment buildings. Actually, 'flipping' properties is coming into vogue again. The practice of reselling quickly for profit is somewhat prevalent at all times.

Yet 'flipping' is as popular now as in earlier thriving economic periods. This practice can have its place - if done responsibly for the right reasons. Illegal flipping, however, is a different matter. It involves scams, disregard for others, and a goal of profit at any cost.

Higher Values

Apartment building values have risen to levels not seen since the middle of 2007. According to the brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap, values of apartment buildings rose 16% in 2010. Green Street Advisors, a research company tracking REITs, say that present values are now within 10% of their 2007 peak value.

Of course, apartment values in major centers such as New York and Washington, D.C., have shown signs of recovery since 2009. Currently, increasing apartment values can be seen in additional markets including Los Angeles and Seattle as well as other U.S. cities. At the end of 2010, TIAA-CREF paid $62 million for the 261-unit Newbury Commons in Stamford, Connecticut. According to Real Capital Analytics, this sale price was 65% more than the amount paid by Seaboard Properties in February 2009.

Apparently, even Las Vegas is seeing the high values. Keep in mind that Las Vegas was affected greatly by the economic downturn. Yet in December 2010, the Croix Townhomes complex in the Las Vegas Henderson suburb sold for nearly $20 million - $143,000 for each unit – a price even far above the national average. The 'apartment advantage' might be the start of the next big trend in investment property.

Housing Woes Fuel Apartment Surge

Will 2011 Continue To Be The "Year Of The Landlord?"

Image courtesy of architecturelist.com

Real Estate Predictions

Most likely, the majority of real estate predictions fall somewhere in the middle - based on more than a crystal ball and less than empirical research. Maybe there might be one or two people who put predictions out there without any thought. Yet most real estate predictions are the result of studying trends and statistics.

Accurate Predictions

Apparently, a few of these predictions can have a high accuracy rate. For example, the Globe and Mail has tallied the score for predictions made by Neil Downey, RBC Dominion Securities analyst. Downey offered five predictions for 2011. Before the end of January, three predictions have become reality.

The Globe and Mail's story is titled – "The real-estate crystal ball." Probably, careful observations are responsible for these impressive results. No crystal ball here; maybe though a little luck, too!

Which Correct Predictions Did The Analyst Make About Canadian Real Estate?

  • Richard Baker, the New York investor who bought Hudson's Bay Company, is ready to close a $2-billion deal bringing Target Corp. into Canada.
  • RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust is looking for funding of its acquisition plan as well as refinancing for outstanding debt. Recently, REIT hit the market with rate reset preferred shares and senior unsecured debt.
  • Canada's commercial mortgage-backed securities market is making a rebound. Two major real estate companies are tapping the market for $206 million – the first deal of this type since 2007. 

As well, Downey predicted more TSX-listed REITs at the end of 2011 than the beginning and less equity raising activity. The Globe and Mail is waiting to see if these two predictions will come to light.

Core Predictions

Real estate predictions are a serious business. The real estate industry is at the core of an economy. Home buyers account for a huge percentage of economic activity. Commercial real estate involves three main categories - retail (stores, malls), industrial (factories, warehouses), and commercial (offices, multi-dwelling buildings).

Real estate transactions are handled by brokers and agents. Certain agents offer property management services to businesses. When entrepreneurs are doing well, real estate transactions experience an increase. In a poor economy, realtors help businesses to find the best location and affordable facilities.

Empirical Research

Empirical research (such as Plotkin 2002) has been conducted about the role of real estate in an economy. The "first major empirical nonfinancial ratio business success versus failure prediction model" was applied to the real estate industry in New England. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a nonfinancial model that would predict real estate business success or failure using the Lussier (1995) prediction model.

'Lussier' was selected for the study because it had been published in more journals than any other model. The study suggested that similar methodology be used to conduct studies in other parts of the US as well as in other countries. Real science here – far more than a crystal ball!

A Success Versus Failure Prediction Model for the Real Estate Industry

How Have You Arrived At Your Real Estate Predictions?

Image courtesy of adrworks.com



Jan 1

Real Estate Levels 2011

by Mary Teresa Fowler
Real estate value predictions for 2011

Home buyers and sellers, as well as investors, are trying to figure out the future of real estate in the coming year. Depending on their position, interested parties are exploring different areas of real estate. Individuals and organizations focus on everything from property value levels to interest rates to REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) debt levels.

Commercial Real Estate

Real-estate fund managers have expressed confidence in the future of commercial real estate. According to portfolio managers, recovery is underway in the current market. The improvement is spurred on by low interest rates, favorable cash flows, and increased demand.

This group analyzes national and regional trends. Using this data, they decide on the most promising property sections and regions. Sectors such as apartments with short leases suffered in the economic downturn but they are expected to rebound in this recovery stage. As corporate travelers return to the road, hotels are attracting the attention of investors.

REIT Debt Level

With regards to REITs, industry experts pay attention to debt level compared to their earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation, and amortization.

Up, Up And Away

UK Business Property

In 2011, UK business property is also expected to be supported by low interest rates. Industry leaders believe that the Bank of England will not change the base rate until later in the year. On December 9th, the Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain current levels.

Business property boosted by low interest rates in 2011?

Residential Property Value Levels

During 2011, home owners (and potential buyers) will be keeping an eye to property value levels. Within the past week, home owners in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, were told about a slight increase in their property value assessments. During 2010, B.C. Assessment had frozen property values at 2007/2008 levels.

Of course, home owners are concerned about higher taxes associated with increased assessments. According to Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Board, the increase in property values, however, may not result in a significant tax increase. Muir points out the positive aspect of higher property value assessments in a region.

"The increase would reflect stronger economic conditions and a healthier real estate market," said Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Board, representing 12 real estate boards and almost 18,000 Realtors.

Residential housing sales in British Columbia should rise slightly in 2011. The province's economy is showing improvement with more employment and a larger population. Metro Vancouver is one popular area where home buyers can find affordable houses. Most likely, property prices will continue to rise in the coming year. Yet Metro Vancouver is still expected to be popular with home buyers especially with first-timers.

Greater Victoria property values buoyed by economic recovery

Will The Real Estate Market Level Out In 2011?

If people have an interest in real estate on any level, they should track market statistics. At present, the industry is experiencing a recovery. Yet there will be continued speculation about whether the market will level out or climb to new heights. Real estate predictions – even on a local scale - are not an exact science. A regional market can be affected by varied factors including external influences.

What Are Your Predictions For The Real Estate Market In 2011?

Image courtesy of agentgenius.com

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