Strong April performance numbers will help the multi-family sector deliver outstanding returns for owners and operators over the next 20 months, as effective rent growth and occupancy rates remain at near-record highs. According to OKCREview.com, the overall trend in the sector is onward and upward with the typical growth coming from the major markets now being joined by other regions experiencing similar positive results.
Commercial property appraisal prior to the recession was as simple as dividing the number of vacant rental units at a property by the total number of rentable units to determine the vacancy rate. Since the economy has become, and continues to be, less stable, vacancy rates can be deceptive as landlords in commercial real estate have been forced to be more aggressive to secure tenants, according to the National Real Estate Investor.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed on a 2% limit on commercial and residential property tax increases. The proposal, which still has to be approved by the state legislature, has drawn the praise from business organizations statewide as it aims to stem economic decline in regions outside of New York City. The proposed hard tax cap will move New York closer to an economic recovery as it will help protect taxpayers and businesses.
An index of U.S. commercial real estate prices fell to a cyclical low in March, down 4.2% from February and 47% from the peak in October of 2007. According to the National Real Estate Investor, the decline in the index, which measures price changes on completed sales of apartment, office, industrial and retail properties, stems in part from a surge in transaction volume among distressed properties, which accounted for more than 30% of March sales.
The improving economy, especially the extremely important increase in job creation, means growing demand for commercial real estate as job creation increases the demand for commercial space. When coupling the increased demand with the minimal supply created in recent years, vacancy rates will be trending down in all of the commercial real estate sectors, where some individual markets are stabilizing and in some cases rising.
According to MIT's Center for Real Estate, the commercial real estate market decelerated in the first quarter of 2011 as institutional property investors were stung by declines in both sales and prices. The total dollar value from Q1's transactions declined to $2.5 billion, from $4.1 billion in the last quarter of 2010. Average deal size was also down to $35.7 million from $45.6 million during that same time frame.
According to industry experts, the negative stigma of living in an apartment is long gone as it is now considered more widely desirable than homeownership. According to Commercial Property Executive, those in the multi-family business are benefiting from the horror that went on with the single-family side, pent-up demand and low resident turnover as nowadays people just aren't leaving like they used to. All of this leads to a state of slow but sure recovery for the sector.
With retail vacancies continuing to mount and higher gas and grocery prices an inevitability, merchandising experts predict it could be years before the U.S. marketplace requires new sales space and some fear that consumer spending for apparel and electronics might soon evaporate. However, according to the National Real Estate Investor, optimism can be found in significant expansion from discount retailers as Dollar General plans to open 650 new U.S. stores this year, Family Dollar 300 stores and Save-A-Lot 100 stores.
At a time in the commercial real estate market, and more specifically the hospitality industry, when credit is still tight due primarily to stricter lending requirements, there are a number of buyers who have been raising cash and looking for opportunities to invest in quality properties at below replacement costs. Because there are more dollars available to invest than there are deals to be made, some of the transactions that have closed recently have done so at prices that may be two or three times the taxable value of the real estate.
After recently pushing through $1.7 billion in tax cuts for Michigan businesses, cutting personal property taxes on businesses in the state could be next. According to mlive.com, Michigan businesses paid $1.2 billion in personal property taxes last year. If personal property taxes were eliminated completely, local governments would lose $784 million in revenue and the state School Aid Fund would lose about $300 million.
Yavapai Downs horse racetrack in Yavapai County, Arizona has filed an appeal of the track's commercial status with the Assessor's Office. According to The Daily Courier, the Assessor recently changed the track and related properties to commercial status, effectively raising the tracks owners, Yavapai County Farm and Association, annual property tax payments from about $30,000 to $349,000, an amount the association can't afford. The association is trying to regain its status as a non-profit agriculture organization while the county is claiming it should be classified as for-profit.
New York State assembly legislators have said that the chamber will pass a cap on property tax increases before the session ends on June 20. Though it is likely there will be a cap, it is not guaranteed to be a permanent one. A tax cap would restrict how much schools and local governments can raise property taxes, the largest tax many businesses pay (about $21 billion in 2010, a $1.1 billion increase as many property values dropped earlier in the recession).
The Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index was back in positive territory after it gained 2.7% in the month of April after a decrease in March, a good sign for the hotel industry as summer approaches. According to World Property Channel, investors appear happy where hotel fundamentals stand and a solid summer season for the U.S. hotel market is projected. A strong summer would be very good news for aggressive investors in the sector.
The Iowa House voted to approve an amended property tax relief plan which reduces commercial property taxes from 100% to 60% in value over five years and increases state aid to Iowa school districts by more than $550 million by fiscal year 2019. The bill has provisions built into it to pay $250 million annually to municipalities to compensate for the projected $500 million in lost property tax revenue from businesses.
Carr Supply Inc., a supplier of heating and cooling equipment, will be able to expand their Columbus, Ohio operation to the Near East Side with the help of a property tax break worth $221,858 over the next seven years. Carr plans to invest $2.3 million into its headquarters, hire seven more people and retain 51 jobs that may have been in jeopardy. The 65% per year property tax break on the company's new investment was approved by the Columbus City Council.
U.S. private employers had better-than-expected hiring in April which could help calm some of the negative sentiment that had been building, a good sign for commercial real estate markets. According to the National Real Estate Investor, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of nonfarm payroll jobs rose by 244,000 in April, the largest increase in 11 months. Economists had expected a gain of approximately 185,000.
As a sign that the downtown Boston, Massachusetts commercial market may be rebounding, the office building at 33 Arch St. has been put up for sale at a staggering target price of roughly $400 million. According to the Boston Herald, no list price has been determined by the co-owners Area Property Partners and SITQ, but it is believed that bidders will come in way above the assessed tax value of $185.6 million at between $350 million and $400 million.
On the 2012 ballot, Florida voters will get to decide whether to give a dramatic property-tax benefit to businesses that face steeper property taxes because of a quirk in Florida tax law. The amendment was proposed in March, had been passed by the House on Monday, May 2 and just got approval from the Senate on Wednesday, May 4. If voted on, the amendment will lower the cap on assessment increases for non-homestead properties from 10 percent to 5 percent.
Thousands of municipalities across the nation are trying to manage through difficult fiscal situations as revenues continue to decline and expenditures continue to go up. This can be a good thing, however, for retail developers as it means that many of these municipalities are willing to offer up incentives to bring them to town and reap the benefits of the sales and property tax revenues they will bring in. According to Retail Traffic, incentive programs are popping up all over the country in order to make short term developments a reality.
A Colorado State Senate Committee killed a bill that would have created a two-year timeout on the business personal property tax, saying that its costs to local government revenues outweighed any potential sales-tax increase. According to the Denver Business Journal, backers of the bill claimed that exempting all business personal property bought in 2012 and 2013 from taxes would not have reduced existing tax revenues but would have affected only potential future gains. Then, if businesses would be incented to buy equipment from the tax break, a surge in sales tax and income tax revenue would have resulted.
The Indiana Legislature wrapped up the 2011 session on April 29 with several bills expected to be signed into law by the governor. There were a number of provisions affecting state and local tax. To summarize some of the major provisions: