Connecticut law requires all real estate to be revalued for assessment purposes every five (5) years. The following towns are conducting a revaluation for the 2011 Grand List (10/1/2011 Valuation Date):
A survey of commercial real estate investors reveals more caution and a dimmed outlook for the commercial real estate industry in 2012. According to the National Real Estate Investor, last year the theme was about the industry recovering, but this year, the recovery may be on hold for all of 2012. Among the challenges that are putting pressure on commercial real estate are high unemployment rates and global and domestic financial dysfunction.
Troubles in the CMBS market affected sales activity as retail real estate investors turned their focus back to trophy assets in primary markets during the third quarter. According to Retail Traffic, sales of retail properties during the third quarter were down 46% to $8.2 billion from $15.2 billion in the second quarter, but the figure is still ahead of the $6.6 billion in sales closed during the same period a year ago. Overall acquisition activity appears to be trending down recently compared to the first half of the year.
Experts in commercial real estate are expecting a slowdown in the industry's recovery, but investors are still chasing after choice properties in the nation's busiest cities. According to the Los Angeles Times, a survey of developers, brokers, architects and other property professionals said that a gloomy economic outlook and the absence of new jobs are weighing heavily on real estate markets. Conditions for owners have stabilized, but improvements in occupancy and rents remain elusive in some major markets.
Commercial real estate prices in the U.S. rose for the fourth straight month in August, and unlike previous months, distressed properties made up only a small share of transactions. The share of distressed deals was 21.7% to be exact, the lowest total since January 2010. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Moody's/REAL Commercial Property Price Index advanced 2.4% from July and its up 7.2% from a year earlier and 15% from its post-peak low in April.
Cook County recently finalized 2010 pay 2011 tax rates and, in general, tax rates increased. The budget requirements of the more than 1,500 taxing agencies in the county were higher than expected; as a result, tax rates were also higher than expected - some percentage increases are in the double-digits. For sample rates, click here.
Even though third quarter vacancy rates were flat and asking rents were slightly down from the previous quarter, researchers say retail fundamentals were in line with expectations over the last three months. According to Retail Traffic, in view of retail space coming online this year, the lackluster figures seemed to be due to insufficient demand for new space among retail clients. Concerns over the economy have led to retailers feeling less than confident about opening new stores.
Concerns over the economy and restraints on debt financing limited deals have caused the commercial real estate market across the country to slow over the past three months. According to SFGate.com, a total of $49.8 billion of commercial property changed hands in the third quarter, down from $58.5 billion in the previous three months. The decline of 15% is the second biggest since the first quarter of 2009 and growth doesn't look like it will accelerate as long as current conditions remain unsettled.
Warnings of increasing risk in the future have led to weak investor interest and wary lenders in the commercial mortgage market over the past several months. However, according to The New York Times, one bright spot is emerging as life insurance companies have taken advantage of the lull to become major lenders. In fact, in the second quarter of this year, the life insurance industry underwrote $15.7 billion in new commercial mortgages - the largest volume on record since the number has been tracked. This number doubles the amount of the first quarter of the year and exceeds the previous high of the fourth quarter of 2005 by $3.2 billion.
Indications are that an increase in hotel transaction activity will occur over the next 24 months. Keep in mind the Transaction Price Segregation as you complete your due diligence checklist. The TPS is used to manage your transfer and real estate taxes on acquisitions.
In an effort to rein in property taxes that had doubled over a 10-year span, California voters approved Proposition 13 more than three decades ago. That movement that capped property tax increases has now mortgaged the state's future, saddling it with the nation's highest debt and lowest credit rating. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the proposition led to state revenue reductions that dropped per-student school spending from 7th to 29th nationally, prompted cities to pursue sprawling retail development to compensate for lost revenue, and pushed the state into budget gridlock, including a $705 million revenue shortfall announced October 10th, by requiring two-thirds approval for any tax increase.
Gap Inc. plans to close about 21% of its North American Gap brand stores between now and the end of 2013. The company, which has been slowly decreasing its North American store count over the last few years, has now set out to reduce to 700 stores from 889 over the next two-plus years. This marks a huge retreat for the retailer and further adds to the looming vacancy disaster many mall owners are currently experiencing.
Since 2007, when the city finance office reinterpreted a law governing the handling of the city's largest property transactions, the District of Columbia has lost out on about $15 million in property taxes. According to The Washington Post, originally, Washington D.C.'s 1.45% "deed recordation tax" was levied on the full amount of commercial property refinancing from 2001 to 2007. In 2007 however, the law was reinterpreted to exempt the original loan principal from the full amount as it was prior to 2001.
To the surprise of no one, the majority of Michigan voters oppose the axing of personal property taxes on businesses if it means cuts to local schools, fire and police services. According to the Detroit Free Press, 61% of voters initially opposed the elimination of the tax, a number that jumped up to 76% when the prospect of "major cuts" in local services was added to the question.
With high uncertainty about the economy, a 9.1% unemployment rate, and market gyrations over the limited ability to avoid a double-dip recession, the recovery of the office sector appears to be headed for a slowdown. According to the National Real Estate Investor, office markets posted an increase of 6.2 million square feet of occupied space in the third quarter and the national vacancy rate declined from 17.5% to 17.4%. These signs normally indicate a recovery, however, progress to date seems modest and appears increasingly threatened.
With the current state of the commercial real estate industry, and hospitality in particular, traditional transactional rules of thumb don't apply anymore. According to Lodging Hospitality, in an industry that is currently changing very frequently, the old days of trophy hotel properties being snapped up by REITs traded at historically low cap rates is giving way recently to many REITs shuttering their acquisition activities. Despite the highest occupancy in US history this past July, hotel deals are frequently beginning to be terminated and re-traded.
Luxury retailers have been performing well and posting growth year-to-date, but signs are showing that they may be in for a slight drop in the coming months. According to Retail Traffic, same store sales growth of 8.5% and increased retail leasing activity on upscale urban streets are all positive signs for the luxury industry, yet there are indications that things are about to change. At the end of July, the Luxury Consumption Index suffered its biggest drop since the beginning of the recession. This can mainly be attributed to affluent consumers recognizing disturbing signs in the direction of the economy and financial markets.
Commercial real estate loans that collateralize CMBS increased 0.6% to 85.9% from the end of July to the end of August. Loan values are also up 4.9% from the same time a year ago. According to Market Watch, loan prices rose on commercial real estate mostly due to a decline in Treasury yields and are continuing to recover due to improving conditions in the marketplace.
Industrial real estate fundamentals began improving in the second half of 2010 after the sector was severely impacted during the recession. According to the National Real Estate Investor, led by a rebound in consumer spending, business inventory restocking, and a resurgence of U.S. trade volume and manufacturing production, the industrial sector has benefited from recovering fundamentals and is poised to continue its improvement.
The role of special servicing is continuing to increase due to the nose-dive commercial mortgages have taken during the credit crisis. This is causing many in the commercial real estate industry to begin to grow in concern over the fate of CMBS due to the large influx of loans and ownership changes. According to GlobeSt.com, investors are becoming increasingly skittish over potential conflicts between existing CMBS borrowers and the ownership interest in the special services. Fair market valuations and special servicers' expansion into related fee-generating businesses are also attracting market attention.