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Senin, 28 Januari 2013

Crowd Funding for Aspiring Real Estate Moguls

The market for crowd funding is hot. Thanks in part to the JOBS Act; recent U.S. government legislation that allows for a wider pool of small investors with fewer restrictions combined with the success of companies like Kickstarter. A variety of industry specific crowd funding startups are emerging to take advantage of the opportunities for community organized fund raising.

By far the largest player in the crowd funding space is Kickstarter. Since its launch in 2009, more than two million people have pledged greater than $300 million to projects by individual groups of creators. Kickstarter specifically focuses on “creative projects” from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, games, fashion, food, and publishing. A prime example is Pebble, an infinitely customizable e-paper watch that has raised more then $10 million using Kickstarter’s crowd funding marketplace.

Little Bowden housing estate A relatively new housing estate on the eastern edge of Market Harborough
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Unlike Kickstarter that focuses solely on creative projects, a new group of up-start companies are attempting to fill the void in funding opportunities within niche market segments. FundersClub allows accredited investors to make early stage investments in curated startups recently raised a $6 million VC round. Another is CircleUp, which is tackling crowd funding for retail companies has recently raised $1.5 million in their angel round and claims to have funded five food companies to date.

Yet another emerging sector for crowd funders is that of commercial real estate with several companies attempting to fill the void. I recently had the chance to catch-up with the Jilliene Helman Founder and CEO of Seattle based She describes the service as “insider access to pre-vetted real estate investments.”

The concept of Realty Mogul is fairly straightforward. Users of the service pool money with like-minded investors to make commercial real estate investments that are otherwise difficult to access. Investors can invest as little as $5,000 for a slice of an investment. Each real estate investment is tied to a real estate company that deals with the hassles of “toilets, tenants and trash.”

Helman notes that a lot of the investments are in the so-called “rehabilitation” of real estate properties. Anyone who’s ever watched one of the fix-and-flip “reality” TV shows will recognize the concept. Essentially Realty Mogul provides the ability to bring together investors who are interested in short term real estate investments without the risk of doing the actual renovations. The funds raised go to professional contractors and real estate development firms who are financed from the crowd funds raised with average returns anywhere from 5-20%.

Realty Mogul isn’t alone in seeing the opportunity to apply crowd funding to the real estate space with startups like, and New York-based Prodigy Network also putting its own spin on the concept. In Colombia, Prodigy has recently crowd funded a building called BD Bacatá that will be the nation’s tallest. About 3,100 investors kicked in $171.8 million (COP308 billion) of the $239 million needed to build the 66-story skyscraper in downtown Bogotá. Investors can also buy and sell shares through a resale program, which functions like a secondary market. Other companies like Fundrise provides “shares” of various real estate investment for as little as $100.

Helmen is unfazed saying that she believes the market to be a massive opportunity with more than enough room for several players. According to IBISWorld, the global real estate market is estimated at more than $5.2 trillion. Without question it’s a huge opportunity for those able to tap into it. More-over with an average annual rate of just 2.8% in 2012 many commercial real estate investors may begin to look for ways to reduce their risk factors while maximizing their yields. Crowd funding appears to be on the cusp of solving both problems.

Realty Mogul is in the midst of closing its first round of outside venture funding and is currently part of the TechStars accelerator program. It’s definitely an interesting space to watch.

By Reuven Cohen

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Jumat, 25 Januari 2013

Manhattan Real Estate Has Become The Gold Standard

According to Eastern Consolidated, Manhattan commercial property sales jumped an astonishing 85% from third quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2102.

The past quarter’s volume of approximately $10.8 billion also eclipsed the most recently quarterly high of $10.6 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

The total commercial property sales volume nearly doubled from $5.8 billion in the third quarter to $10.8 billion in the fourth quarter.

As Daun Paris, president of Eastern Consolidated explained: We closed one of our best quarters in more than four years. We found that both buyers and sellers were eager to make the deal and have it close by year-end.

The big story for Manhattan real estate: retail has more than $2.1 billion of properties traded, a growth rate of an extraordinary 640%.

The largest transaction was for the retail portion of 666 Fifth Avenue that traded for $707.8 million or more than $6,000 per square foot.

Vorndao Realty Trust (VNO) purchased the condominium property from a group that included The Carlyle Group, Crown Acquisitions and Kushner Companies.

Vornado, with deep experience in Manhattan-based investments has a market cap of $15.8 billion with significant exposure in New Jersey (43.7%), New York (17.09%), and Pennsylvania (15.36%).

Other notable retail transactions during the fourth quarter include the retail portion of both the Plaza hotel and St. Regis hotel. The buyer for St. Regis was a high-end European retailer Richemont N.A. that paid more than $12,000 per square foot.

Manhattan multifamily transactions more than doubled in the fourth quarter as volumes increased from $1.6 billion in the third quarter to around $3.7 billion in the fourth quarter—the highest quarterly volume since the second quarter of 2007.

As explained in Eastern Consolidated’s quarterly sales report:

One of the most active investors in the quarter was TIAA-CREF, which bought a 70% stake in the residential potion of the MiMA at 460 West 42nd Street. TIAA-CREF purchased the interest from Related Companies for $551.2 million. It also bought a 49% interest in the residential portion of New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street for $514.5 million. Forest City Ratner, the original developer, was the seller on that sale.

The Manhattan office market did not see significant growth in sales volumes; however, transactions have been steady with around $2.8 billion reported in the fourth quarter.

According to Eastern Consolidated, the largest transaction was the sale of a partial interest in 1411 Broadway. Ivanhoe Cambridge bought the interest from the Blackstone Group.

Also New York Life acquired 575 Lexington Avenue from Silverstein Properties for $360 million.

In the January 17 issue of The New York Times, Matt Van Buren, president of the New York tristate region of CBRE Group (CBG) explained the strength of the Manhattan submarkets: The Midtown South market is obviously coming off of a very strong 2012. It has the lowest space availability in the city of the three submarkets (Midtown, Midtown South, and Downtown), and that availability in anticipated to go even lower.

The Manhattan hotel sector has also seen strong growth in the latest quarter as volumes doubled in the quarter from $380 million in the third quarter to $665 million in the fourth.

The largest of five reported transactions was the sale of the Manhattan Times Square Hotel. Rockport Group and Goldman Sachs purchased the hotel from Starwood for $275 million or just under $600 per square foot ($413,530 per room).

Also in the fourth quarter, the Plaza hotel’s condominium sale occurred as part of a multi-condo sale that also included the retail portion of the Plaza (referenced above).

Manhattan commercial real estate is looking good and the prospects for 2013 look even better. As reported in The New York Times (January 17, 2013):

Although most major real estate companies in New York City were satisfied overall with 2012 results, there was general agreement that 2013 should be better as job growth and office space demand picks up—with the caveat that Washington needs t to agree on a plan to move the country forward. On the investment side, there was a sense that with many economies around the world unstable, New York continued to be the “gold standard” for investment in real estate—be it office buildings, multifamily rental buildings or even high-end condos.

As Jeffrey Gural, chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, explains (in The New York Times):

We are all benefiting from these historically low interest rates today. From a cash-flow perspective, I think most landlords are in pretty good shape, especially landlords that owned buildings for a long time and were able to refinance them.

In addition to Vorndao Realty Trust, investors can find other value in concentrated NY area REITs by tapping into SL Green (SLG), a New York-based REIT with a market cap of around $7.25 billion. With a portfolio of around 34.8 million square feet (110 properties), SL Green has a majority of its portfolio in New York (92%), followed by Connecticut (6%), and New Jersey (2%).

SL Green has a well-balanced portfolio of tenants including Viacom (6.9% of portfolio), Credit Suisse (6% of portfolio), Polo Ralph Lauren (1.9% of portfolio), and the City of New York (1.2% of portfolio).

Boston Properties (BXP), with a market cap of around $16.3 billion, also owns several trophy office properties in Manhattan, including 767 Fifth Avenue (95.2% occupied), 599 Lexington Avenue (97.9% occupied), and 601 Lexington Avenue (98% occupied). Boston Properties has around 7.6 million square feet in the New York area that represents around 20% of the REIT’s entire portfolio.

By Brad Thomas

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Rabu, 23 Januari 2013

Three Brooklyn Neighborhoods Poised To Be The City's Hottest Real Estate Spots In 2013

New York City home values are forecasted to barely budget in the coming year, but parts of Brooklyn are ready to take off, according to a new report.

New York City home values may be ho-hum in the year ahead, but parts of Brooklyn appear poised to blaze, a report released on Tuesday showed.

Some of the city's hottest properties of 2013 will be in Brooklyn's Prospect Lefferts Gardens, where the median home value is set to surge 8% to about $901,000, according to real estate data company Zillow.

city's hottest properties of 2013 in Brooklyn Manhattan as seen from Brooklyn Heights
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill, where home values are expected to rise about 7% by December, will round out the top three biggest gainers, according to Zillow's forecasts.

Still, home values in the whole borough are poised to rise just 3%, far more modest than the 11% gain they racked up last year. In the city as a whole, home values will barely budge after gaining about 8% in 2012, Zillow said.

"New York City was definitely hot last year, but we do expect some substantial moderation in home value appreciation," Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist told the Daily News.

With home prices rising, owners may be more willing to sell, and a bigger supply of homes will likely slow price gains previously driven by tight supply, Humphries said. "No seller wants to sell at the bottom."

In Manhattan, anticipated hotspots include the Flatiron District and Soho, where home values are set to rise just over 6% in 2013.

Some uptown Manhattan neighborhoods, though, still have farther to fall. Median home values in Hamilton Heights are expected to be the hardest hit in the metro area, falling 7%. Harlem is forecast to be the second worst, with a drop of 6.5%.

By Elizabeth Lazarowitz / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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Selasa, 22 Januari 2013

Foreclosure Buying By Wall Street Providing Hot Air For New Housing Bubble

Hot air rises, and so are housing prices. It appears that Bernanke’s efforts to fund the housing market are beginning to gain some traction. An army of “ex-Wall Street executives” has had more than two years now to re-trench themselves, and move in, to essentially take over the foreclosure and investment property market in the US.

The Fed is providing 45 billion dollars per month in “hot air” liquidity for the housing market. Billions of these dollars are being loaned out to newly formed capital / investment entities whose goal is to buy up as many foreclosures as possible, along with any other desirable properties that may be available.

foreclosure investment property market in the US - Half million dollar house in Salinas, California
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A number of industry professionals are telling me that prices are beginning to rise significantly and the inventory of available foreclosures is dwindling. This is creating a demand for housing that is resulting in a tighter supply and driving selling prices upward like a balloon. But when the hot air runs out, the balloon falls back to the ground.

These buyers are not end users. A housing market driven by investment activity could prove to be much more volatile than a housing market driven by more traditional owner occupant activity.

Some of these businesses, formed as “early” as 2011, have already gone from start-up investing operations to publicly held companies. There is no mistaking what is happening here. Wall Street sees an unprecedented opportunity to profit from the housing market once again.

The Fed wants to keep interest rates low and “create jobs” by liquefying the housing market just as they did in the early 2000′s. The banks hope that all of this activity will result in improved balance sheets via profitable loans and improving housing prices. And those who made money during the housing boom see another opportunity to profit from the housing bust and the resulting foreclosures.

Indeed one of the interesting aspects of real estate is it’s ability to generate cash flows in a variety of ways. Shelter is a high demand item, desired by virtually everyone in the world. It’s high dollar value, perhaps $9 TRILLION at this point, makes the US housing market one of the wealthiest sectors on earth, even after the housing bust.

Stock market savvy investment companies are using “Bernanke Bucks” to buy tens of thousands of foreclosures which they plan to rent or sell, while turning this cash flow into a profit bonanza via a stock IPO. There are a handful of these companies which are already public or nearly public, making much more off of the stock sale than they would as ordinary real estate investors.

Could this be the beginning of a new investment bubble? I think the answer is “yes”. Fundamentally we are talking about the power of none other than the Federal Reserve, the Wall Street banks, and investment companies created by guys with Wall Street connections. They have the ability to monetize the cash flows into the stock market. This promises to be the biggest real estate investment innovation since derivatives were invented.

This is the same methodology that gave us the original housing bubble. Wall Street has learned a lot about manipulating the housing market. And with the development of stock market oriented real estate investment companies, they are developing the ability to “manufacture” a housing recovery.

I expect you’ll hear lots of news in 2013 about how the housing market is improving, and prices are rising. As long as the Fed remains willing to keep the bucks flowing, we’re going to see more and more foreclosed properties flowing to large scale investing operations. This is a fundamental transformation in the housing market that is unprecedented.

It’s going to take a few more years for this entire scenario to unfold, but at some point, it’s safe to say that prices and ownership costs may reach unsupportable levels once again, leading to another bust. Only time will tell how big this bubble will become and how much hot air will be necessary to inflate it.

By Donna S. Robinson

Donna S. Robinson is a real estate investor, author and investing coach located in Atlanta, GA. Follow her on twitter at donnaconsults, and watch her videos on youtube. Her latest book, Basics of Real Estate Investing, is now available for Kindle on

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Jumat, 18 Januari 2013

Housing Markets, 2013: Early Signs Show More Improvement Nationally

The national housing recovery seems as if it will continue this year, as many local real estate markets were shown to be improving at the start of 2013. The total number of housing markets that saw improvements in the month of January climbed to 242, including metro areas in 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia, according to the Improving Markets Index issued monthly by the National Association of Homebuilders and First American. The current number makes up slightly more than two-thirds of the metro areas the index monitors nationwide, and is up from the 201 improving markets observed in December.

"We created the improving markets list in September of 2011 to spotlight individual metros where -- contrary to the national headlines -- housing markets were on the mend," said NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg. "Today, 242 out of 361 metros nationwide appear on that list, including representatives from almost every state in the country. The story is no longer about exceptions to the rule, but about the growing breadth of the housing recovery even as overly strict mortgage requirements hold back the pace of improvement."

The National Housing Center, headquarters for the National Association of Home Builders, located at 1201 15th Street, N.W., in the Logan Circle Washington, D.C.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In all, 47 new areas were added to the list of improving cities, while six others dropped off, the report said. Those added include major metro areas from across the country, including Los Angeles, Des Moines, Iowa, Nashville, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Cleveland. NAHB chief economist David Crowe also said that the national number of improving markets has nearly doubled in the past two months alone driven by more consumer demand pushing home prices higher. However, he also cautioned that in the future, these changes may not continue for much longer due to seasonal shifts in the home market in general.

Housing affordability remains rather high even as prices continue to rise across the country thanks in large part to mortgage rates being artificially depressed by the Federal Reserve Board's latest round of bond-buying, known as QE3. However, some experts note that it's unlikely that the Fed will continue to snatch up bonds at the rate seen in the past several months, which in turn could lead interest rates to rise in the latter half of the year, and as such, those who are interested in buying a home may want to capitalize on the combined deals on rates and prices as soon as possible.


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Kamis, 17 Januari 2013

10 Best Housing Markets for Home Price Discounts

Now is the bargain real estate season: asking home prices typically hit their seasonal low point from November through January. This winter, however, home price discounts are harder to find. Among all non-foreclosure homes for sale on Trulia in early January, 33.6 percent of homes were priced lower than their original listing price. (For homes originally listed more than six months ago, we compared the current price to the price six months ago, not the original price.) One year ago, in early January 2012, 36.7 percent of homes for sale were marked down from their original listing price.

However, the national average of 33.6 percent hides huge local differences. In January 2013, the share of homes with price discounts ranges from just 15 percent in Oakland, Calif., to 48 percent in Springfield, Mass. Among markets with the fewest reductions today, Miami and Fort Lauderdale stand out as the two locales that also had relatively few reductions one year ago.

most home market price discounts in the U.S. country
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Springfield, Mass., on the other hand, has the most price discounts in the country, followed by Hartford, Conn., and Omaha, Neb. Of the 10 metros with the highest share of price reductions, five are in New England. The rest are in the Midwest or nearby. Most of the markets with lots of markdowns at the start of 2013 had even more price reductions at the start of 2012. In fact, among the 100 largest metros, 83 have fewer price discounts now than one year ago.

What explains why some metros have few markdowns, while others have many? Two factors stand out among markets with fewer reductions: bigger price gains and a lower vacancy rate. In metros where prices are rising, asking prices are less likely to start out too low: Oakland, Las Vegas, and Miami all had big price gains in 2012, according to the December Trulia Price Monitor. In metros with low vacancy rates, buyers are competing with each other for the few available homes on the market, so sellers don't need to lower prices to attract buyers: Ventura County, Calif., for instance, had only a 0.9 percent year-over-year increase in prices in December 2012, but has among the lowest vacancy rates in the country, which means sellers don't need to drop prices to attract interest. Overall, a decline in price reductions is yet another sign that the housing market is tightening. Take a closer look at the 10 markets where price reductions are everywhere.

Gallery: Cities With the Best Discounts on Homes

By Jed Kolko, Trulia Chief Economist

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Selasa, 15 Januari 2013

When It Comes to Real Estate, Location is Key

If you are interested in investing in foreclosures, then it is essential for you to take into consideration the most important aspect of buying any home: the location. When purchasing a property, people generally understand the importance of the location. Everything from the home’s access to interstates, surrounding attractions, and high-quality schools goes a long way in helping increase the value of the property.

The same is true when it comes to investing in foreclosures; however, in today’s real estate market location is more important than ever. The Importance of the State’s Real Estate Market

With some states and cities making quicker progress toward recovery than others, the local real estate market is key to making smart investment decisions.

investing in foreclosures in today’s real estate market location - touring foreclosures in San Diego
English: Bustour touring foreclosures in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For example, if you are looking to invest in foreclosure properties in California, you may have a harder time finding homes in this state in comparison to the likelihood of you being able to find foreclosure deals in Florida. While the California real estate market is making steady progress toward recovery with a decrease in foreclosure filings, the Florida real estate market is still struggling to take steps forward.

Similarly, California has experienced an increase in short sales in comparison to the sale of foreclosures. With this information, it is essential that you add short sales to your search when looking to buy discounted properties throughout California.

Therefore, when looking for foreclosure deals you have to know exactly where to look - which states are more likely to have the best foreclosure opportunities on the market.

City Statistics Matter

Although it is important to take into consideration the state’s real estate market when purchasing foreclosure and other distressed properties, it is even more important to look at the city in which you are considering investing.

For example, a recent infographic reveals that Dallas, Texas has 1 in 3,233 homes in foreclosure in comparison to the state of Texas having a foreclosure rate of 1 in 1,336. As the infographic reveals, the Dallas real estate market is stronger than the state’s overall real estate market. Therefore, those looking to invest in a stronger real estate market may be better off investing in the Dallas area in comparison to other cities throughout the state.

At the end of the day, you must first decide what you are looking for in a real estate market. Are you looking for areas that are still struggling to make progress toward recovery and that have a high foreclosure inventory? Or, are you looking to invest in areas that are well on their way to recovery and often have fewer homes to choose from? The answer this question should help you know what to look for when it comes to the local real estate market.

In conclusion, location matters. When it comes to buying any home, the location is key; where you choose to purchase affects everything from the properties you have to choose from to your potential to obtain a good return on your investment.

When investing in real estate, especially in today’s market, learn as much as possible about the local real estate market before finalizing your investment decisions.

John E. Miller, Foreclosure Deals

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