Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Year In Review: Biggest CRE News Stories of 2017

#1 Amazon Outgrows Seattle: Kicks Off Search for Second HQ City in North America
In dangling the prospect of investing billions of dollars in the community and adding tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, online retail giant Amazon kicked off a mad scramble among jurisdictions in September after the firm issued an RFP for a new co-headquarters. Debates over which locations best suited the online retailer's mega-office requirement consumed the CRE industry, and will likely continue to do so ahead of Amazon's site selection, which is expected sometime this year.

#2 BGC Successfully Spins-Off Newly Rebranded Newmark Knight Frank as Separate Publicly Traded Company
More than a year in the works, Newmark Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: NMRK) completed its initial public offering of 20 million shares of common stock, the first IPO for a real estate services firm in many years. Howard Lutnick, chairman and chief executive of Newmark Knight Frank parent company BGC Partners, Inc., (Nasdaq: BGCP), made good on his plans to spin-off Newmark as a separate publicly traded company in the fourth quarter. The move added to market speculation that Cushman & Wakefield may follow with an IPO of its own in 2018.

#3 Florida, Texas CRE Begin Long Recovery Effort from Back-to-Back Storms
Much of the nation was fixated in August on the impact of a pair of hurricanes that ravaged much of Florida and the Texas-Louisiana region. And while the extent of the devastation wasn't as great as first feared, initial combined damage estimates foresaw $29 Billion in commercial property losses with $150 billion to $200 billion in economic impact attributed to the back-to-back natural disasters.

#4 Too Much Apartment Construction, or Not Enough?
In a midyear multifamily update, we examined recent market analysis that found U.S. housing supply remains well below long-term market averages even as developers continue to pursue new downtown apt. projects and single-family homebuilding finally ramps up.

#5 Amazon/Whole Foods $13.7 Billion Pairing a Game Changer but Not Deal Breaker for Shopping Center Landlords
The news that Amazon was buying Whole Foods caught many retail observers by surprise and rattled already jittery shopping center owners. But the deal catapulting the world's biggest e-tailer into the leading ranks of the U.S. grocery industry was quickly reappraised as proof of the ongoing integration of online and physical retail stores, and that well-located retail property will continue to have value as e-commerce continues its rapid growth.

#6 The Future of Autonomous Driving is Coming Down the Road Fast with Major Implications for Real Estate
Fast-developing driving technologies are expected to usher in a $7 Trillion 'Passenger Economy' by 2050 according to some futurists. The expected wide-ranging impact on real estate expected to affect everything from recapturing parking space, to amenities to zoning, and is already beginning to have an impact on the market.

#7 Europe's Biggest Mall Owner Buying Westfield, Consolidation Move May Trigger More Deals
In a surprising move, Paris-based Unibail Rodamco agreed to acquire shopping mall owner Westfield Corp. for almost $16 billion. The decision by Unibail, which gives it entry into the U.S. market, followed news that General Growth Properties Inc. (GGP) had recently rejected a takeover bid from Brookfield Property Partners, which has a large minority stake in the company. Given Unibail's deal, we may not have heard the end of a GGP-Brookfield tie-up.

#8 Exclusive: NGKF Ramping Up National Valuation/Appraisal Practice With Key Hires, Expansion Plans
CoStar News was one of the first to report on plans by national CRE services firm NKF to beef-up its valuation and appraisal business lines ahead of its expected IPO later in the year. NKF wasn't alone in its quest to expand its valuation platform.

#9 Greystar-Led Fund Taking Monogram Residential REIT Private in $3 Billion Transaction
In a sign of the continued strong appeal of multifamily property for investors, apartment REIT Monogram Residential Trust, Inc. (NYSE: MORE) accepted a buyout offer from a newly formed perpetual life fund, Greystar Growth and Income Fund, led by Greystar Real Estate Partners in a transaction valued at $3 billion, including debt. In another sign of the sector attracting 'big money,' Starwood struck a deal to buy out Milestone Apartments REIT for $2.85 billion, adding 24,000 apt. units to Starwood Capital's portfolio.

#10 Chinese Govt. Moves to Stem Flow of Funds to Overseas CRE Investments
In August, CoStar News reported that the State Council of the People's Republic of China officially announced measures to curb outbound investment - a move Chinese officials had been hinting at all year. The clampdown was expected to impact deal pricing for major assets in the largest gateway markets, which had become a favorite target for Chinese investors. However, market analysts see plenty of other investors--both foreign and domestic--available to fill the gap. The clampdown on Chinese overseas investment followed news earlier in the year that some members of Congress had become concerned over the national security risk associated with the growing Chinese ownership of U.S. assets.

#11 Dollar Stores Remain Retail Success Story, Continue to Defy Online Disruption
Dollar stores remained a retail success story in 2017, continuing to defy online disruption by expanding into untapped, low-density areas to minimize the online threat and drive sales growth.

#12 CVS-Aetna Combination Signals Coming Convergence of Health Care and Retail Real Estate
The blockbuster deal of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) agreeing to acquire Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) for $77 billion has the potential not only to fundamentally alter the health plan market but also radically reshape the retail and health care real estate markets.

#13 Institutional Investors Coming Around to Student Housing, Sector Seen as Recession-Resistant Alternative to Apts.
Once an overlooked niche, the student housing sector is attracting increased attention from major investors, who see the sector as offering less rental growth volatility and a recession-resistant hedge to conventional apartments.

#14 ‘Amazon Effect’ has Bankers Re-Examining Their Loan Portfolios, Tightening Underwriting
In a midyear change from focusing on exposure to construction and development and multifamily lending, bank executives and analysts refocused on a new topic this past quarter: addressing perceptions of retail weakness in their real estate lending. The shift in focus followed a drop in CRE lending growth by banks in the first quarter to its slowest level in two years.
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