Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to buy REITs in a crowded market

Bargains are gone, but thin supply supports prices

June 01, 2012|Rachel Koning Beals

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Real Estate Investment Trusts have been a shelter in the storm.
REITs make for a near-perfect recovery story. This battered area bounced back from the credit crisis faster than the rest of the financial sector and has provided income-oriented investors with juicy yields. REIT mutual funds, for example, rose 7.5% on average in 2011, beating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s(US:SPX) 2.1% total return.
Indeed, the popularity of this bond and stock hybrid is largely due to those plump yields. The average REIT yielded 4.34% last year, compared to an average 1.87% yield for a 10-year Treasury note, according to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Except REITs’ attributes are no secret. Demand for REITs may have squeezed out much of their value.
Scott Crowe, global portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers, said the run-up, especially in U.S.-focused investments, has dulled some of REITs’ appeal. Still, he expects average earnings growth across REITs in the respectable high-single-digits.

Yet, as a diversifier and inflation hedge, REITs have a place in most portfolios. And if you already have REIT exposure, it’s probably worth keeping.
REITs hold physical properties that generate revenue from rent payments — think shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, offices and timberland. They receive favorable tax treatment for distributing a significant portion of revenue as dividends: a win-win for both the REIT and investors.
“REITs provide another layer of diversification since the assets show lesser correlation to the overall stock market,” said Tom Lydon, president of Global Trends Investments and editor of “REIT ETFs provide investors with a broad, diversified mix, which helps investors to avoid picking out the wrong REIT security,” he added.
Scant supply
Some experts argue that REITs are too closely aligned with stocks under tough market conditions. Investment in REITs plunged almost 50% during the real estate market collapse and financial crisis. And the category’s recent gains are already showing signs of cooling. The Dow Jones All REIT index posted a total return of 10.5% in the first quarter, down from a 15% gain in the fourth-quarter of 2011.
Marc Halle, managing director at Prudential Real Estate Investors, said the fundamental case for REITs is intact.
“Nothing moves up in a straight line,” he said. “Real estate is a simple business of supply and demand and a look through the major markets reveals no significant new supply down the road.”
After all, major commercial projects don’t pop up overnight; construction typically lasts three to five years from groundbreaking. And, as global banks deleverage, only real estate firms able to borrow in capital markets have had the financing to expand. Balance sheets are back in order, favoring the soundest REITs.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NAI Global’s Chief Economist Sees Unprecedented Global Government Intervention in his Latest White Paper


NAI Global’s Chief Economist Sees Unprecedented 
Global Government Intervention in his Latest White Paper

“As regulatory legislation becomes increasingly burdensome, 
businesses are at the mercy of an unfamiliar and ever changing political landscape,” 
states NAI Global Chief Economist Dr. Peter Linneman.

PRINCETON, NJ, August 6, 2012 – In his latest white paper, “Unprecedented Global Government Intervention,” NAI Global Chief Economist, Dr. Peter Linneman, discusses the dangers and pitfalls of the extraordinary wave of global government intervention we are currently witnessing in capital markets. Citing historical examples, he demonstrates that intervention leads to prolonged periods of stagnation and uncertainty; “In all, government activity is now deterring the very investment it was hoping to spur.”

“As we enter the third quarter of 2012, we are seeing the pattern of unprecedented government intervention continue,” states Dr. Linneman. “Governments around the world are using the powerful tools at their disposal; spending, regulations, fiscal policy, and taxes to interfere with the free market in hope of sparking economic recovery. The result is that instead of recovery, we are experiencing further distress as the Euro crisis intensifies and even Brazil and China’s economies slow.”

On the U.S. economy, Dr. Linneman notes, “the irony is that the belief in big government is occurring even as trust in the U.S. government (and most other governments) is near an all-time low.”  He adds, “Huge deficit spending causes private spending to decline as the private sector realizes that it has a greater future tax liability of equal magnitude. We have witnessed this in the U.S., almost dollar-for-dollar in deficit spending.”

The white paper also addresses the historical cause and effects of regulatory intervention, unemployment statistics, and the upcoming Fiscal Cliff set to unfold in January 2013.

Unprecedented Global Government Intervention follows Global Economic Round-Up where Dr. Linneman evaluated the state of the global economy in Europe, Asia and the United States, including the impact of the continuing European debt crisis, the rise of China and India and the current state of the U.S. economic recovery.  NAI Global’s white papers and research resources are available for free download under Publications/Articles & White Papers.

About NAI Global
NAI Global is one of the leading commercial real estate services providers worldwide. Headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, NAI Global manages a network of 5,000 commercial real estate professionals and 350 offices in over 55 countries, and completes over $45 billion in annual transaction volume. Since 1978, NAI Global clients have built their businesses on the power of NAI’s expanding network. NAI Global’s extensive services include corporate real estate services, brokerage and leasing, property and facilities management, real estate investment and capital market services, due diligence, global supply chain consulting and related advisory services. To learn more, visit

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Contact:  Vito Barbiera, Director of Communications,

Monday, August 6, 2012

FD Stonewater Sells McAllen, Texas Property To GSA Investor Group

FD Stonewater announced today that it has sold a recently delivered, build-to-suit facility under long-term lease to the U.S. Government in McAllen, TX. The buyer of the 24,000-square foot U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility was a New York City-based investment group focused on buying Government assets with long-term leases in place.
Arlington, VA (PRWEB) August 03, 2012
FD Stonewater announced today that it has sold a recently-delivered, build-to-suit facility under long-term lease to the U.S. Government in McAllen, TX. The buyer of the 24,000 square foot U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility was a New York City-based investment group focused on buying Government assets with long term leases in place. The facility, which houses ICE’s Office of Investigations at the U.S.-Mexico border, is under a 10 year lease to the Government. Claiborne Williams, FD Stonewater’s lead development principal, said ...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese is coming to N McAllen

Chuck E. Cheese is coming to N McAllen in the 
Valencia Marketplace, near Sam's Club! 

A company spokesman says the new pizza eatery will create about 50 new jobs in the McAllen area.

A projected opening date is set for December 2012 or January 2013. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Michigan Based Manufacturer Expands Operations to McAllen

Posted Fri Jun 01, 2012 | McAllen Economic Development Corporation

Grand Rapids Foam Technologies (GRFT), a family-owned polyurethane manufacturing and distribution business out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has finalized negotiations to expand their operation to McAllen, TX. With an investment of approximately $2.5 million USD, they have leased over 46,000 square feet from Verde Realty in the Sharyland Business Park, and will begin production this summer as a state-of-the-art foam molding, fabricating, upholstery, and assembly facility. With this investment, GRFT plans to create over 150 jobs once the operation is in full production.
GRFT boasts over 64 years of experience in the business, and ...
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Friday, June 1, 2012

The Real Truth About Mobile and Retail (infographic)

Mark Fidelman, Contributor
The good news is that retailers are creating mobile apps. The bad news is that their customers dislike them.
So one has to ask: “Why are retailers so bad at mobile?”
It’s actually very simple. A clear, profit winning model has yet to emerge because the industry is in experimentation mode. Foursquare had the best opportunity to create a success formula for retail, but I’ve been underwhelmed by their strategy. Fatigue has set in for their product and that doesn’t fare well in a fast paced, competitive industry. 
So does anyone do it well? Starbucks is off to a good start, but not many retailers can replicate their loyalty card meets payment refill model because of the expense of setting it up.  Amazon of course is being accused of stealing sales from retailers, but they’re only able to because: one, retailers are not creating engaging apps of their own. Two, they’ve made purchasing items extremely easy over mobile devices.  
To better understand how other top retailers have responded to the mobile challenge, global IT and business solution providerCognizant, analyzed the offerings (Mobile Web and iPhone/Android apps) of players featured in the list of Top 100 Retailers.
And there is an important message for retailers in this analysis.  Though retailers offer a slew of useful features, mobile offerings are not meeting customer expectations. That’s bad news for retailers that are spending money, time and resources in response to the incredible growth in consumer mobile devices. That’s bad news if you’re losing sales to Amazon.
To be sure, there are tremendous opportunities to engage and profit from mobile customers. I’ll cover this in the future. For now, there are three things I recommend retailers do to take advantage of  mobile.
  1. Create customer loyalty through smart, innovated apps that produce value for the customer. You can then later push out promotional notifications.
  2. Make it easy to research and purchase your retail items in-store and out.
  3. Your website must be optimized for mobile use. This is not an option.
I recognize that I’ve only touched the surface of what needs to be done, but have a look at the Cognizant infographic. I think you’ll agree; retailers have a long way to go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Banks Finally Willing To Catch Up on CRE Borrowing Demand - CoStar Group

Banks Finally Willing To Catch Up on CRE Borrowing Demand - CoStar Group

Multiple Lending Sources Now Offering Programs for CRE Properties
May 16, 2012
Having experienced stronger demand over the past three months, banks have started easing their lending standards for commercial real estate

The move is another signal that banks are more willing to start growing their CRE loan portfolios as they have in other lending areas. 

The banking sector overall also has substantially improved its liquidity position over the past few years. Indeed, large banks in the aggregate have more than doubled their holdings of cash and securities since 2009, according to remarks last week by Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve System. The credit quality of large banks' assets is looking better as well, although the improvements have been uneven across types of 
In the aggregate, delinquency rates on loan portfolios at large banks have declined substantially from their peaks. However, while delinquencies on commercial and industrial (C&I) loans and consumer loans have fallen to the lower end of their historical ranges, delinquencies on loans backed by commercial or residential real estate have declined only moderately and remain elevated, Bernanke said. 

Notwithstanding the various headwinds, credit conditions in the United States have improved significantly in a number of areas. Many--though certainly not all--businesses and households are finding it easier to borrow than they did a few years ago, in part because of better conditions in financial markets more broadly. 

"In a market that has been in flux for the last few years, the lending environment continues to be the shining beacon of hope," said Gary Goss, senior vice president debt placement services at Cassidy Turley San Diego. "The abundance of competitive lending sources and very low interest rates, combined with an absence of significantly damaging global economic news over the past few months, has created an excellent environment to finance commercial real estate." 

"Twelve months ago, lenders (for the most part) were seeking permanent debt for multi-family, industrial, retail and office property types alone," Goss said. "In recent months, we have noticed a rise in multiple lending sources offering programs for construction, hospitality and special use properties and we expect them to continue to expand their lending types as a way to satisfy their huge appetite for accumulating loans. Mezzanine debt and Joint Venture Equity financing is also plentiful and is playing a major role in making up for the downward shift in lower leverage senior debt." 

Overall, at this point in time, the debt markets appear to be in a very good state as clients see this as an opportunity to capitalize on favorable financing conditions, Goss added. 

Signs of improvement notwithstanding, the boost in loan growth is not without a potential downside. 

While loan growth adds to a bank's earning assets, growing loans faster than deposits can also put pressure on banks' liquidity, according to Moody's Investors Service. 

"Despite our favorable view of recent loan growth, as the economy recovers, history suggests that underwriting standards will deteriorate," Moody's analyst wrote in their most recent weekly credit markets report. "Already, a number of banks mentioned in their recent quarterly earnings teleconferences that loan pricing competition has increased. Our experience has been that after affecting price, competition typically weakens loan structures and covenants. Once that occurs, it will translate into asset quality problems down the road. Therefore, a leading indicator for banks' asset quality will be the pace of their loan growth relative to overall economic growth." 

For now, though, Moody's said that is not a worry because U.S. banks' are in the enviable position of having more deposits than loans. 

The recent loan growth is also positive because it typically represents customer growth. An indication that this is particularly true now is the fact that most banks have not reported an increase in credit line utilization rates. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No. 3: McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas - Joel Kotkin - Forbes

No. 3: McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas - Joel Kotkin - Forbes

By Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires

Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D.C.  Buoyed by government spending, the local economy expanded 17% from 2007 to 2012. But for the first time in four years, the capital region has fallen out of the top 15 big cities in our annual survey of the best places for jobs, dropping to 16th place from fifth last year.
It’s a symptom of a significant and welcome shift in the weak U.S. economic recovery:  employment growth has moved away from the public sector to private businesses. In 2011, for the first time since before the recession, growth in private-sector employment outstripped the public sector. More than half (231) of the 398 metro areas we surveyed for our annual study of employment trends registered declines in government jobs, with public-sector employment dropping 0.9 percent overall. Meanwhile, private-sector employment expanded 1.4 percent.
Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list — the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade — but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing,  technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.
To determine the best cities for jobs, we ranked all 398 current metropolitan statistical areas based on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering November 2000 through January 2012. Rankings are based on recent growth trends, mid-term growth, long-term growth and the region’s momentum. (Click here for a detailed description of our methodology.) We also broke down rankings by size — small, medium and large — since regional economies differ markedly due to their scale.

The Best Big Cities For Jobs

The Best Mid-Size Cities For Jobs

The Best Small Cities For Jobs

The strong growth of the energy sector, and Texas, is even more evident in our overall ranking, which includes many small and medium-sized metropolitan areas. The top 10 fastest growers overall include such energy-centric places as No. 1 Odessa, Texas; second-place Midland, Texas;  Lafayette, La. (fourth place); Corpus Christi, Texas (sixth), San Angelo, Texas (seventh); and Casper, Wyo. (10th).
The shift from public to private can be seen in the falling rankings of many of the most government-dependent economies. Outside of Washington, D.C. (where federal employment actually has continued to grow), Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md., took an even more dramatic tumble in our big city table,  dropping 34 places to No. 46.There were sizable relative declines in the rankings of many state capitals such as Springfield, Ill. and Madison, Wisc. College towns, which had previously done well in the face of the recession, have also moved sharply lower in our rankings, due to a combination of state budget cuts and better performance elsewhere. College Station, Texas, plummeted from fourth last year on our overall list to 167th; Fairbanks, Alaska, slid from 15th place to 165th, Corvallis, Ore., tumbled from 40th place to 203rd place; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dropped from 81st to 246th.
Budget ...
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