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Friday, October 26, 2007

No end in sight for housing slump

By Ron Scherer Fri Oct 26, 4:00 AM ET

New York - Home prices are now at 2005 levels.

And, even with the falling prices, the number of unsold homes is the highest since 1999 – as far back as the data goes – suggesting to economists that more price- cutting is ahead.

One of the major implications of the continuing slide in housing is the drag on the total economy. With home sales now lower than many of the most pessimistic forecast, some economists worry that the economy could be closing the year in a weakened state.

In fact, Wall Street is now convinced that the Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates a second time this fall when the central bank convenes next week.

"Housing is clearly the big factor for the Fed," says Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial Advisors in Boston. "The Fed will clearly be looking at that drag [housing] on the economy and the financial consequences of the pullback."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Developer to create student apts. in Akron

By STAN BULLARD1:09 pm, October 17, 2007

Richland Communities Ltd. of Middleburg Heights and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic have announced plans by Richland to build a $25 million student apartment complex in downtown Akron.Developer Marty Mehall of Richland said the complex will consist of 150 units renting for upwards of $649 monthly, according to a news release issued by the Akron mayor’s office.

Exclusively for students attending the University of Akron, the complex would be located on the block bounded by Main, High, Exchange and Cedar streets. The mayor said the Richard Howe House, a home downtown dating to 1836, would be moved to accommodate the project.

The developer forecasts occupancy of the four-story buildings in August 2009 if construction begins next summer. Besides a fitness center, game room and study rooms suited to students, some parts of the complex will include an unspecified amount of retail space for eateries and other student-oriented services.Richland Communities is a prolific, though decidedly low profile, developer of apartments throughout the region.

The mayor’s office said Mr. Mehall has built single-family homes, and more recently apartments, for 24 years in Ohio and Florida.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Strip show via Crains Business

Blog entry: October 10, 2007, 2:19 pm Author: SCOTT SUTTELL

U.S. strip-mall vacancies inched up to 7.4% in the third quarter, a 5½-year high, according to a Wall Street Journal story that includes a comment from the CFO of Beachwood-based Developers Diversified Realty Corp.

The newspaper notes that rentals of retail space in weak housing markets “are getting hit disproportionately hard, as consumers rein in their purchases.”Sam Chandan, chief economist at Reis Inc., a New York real estate research firm, tells The Journal, “There's uncertainty in the market, and there's uncertainty on the part of retailers as to how consumers will respond to the changing conditions.”

The strip-mall vacancy rate was up from 7.3% in the second quarter and 7% in the year-earlier period.“Some retailers have tapped the brakes on expansion plans, according to several real estate executives,” The Journal says. “The home-furnishings area is particularly weak.”Even so, the paper notes, “Retail in most of the rest of the country is still solid.”

The Developers Diversified CFO, Daniel B. Hurwitz, is among real estate executives who see little effect from the market turmoil.“The consumer has been amazingly resilient, and when you combine that with the strong fundamentals of retail real estate, we are still cautiously optimistic," Mr. Hurwitz tells The Journal.