Pappas Realty Co... "Commercial Real Estate...Exclusively" in Northeast Ohio since 1957

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Now a Renter's Market* *(in some areas)

Across the U.S., desperate landlords are coming up with novel ways to attract new tenants and retain old ones

seans fans

Amy Gips loves her one-bedroom apartment in a swank Manhattan building that features a gym, golf simulator, yoga studio, and massage rooms. But she no longer feels she can justify paying $4,400 a month in rent, especially now that her ex-boyfriend has moved out.

A week ago, just as the 27-year-old associate at a private equity fund was planning her next move, a letter arrived from the property management company. The rent for the 750-square-foot Chelsea apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Madison Square Park was reduced $900, or about 20%. It changed her calculus, though she hasn't given up on the idea of shopping around for something under $3,000 a month, with one or two months of free rent thrown in.

For years, rising rents in Manhattan were thought to be as inevitable as baseball at Yankee Stadium. But times change, and in New York, landlords are scrambling to hold on to renters who have been hit by the economic downturn.

That means renters who, like Gips, are still in good financial shape now have the whiphand. "I was thinking that the rent was so high that there was no way I'd consider staying," says Gips. "Now that they've offered the reduction on their own, I kind of feel I should do a bit of negotiation."

Avoiding Empty Apartments

During the six months since the financial crisis began in earnest, control of the Manhattan rental market has switched to the tenants, who no longer have to pay broker fees (traditionally about 15%) and who can get up to three free months of rent and even gym memberships thrown in just for signing on the dotted line. The power shift might not be as dramatic in other parts of the country, but rents are getting more affordable from Charlotte to San Francisco. And landlords everywhere are getting more creative (and desperate) to hold down vacancies and prevent turnover.

• Landlords figure it's better to take a hit by offering a month or two of free rent and other freebies than to carry empty apartments that aren't generating income.


It's a nationwide phenomenon, according to Victor Calanog, research director at real estate data firm Reis. Half of apartment buildings reduced rents in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year -- the highest percentage since Reis began tracking apartment data in 1980. (By comparison, only 17% of buildings reduced rents in 2007.) And average asking rents fell 0.6%, to $1,046, in the U.S. in the first quarter, compared with the previous quarter, the largest drop since Reis began collecting quarterly data in 1999. And average effective rents, which include free months and other landlord incentives, fell 1.1%, to $984.

Effective rents fell in 64 of 79 markets that Reis tracks. Effective rents in San Francisco dropped 2.8% in the first quarter of this year, compared with the previous quarter -- the nation's largest quarterly decline. Rents fell 2.6% in New York City (all five boroughs), 1.3% in Charlotte, 2.5% in San Jose, 0.9% in San Antonio, 0.9% in Cleveland, 1.2% in Chicago, and 2.3% on Long Island. Only a few markets, such as Houston and Dallas, showed increases, Calanog says.

For Full Article written by Prashant Gopal via Yahoo Finance & Business Week, click HERE <-----

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Now is the time when the sickly sharks start circling each other… Only the strong will survive.

Pulte Homes agrees to buy Centex in $1.3B deal



In a deal that will create the nation's biggest homebuilder, Pulte Homes Inc. is buying Centex Corp. for $1.3 billion in stock as both companies try to survive the worst real estate recession in a generation.

The transaction, which also includes $1.8 billion of debt, will combine Pulte's strength in active-adult and retirement housing with Centex's hefty market share of first-time homebuyers.

The acquisition also will give Pulte large tracts of land in Texas and the Carolinas, two of the most resilient real estate markets. But Wall Street analysts are concerned about the risk of taking on so much land in other areas where home prices are still plummeting.


The new company, which will keep the Pulte name and headquarters in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., will have cash reserves totaling $3.4 billion and pay off $1 billion in debt by the end of the year.

"We believe the combined companies will allow us to return to profitability quicker than a standalone. Secondly, the cash position allows us to pay down debt while at the same time provide ample liquidity for the future," said Richard Dugas Jr., said Pulte's president and chief executive, who retain those titles over the combined enterprise.

Centex's chairman and chief executive, Timothy Eller, will become Pulte's vice chairman and will also work as a consultant for two years following the acquisition's completion.

The pairing of Pulte and Texas-based Centex comes at a time when homebuilders are still struggling to find their footing as credit remains tight and potential customers remain leery of buying a home in the face of rising unemployment. The industry in turn has attempted to stem the bleeding by drastically scaling back new construction and slashing prices to unload existing inventory.

Combining their operations the two companies will save about $350 million a year, including $250 million in overhead. There will be layoffs, but Dugas said it was too early to predict how many.
As part of the deal, Centex shareholders will receive 0.975 shares of Pulte common stock for each share of Centex that they own. The transaction is valued at $10.50 per Centex share based on Pulte's Tuesday closing stock price of $10.77. That represents a 38 percent premium to Centex's closing price of $7.62 Tuesday.

The companies called the deal a merger, but Pulte stockholders will own about 68 percent of the combined business and Centex shareholders will own the remaining 32 percent.

Shares of Centex soared $1.76, or 23 percent, to $9.38 in premarket activity, while Pulte stock sank 96 cents, or about 9 percent, to $9.81.
Centex had approximately 124.4 million shares outstanding for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008.

Pulte and Centex contend that the deal will help them capitalize on what the executives see as the beginning of a recovery in the housing market.

Last month the Commerce Department said new home sales climbed almost 5 percent from January to February, providing some hope that the sales may have reached a bottom.

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