Manhattan, London Housing Markets Are Suddenly Reeling

When the latest reading on the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite printed within 1% of its record highs from 2006 a little more than a week ago, we asked a question that’s seemingly on every real-estate investors’ mind: Is this a “top” or a “breakout”?

Case

And with the effects of the Trump tax reform plan – which is expected to hammer real-estate markets, particularly in high-tax blue – having yet to take effect, already states – one early indicator that softness might be entering one of the country’s most iconic (and expensive) real estate markets was reported by Bloomberg today. To wit, the trend of landlords handing out rental concessions continued to intensify in January, as landlords are increasingly being pressured to hand out incentives like rent-free months or gift cards to entice potentially renters to sign on the dotted line. Concessions jumped to a record in January, with 49% of newly signed leases coming with some kind of incentive, according to appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Manhattan

That share surpasses the previous peak of 36% set just a month earlier.

All of these concessions have caused the median rent to drop 3.6% from a year earlier to $3,141 – the biggest decline since October 2011 – interrupting six years of near-constant growth.

“Landlords have finally realized, ‘OK, we have to adjust these prices because the concessions aren’t doing as much,'” said Hal Gavzie, who oversees leasing for Douglas Elliman. “Customers are looking past the concessions being offered and just looking for the best deals they can find.”

Rents fell last month in almost every Manhattan neighborhood, including some of the borough’s priciest, Citi Habitats said in its own report. On the Upper West Side, the median was $3,450, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier. Rents in the West Village dropped 4.5 percent to $3,700, while on the Upper East Side, they declined 5.3 percent to $3,185, the brokerage said.

“The dynamic has shifted,” with Brooklyn, Queens and the New Jersey waterfront becoming viable options to many renters,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “Tenants are looking for value, and they’re open to suggestions.”

While these data strictly apply to the rental market, we pointed out last year, the commercial real-estate market is having problems of its own: In September, we noted that sales of commercial real-estate plunged 50%, bringing commercial property purchases to their lowest level since 2012. And that problem isn’t isolated to NYC: Sales of commercial real estate are plunging across the US, and have been since peaking at $262 billion nationally in 2015.

And of course this was before HNA announced this morning that it would be liquidating $4 billion in US commercial real estate across New York City, San Francisco and Chicago and Minneapolis.

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But Manhattan isn’t the only high-end luxury market showing signs of softness. In London, according to the Financial Times, the gap between what sellers are asking and buyers offering for high-end homes is greater than it was in either 2008 or 2009.

But according to one real-estate market analyst, reality is beginning to set in for sellers.

Marcus Dixon, head of research at LonRes, said buyers were becoming more confident in demanding discounts and sellers were ore likely to accept lower offers. “People are going in with relatively cheeky offers, and sellers are accepting them,” said Mr Dixon. “There’s a bit of realism creeping in about what properties are worth.”

LonRes’s data cover London’s most exclusive districts, including Kensington and Chelsea, as well as prime parts of the capital extending from Canary wharf in the east to Richmond in the west and Hampstead in north London.

Outside the most expensive “prime central” areas, discounts to initial asking price stood at just over 9% – the highest level since 2009.

 

In a phenomenon that’s also manifested in some of America’s toniest zip codes – namely, Greenwich, Connecticut – some sellers are opting to take their homes off the market to wait for another day.

 

Many sellers have resisted dropping the prices of their properties, instead choosing to withdraw them from the market. Transaction volumes fell across central London in 2017, with the number of properties sold down 3.6% over the year as fewer homes were put to the market.

LonRes said people were still taking their homes off the market if they could not achieve their desired price. More than half the homes leaving the market in the fourth quarter of 2017 were withdrawn rather than sold.

To be sure, some sellers are still accepting lower offers – but the post-crisis boom times are over, one real estate analyst said. And, as of now, there are few signs to suggest an imminent return.

“There have been some transactions – but it’s not boom time,” said Mr. Scarisbrick. “It’s becoming obvious that you don’t set foot in the London market unless you really need a London house.”

Foreign buyers, who are attracted by favourable exchange rates between sterling and most currencies, were an exception, he said.“You can do well if you roll your sleeves up and get involved in a proper negotiation,” he added.

“But I can’t see any catalyst for a resurrection in the market.”

Some sellers are opting to cut their losses.

“Sellers are saying, ‘if I get a buyer at a reasonable level, I’ll do a deal,'” said Charles McDowell, who runs a prime London estate agency.

“There are deals being done- quite big ticket deals – but this is certainly a market where buyers perceive value.”

If there’s value to be found now – just wait another 14 months until April 2019, when the UK’s departure is expected to be complete.

And with cryptocurrency prices tanking after last year’s bubble, the great crypto-fueled property boom has seemingly fizzled before it even began.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson Mused That “The Purge” Could Really Happen… And He’s Not Wrong

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

The Washington Post recently published an article about Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. It started off mockingly, describing Carson’s theory that the movie The Purge could easily become really given a specific set of circumstances.

If you aren’t familiar with it, The Purge franchise is a series of movies that take place in a dystopian not-so-distant future. In that future world, things are pretty similar to how they are right now – there aren’t any flying cars or AI robots serving breakfast – except for one night a year.

And on that night, people can commit any crime without worry of punishment. Anything they do that night is legal, there are no first responders to save the victims, and there won’t be any court cases later.

It was Christmastime in Washington, and Ben Carson couldn’t stop talking about the apocalypse.

“Did you know,” the secretary of housing and urban development asked his acting chief of staff, Deana Bass, at a Capitol Hill holiday party, “that if North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon into our exosphere, it could take out our entire electrical grid?”

Bass shook her head.

“What’s that movie where there’s complete lawlessness and anarchy for one night a year?” Carson said, calmly resting his right hand over his left. “ ‘The Purge’! It will be like ‘The Purge’ all the time…” (source)

And honestly, he’s not wrong. There are a lot of people out there who seem like they’d salivate at the chance to off their neighbors without any repercussions. One of the movies, The Purge: Election Year, seems particularly timely after the vitriol of the last presidential race.

Crimes are becoming more shocking and brutal

We have reached an era of extreme brutality and virulent hatred that I certainly haven’t seen in my lifetime. Recently, I wrote an article based on the essay of Sir John Grubb about the end of empires and discussed unfathomable crimes.

Crimes are becoming more horrific and mindboggling. A 17-year-old girl was trying to walk home through a “no-go zone” in the UK and was sexually assaulted 3 separate times in one hour. A man in Pennsylvania tried to strangle his girlfriend to death because she changed the passcode to the IPad. A Georgia woman murdered her two toddler sons by putting them in the oven and then video-chatted their father.

A Hollywood fixture has been accused of assaulting and harassing dozens of women, which led thousands of other women to share their horror stories with a #MeToo hashtag on Twitter. I have seen report after report recently of teachers having sex with their high school students.

And things have become even more horrifying since then.

Just in today’s headlines, I saw:

And those crimes are a drop in the bucket. There are awful tales of such severe animal cruelty that I can’t get the headlines out of my mind. Tales of child abuse so mindblowing that it seems like they can’t possibly be real pop up every single day.

Complete disrespect for the political beliefs of others is now not only the norm, but it’s praised. People can lose their jobs because they voted for the “wrong” candidate. Cars with certain political stickers get targeted for vandalism. People are actually killing one another over politics. This is no longer about discourse – it’s about shouting over the people with different views.

In light of this environment, if it was totally legal to do away with people who were vocal about their different political philosophies, how far of a stretch is it to think that Dr. Carson is right about the potential of a Purge? Good people love to say how they would not participate, but if someone came for you and your family, you’d have no choice but to commit acts every bit as brutal as your attackers in order to survive.

When will it end?

Certainly, no time soon if we keep lumping people together because of who they voted for and assuming that we know everything about them based on the sticker on their back bumpers. We’ve had deeply controversial elections before and we managed to get past it, but when we generalize, we take away the humanity of the people we criticize.

When all we do is group people into “evil Republicans” and “crybaby Democrats” we miss the finer qualities of these people. And there ARE good qualities in just about every person, no matter what their political beliefs are. Even if you think someone is delusional, it’s important to try to understand the position from which they developed that perspective.

One has to wonder what it will take to bring us together. Dr. Carson strikes again with a movie reference.

…“There’s never been a time in the history of the world where a society became divided like this and did well,” Carson said as a crowd — including an off-duty New York Times reporter, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a slew of representatives from housing nonprofit organizations and old friends from his presidential campaign — circled him. “And we don’t really have a reason to be fighting each other. There was a movie some years ago, a Will Smith movie called ‘Independence Day’ . . .”

With his soothing, story-time cadences and heavy-lidded gaze, Carson proceeded to hold forth on how Earth’s near-annihilation laid bare the superficiality of all the world’s strife. If only, he argued, people realized that the fate of humanity hung in the balance, then Palestinians and Jews, or even the United States and Russia, could be “like best friends.” (source)

How can we help each other from a place of scorn and derision? How can we come together when we deliberately divide ourselves every single day?

Let’s hope it doesn’t take an alien invasion or epic disaster to make us mend fences. The time is coming when we’re going to need our neighbors and they’re going to need us. Hatred breeds nothing but more hatred and it’s only a matter of time before Dr. Carson is right about that whole Purge business.