Watson International


Looking back on 2016 and Looking Ahead to 2017

As 2016 has officially been put behind us, there is no doubt that there has been a dramatic shift in pace and demand for New York City real estate. Between the after-effects of the Brexit vote and the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, investors have seen a surprising positive turn in the real state industry.

This past year has seen much demand for both development and investment in New York City real estate. NBC New York highlights that “a total of 1,102 properties had contracts signed for $4 million or more this year, down sharply from 2013-2015 but still higher than 2012, before the condo boom started” (1). This proves that even in wavering economic times, real estate continues to prove itself to be a strong and wise investment for the future. In addition, it seems that economic speculation shows 2017 to be another prosperous year in real estate investments.

One of the predictions for the real estate industry in 2017 concerns the subject of foreign real estate investment. Steve Couzzo of the New York Post writes “The Trump Effect: Residential developers are praying, and we’re certainly hoping, that Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency will encourage, rather than scare off, continued foreign investment in high-end condo apartments” (2). That way, the current surplus of condos that are for sale will equal the demand the investors have. This will allow developers to continue developing luxury condos to keep up with the market’s demand. This will further stimulate the economy and create jobs both in and out of the real estate industry.

Another prediction is that the interest rates will continue to rise – which we have already seen implemented by Obama in the fourth quarter. Amy Zimmer quotes Mdrn. Residential’s Zach Ehrlich: “More sellers will adjust pricing to ensure they don’t get caught in receding sales market,” he [Ehrlich] said. “More buyers will lock-in and pull the trigger given upward trend of rates” (3). This will create a more competitive market among prospective investors, which will increase the return on investment in New York City real estate.

Picture via NY Curbed

Looking back on 2016, the outer boroughs saw a surge in condo prices, as developers focused on areas in both Brooklyn and Queens. Comparatively speaking, investing in a condo in Manhattan is becoming more attainable to investors who were looking elsewhere. In 2017, the Manhattan real estate market could attract more investors than last year. Zimmer writes “as pricey new developments floods the market in Long Island City and parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan might not look too bad anymore, brokers said…migration will go in all directions, said Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces” (3).

Olshan Realty states that “there is enough demand to sell apartment sight unseen. Olshan [also] said 58 percent of all condo sales were new construction sold off just a floorplan” (1). This further confirms that there is a strong demand for real estate as a solid investment and that the industry is once again stable after the 2006 housing crisis. Overall, despite market fluctuations, real estate remains a stable and wise investment: especially in New York City.

Written by Kylie Keller

(1). http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYC-Luxury-Real-Estate-Market-Drops-in-2016-Report-408408555.html
(2) http://nypost.com/2016/12/26/7-big-things-that-could-happen-to-nyc-real-estate-in-2017/
(3) https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20161220/astoria/affordable-housing-rent-buy-2017-residential-real-estate-nyc

The Value of the Dollar and How It Affects Real Estate

Often, the price of the dollar and the exchange rate against other currencies has a big impact on real estate in major markets like New York. A strong dollar means that relative prices have become more expensive than price in other countries, and a weaker dollar means that relative prices have dropped. A recent article in the Real Deal Magazine’s latest article speculates “Since election night, the dollar’s exchange rate against a basket of currencies has been on a tear. This has made designer jeans and jewelry in Manhattan’s retail boutiques more expensive for those earning their incomes in Euros, Yuan, or Yen. Could it also have an impact on New York’s real estate market?” (1).

Upon further investigation, it is obvious that there has been a recent shift in the value of the dollar, making it stronger against other currencies. Konrad Putzier of The Real Deal magazine writes that “the dollar is rising in large part because investors are betting that Trump’s planned fiscal stimulus will add inflationary pressure and boost the economy, making it more likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Higher interest rates in the U.S. should cause more money to flood into the country, which pushes the dollar up” (1). There is no doubt that an economic stimulation will greatly improve the state of the U.S. economy. Often when a fiscal stimulus is planned, it causes inflation. To prevent this inflation from weakening the value of the dollar, the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates so that the dollar remains strong relative to other currencies.

“If a rising dollar makes investing in New York more attractive for foreigners looking to benefit from currency appreciation, but also means they have less spending power in real terms, that should make assets at lower price points more attractive” (1). Real Estate for sale will once again become a hot commodity for investors all over the world and it is a great time to buy property before foreign investors and demand drive up prices.

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Image taken by Kylie Keller

Putzier writes, “even if Manhattan real estate is now more expensive, foreigners may still be inclined to invest if they believe the dollar will continue to strengthen.” Therefore, it is wise to invest in property now while the dollar continues to appreciate in value. That way, your investment will be worth more while the dollar stays strong. Time Magazine states that “The dollar surged to a more than 13-year peak on Wednesday, bolstered by upbeat U.S. economic data that showed the economy on track for steady growth and reinforced expectations of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve next month and in 2017″ (2). Great economic change and growth is evident for the next season and well into the New Year as Trump takes his seat as the President of the United States. Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at Forex Time Ltd says that “this could ensure dollar strength remains a key theme moving forward” (2).

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Written by Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal

(2) Time Magazine

4th Quarter Meets Political Progress

It is no secret that the next four years of having Donald Trump as the President of the United States will see many changes, especially in how the political sector within the Unites States will impact worldwide markets, especially the real estate industry.

Image Via New York Times

For some, it is difficult to see Trump taking the seat at the White House, given his lack of political experience. However, this is not taking into consideration his years of experience as a man of business and how that has impacted the economy in and of itself. Damian Ghigliotty of The Real Deal quotes Trump in his latest article, Welcome to Trump Land: ‘ “I’ve spent my entire life in business, looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world,” Trump told supporters during a speech at the New York Hilton Midtown on the morning of his stunning win. “That is now what I want to do for our country” ‘ (1). He aims to look and see undervalued areas in America and begin to create value within those underserviced areas.

Of course, the goal of most great politicians is to better America and all of its citizens for the great good: so they can live a fulfilling and promising life (the epitome of The American Dream). Clearly, this is the goal that Donald Trump does have in mind as he moves forward as the President – elect. Ghigliotty continues to write, “so far, the billionaire Republican has made some key gains — such as winning over larger chunks of the real estate industry since he was elected” (1). Those in the real estate industry have realized the potential that this presidency has on the market and how it can be a powerful influence on the fronts of development, sales, and leasing. Moreover, having a President that approaches issues from the perspective of a businessman will provide a fresh perspective on both leadership and policy. More people have come to realize that having a leading influencer as the President of the United States will guide not only the real estate industry, but the country, into potential economic success in the coming years.

Since the election, the industry is beginning a shift and starting to balance out. In an article by Biz Journals, Anthony Noto writes that “both prices and the number of sales recorded were down, with 89 new development sales tallied, compared to 110 in the prior month” (2). The general industry consensus that upcoming doom was around the corner for the real estate market due to recently imposed laws and regulations under Democratic leadership seems to be no longer on the horizon, and rather industry analysts predict that there may be a real estate market turnaround similar to the stellar stock market Trump Rally that has been occurring since election day. It seems so far, that if nothing else, industry professionals are claiming that the New York City housing market is reaching “real estate” market equilibrium. Market equilibrium is a healthy state for the market where both buyers and sellers are essentially happy and the market is being “stimulated.”

Written By Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal
(2) Biz Journal

The Impact of the Election Results So Far

Even as the President elect, Donald Trump has already made a significant impact on both real estate and financial market speculations. His announcements and plans prior to November 8th aimed to stimulate the economy by creating jobs, appreciating the value in real estate, reducing banking regulations, and reducing tax rates for those who buy and sell assets.


Image Via Flickr

Real estate finance is affected by two major factors: inflation and interest rates. Konrad Putzier of the Real Deal magazine writes, “[Trump’s] planned debt-financed fiscal spending spree – assuming it makes it past budget hawks in Congress – could well push up inflation and interest rates…rising rates are good and bad news for real estate: on the one hand, they make debt financing more expensive, push cap rates up and property prices down. On the other hand, rising rates are usually a sign of economic growth, and improving fundamentals tend to push up income from real estate.” (1). The rising rate could potentially slow down the rate at which developers and homeowners can receive lending, and ultimately the rate at which houses and condos are being built.

In 2010, a regulation known as Basel III was instated to prevent developers from flooding the market with new properties too quickly. The Real Deal Magazine says it “require[s] banks to keep a larger equity cushion as a buffer against any loans deemed risky, including real estate construction loans” (1). This, of course, was put in place after the housing market crash in 2008. The government wanted to be sure that no loans (especially sub prime mortgages and bonds) were distributed that seemed disproportionately high risk. Konrad Putzier writes that “the current regulations are “slowing the lending community’s willingness to finance construction, which is working to stop overheating and overbuilding,” (1).

This means that in New York City the surplus of condos on the market will begin to decrease, and that the market for buyers will likely become significantly more competitive. This has a two fold meaning: first, it means that the time to buy is now, and second, it means that it will be a good time to sell soon because there will be a higher demand for properties on the market. On the other hand, Barney Frank told the Real Deal Magazine that he “think[s] that’s going to make more capital available,” pointing out that banks would be left with few other investment options (1). Hiten Semati of the Real Deal writes “The California Association of Realtors protested the ruling, saying it would limit consumer choice. It’s not clear, however, why this would be the case: though the ruling sets a higher standard for dual-agency deals, it doesn’t restrict them. And since dual-agency deals make up a sizable chunk of the market, the ruling has the potential to increase transparency for a large number of buyers. And that’s a positive step” (2).

“Arguably the biggest way in which Trump’s victory could impact real estate finance is through interest rates. Trump has proposed a major infrastructure plan and tax cuts… a debt-financed spending spree typically can accelerate inflation, which in turn is likely to push up interest rates” (1). Now that Donald Trump has been elected President, he will have control over choosing the decision-makers that influence the interest rates.

This could in turn shift the market drastically in a positive way, and stimulate economic growth, especially in the real estate market. The Real Deal states, “again, investors appear to predict this will happen: the dollar has appreciated by about 4 percent against the Euro since Nov. 8. Chandan argued that because the dollar could well continue to rise, investors may continue to flock into New York real estate to benefit from the appreciation” (1). As evidence already shows, the markets have taken an upward turn in light on the election results.

Written By Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal: How Trump Could Shake Up Real Estate Finance
(2) The Real Deal

The Reality of the Real Estate Market

There is no doubt that the recent presidential election results will greatly impact the real estate market, especially the New York City real estate market. We have already seen how the election results have favorably affected the stock market, with record highs being hit post-election and wise investors earning loads of money between the 8th and 9th of November. Faith Hope Consolo of Douglas Elliman states in the Wall Street Journal that she is “predicting the best holiday season [she has] seen in five years” (5). Antonia Watson of Corcoran asserted in a recent interview that “with fewer banking regulations, and with tax breaks for high income earners and corporations on the horizon, there is certainly a great chance for the market to repair itself during the next few years. For the first time in eight years, the wealthiest Americans will have more disposable income to invest back into the economy, which ultimately boosts it.”

It is no surprise that the investment sales market has been suffering in New York City and has greatly impacted the overall real estate market. As a result of the decline in investment sales, “New York City’s tax revenues declined about 1 percent in the past few months, reversing a trend of continuous growth since 2012.” (1). Despite trends that the media has portrayed, there have been a decline in sale prices and the market has taken the biggest hit since the housing crisis of 2008. Properties have been sitting on the market unsold for record lengths of time and the mortgage market has become distressed.

Photo Via Forbes

In the latest report by The Real Deal, “In the distressed mortgage market, private equity companies and landlords may purchase over-leveraged debt in foreclosure and attempt to finish the foreclosure as a means of taking over the building. While they may have enough capital to purchase the debt, oftentimes these distressed units sit in limbo while the new owner waits for the foreclosure case to conclude or for the market to recover so they can resell the buildings for a profit.” (4). This applies not only to property owners but also investors who have purchased condos and residences in this state of the market.

Konrad Putzier of The Real Deal writes that “New York City’s residential market had the biggest quarter since at least 2006, according to a new Real Estate Board of New York report, with $13.6 billion worth of condominiums, co-ops and one-to-three family homes trading hands between July and September” (3). What the report does not show, is that these properties have been sitting on the market for a long period of time, and the turnover rate reflects a decline in the market, rather than a simple increase in sales.

The reason that prices of condos in all five boroughs are slowly increasing, is because managers are adding amenities to add perceptive value to make up for the decline in the market because they cannot pay their increasing property taxes. The Wall Street Journal writes that “an index that tracked confidence of both commercial and residential brokers fell sharply in 2016 and to its lowest-ever level during the third quarter, according to report compiled by the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry group. The decline corresponded with weakening residential and commercial sales, especially in Manhattan” (5). The sense throughout the industry post-election seems to be one of relief and confidence in the trajectory of the stock market and real estate market.

Written by Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal
(2) New York Times
(3) The Real Deal
(4) The Real Deal
(5) Wall Street Journal

New York City Real Estate Remains Popular

This past quarter, New York has seen an overall growth in number of transactions. “According to the latest batch of market reports, Manhattan’s residential market got a major boost in supply in the third quarter […] and New York City saw fewer multifamily deals from July through September” (1). Overall, the transaction volume in New York was high because with inventory increasing, days on the market increases, and prices declining – it is an excellent time for investors to be purchasing. In total, there were over 1,700 transactions worth almost $575 million dollars in the third quarter. It is certainly a buyers market!

Photo by History Channel

“Buyers in Manhattan and Brooklyn increasingly bought more new development units priced between $1 million and $3 million” (1). As price declines are “trickling down” from the luxury market to the below $1M mark, many apartments are experiencing regular price reductions to compete with neighboring listings, which is a great opportunity to take advantage of the market’s current state.

However, Brooklyn is appearing to be a bit of an outlier in the overall market shift, which may or may not be due to delayed closings that had contracts signed one to two years ago. Kyna Doles of The Real Deal Magazine writes that “Brooklyn residential sales prices continue to shatter records. The average price for townhouses in the third quarter exceeded $1 million for the first time, and condo and co-op prices reached a record price of $815,176” (1). Many of the apartments going on sale have incentives and unique amenities that appeal to a buyer willing to pay a higher price. For example, the New York Times shows different homes in Brooklyn neighborhoods that have seen recent market growth. Michelle Higgins writes that “In Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, [there is] a two-bedroom two-bath co-op [for sale] with a mezzanine level, a washer/dryer and walk-in closets in a former factory converted in 1979” (2). The unique history and charm that these apartments offer in relatively affordable price points create value for a buyer, thus raising the overall average and price prospective home buyers expect to pay when looking to invest.

Written by Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal

(2) The New York Times

The New York City Real Estate Market: The Business of Legacy and Numbers

When you own a real estate firm or property management company the assets associated with said firm grow. Most owners and developers usually capitalize on existing property and do not sell right away. In hot markets like New York City, where some of the most coveted real estate in the world exists, owning property is a rare and coveted commodity.

In a recent article in the Real Deal Magazine, Konrad Putzier quotes Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin: “‘It’s a dynasty business, it had been very much a place where if you’re in the family, you’re in the family business” (1). Real Estate is a tradition: an art that gets passed on for generations. Family dynamics are extremely common in the industry, especially in New York City. Parents in real estate have kids that have grown up with the knowledge and the atmosphere of the business. When you live in New York, avoiding Real Estate is a virtually impossible task: it is one of the core industries in the city, and influencer in other cities, and is the life-blood of the streets.

The New York City Real Estate Dynasties are major players in not just the tri-state area, but the world. BizNow did an article about the history of the New York City Real Estate dynasties that have been passed along for generations: Benjamin Mazzara profiles legendary power players like The Rockefeller Family and the LeFrak family.

As much as real estate is about the legacy, it is an industry of making money. Analyzing the times, being able to see what the public needs, and figure out the best way to give it to them. In an article in The Real Deal magazine, “Stern argued that a residential construction wave preceding a commercial one is better than the other way around, because the added population makes the neighborhood vibrant” (1). It is important to the public to have a rather diverse population and to be able to see growth in the neighborhoods and environments in which they live. Neighborhood vibrancy is an automatic “value added” feature for developers and property managers.

Image via Motovo

“A $1.5 billion construction loan, a $6 million sale of a vacant lot in the East Village and a partnership doomed after just eight days — in real estate, it’s all about the numbers” (2). Anything can happen in the real estate industry, especially somewhere as competitive as New York City. It is all about negotiation and sales and who can market a property better; and it is not personal, it is business.

Written by Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal: Real Estate is Becoming a Mediocracy

(2) The Real Deal: NYC Real Estate’s Week in Numbers

Trump, The Taxes, & Real Estate: What does it Mean for the 2016 Presidential Election?

Recently, there has been some interest in Donald Trump’s Real Estate Holdings which some people think may have an effect on the upcoming Presidential Election. This speculation leads to the following question: “How will this have an effect (if at all) on the Presidential Race and on New York City real estate?” Exploring this topic will hopefully encourage the American people as they head into a very important season of voting, and will expose many of the reasons why the nation (specifically New York City) benefits strongly from a tax perspective due to Mr. Trump and his organization.

Donald Trump has always been in the media and is known worldwide as an iconic developer for commercial property, residential property, and business enterprise. Like all law abiding citizens, Trump has abided by tax guidelines and has paid as much tax as required by state and federal law. Like all taxpayers, also, of course Trump has claimed losses and deductions – a legal accounting practice which many on the left are hypocritically criticizing him for. “Many critics and journalists in the United States continue to criticize Donald Trump’s past and how it has affected real estate and politics not just in New York, but all over America.” (2). This criticism however is unwarranted, as it goes without question that Trump has been instrumental in the accumulation of national wealth throughout America, both directly and consequentially.

Donald Trump has created epic volumes of tax dollars for the United States. He has been creating jobs, developing commercial buildings, managing hotels, building condominiums, and investing in businesses throughout the entirety of his career thus far. All of these enterprises create a pretty penny for Uncle Sam. Every state, specifically New York, benefits off each homeowner residing in a Trump condo due to their hefty real estate tax obligations. Additionally, every time a luxury condo in a Trump building is bought over $1,000,000, the buyer pays a mansion tax of 1% of the sale price to the government. Furthermore, whenever a homeowner sells a unit in a Trump building (or any building for that matter) the city and state then collect those transfer taxes of about 2% of the sale price. Additionally, every time a seller profits under the current democratic legislation, the capital gains tax paid by the seller is a whopping 35% of the sale price. Let’s not forget also, that every property owner who profits off their sale can reinvest their post-tax liquid capital into the stock market, real estate market, or the like, generating further taxable income, and once again stimulating the economy. Let’s also not forget the real estate brokers, who collect taxable commission income off any sale executed within a Trump building. Additionally, in every building that Trump has developed, the entire staff of the building contribute their income tax dollars to both the state and federal government along with the entire staff of the management company. And in terms of the hotels and commercial buildings, every single hotel and commercial building developed by Trump has generated tremendous income for the country, not only through the income tax of the vast number of employees hired at the venues but also through property tax alone.

Photo via Inman

It is evident that throughout the course of history, Trump has created billions of tax dollars. This could be why the affluent in the real estate industry throughout the country are voting for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. According to an article and a poll taken by the Inman Report, “nearly 48 percent of the 1,086 respondents said they planned to vote for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton lagged behind by 15 percentage points: Only 32 percent of respondents plan to vote for Clinton” (3). It comes as no surprise that the major players and influencers in the real estate industry – developers, property managers, brokers, landlords and investors – are in favor of the candidate who has proven successful in driving the economy upwards through successful real estate and business maneuvers. Trump supporters state that “there is no way our economy can grow unless we cut taxes and government expenses. Trump is the only one who would be able to bring businesses back to the U.S., increase our productivity, and be able to lower taxes” (3).

How does it affect the New York City real estate market? Like most industries, the news and press does have an impact on the public’s perception. When it comes to real estate and investments, this industry can be considered highly sensitive to the news and press releases. Once there is new information that will in fact have a long term impact on people’s overall wealth and net worth, it changes the way that people view leaders in that industry and make decisions from there on out. Since Donald Trump has a strong reputation and prestige within the real estate industry, there is no doubt that his reputation will continue to hold firm during the final course of this Presidential Election.

(1) New York Times
(2) NPR
(3) Inman

Charting the Foreign Investment Trends: Where is the New York Real Estate Market Now?

As of late, there has been a lot of speculation with regards to the New York City Real Estate market. With New York seemingly at the center of all media channels (both in and out of real estate) it is hard to ignore New York as one of the top target markets for domestic and foreign investors.

A significant amount of action has come directly from the Middle East. Bloomberg reports that many investors from that region have shown a significant amount of interest in purchasing real estate in the last two quarters, especially in commercial real estate. Christine Maurus writes, “Economic growth and favorable exchange rates combined to make the U.S. appealing, particularly for sovereign-wealth funds, according to CBRE Group Inc. Among the $6.5 billion of New York deals was Qatar Investment Authority’s purchase of a stake in the Manhattan West development, and, following the period CBRE studied, the authority paid $622 million for 9.9 percent of the company that owns the Empire State Building” (1). The Empire State Building is just one example of the many planned investments for the future.

The Real Deal magazine published that “Middle Eastern investors pumped $6.5 billion into New York City in the past 18 months ending in June” (2). The government also announced that it would continually make investments in the Untied States, specifically the New York market. “In 2015, the Qatar Investment Authority announced that it would invest $35 billion in the U.S. over the next five years” (2).

Photo From WSJ

Even though much has been planned for future investments, there have been a lot of transactions in the present just between the United States and the Middle East. The Real Deal states that “the purchases of nearly $10 billion of U.S. commercial real estate by Middle Eastern investors in the first half of 2016 represented over 20 percent of global cross-regional investment, CBRE said” (2). Since there will be more than triple that amount of investment over the next five years, that percentage of cross regional investment will most likely increase. Given the transparency of the Qatar government as well as the newer United State regulations, it will be both clear and easy to see the patterns in which the real estate market in New York City will be trending.

The benefit to having investors from other countries pour into domestic markets in the stimulation of the economy, room for development to be completed, and the possible rise in competition of investors within the United States. The resurgence of interest in the New York real estate market comes with many advantages.

That being said, there is also an opposition to cease the continued growth of foreign investment in the United States. The government’s website clearly states that “congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program” (3). However, there has been a recent movement to modify this bill which would remove and completely change the dynamic of foreign investments in the United States, as it applies to Nee York Real Estate specifically. The Real Deal Magazine published that “The new bill, sponsored by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), would raise the minimum amount investors would need to pump in to get a green card. That in itself was expected. But what makes it unusual is a provision that would require existing investors to retroactively cough up the additional amounts. It is this provision, real estate insiders say, that could cause investors to pull their money out of U.S. real estate projects, leaving developers in the lurch” (4). This bill would affect the both citizenship of foreigners as well and foreign investors and the minimum requirements and it would, effectively, end the EB-5 program.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any changes to the EB 5 Program and how recent events like terrorist attacks will continue to affect foreign and domestic real estate. According to the IRS website, “generally requires that foreign financial Institutions and certain other non-financial foreign entities report on the foreign assets held by their U.S. account holders or be subject to withholding on withholdable payments” (5). Since New York is such a large target for terrorists and investors, both the terrorists attacks and laws to keep the transparency in foreign transactions could deter investors from seeing New York as a safe place to live and to invest.

Written By Kylie Keller

(1) Bloomberg
(2) The Real Deal: Middle Eastern Investors
(3) US.Gov
(4) The Real Deal
(5) IRS

The Recovery of the New York Real Estate Market

The decrease in sale prices and the slow completion of new development projects has real estate investors around the world concerned for the New York market. Some of the patterns the market has experienced as of late have been compared to those of the state of the market during the crash in 2008. Dan Fasulo, the former head of research at Real Capital Analytics told the New York Times that the events leading up to what we are currently experiencing can be compared to “‘2007 all over again'” (1).

It appears that there is a repetition in US economy, especially when focusing on real estate. There have always been periodic dips in the marketplace, and periods of recession and recovery seem to be lasting longer than periods of economy expansion. In an article in The Real Deal magazine, Rich Bochmann writes “The hard reality is that the U.S. economy has never gone through a period of expansion that’s lasted for more than 10 years (in fact, the norm is less than eight” (1).

Image Via Boston.com

At first, it was easy to see the trends in the market recession favoring the luxury market, since the developers had gone through a trend, “but it’s not just the luxury condo market that has industry players concerned” (1). Both commercial properties as well as non-luxury condos and co-ops are a tough sell on the market, and are becoming increasingly tougher. Some developers have even gone so far as to convert luxury properties into rental units, so as not to lose billions of dollars or face foreclosure.

However, condo buildings converted to rental units are really only smoke and mirrors. The underlying issue seems to be the actual amenities of the units themselves. A fractional portion of the world population can afford high end apartments, but even fewer will be able to afford to rent them. The Real Deal writes, “condo developers have been building much larger units than they did in the past, making it harder to convert those apartments into rentals.” (1)

The debate on whether to sell or not to sell still remains on the table for a lot of developers. Both vacancy rates have increased and sales activity has decreased. In a study done by Patch, “Of the 300 markets in the United States, New York City lagged way toward the back at No. 242. WalletHub studied each of the markets for the average number of days a [listing] remains unsold, percentage of homes selling for a gain, foreclosure rate and vacancy rate, among 11 different factors” (2) “New York’s investment sales market has been in correction mode for about a year, with overall sales activity in Manhattan dropping by 22 percent to $22.7 billion in the first half of the year” (1). The New York marketplace now has become rather sensitive; and many investors, hedge funds, and developers are reluctant to invest in the New York Market – let alone end users. CEO of Time Equities, Francis Greenberger, told TRD last month that he would be “‘very reluctant’ to build a new condo in the city now. Like many developers, he has sought opportunities elsewhere” (1). Of course, publicizing that the New York real estate market is sensitive, leads to a further dip in the economy – which is why many large brokerage firms are taking constant measures not to share the latest data publicly. Most brokerage houses fear a pending domino effect as word gets out: if people know that the New York market is not stable, they will not invest; and those presumptions, thoughts, and speculations regarding the market will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In an article in The Real Deal Magazine, Matthew Galligan states that ” ‘From a real estate perspective, there are two key drivers to success: one is low interest rates, and the other is employment growth.’ With the former, there are signs that the party might be coming to an end. In August, Yellen signaled a stronger case for raising rates after kicking the can in July following a weak jobs report and uncertainty over the impending Brexit vote” (2).

It is the actual numbers, the interest rates, that will become another ultimate determining factor for the future of the real estate market – since international cash has virtually entirely dried up to due FATCA laws imposed on March 1st. The Federal Reserve meeting in September will help determine the trajectory of the real estate market; and how it affects both the New York real estate market and the US economy.

Written by Kylie Keller

(1) The Real Deal
(2) Patch