23 Aralık 2007 Pazar

FHA Legislation Will Help Homeowners, Economy, Says NAR

The FHA Modernization Act of 2007, passed today by the U.S. Senate, would help protect the interest of America’s current and future homeowners by giving borrowers a safer alternative to riskier mortgage products while also helping many homeowners who may be facing foreclosure, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

“A reformed FHA is positioned to help homeowners who face unaffordable mortgage payments as a result of resetting adjustable subprime loans and help bring stability to local markets and economies,” said NAR President Richard Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. “NAR commends the leadership of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; and Sens. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., for passing the Federal Housing Administration reform bill, S. 2338, today.”

NAR has long supported FHA modernization legislation that would increase loan limits, reduce or eliminate the statutory 3 percent minimum cash down payment, and give FHA increased flexibility and the ability to streamline certain programs, in addition to strengthening the loss mitigation program.

“FHA can once again be a leader in providing safe loan products and preventing foreclosures by authorizing lenders to help borrowers who are in default. That assistance will make a substantial difference for many families that may otherwise face foreclosure,” Gaylord said.

In addition, the increase in FHA mortgage loan limits would help first-time home buyers, minority buyers, and people who do not qualify for conventional mortgages. Increased loan limits would also help people living in high-cost areas; current FHA limits make the program unusable in these areas,” said Gaylord.

Gaylord noted that FHA has made mortgage insurance widely available to individuals regardless of race, ethnicity or social status during periods of prosperity and economic depression. The FHA program makes it possible for higher risk yet creditworthy borrowers to obtain prime financing.

“NAR recognizes and appreciates the Senate’s bipartisan effort. We hope this bill is sent quickly to the President and that he signs it into law swiftly,” said Gaylord. “As the leading advocate for homeownership and housing issues, NAR believes that FHA reform not only helps home buyers, but also is a good catalyst for the nation’s economy.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential

Statement on President Bush's Signing of Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief By NAR President Richard F. Gaylord

“On behalf of the many individuals and families who would have been burdened by a tax after losing their home, the National Association of Realtors® thanks President George W. Bush for signing the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act into law. Today the president offered a Christmas present to many people who have suffered the agony and humiliation of losing their home due to a short sale, foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure or any similar arrangement that relieves the borrower of the obligation to pay some portion of their debt.

“NAR has been advocating for such a change to the IRS tax code for nearly 10 years. We have always believed that it is clearly an issue of fairness and of not kicking people when they are down. By making the forgiven debt taxable income, individuals in already unfortunate situations most likely faced IRS actions because they did not have the money to pay the additional taxes. This legislation will relieve that additional burden and may also encourage families to work with their lender to negotiate terms, knowing they will now not be subject to an IRS bill.

“Today’s bill will ensure that any debt forgiven on a mortgage secured for a principal residence will not be taxed. This is very significant legislation. This may also mean that some day in the future these families can once again achieve the dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Commercial Real Estate Fundamentals Are Sound But Investment Slowing

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said commercial fundamentals are essentially sound. “Although vacancy rates remain relatively low for all sectors, they are expected to rise slightly in the office and industrial markets during the coming year because much of the space being absorbed is in high-quality buildings or is built-to-suit,” he said. “As a result, there is a fair amount of older space on the market, particularly in the industrial sector where obsolescence is a factor, although industrial rents are showing healthy gains. Vacancy rates in the retail and multifamily sectors are projected to tighten in 2008 with rents rising in all sectors.”

Yun said the credit crunch has been impacting the market over the last few months, but 2007 is already a record for commercial real estate investment. “Tighter credit conditions will limit individual commercial real estate investment deals moving forward,” he said. “Because capitalization rates are already very low, it is likely that commercial property prices will ease. The era of rapid commercial property price increases has ended.”

A record $325.0 billion was invested in commercial real estate in the first 10 months of 2007, up from $306.8 billion for all of 2006; that total does not include transactions valued at less than $5 million or investments in the hospitality sector, based on analysis of data from Real Capital Analytics.

Patricia Nooney of Saint Louis, chair of the Realtors® Commercial Alliance, said commercial real estate investment is expected to stay historically strong. “Even with the credit crunch there’s been no significant impact on institutional investors, and it’s unrealistic to set new records every year in a cyclical business,” she said. “There’s been a shift in investment activity to foreign buyers, who are taking advantage of the dollar’s decline relative to other currencies. With many areas showing favorable fundamentals, commercial property in the U.S. has become very attractive to foreign investors.”

The NAR forecast in four major commercial sectors analyzes quarterly data for various tracked metro areas. The sectors are the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic metro data were provided by Torto Wheaton Research and Real Capital Analytics.

Office Market

With jobs still being created, the demand for office space remains positive and is helping to absorb the more than 30 million square feet of new space becoming available in the current quarter. Investment grade office properties with solid income streams will be the most in demand by institutional investors, equity funds and foreign investors.

Since not all of the vacated space is being back-filled or leased, office vacancies are forecast to rise to 13.2 percent by the fourth quarter of 2008 from an estimated 12.9 percent in the current quarter; it was 12.6 percent at the end of 2006. Annual rent growth in the office sector should be 8.0 percent this year and 2.0 percent in 2008, after rising 5.2 percent in 2006.

Projections for the fourth quarter show areas with the lowest office vacancies include New York City; Honolulu; Tucson, Ariz.; Long Island, N.Y.; Los Angeles; and Riverside, Calif., all with vacancy rates of 10.0 percent or less.

Net absorption of office space in 57 markets tracked, which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is likely total 55.4 million square feet in 2007 and 43.0 million next year, but below the 81.2 million in 2006.

Office building transaction volume in the first 10 months of this year totaled a record $173.5 billion, compared with $133.5 billion for all of 2006. So far this year foreign investors purchased $12.5 billion worth of office properties, with buyers from the Middle East and Germany accounting for half of that volume.

Industrial Market

The weaker dollar is fueling an increase in exports, but leasing activity has declined in port distribution hubs, and vacancy rates in those markets are edging up; some users are building or renting in secondary markets.

With abundant land and relatively low concerns regarding site remediation, secondary and tertiary markets are experiencing greater interest. So far this year, almost 16 percent of industrial investment has taken place outside of the 58 primary markets tracked.

Vacancy rates in the industrial sector are projected to average 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter and 9.5 percent by the end of 2008; vacancies averaged 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. Annual rent growth will more than double to 3.3 percent by the end of 2007 and is seen at 1.3 percent a year from now, compared with a 1.4 percent annual gain at the end of 2006.

The areas with the lowest industrial vacancies include Los Angeles; San Francisco; Tucson; Orange County, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Las Vegas, all with vacancy rates of 6.1 percent or less.

Net absorption of industrial space in 58 markets tracked is expected total 127.4 million square feet in 2007 and 144.0 million next year, down from 205.4 million in 2006.

Industrial transaction volume in the first 10 months of 2007 was $35.8 billion, compared with $38.9 billion for all of 2006.

Retail Market

Even with a decline in consumer confidence, retail vacancy rates remain fairly stable. Declining production of new space will help improve fundamentals in this sector during 2008.

Vacancy rates in the retail sector will probably rise to 8.9 percent in the current quarter from 8.0 percent at the end of last year, and then ease to 8.6 percent by the fourth quarter of 2008. Average retail rent should grow by 2.2 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2008, after rising 3.9 percent in 2006.

Retail markets with the lowest vacancies include San Francisco; Orange County, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Ventura County, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, all with vacancy rates of 5.5 percent or less.

Net absorption of retail space in 53 tracked markets is forecast at 18.6 million square feet for 2007 and 24.7 million next year, up from 10.5 million in 2006.

Retail transaction volume in the first 10 months of this year totaled $52.9 billion, exceeding the $46.9 billion for all of 2006. The Southeast is the most sought-out region this year.

Multifamily Market

The apartment rental market – multifamily housing – is experiencing increased demand from the slowdown in home sales. With a rising population and a growing number of households, vacancies are tightening and rents are rising.

Multifamily vacancy rates are projected to average 5.4 percent in the current quarter, down from 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, and then continue to decline to 5.1 percent by the end of 2008. Average rent is likely to rise 3.1 percent for 2007 and 3.8 percent next year, following a 4.1 percent increase in 2006.

Multifamily net absorption is expected to total 234,400 units in 59 tracked metro areas in 2007, below the 229,500 last year, but should rise to 245,800 in 2008.

The areas with the lowest apartment vacancies include Northern New Jersey, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Diego, Nashville and Philadelphia, all with vacancy rates of 3.3 percent or less.

Multifamily transactions in the first 10 months of this year totaled $62.3 billion, compared with $87.4 billion for all of 2006. The sale of buildings originally constructed as condos are being sold to multifamily investors in markets like Washington, D.C., and South Florida. Many markets have seen condo “for sale” signs change to “apartment for lease” signs almost overnight. Some condominium complexes are being converted into office buildings, and others are becoming mixed-use projects.

The COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK is published by the NAR Research Division for the Realtors® Commercial Alliance. The RCA, formed by NAR in 1999, serves the needs of the commercial market and the commercial constituency within NAR, including commercial members; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; commercial real estate boards and structures; and NAR affiliate organizations.

Organizations in the RCA include the CCIM Institute, the Institute of Real Estate Management, the Realtors® Land Institute, the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and the Counselors of Real Estate. The RCA also provides commercial products and services.

Nearly 140,000 NAR members offer commercial services, and 73,000 of those are currently members of the RCA.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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The next Commercial Leading Indicator index will be February 20; the next commercial real estate market forecast is scheduled for March 12.