Inside Real Estate - December 6th, 2019

Inside Real Estate (Dec 6th, 2019)

Chinese CRE investments plummet / Controversial pick to lead federal office of homelessness / Obamas' new vacation house

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1. Chinese investment in U.S. commercial property this year plummeted by 76 percent, according to data from Real Capital Analytics. In the 12 months leading up to September, just $1.4 billion was invested into commercial land in this country. This comes after six consecutive years of gains in international acquisitions. Experts suggest this could have something to do with “restrictions on capital leaving the country and geopolitical tensions weigh on real estate deals.” While Chinese investments were down, the U.S. did see increased capital from Germany, Turkey and South Korea. - BLOOMBERG

2. The Trump Administration tapped a controversial consultant to lead the federal office of homelessness. Robert Marbut is known for his policies that connect “services and housing to good behavior,” an approach that some critics say is ineffective when it comes to housing aid. The current “Housing First” strategy has decreased homelessness by 15 percent between 2007 and 2018, but experts are concerned that Marbut will abandon that practice. That policy calls for placing homeless people in housing before they must prove that they’re sober or job seeking. Nan Roman, the head of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, explains: "Raising your kids, getting a job — it's really hard to do that when you're staying at a shelter.” Marbut has vocally opposed Housing First. In 2014, he told the Huffington Post: “I believe in Housing Fourth.” - NPR

3. A proposed bill in Cincinnati would eliminate security deposits for renters, which would make it the first U.S. city to enforce a different deposit-paying option for tenants. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said the change would allow “working-class Americans” to keep money in their pockets and “provide for their families.” Rents in the city have soared from $850 for a standard one-bedroom home in 2017 to $1,300 per month. Some landlords have complained that the bill’s language is unclear on what new requirements would be put in place for them. - CBS

4. The New Year will usher in a continued shortage of housing inventory for buyers, according to the 2020 National Housing Forecast from Increased demand will be met with limited supply,'s senior economist George Ratiu said, adding that it will be “most challenging for buyers, not because of what they can afford, but rather what they can find.” Experts say a contributing factor is Baby Boomers staying in place. Those aged 50 or older reportedly own more than half of all owner-occupied homes in the nation, and they’re not moving. Homeownership tenure has increased, and while new construction is up, it’s mostly just for the “upper-tier of housing.” This could create a shortage of entry-level homes on the market. - FORBES

5. The report also shows that millennials will likely drive the national housing market in 2020. This population will outnumber Generation X and Baby Boomers, and they are projected to either purchase their first homes or move from cities to suburbs for upgraded properties. This trend is already in motion now, since national rent increases and lower interest rates this year encouraged home buying. With more millennials looking to buy entry-level residences and 2020’s projected low housing inventory, that demographic will play a big role in determining property values. - MANSION GLOBAL

6. Homeless people who suffer from mental illness will have a place to call home at 161-01 89th Ave. in Jamaica, New York. Elected officials and residents in that community are collaborating to construct a 46,000-square-foot, 70-unit home that will provide housing for this population. Residents of the new building will come from the New York City Homeless Shelter system. In addition to shelter, the project aims to provide “assistance dealing with substance abuse, budgeting,” as well as housekeeping and cooking. - QUEENS COURIER

7. Barack and Michelle Obama recently closed on a 29-acre Martha’s Vineyard compound. The former first family reportedly rented the home over the summer. They must have enjoyed their stay, since they entered escrow that same season, TMZ reports. Originally listed at $14.85 million, the home sold for $11.75 million. It features  6,892 square feet of space, covered porches, a bathhouse and ample acreage. -OBSERVER

8. Over on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, another celebrity property is on the market: A 1930s mansion formerly owned by a member of the Vanderbilt family is for sale at $68 million. The current owner — antiques dealer Carlton Hobbs — purchased the property for $10.6 million in 2002. He currently uses the Neoclassical-style residence as a gallery for his precious collections.  If it sells for full-ask price, it would be one of the most expensive townhouses ever sold in New York. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

9. At the opposite end of the ultra-high-price housing sector is a 730-square-foot Portland, Oregon yurt that a young couple calls home. To avoid pricey rents in that city, Zach Both and Nicole Lopez constructed a modern tent-like structure that cost $30,000 and took just one weekend to assemble. The character-packed home reportedly saves them roughly $1,000 in monthly living costs compared to Portland rental rates. - BUSINESS INSIDER

10. The man known as the “father of the condominium” has died at 90. Lawyer and professor Jan Z. Krasnowiecki’s housing studies reportedly led to the concept of condominiums as planned communities. In the early ‘60s, he predicted that condo living would “be with us for a long time." He said: “When it comes to people living closely together for reasons of saving energy and other costs, then I think the condominium is a far superior method of organizing housing than is the landlord-tenant system.” - INQUIRER

Written and curated by Darla Guillen Gilthorpe. Darla writes for the Houston Chronicle, where she was part of its 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist staff. She was previously an editor at Vox Media site Eater and has had bylines in Elle Decor, SFGate and various other outlets. Follow her on Twitter here.

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