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Inside Real Estate (Jan 21st, 2020)

1. A new report shows that global investors spent a record $800 billion in commercial real estate deals last year. That’s a 4 percent year-over-year increase. New York City tops the U.S. markets generating CRE interest; in all, there were 16 North American cities that performed well in this sector. Internationally, core markets in Asia — including China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan — did exceptionally well. One city that took a big hit is London, which faced market uncertainty over ongoing Brexit discussions. Another market that saw a CRE slump in 2019 is Hong Kong, which was also contending with political turmoil and a year of troubling protests. - BISNOW 

2. Some preservationists are urging Manhattan art museum The Frick Collection to purchase Jeffrey Epstein’s old New York mansion and convert it into a museum. Architect Theodore Grunewald works with “Save the Frick,” an organization formed to help stop the Frick's proposed expansion, which would wreck the John Russell Pope Music Room and "destroy the integrity of Frick as a house museum.” He believes that Epstein’s $70 million home at 9 East 71st Street — just across the street from this property — would be a valuable addition to the Frick and one that would save the historic music room. However, Frick COO Joe Shatoff said that even if they purchased the home, it wouldn’t “provide the critical adjacencies required to make it a functional solution.” - INMAN

3. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, civil rights activists in Austin gathered to protest the spread of gentrification in East Austin. The demonstrators called on city officials to help longtime residents remain in their homes instead of being displaced by major investors, who are buying properties throughout that region. They hope to delay rezoning at least until an anti-displacement program is in place to help current residents. Mayor Steve Adler told CBS Austin: "Anti-displacement measures are being built into the new code and the city will continue to make this a spending priority.” - CBS AUSTIN

4. Late Sen. Ted Kennedy's former Georgetown mansion just sold for $12 million. Known as the "Burke House," the 28th St. NW home spans 8,957 square feet and includes eight bedrooms. Built in 1887, the house features a 2,000-bottle wine cellar, motor court and massage room. The sellers reportedly bought it for $11.5 million in 2008. Mark C. Lowham of TTR Sotheby's International Realty represented the buyer. - WTTG

5. After a 10-year real-estate investment upswing in Brooklyn, the borough saw a 30 percent drop in commercial property sales last year. Experts say that's the biggest plummet since the financial crisis. A new-construction glut and restrictive rent regulations dampened developer interest in that area. According to brokerage firm TerraCRG, CRE sales in Brooklyn fell to $5.1 billion in 2019, a 30 percent decrease. TerraCRG Chief Executive Ofer Cohen explains that this isn't a cause for alarm: "If we were in a real recession, it would be much worse. We are still in correction territory." - WALL STREET JOURNAL

6. Officials in Minnesota are freezing rents for one year for tenants whose homes are funded by the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. This new rule, which the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency instated earlier this month, will prevent landlords from raising rents mid-lease even if new federal guidelines take effect after a lease begins. Minnesota rents continue to outpace pay increases. Experts believe this will help stabilize the market for low-income residents in the state. The new policy is expected to help more than 5,000 households directly. - STAR TRIBUNE

7. Market snapshot: Seven condo buildings in a rapidly gentrifying Fort Lauderdale neighborhood jut sold for nearly $10 million. The 71 units, situated in the Progresso Village neighborhood, were purchased by the Global Horizons Group. Included in the deal is 2.3 acres of land. According to agents, the deal breaks down to $136,619 per unit. Sold by Privilege Apartments LLC, the apartments last sold for $7.65 million in 2017. - THE REAL DEAL

8. On Monday, Thailand’s central bank relaxed home loan rules to allow buyers to borrow more and to pay less in down payments. First-time homebuyers eyeing properties priced under 10 million baht — or $329,489 — will be able to borrow 10 percent more for furniture. Second-time homebuyers will be allowed to make a “down-payment of 10 percent if the mortgage on the first home has been paid off for at least two years.” - REUTERS

9. Literary powerhouse Janet Evanovich is listing her Naples, Florida, mansion for $17 million. The modern 11,054-square-foot waterfront estate is suited for entertaining. It boasts a gallery-like wine-storage space, colorful architectural details that contrast with its stark-white walls, ocean panoramas and a second-floor balcony that overlooks the coast. The best-selling author's home — which sits on the Gulf Coast — also has a theater, home gym, deep-blue swimming pool and boat slip. - REALTOR

10. Real estate experts predict a mass influx of cash headed for Nordic real estate. Pangea Property Partners data shows 44 billion euros — $49 billion — in transactions across across Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland in 2019. Buyers who are investing in that part of the globe are “looking for scale,” some agents explain. Citigroup Inc.’s Nordic corporate banking leader Alexander Stiris explains that investors are also “drawn to Scandinavia’s transparency and the relative ease with which assets can be traded.” A Swedish financial officials said that foreign buyers accounted for nearly a third of Sweden's transactions, by value, in 2019. - BLOOMBERG

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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