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13 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Sept. 24, 2021)

The U.S. commercial real estate lending sector has rebounded to its pre-pandemic shape, according to Real Capital Analytics. The Wall Street Journal provides an update on the Chinese government’s plans for struggling Evergrande Group. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Why Renters Are Struggling So Much Right Now “Millions of renters are at risk of financial hardship as federal and state relief measures wind down. That’s a new warning from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which found that the pandemic-era safety net helped renters across the U.S. maintain stability during months of historic unemployment and uncertainty.” (CNBC)
  2. Mortgage Lender Cut Corners in Echo of 2008 Crisis “Historically low interest rates last year sent residential loan refinancings to their highest level in well over a decade. And thanks to an aggressive sales push, loanDepot made $100 billion in loans, a company record. But in its eagerness to grow before an initial public offering early this year, loanDepot illegally cut corners and processed thousands of loans without required documents such as employment and income verifications, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by one of its former top executives.” (The New York Times)
  3. U.S. Commercial Property Lending Returns to Pre-Pandemic Shape “The composition of lenders in the U.S. commercial mortgage market has largely returned to its form before the Covid-19 crisis struck, the latest US Capital Trends report shows. CMBS originators, who had been particularly hard hit in the second quarter of 2020, captured an 18% share of the commercial mortgage market in the past quarter, which put them behind only regional/local banks as the largest source of financing. The rebound reflects an easing of the uncertainty in the lending market, which had limited CMBS originators to just a 1% share of lending a year ago.” (Real Capital Analytics)
  4. China Makes Preparations for Evergrande’s Demise “Chinese authorities are asking local governments to prepare for the potential downfall of China Evergrande Group, according to officials familiar with the discussions, signaling a reluctance to bail out the debt-saddled property developer while bracing for any economic and social fallout from the company’s travails. The officials characterized the actions being ordered as “getting ready for the possible storm,” saying that local-level government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been instructed to step in to handle the aftermath only at the last minute should Evergrande fail to manage its affairs in an orderly fashion.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  5. Condor Hospitality to Sell Hotels to Blackstone Real Estate “Condor Hospitality Trust Inc. has entered into an agreement with affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners to sell its entire portfolio of hotels in a $305-million transaction. This is an all-cash transaction without the assumption of any existing debt. Completion of the transaction, which is expected to occur in the fourth quarter, is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of the company’s shareholders.” (Hotel Business)
  6. As U.S. Eases Travel Restrictions, Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate Is Set for a Comeback “The countrywide hot housing market exists despite a massive reduction in foreign investment over the course of the pandemic. Loosened travel restrictions may reignite foreign interest in U.S. real estate — pushing home prices even higher in certain markets in the process. On Monday, the White House announced that it would begin to allow international travelers to come to the U.S. if they could show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their departure.” (MarketWatch)
  7. S.F. Property Owners Sue City Over Pandemic Rent Relief Law “Two organizations representing San Francisco property owners sued the city over a law.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  8. ‘Hard to Justify’: NYC’s Commercial Rent Control Is Back, Vexing CRE “Rent adjustments would need to be approved annually by a seven-member Commercial Rent Guidelines Board, appointed by the mayor.” (Bisnow)
  9. Adding Urban Density and Mixed-Income “Grand Boulevards” “There are certainly some encouraging signs from California with recent legislation hoped to free up land for denser development close to transit and employment centers. But many solutions are needed to help to overcome the deficit in attainable housing in most U.S. cities.In a recent ULI Terwilliger Center webinar, titled “Grand Boulevards: A Framework for Workforce Housing, Environmental Repair, and Economic Balance,” focused on another possible solution for increasing the availability of housing. Michelle Malanca Frey, executive director of ULI San Francisco, discussed with the influential architect and urban planner Peter Calthorpe, senior vice president at building and infrastructure services firm HDR, who shared his perspective on one such solution.” (Urban Land)
  10. Marriott Pledges to Go Net Zero by 2050 “The effort that will lead to changes in how the company's hotels operate.” (Washington Business Journal)
  11. Tenants Are Told to Vacate the Mall at Harborplace in Downtown Baltimore “In the 1980s, Rouse’s Harborplace development in Baltimore was a model “festival marketplace” copied by declining downtowns across the country. This year, however, its mall will be closing. The 100,769-sq.-ft. Gallery at Harborplace is within walking distance of Baltimore’s Convention Center, Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and the National Aquarium, but owner Brookfield Properties has issued tenants an order to vacate and will be considering redevelopment plans for the site.” (Chain Store Age)
  12. California Governor Signs Bill Targeting Amazon Warehouse Quotas “California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a new law that will require Inc. and other companies to disclose any quotas or workplace-productivity measures it applies to workers in the state. The legislation is the first to target a central facet of working at an Amazon warehouse, where the company has long used performance quotas to gauge worker productivity as it has gradually sped up shipping times. Gov. Newsom, a Democrat, signed the bill about two weeks after it was approved by state lawmakers.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  13. Target Expects its Staff to Work 5 Million More Hours This Holiday Season “Target said Thursday that it is taking a different staffing approach this holiday season as it gears up for a rush of shoppers at stores and on its website: It will trim back seasonal hires and give more hours to existing employees. In all, the discounter said it expects current store staff — about 300,000 people in total — will work 5 million more hours during the holiday season. That translates into more than $75 million of additional pay, it said.” (CNBC)
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