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Eight Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (March 23, 2021)

Microsoft is moving some workers back to the office, reports The New York Times. The Real Deal looks at what tenants at Macerich’s King Plaza mall in Brooklyn are paying right now. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. U.S. Home Sales Fell 6.6% Last Month as Supply Remained Tight “Sales of previously owned homes slid in February, as the number of homes for sale held at an all-time low and home prices continued to climb. Existing-home sales dropped 6.6% in February from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. The February sales marked a 9.1% increase from a year earlier. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 2.8% monthly decline in sales of previously owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.” (Wall Street Journal)
  2. ACRE’s Les Menkes Talks International Capital, Workforce Housing “Les Menkes spent nearly 25 years at Morgan Stanley, working in a variety of different administrative or executive wealth management roles in the Asia Pacific region before departing in 2011 to start private equity firm Asia Capital with his two partners. It wasn’t long before the trio added “RE” at the end of the company’s name (ACRE) and began raising capital from foreign and domestic sources — starting with family offices and high-net-worth investors — to deploy into workforce housing in high-growth secondary markets primarily in the Southeast U.S.” (Commercial Observer
  3. Luxury Real Estate Contracts in Manhattan Surpassing Pre-Pandemic Levels “Here’s more proof that luxury real estate in Manhattan is rebounding. A new report indicates a 60% increase in contracts signed on luxury homes in the Big Apple during the first quarter of 2021 as compared to the same pre-pandemic time period in 2020. The findings, released Monday from Olshan Realty, suggest that buyers are banking on Manhattan's comeback.” (Fox News)
  4. Microsoft Announces a Move Back to the Office for Some Workers “Microsoft announced Monday that it would begin allowing more workers back into its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., starting on March 29. In this stage of reopening, which Microsoft described as Step 4 in a six-step ‘dial,’ the Redmond campus will give nonessential on-site employees the choice to work from the office, home or a combination of both. Microsoft will also continue to require employees to wear masks and maintain social distancing.” (The New York Times)
  5. Insurers Pay 500 Million Sterling in Claims So Far After Business Interruption Judgement “Insurers have paid nearly 500 million pounds ($692.90 million) so far to businesses who won the right to claim for pandemic disruption following a ruling by Britain’s highest court, Britain’s markets watchdog said on Monday. Bars, beauty parlours and nightclubs were among companies in January to become eligible for business interruption insurance payments after senior judges ruled many policies should cover losses caused by lockdowns in a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority.” (Reuters)
  6. Ben Joseph Exits Related Companies to Form New Investment Firm “Ben Joseph, a Related Companies senior executive who oversees the firm’s development projects, is moving on after 21 years with the firm, sources told Commercial Observer. Joseph is teaming up with industry veterans Gavin Evans, Andrew Miller and Bennat Berger to launch a new investment and development platform named Skylight Real Estate Partners, according to sources familiar with the new venture.” (Commercial Observer)
  7. Here's What Tenants Are Paying at Macerich’s Kings Plaza Mall “A look at Macerich’s Kings Plaza mall’s rent roll, where tenants include Primark, Best Buy, Lowe's Home Centers and Burlington.” (The Real Deal)
  8. L.L. Bean Had Record Year Amid Outdoors Boom “L.L. Bean reported its largest net revenue increase in the past nine years — and busiest holiday season in 20 years — as consumers sought out gear for outdoor adventures during the pandemic. The Freeport, Maine-based retailer’s revenue in 2020 totaled $1.59 billion – a 5% increase over 2019 and its best showing since 2011.” (Chain Store Age)
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