1. U.S. Steps Up Scrutiny of Cash Real Estate Deals in N.Y., Miami “President Barack Obama’s administration, citing concern about the origin of funds used for all-cash purchases of luxury real estate, said it is stepping up scrutiny of transactions in New York City and Miami. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said on Wednesday that it will temporarily require title insurance companies to identify individuals behind companies that pay cash for high-end residential real estate in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County.” (Bloomberg)
  2. Community Banks’ Earnings Challenged by Real Estate Lending, Legacy Loan Exposures “The 14 community banks I'm profiling today were Wall Street favorites in 2015, when they sported positive analyst outlooks. These banks did not meet those expectations, as they increased real estate lending while still saddled by legacy loan exposures in commercial real estate loans, including construction and development loans.” (The Street)
  3. Commercial Property Boom Forecast to End, With Canada Hit Hard “The global boom in commercial real estate may be over, with Canada hit hardest. The surge since the financial crisis -- marked by record property values and expanding foreign ownership of offices, malls and warehouses -- shows signs of waning, led by a slowdown in Canada, Avison Young said in a report Wednesday. The nation’s office vacancies are likely to climb to 12.2 percent this year, up from 10.6 percent last year.” (Bloomberg)
  4. The Government Boldly Just Set Up Another Real Estate Meltdown “Fannie Mae, the federally sanctioned mortgage giant, has just announced a new program that shows that they learned absolutely nothing from the last real estate meltdown. This new program, called ‘HomeReady’ in a fit of hopeful and wishful thinking, reduces loan underwriting standards. It’s designed to allow ‘underserved’ individuals the opportunity to buy a home – focused primarily on low-income and minority borrowers.” (TownHall.com)
  5. G.E. Is Moving Headquarters to Boston “General Electric is moving its headquarters to Boston, part of an effort to transform itself into an industrial company for the digital era. Since the financial crisis, G.E. has reduced its once-huge finance business to concentrate on its industrial lines. But those products, like jet engines, rail locomotives and power turbines, are loaded with sensors and rely on software. G.E. has steadily built up its software business and declared it wants to be the leader in the ‘industrial Internet.’” (The New York Times)
  6. Some Sears, Kmart Stores to Close in Cost Cutting “Sears Holdings Corp said it is closing a number of stores across the United States as part of an annual review of its store network and ongoing efforts by the struggling retailer to cut costs. Sears Holdings owns the Sears department store and Kmart discount store chains. It had 952 Kmart stores and 735 Sears stores as of the end of October, according to its latest financial disclosure. Riefs said the closures would be primarily Kmart stores.” (Reuters)
  7. MHP Scoops Up 850 Third Ave. for $460M “A year after Shorenstein Properties put its 21-story office tower at 850 Third Avenue on the market and then quietly took it off again, the property was snatched up in an off-the-market transaction by MHP Real Estate Services, according to a source. A hard contract was signed today for somewhere between $460 million and $465 million; no brokers were involved in the transaction. A source involved in the transaction said that Blackstone Group is one of the potential lenders.” (Commercial Observer)
  8. The Dangers of Misunderstanding Liquidity “On a recent trip to New York, I was confronted with a recurring question as I circulated among business associates and financial reporters over several days of meetings. They wanted to know, what did I think of the looming liquidity crisis in bonds? My reply was similar to what I’ve said in the past to questions of liquidity: Liquidity is an illusion. It’s always there when you don’t need it and never there when you do.” (WealthManagement.com)
  9. How Much Are Sovereign Wealth Funds Really Shelling Out for NYC Real Estate? “It’s always good to have deep pockets, but few institutional investors carry checkbooks backed by entire nations. Yet point to one of New York City’s recent big-ticket real estate deals and there’s a good chance a sovereign wealth fund was one of the buyers. Through the first 11 months of 2015, sovereign wealth funds spent more than $22.6 billion on real estate in the United States, up from about $9.8 billion in 2014, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics.” (The Real Deal)
  10. Creating Value for a Long-Term Hold “The multifamily market has been red-hot, and brokers are as busy as they’ve ever been. That said, some owners who've tested the sales waters have decided to hold their assets because they either didn’t like the potential sale price or, most likely, are unsure of where to put their proceeds. As a property management firm, we regularly provide recommendations to owners who look to us to recommend ways to increase ROI while holding an asset.” (Multifamily Executive)