Housing Bubble and Real Estate Market Tracker

by: Judy Weil

Here's our summary of articles and data points on the housing market. It's part of Seeking Alpha's coverage of the real estate market and homebuilder stocks. Like all other topics and stock coverage from Seeking Alpha, you can have this sent to your Blackberry or desktop email by signing up for our no-spam free email subscription service.

Quote of the Day- "From the House's Mouth"

"If there is a market where we are approaching it (saturation), it has got to be the U.S." – Simon Cooper, CEO Ritz Carlton Hotels (Turkish Daily News, July 2nd)

Real Estate Sales and House Prices

  • Top Markets for Home Buyers (Yahoo! Finance, June 28th): "New York [is at the] No. 9 spot… based on the expansion of Gotham's housing stock… there are a disproportionately high number of sellers for buyers, and… properties are staying on the market longer. Prices then often drop… At present buyers have more bargaining power than sellers. This is especially evident in Tampa. Of American cities with over 500,000 in population, it is best for buyers… Miami finished third, and if Sarasota, Palm Bay, Tallahassee or Pensacola had larger populations, they all would have made the top 10… Chicago's at No. 5… Milwaukee came in eighth."

Real Estate Investing and Sentiment

  • The New Rich Are Building Bigger (Yahoo! Finance, June 27th): "The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing: Home sales at the $5 million-plus price range rose 11% in 2006, compared to a 8.4% decline in overall housing market sales. Between 1999-2005… sales of homes for more than $1 million skyrocketed over 500%. Today, there are seven homes on the market priced at $100 million or more. In 2005, there was just one… Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani… is building a 60-story, vertical palace [in Mumbai] that will include three floors of Babylon-inspired hanging gardens and three rooftop helipads. Ambani will reportedly spend $1 billion on the project… scheduled for completion in 2008."

Mortgates and Real Estate Lending

  • US Mortgage Bond Issuance Rises In 1st Half 2007 (Reuters, June 29th): "Thomson Financial: U.S. mortgage-backed securities issuance rose in the first six months of 2007 compared with the same period a year earlier… U.S. MBS issuance totaled $557.0 billion in the first half of 2007, up from $542.8b in the same period a year earlier… there is a vast pool of safer securities available in the form of $3.5 trillion triple-A rated "agency" MBS of Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) that have so far been largely unaffected by the delinquencies in the subprime mortgage market."

Subprime Fallout and Foreclosure Impact

  • U.S. Finance Firms Are Finding Themselves Major Real Estate Owners As Foreclosures Mount (International Herald Tribune, July 2nd): "Citigroup (NYSE:C), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Merrill Lynch (MER), Lehman Brothers (LEH) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are listed in public records as the owners of at least 35 homes in the Atlanta suburb [of] 19,000 people… As foreclosures climb, Wall Street's lenders and investors are claiming a bigger chunk of Main Street. The value of U.S. homes held by commercial banks swelled 53% nationwide to $2.3 billion at the end of March, the highest since 1992, from $1.5b a year earlier, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp."
  • Indymac’s Response to TheStreet.com’s 'Two Ways to Play a Mortgage Lender'
    (Grove Nichols of IndyMac Mortgage Co. in Seeking Alpha, June 29th): "This chart [compares] credit quality at Impac versus Indymac based on the Alt-A loans we each have originated and sold as securities in the secondary market as of 3/31/07. IndyMac Impac InvestmentClearly, the credit quality and performance of Indymac’s Alt-A loans is far superior to Impac… Indymac… doesn't own ANY CDOs…We had over $3.0 billion of liquidity during Q1'07 and, as a federally insured depository institution, have 83% of our balance sheet funded by deposits and Federal Home Loan Bank borrowings as of 3/31/07... We only have 6% of our $29b balance sheet funded by repurchase lines of credit, and, while we do have a $500 million line with Merrill Lynch, we currently have zero borrowings against it. Finally, Bear Stearns’ problem is with subprime securities, and subprime lending accounted for only 4% of Indymac’s loan originations in 2006 and Q1 07."
  • More Market Worries: 'The Only Three Questions That Count' (Jeff Miller in Seeking Alpha, June 28th): "From Ken Fisher's 'The Only Three Questions That Count' book: "Any fear that is widely broadcasted in advance will have no impact on the market. Or perhaps in more predictive terms, to the extent it's influencing the market, it creates a bullish situation because it's already encapped by the price, then price will increase when the fear subsides… I feel that this point is highly relevant to sub-prime, and also to the asset seizure on the brokerage house that is famous for seizing the assets of its own customers (how ironic)."
  • Just Say AAA (NY Times Op-Ed, July 2nd): "[On] the $800 billion market in bonds backed by subprime mortgages… These bonds have lost almost 40% of [their] value since January… S.& P., Moody’s and Fitch, the bond-rating agencies, have gone along with the premise, telling investors that the synthetic assets created by C.D.O.’s are equivalent to high-quality corporate bonds… Now, you might have thought that S.& P. and Moody’s, which gave Thailand an investment-grade rating until five months after the start of the Asian financial crisis, and gave Enron an investment-grade rating until days before it went bankrupt, would by now have learned to be a bit suspicious."
  • Immigrants Hit Hard By Repossessions (Washington Post, June 30th): "The rise in foreclosures is particularly pronounced in Herndon, a town of 22,000 in western Fairfax County (Virginia). According to Realtytrak, a real estate information firm, 75 houses were advertised as foreclosures in a single Zip code, 20170, up from nine in that same period one year earlier… Miguel Martinez, a real estate agent with Prosperity Realty: Now many immigrants who bought homes in Herndon are walking away from the properties… The good-paying jobs they had in residential construction have disappeared, and they can't make the payments any more."
  • Area Suburbs See Rise in Foreclosures (Washington Post, June 30th): "Home repossessions are cropping up almost everywhere in the region, regularly occurring on suburban streets unaccustomed to hard times. In Montgomery County, the foreclosure rate has tripled in a year. In Fairfax County, it has quadrupled. In Loudoun County, it has increased tenfold. In Howard County, there was one foreclosure in 2004; there are 157 so far this year. District officials are reporting a similar trend."
  • U.S. Regulators Stymie Mortgage Lenders Again (Reuters, July 2nd): "For the second time in a year, U.S. banking regulators have rejected claims of big mortgage lenders, such as Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC) and others, that tighter regulation of mortgage lending will hurt consumers. Rising foreclosures following five heady years of mortgage lending prompted regulators to write guidelines they say will curb risky lending practices and protect consumers. The move followed last year's clampdown on issuance of "exotic" mortgages, including interest-only loans. The Fed and four other regulators on Friday [brushed aside] industry concerns that the guidance on subprime loans would stifle an industry already in the throes of crisis."
  • Treasuries Rise Amid Subprime Woes (PhillyBurbs.com, July 2nd): "U.S. Treasury bond prices rallied Monday, with the 10-year note's yield touching 5%, amid continued concerns about troubles in the subprime mortgage market and with investors wary of making any big moves at the start of the short holiday week… The worries about the subprime mortgage market, which caters to borrowers with shaky credit histories… Monday sent the riskiest tranche of the (NYSE:ABX) index, which allows investors to buy and sell protection for securities ultimately backed by mortgage bonds , to new record lows."
  • The Fed's Housing Bet (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, July 2nd): "As the default rate on subprime mortgages rises, the market price of these mortgages has started to plummet… Subprime mortgages issued as recently as 2006, which were trading at the start of the year at close to 100 cents on the dollar, are now trading at less than 60 cents… These impaired valuations are eventually reflected in the prices of the collateralized debt obligations in which the subprime mortgages are widely held. And when they are so reflected, they could easily result in a write down of mortgage-backed securities held by financial institutions by at least $500 billion."
  • New Paper from NYU Stern Professor Says Subprime Mortgages Are ''Good'' (Business Wire, July 2nd): "Professor Alexei Tchistyi and co-author Tomasz Piskorski’s (Finance Professor at Columbia): Restricting borrowers’ access to new sub-prime mortgages can harm the economy: New creative mortgages [an option adjustable rate mortgage [ARM], or a combination of an interest only mortgage with a home equity line of credit] are more efficient than traditional mortgages… These are particularly beneficial for borrowers with low, or highly volatile income... Low default rates of the past might have been economically suboptimal because many potential homebuyers were shut out of the housing market due to excessively tight underwriting standards… Financially-able consumers may not have the opportunity to enter the housing market."
  • Bank Regulators to Unveil New Subprime Loan Standards – Reuters (Seeking Alpha, June 29th): "Reuters: Bank regulators… New standards for the issuance of subprime mortgage loans… instructs depository lenders on how to make loans to clients with impaired credit… obliges lenders… to determine the likelihood of long-term payments being made and warn clients of potential costs… Advising lenders to evaluate the "borrower's ability to repay the debt by its final maturity at the fully indexed rate," a provision that concerns many lenders... John Dugan, Comptroller of the Currency… [No more] loans with little or no documentation of the borrower's capacity to repay. The five bodies issuing the standards are the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the FDIC, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration.
  • Subprime Mortgage Shakeout Claims Another Fund (CNN Money, June 28th): "Caliber Global Investment Ltd. [run by Cambridge Place Investment Management], that controlled almost $1 billion of mortgage assets, said… it's shutting down after turmoil in the subprime market cut demand for its shares... Bear Stearns Cos. (NYSE:BSC) is trying to salvage two of its hedge funds that focus on the space, while another run by UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) shut down earlier this year… Caliber [had] gross assets under management of $908 million at the end of March. It was almost six times leveraged and recently had a market capitalization of about $ 115m. More than half its assets were residential mortgage-backed securities and over 60% of its portfolio was from the U.S."

Global Impact and Alternatives To The Housing Slump

  • Ritz-Carlton Eyes Kazakhstan, Russia Expansion (Turkish Daily News, July 2nd): "Ritz-Carlton, a unit of Marriott International Inc., expects to open its first hotel in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan within three years, president Simon Cooper said… on Friday. The company is also looking for a site for a hotel in Russia's second city of St Petersburg… The company expected only modest US expansion because it was already well represented there… But US construction costs, a major bar to expansion in the hotel industry, had flattened out this year as the U.S. housing market cooled and energy costs stayed under control."
  • Morgan Stanley Fund Reaches $8bn Height (IPE Real Estate, July 2nd): "Morgan Stanley Real Estate (MS) has raised $8bn (€5.94bn) for its most recently-completed international commingled fund MSREF VI International. – the largest sum ever raised for a single real estate fund. Capital raised was $2bn more than originally intended but shows how much interest there is in international real estate investing, according to Morgan Stanley. One of the bigger investors in the commingled fund is Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System which has committed 25% of the total capital raise or no more than $400m… There are investments in new development projects in the UK, Spain, Canada, Japan, India, Korea and China as well as investment signings in real estate operating companies in the UK, Japan and China."
  • Delek Global Real Estate In $274 Mln Investment Spree (Reuters UK, July 2nd): "Delek Global Real Estate (NYSE:DK), the property arm of Israeli conglomerate Delek Group, said Monday it had bought four European property portfolios for $274 million. Delek-- one of the largest real estate investors on London's AIM… bought the World Trade Centre office complex in Lausanne, Switzerland, two office complexes let to Deutsche Telekom in Kaiserslautern and Frankfurt, Germany, a Finnish portfolio let to timber distributer Puukeskus, and a 50% interest in two buildings occupied by the University of Berlin. The company [said] it expected the new acquisitions to deliver an average annual return on equity of 13%."
  • Citigroup's London Base Is Sold for 1 Billion Pounds (Bloomberg, July 2nd): "The 42-story building in London's Canary Wharf that serves as Citigroup Inc.'s European headquarters was bought by Derek Quinlan, an Irish investor, and Propinvest Holdings Ltd. for about $2 billion. Royal Bank of Scotland Group was the seller. Royal Bank acquired the property at the end of 2003 for more than 700 million pounds. Today's sale was the U.K.'s second-largest property transaction… The sale price is higher than the record $1.8 billion paid in December by the Kushner family for a single office building in New York City. The $1,635/sf achieved for the Citigroup building is higher than the record $1,589/sf paid last week for 450 Park Avenue in Manhattan."

Macro Impact, And Will The Housing Slump Cause A Recession?

  • FOMC Takes a Dovish Stance Despite Persistent Inflationary Risks (The Prudent Investor in Seeking Alpha, June 29th): "The Federal Open Market Committee [FOMC] decided unanimously to keep the Fed Funds rate unchanged at 5.25%, extending the grace period for overstretched consumers/debtors who are fearing the times of painful mortgage rate-adjustments. Such adjustments are now upheld for at least another quarter. "The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 5-1/4%. Economic growth appears to have been moderate during the first half of this year, despite the ongoing adjustment in the housing sector. The economy seems likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters."
  • The Virtual Round Table: Four Leading Anaysts Map Out the Markets (Prieur du Plessis in Seeking Alpha, June 28th): "John Mauldin, president of Millennium Wave Investments: We will see more of the current slowdown and perhaps a recession, primarily due to the slowdown in housing… The most recent UCLA Anderson Forecast for California suggests that the housing market there may not return to “normal” until mid-2009, and job losses in real estate finance and housing will depress hiring through the middle of 2008, lifting the unemployment rate in [California] to 5.5%... Corresponding to at least a mild localized California recession. And I think that scenario will play out to a greater, or lesser degree, throughout the country."
  • A Cloudy Forecast for Home Building: First Decline in 13 Years Could Have Ripple Effect (Builder Online, June 27th): "The number of homes built in the Houston area this year is expected to drop for the first time in more than a decade. Housing analyst Mike Inselmann: Builders are projected to construct roughly 40,000 homes this year, about a 20% decline from last year when home building reached its peak… Home starts dropped slightly in 1994… "When you start building fewer homes, you're selling fewer appliances, less carpeting, less cement and less wood to the local suppliers," said Jim Gaines, a research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University."

Homebuilders And Housing Stocks

  • News Flash! Citigroup (Finally) Downgrades Housing Stocks (Blogging Stocks, July 2nd): "Why does it seem that Citigroup is late to the homebuilding slump? Because they are. The housing sector has been in the dumps for months now and yet only this morning did Citigroup downgrade stocks in the sector. Citigroup downgraded D.R. Horton Inc (NYSE:DHI), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc (NYSE:HOV), KB Home (NYSE:KBH), Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), Pulte Homes Inc (NYSE:PHM), Toll Brothers Inc (NYSE:TOL) and The Ryland Group Inc (NYSE:RYL) to Hold from Buy as they believe "shares will remain range-bound through the rest of the year."
  • KB Home Builds New Line of Smaller, More Affordable Homes to Jump-Start Sagging Sales (Yahoo! Finance, June 30th): "KB Home (KBH)… has rolled out a new line of smaller, more affordable homes that it hopes will jump-start sagging sales… "Smaller homes generate lower revenues, but they sell faster, therefore the cash returns are better," said KB Home's chief executive, Jeffrey Mezger. Other major builders, including D.R. Horton Inc. (DHI), also have started downsizing some home offerings. But KB Home has led the way, said Greg Gieber, an analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc."
  • Lifetime Brands Names New Financial Chief (Newsday, July 2nd): "Lifetime Brands (NASDAQ:LCUT)… owner of kitchenware brands like KitchenAid and Farberware, has named a new CFO. Laurence Winoker, 51, will assume that role as well as those of senior VP for finance and treasurer… Winoker will replace Robert McNally, 60, who is retiring. The company's Q1 earnings loss of $0.10/share -- compared to a $0.07 gain a year earlier – [was due to] the cost of acquiring a new home decor business. SEC filing: The company has since [taken] a $22-million stake in Mexican kitchenware sector leader Ekco, raising the compensation of COO Ronald Shiftan, [and] adjusting its insider trading ethics policy."
  • ETFs That Win Big With a Housing Bust (The Street, July 2nd): "Toll Brothers (TOL) and KB Homes (KBH) [are] each trading at just 10% over book value. DR Horton (DHI) shares have fallen to 4% below book value, while Pulte Homes (PHM) has actually fallen 11% below book value… The last time we saw valuations this low was in late 1990… in the depth of the last real-estate crash… ETFs: iShares' Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index fund (NYSEARCA:ITB) launched just over a year ago at $49.50, plunged this week to a fresh low of $31.31… [That ETF and] State Street's S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEARCA:XHB), both invest in all the top homebuilders and in related construction stocks."
  • Small Builders Seem to Have Advantage (Florida Ledger, July 1st): "In this unforgiving climate for home construction, local homebuilder Donnie True and others like him say the advantage has turned to small builders... "I don't have the overhead that they (the large home builders) have. Just a few a year, that's plenty for me. I don't want to get into building 10 or 15 homes a year… True's Construction and Inspection Services Inc. in Fort Meade avoids costs that other builders incur at a larger level - large land holdings and an in-house staff… Companies like Lennar and KB Homes have been forced to lay off employees."
  • Form 8-K for KB HOME (Yahoo! Finance, June29th): "Robert Freed, Senior Vice President, Investment Strategy, resigned his position with KB Home, effective June 29, 2007. Item 8.01 Other events. On June 26, 2007, KB Home announced that it is calling for the redemption on July 27, 2007 of all of its outstanding 91/2% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2011 (the "2011 Notes")."
  • Soap Dispenser Half-Empty at Bed Bath (Motley Fool, June 29th): "Right now Bed Bath (NYSE:BBY) trades at a reasonable 16 times earnings and continues to throw off cash flow well in excess of what it spends to maintain existing stores and open new ones. That leaves room to repurchase shares and offset deteriorating profitability as higher gas prices and a difficult housing market lessen consumers' willingness to open their wallets… [Household goods retailer] Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR)… [is] experiencing falling sales and losing tons of money. I don't expect BBY to fall to such levels, but until it can regain at least a glimmer of its former fast-growing glory, I'll take a wait-and-see approach on its outlook."
  • KB Home F2Q07 (Qtr End 5/31/07) Earnings Call Transcript (Seeking Alpha, June 28th): "By remaining a build-to-order homebuilder, we continue to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace providing home buyers with the opportunity to customize their homes (and) from branding initiatives such as our partnership with Martha Stewart…Our strategic partnership with Countrywide (CFC) which provides loans to approximately 70% of KB Home buyers is proving invaluable in providing buyers suitable mortgage products… We have a renewed discipline for land investments, maintaining no more than a three- to four-year supply of land owned and controlled, keeping community count growth in line with our market demand and featuring products at pricing targeted to the income level of our buyers in each specific market."
  • Building Woes for Beazer (Business Week, June 28th): "Beazer Homes USA (NYSE:BZH)… fired its chief accounting officer, Michael Rand, for attempting to destroy documents… Until recently, equities analyst Gregory Gieber at A.G. Edwards & Sons said he believed what was occurring in the Carolinas was a "rogue operation," outside the view of the corporate office… "[Rand's] firing changes the profile and suggests there could be corporate involvement in it," Gieber said… The chief accounting officer isn't generally the person who sets financial policy, nor does he under normal circumstances have primary responsibility to approve major financial transactions… What was going on at corporate headquarters that someone felt needed to be buried."
  • Sector Snap: Home Furnishings (Yahoo! Finance, June 28th): "Bear Stearns analyst Christopher Horvers: The weak guidance is indicative of the home-furnishings environment: "Home furnishings remains one of the most challenging spaces in retail given the difficulties in housing, the fragmentation of the market, the discretionary nature of the products, and the inventory build that has occurred across the retail landscape (including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Macy's Inc., Linens 'N Things, Tuesday Morning Corp., Williams-Sonoma Inc., etc.)… "The ubiquity of the inventory build and size of the players are major concerns for anyone in the space."

Commercial Real Estate and REITs

  • Trump Takes Casinos Off Block, Stock Sinks (Crain's NY Business, July 2nd): "Trump Entertainment Resorts (TRMP) announced Monday it is not likely to be sold, sending shares of the company plummeting more than 20%. The operator of three Atlantic City casinos said its board believed that none of the ''indications of interest'' met its expectations… Trump Entertainment was in talks with a group led by former Atlantic City casino executive Dennis Gomes and real estate developer Morris Bailey about a possible sale of the casinos… Manhattan-based fund manager Dune Capital Management, which is run by former Goldman Sachs & Co. executives, was also said to be a possible bidder."
  • Hamptons Luxury Homes Announces that Northway Island Associates Secures Land for a Planned Hundred Million Dollar Plus Development Project (Business Wire, July 2nd): "Hamptons Luxury Homes (OTCPK:HLXH), a luxury homebuilder of custom estate homes and an integrated construction services company, today announced that Northway Island Associates… is prepared to commence development of the North Country Entertainment Complex located in upstate New York. Northway Island Associates… announced… its purchase of approximately 928 acres of land to develop an entertainment complex in the St. Lawrence area… The land, located in Brasher and Massena, New York, is slated for use as a motor sports park with retail and entertainment components [or possibly] a casino."
  • New York Building's Record Price Shows Office Market's Strength (Wall St. Journal, July 2nd): "450 Park Ave., a boutique office building in midtown Manhattan, sold for $1,589/sf, or about $510 million… Believed to be the most expensive on a per-square-foot basis for an office building in U.S. history – [Shows] trends like strong foreign currencies and the availability of equity are helping the market for commercial office space, at least in premium markets such as New York, despite concerns over tighter lending practices… Somerset Partners, [private equity] won the bidding [and] is capitalized by European family trusts and high-net-worth individuals who see New York buildings as a bargain compared with the prices being asked for office space in London and Dublin. [The building was purchased for] $158 million, or about $492/sf in 2002."
  • Gramercy Capital Corp. and SL Green Realty Corp. Announce Sale/Purchase of Interest in One Madison Avenue (Business Wire, July 2nd): "Gramercy Capital Corp. (GKK) and SL Green Realty Corp. (NYSE:SLG) today announced that the companies have entered into an agreement for Gramercy to sell its 45% equity interest in the joint venture that owns One Madison Avenue in New York City to SL Green Realty Corp. for approximately $147.6 million, which will produce for Gramercy a gain of approximately $92.0 million. After closing, SL Green will own 100% of the property."
  • Delaware to Pay $13 Million for BofA Building (WBOC, July 2nd): "Delaware will buy an office building and parking lot in downtown Wilmington from Bank of America for $13 million.As they wrapped up their 2007 session, legislators decided buy the land and create a state employee education and training center at the site. Legislators agreed to suspend the normal real estate procurement process, which requires an appraisal of the property's value and negotiations.The General Assembly's bond bill includes $6.5m for the building."
  • What Real Estate Slump? (New West, July 2nd): "As the real estate bust continues… a group of realtors in Denver… bought and flipped condos in the new Glass House in the Riverfront Park neighborhood. [They] quickly resold the units – which went on sale last fall for prices in the $200,000-$400,000 range – for profits stretching beyond 20%. The developer, East West Partners, “is moving forward with a similar project called City House, a 23-story tower expected to break ground later this year." Other downtown condo projects are faring equally well: 11 of the 18 units in The Park¦One Riverfront are under contract before a spade has been turned."
  • Phillips Edison Acquires $600 Million Portfolio From Developers Diversified (PR Newswire, July 2nd): "Phillips Edison & Company announced the acquisition of 52 shopping centers today from Developers Diversified Realty Corporation, with plans to close on an additional 11 properties in the near future. Today's closing included 4.13 million sf for $449 million. The second closing will bring the total to $603m for 5.7 million sf of neighborhood and community shopping centers in 16 states."
  • Cogdell Spencer Buys Medical Facility (Forbes, June 29th): "Health care real estate investment trust Cogdell Spencer Inc. said Friday it is acquiring a medical facility in Syracuse, N.Y., for $36.8 million from an undisclosed seller… The Central New Medical Center is a six-story, 111,634-square-foot property located on the campus of Crouse Hospital."
  • Buildings Selling Like Hot Cakes In Denver (Rocky Mountain News, June 28th): "Investors are snapping up retail and industrial buildings in the Denver area at a record pace. In the first six months of the year, investors paid $2.5 billion for commercial properties, which will likely break last year's record of $5b by year's end. It's possible that sales volume could hit $6b this year, said Brad Neiman of Northstar Commercial Partners, who released the report with Dan Grooters of Grubb & Ellis… This year's tally is 23.6% higher than the previous record of $2.04b in sales in the first half of 2006."
  • Vornado Taking 15-Center Portfolio for $351M (Globe St., June 27th): "Vornado Realty Trust is buying 15 shopping centers in the NYC Metro area for $351 million. The REIT’s management did not disclose the sellers in the transaction... Anchor tenants in the portfolio, which is located in northern New Jersey and Long Island, include A&P, Home Depot, Kmart, Kohl’s, Stop & Shop and Target. Locally based Vornado is funding the purchase with $120m in cash, $89m in newly issued preferred and common stocks and $142m in existing debt… In January, Vornado acquired the 386,000-sf Bruckner Plaza in the Bronx from the Kushner Cos. for $165m. Just before that it bought Manhattan Mall, on Sixth Avenue, between 32nd and 33rd streets for $689m."
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