Ten Days of Buzz: May 19th-28th, 2013

Ten Days of Buzz“We’ve learned that most real estate agents and investors are looking to buy long term, since income properties are a significant part of their retirement plan.”

Joe Buczkowski of LeaseRunner. LeaseRunner Releases Rental Sector Survey, Press Release 365, 5/19/13.

“Federal rental assistance programs must more directly target help to those who need it most. That is a key conclusion reached by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission in its [new] report.”

Henry Cisneros, writing for the Express News. Federal rental assistance must target the most needy, MySanAntonio.com, 5/20/13.

“We need to partner with the community. It’s a joint effort between all of us. You’re our eyes and ears for keeping the community safe. I think it will pay off dividends down the road.”

Pete Callewaert of the San Diego Sheriff’s Office. Apartments Certified As Crime-Free Multi Housing, Lemon Grove Patch, 5/21/13.

“As there are more properties to bid on due to new supply and fewer bidders in the market as the REITs become less active buyers, that will cause downward pressure on pricing.”

Mark Hickey of Champion. Will Building Boom End the Party for Apt. Investors? CoStar Group, 5/22/13.

“Things have changed people don’t want to wait an hour in traffic any more to get to their jobs, so if you work downtown, you want to live downtown… It’s been extremely exciting to see what is happening right now.”

Douglas Price of K&D Group. Downtown Cleveland Nears 100% Occupancy, WKYC.com, 5/23/13.

“I think this generation of transit will transform Seattle.”

Al Levine of the Seattle Housing Authority. Transit-oriented development gaining speed in Puget Sound area, Puget Sound Business Journal, 5/24/13.

“Americans are going through a transformational period; the unconventional is becoming conventional. The survey uncovered major revelations that suggest housing attitudes are part of the transformation.”

Analyst Peter D. Hart. The big housing question: To buy or to rent?, Times Dispatch, 5/25/13.

“A prospering rental market allows residents like Maria Wells of Florida to rent out her first home; she got married and moved in with her husband. But Wells can’t sell because she is underwater on mortgages, owing more than the current market value. These homeowners are ‘accidental landlords.'”

From the writers at ECreditDaily.com. ‘Underwater’ Mortgages Spur New Wave of Landlords, 5/27/13.

“Markets that people gave up on are now markets that people are going back to,” says Walter Page, director of research for Property and Portfolio Research, a division of the CoStar Group. “In most primary markets the average price per sq.ft. is twice what it is secondary markets.”

Walter Page of the CoStar Group. Secondary Markets Win Multifamily Investors, National Real Estate Investor, 5/28/13.



Rental Tech: Living Concrete, Housing Awards, & a Smartphone Door Lock

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Is “living concrete” the next big thing in building materials?

living concreteCould a single building material provide climate control, structural integrity, and reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Sounds futuristic–but according to a new article from MHN, the future is now. Living concrete, created by a firm in Spain, utilizes three layers: a waterproof base, a layer hospitable to plant life, and a porous layer on top. The result is a concrete that is fairly lightweight and self-sustaining–and there’s no need for an additional support structure, as there often is with other structural vegetation. So how soon before moss-covered buildings start popping up downtown? Read more.

AIA Housing Awards feature multifamily building

Multifamily housing awardedThe 2013 AIA Housing Awards are out–and a multifamily building made the list! The awards feature “the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and a valuable national resource.” So which multifamily building won? That’s Via Verde, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx. Firms Dattner and Grimshaw incorporated a terraced roof garden that collects rainwater and solar panels whose energy lights the building’s common areas. The mixed-use building incorporates townhomes and apartments, and features a colorful facade. Check out the Curbed article for a gallery of all the winners here.

Flexible shared space is proposed for mico-apartments

micro apartment shared spaceLove ’em or hate ’em, the micro-apartment seems to be here to stay. And while creative furnishings can make a micro unit pretty livable, there are just some aspects of daily life–entertaining, for instance–that are harder when you’re living in 400 square feet of space. One student wants to change that, however. Recent Northeastern graduate Chris Marciano has come up with a design for micro-lofts that incorporate a shared common space between them. The common spaces are designed to be easily accessible–no running down six flights of stairs to a common room–and flexible enough to accomodate different types of gatherings. Likening his design to something “between a multi-bedroom apartment, a studio and a dormitory,” Marciano notes that currently, “this is a housing typology that doesn’t really exist.” Whether it will be embraced is another question–millennials, are you ready to share the space?  Read more.

Coming to your apartment door: key entry by smartphone!

smart lockFinally today, we’ve got news on a gadget I really want. I mean, how cool is this–a door lock that can be activated just by touching the metal while your smartphone is in your pocket. Unikey Kevo, in partnership with Kwikset, has announced the project. Previously only seen in certain cars, the door lock technology has the option to use an actual key, in the event of battery failure, and allows you to manage multiple accessers and grant temporary “keys” to friends or house-sitters. While Android phones aren’t yet supported, the lock also comes with a keyfob that serves the same function as the phone. The product isn’t yet available, but should be soon–you can add yourself to the company’s mailing list if you want to stay posted.  Read more from Apartment Therapy.

Seattle Centric: Employment Numbers, Investment Trends, and Lots of New Development


Happy Friday! It may be raining, but that can’t dampen our spirits–we’ve got all sorts of good Seattle news for you today. Seattle Centric

Washington State employment is down again!

Good news this week from the Seattle Times–Washington State unemployment fell again in April. The new figure, hitting right at 7%, has fallen half a percentage point since 2013 began–and it puts unemployment at the lowest it’s been in over four years. The figure also puts us a little ahead of much of the country–according to Washington State labor economist Scott Bailey, unemployment is “continuing to improve at a moderate but accelerating rate, somewhat faster than the nation.” And the numbers within Seattle are even better; April’s unemployment rate for the city was just 5.1%, down from 7.3% one year ago. Read more.

From Dupre+Scott: Apartment investors are serious about 2013

Have you checked out Dupre+Scott’s new weekly video update? This week’s video is about apartment sales. Last year, investors bought $2.5 billion worth of apartments last year, making it the third-highest volume year in our region ever. So how are sales stacking up this year? Dupre+Scott compared the first four months of this year with the first four months of last year to find out. And the numbers are great–sales for January through April are up 26% over the same period last year, while the dollar amount of those sales is up a whole 32%. The average sale price is up, too; check out the video for all the details.

Big changes ahead for Cap Hill’s Bauhaus block

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, East Pine Street, on Capitol Hill, is about to get quite the facelift. The block, home of Bauhaus Coffee and Books, is the future site of a mixed-use project by Kirkland-based Madison Development Project. The project will incorporate some currently existing architecture, including the Melrose Building, and will feature 14,000 square fet of retail, as well as 180 apartment units and underground parking. Read more.

Rezone approved–so what’s next for South Lake Union?

The City Council has voted, and the results are in–taller buildings will be allowed in South Lake Union. So what will the changing face of the area look like? According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, nine projects were waiting on the approval–that includes 976 apartment units, 1.98 million square feet of commercial space, and a hotel. Of note are Equity Residential’s planned twin seven-story apartment buildings at 222 Fairview Avenue North, totaling 497 units, and Greystar’s seven-story building that  will house 279 units at 400 Boren Avenue North. Read more.

Ten Days of Buzz: May 5-14, 2013

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“The ability to rent a home on a short-term basis not only garners higher return than a long-term rental, but it keeps the home in good shape for when you are prepared to perhaps sell it.”

Jon Gray, VP of HomeAway. Renting Out Your Home: Tips and Strategies, Patch.com, 5/5/13.

“By 2031, South Lake Union will have to absorb some 12,000 households and 22,000 jobs to continue to meet its share of future growth. This rezone will take the pressure off other neighborhoods and will shape South Lake Union for the next hundred years.”

Councilman Richard Conlin. Seattle City Council approves South Lake Union rezone, Puget Sound Business Journal, 5/6/13.

“A doubling of the rate of home-ownership in a US state is followed in the long-run by more than a doubling of the later unemployment rate.”

Economists Andrew Oswald and David Blanchflower, in a new report. Study: Higher levels of homeownership can kill jobs, the Washington Post, 5/7/13.

“Not everyone can claim that their loft apartment used to be a roller rink. This domed space which used to be roller rink, bowling alley, a Hollywood soundstage is turning into a group of 39 apartments called The Citadel. 8 will be centrally located and only naturally lit by skylight.”

Valerie Paschall, writer for Curbed. Photos Released of Windowless Roller Rink Apartments, DC Curbed, 5/8/13.

“So much of this is driven by employment right now.”

Ryan McMaken of the Colorado Division of Housing. Colorado apartment vacancy rate drops for 14th consecutive quarter, BizJournals.com, 5/9/13.

“Green building materials range from traditional materials that are being revalued for their minimal impacts to advanced technologies that are enabling better passive and active building performance. Changes in design and construction…are helping to reduce the impacts from the buildings and materials sectors.”

Eric Bloom of Navigant Research. Green Material Demand to Increase, GlobeSt.com, 5/10/13.

“No community can be strong without quality rental housing. We’re saying that renting is just as important to a community as home ownership is…We’re way behind in the need for rental housing.”

Christine Young Gertz of the Apartment Association of PA. 400K apartments needed nationwide, BizJournals.com, 5/11/13.

“Seattle architecture company Hewitt is drawing up plans for Madison Development Group’s 180-unit project that will significantly alter the block where Bauhaus Coffee and Books and other small businesses operate in some old buildings on East Pine Street.”

Marc Stiles, Real Estate Writer. Development to radically alter Bauhaus block on Capitol Hill, Puget Sound Business Journal, 5/13/13.

“If you convert your residence into a rental, you can probably shelter most or all of the rental income with tax deductions, including depreciation write-offs. With any luck, you can eventually sell the property for a good price.”

Bill Bischoff of Taxwatch. How to convert your home into a rental, Marketwatch.com, 5/14/13.

The Numbers: Newer Apartment Sales in King County, 2000-2013

Today, we’ve got numbers brought to you by Dupre + Scott and their weekly video update. You can tune in and watch their video here; in the meantime, check out some highlights below.

The Numbers

All numbers this week pertain to the sale of apartments in King County with 5 or more units, built in or after the year 2000, and come directly from Dupre + Scott. Enjoy!

Average newer apartment sale prices in King County, 2000 and 2013

Highest sale price per unit for a newer apartment in King County in 2013 was $357,000

Cap rates are just under 4.5%, that's down from 8.5% in 2000.


The Green Report: Glimpses of the Future

The Green Report

As we look to the future of sustainable apartment living, there’s certainly no dearth of new ideas–and many of them are being implemented in small scale now, a kind of conceptual test kitchen of ideas for clean rental living. Let’s check out the ideas that have made the news lately, and see how we could be living in just a few years.

From Australia: A vegetable garden with every unit

A new 123-unit apartment building down under is catching attention with a rather unusual amenity–every one of the units in the five-story building will come with it’s very own vegetable plot. Developer Robert DiCintio hopes that the plots, which will each be about two square meters, will “engender a community spirit…and allow people to meet their neighbors.” So how will the story end–with delicious vegetables, or sad neglected patches of dirt? The building will be completed in December 2014; we’ll have to wait until then to find out. Read more.

From Germany: An apartment building covered in algae

Ah, the almighty algae–although it looks very nice on the walls of a fish tank (I really should clean that), there’s one use that we hadn’t thought of, until this report came out of Germany, where a five-story apartment building has been engineered with algae in the walls. More specifically, the algae is sandwiched between glass panels that function as solar hot water collectors. The algae will be working hard, shading the building, muffling street noise, and creating biofuels that will heat the building as well. Who knew one little plant could do so much? Read more.

From Seattle: A carbon-neutral city?

Determined to make the city carbon neutral by 2050, Seattle officials have released an “ambitious, expensive” action plan, with many of the steps to be taken within the next fifteen years. So how does a city become carbon neutral? According to the Seattle Times, the plan calls for increased bike access and walkability and increased light rail infrastructure to reduce “approximately 40% of greenhouse gases that come from cars and trucks.” In addition, smart meters and energy audits could assist residents and businesses with conserving energy. So is it feasible? Check out the full report and decide for yourself. Read more.

…And from Spain (and Jane Fonda): A people-powered apartment

When we read this was a Jane Fonda project, we thought they were joking–but indeed, the queen of the leotard exercise empire is back in the fitness game with this new sustainable apartment prototype from Spanish design firm Elli Studio. Christened the Jane Fonda Kit House, the apartment (which is currently a little too bare-bones for our liking–hopefully in the finished product, walls would replace plastic sheeting) utilizes many of the kinetic elements you would find in a gym to power its appliances. Want to heat some water in that electric kettle? Better spend a few minutes on the exercise bike. We love this idea, but we wonder about its ability to be mainstreamed–how many people would be willing to do a hundred sit-ups just so they can watch The Office? Read more.

Ten Days of Buzz: April 22-May 2, 2013

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 7.20.00 PM“Rental properties can provide monthly cash flow, protect against inflation, and usually appreciate over the long term. Some retirees swear by rental properties instead of the usual stock and bond portfolio because they don’t have to stomach the volatile stock market swings.”

Joe Udo, of the blog Retire by 40. Should You Use Rental Properties to Fund Retirement?, Huffington Post, 4/22/13.

“More than half of Americans (57 percent) now believe that ‘buying has become less appealing,’ while 54 percent believe that ‘renting has become more appealing.’ Almost half of current home owners (45 percent) can see themselves renting at some point in the future. And, the rate increases alongside income and education.”

Richard Florida, reporting on a study by Hart Research Associates. Renting the American Dream, The Atlantic Cities, 4/23/13.

“We’re seeing an uptick in these types of people–usually it’s for buying a five- to ten-unit complex. It’s just a start to get their feet wet.”

Leanne Eicoff of CLD Capital. Individual Investors Eye Apartments, NuWire Investor, 4/24/13.

“We have found that factors such as previous rental history, length of employment and disposable income can be more important than a credit score.”

Kevin Wolfgang, President of Evergreen Apartment Group. More than a Score: Management Companies Must Look Beyond Credit, from the April 2013 edition of UNITS magazine, a publication of the NAA.

“Renting, which connotes mobility, might come to be identified with a high-status lifestyle in the new economy…In the wake of the housing crisis, and amid shifting demographics, it’s plausible that a broad change in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes.”

Robert Shiller of the New York Times. Today’s Dream House May Not Be Tomorrow’s, The Times’ Business Day, 4/27/13.

“The homeownership rate has fallen steadily after reaching a peak of 69.4 percent in 2004. Though some homeowners have become renters after losing their homes in foreclosure, the greater driver is that renting households have been slower to buy a home.”

Elliot Njus of The Oregonian. U.S. homeownership rate falls to lowest level since 1995, OregonLive.com, 4/29/13.

“First quarter commercial and multifamily mortgage origination volumes were nine percent higher than last year’s first quarter level. The overall number masks larger increases in the dollar volume of loans originated for commercial mortgage-backed securities and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a decline in the amount originated for life insurance company portfolios.”

Jamie Woodwell, VP of Commercial Real Estate Research at MBA. Commercial and Multifamily Mortgage Originations Increase by 9% Since Early 2012, LoanSafe.org, 4/30/13.

“I don’t make a ton of money. This was appealing because it was affordable and it gave me access to a downtown market.”

Kris King, micro-apartment renter. Seattle Residents Sick of Tiny Apartments, Business Insider, 5/1/13.

“While rental costs have steadily risen over the last few years, wages for these working families have not fully recovered from the hit they took between 2008 and 2009.”

Janet Viveiros of the Center for Housing Policy. Rent burden rises for working households, Seattle Times, 5/2/13.