Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lots of Churches

We have enjoyed becoming specialists in selling churches, as we have begun doing in the past  year.  It's a specialized business, and we are getting in gear with the various rules and regulations, and the special needs of congregations.  I recently returned from a meeting of brokers from around the country, and this is happening elsewhere as well.  Traditional denominations are consolidating their parishes, while new churches are springing up all over.

One of the challenges is to creatively reuse buildings that were designed when churches were the social centers of their neighborhoods.  Those neighborhoods have changed, and the way congregations operate has often morphed as well.  Sometimes it makes more sense to turn sanctuaries into housing or educational space.

Who would have thought that we would have moved from industrial and commercial brokers into agents who worked with churches, casinos, breweries, and marijuana facilities?  It's a brave new world out there, and we're proud to be in the vanguard.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Favored by Fortune

Those of us in Connecticut real estate would like to thank Boston and New York.  If they weren't so expensive, we might not be seeing the spate of sales that we've had in the past few months.  Although Connecticut faces fiscal and policy challenges, its location between two major centers of growth means that it benefits from the rise in prices seen in the two cities that bracket it.

Investment property is clearly drawing attention from buyers priced out of the Boston and NYC markets.  We are starting to see the same dynamic in demand for user properties, distribution facilities, and land.  Even home prices are beginning to reflect first-time buyers who cannot afford New York, just as we used to see.

It's impossible to predict how far the sprawl of metro Boston will end up going, but Connecticut will surely reap at least some rewards.  Fairfield County is already considered a suburb of New York, and that will continue.  If rail is upgraded, which we are all waiting for, that spillover will explode.  In the meantime, we can just be happy to see a great increase in commercial activity.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Stock Market Gains Turning to Real Estate

It appears that some of the money captured by investors in the especially bullish 2017 stock market may be redeployed into real estate in the near future.  Many people believe that we are near the end of this market cycle on Wall Street, and those who have the discipline to remove gains from stocks are seeking alternative investments.  Real estate is an obvious use for that, since cash has been returning virtually nothing over the past few years, and bonds have been lackluster in many cases as well. 

We are therefore seeing heavy demand for investment properties of all stripes, and are having trouble finding enough to fulfill the interest generated.  Our hope is that baby boomers who are often selling, relocating, or retiring, will put new buildings and parcels onto the market in the coming months, as it is more likely now that such offerings will sell.  Even users are more inclined to purchase, as they too are looking for a safer return.

The message here?  It's a great time to consider liquidating an underutilized or unwanted real property, and maybe a last chance to get into a new property at somewhat lower prices.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Two Recent Quick Sales

For those of you who think that it's impossible to sell an industrial building in Connecticut, we have good news!  Although it is often reported that manufacturing, and most industry, is dying in our region, industrial buildings are still desirable.  It may be that they are more often used as warehouse space, or flex space of some kind, or even converted to residential use, but they are being shown, and bought.

We have closed two buildings in the past week that went into contract within two weeks of being listed.  They were both industrial free-standing buildings, and they were in two different parts of our market, and they both attracted calls,showings, and offers right away.  They were priced correctly, and were in the "sweet spot" of 5,000-15,000 sf, with docks and overhead doors.

If you've been waiting to see what will happen, wait no more, because investors are also active in our market, and users won't want any extra competition.  Some people have needed more space for years now, and finally are pulling the trigger.  Others are opening new businesses or territories, and some are just betting on the come that prices will increase.

 It almost doesn't matter what reason you find most compelling.  It just matters that sellers know to list now, and buyers know to act now.  You'll be glad that you did.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Report from Southeast Asia

I recently returned from a trip through Southeast Asia.  Some places, like Laos and Cambodia, are very different from the United States in every way, although I couldn't believe how often I saw a Lexus SUV in Siem Reap.  We also saw a floating village in Cambodia, where people lived in shacks on rafts, which moved around season by season.  During the monsoon months, the waters would pull them all to another place.  Laos had bridges across the Mekong that needed to be rebuilt every year, for the same reason.

  In Vietnam, Hanoi is growing by leaps and bounds.  It now has a population quickly approaching that of New York City!  And there are four million scooters, with traffic that also rivals NYC, making scooters a better way to go.  It was common for the first story of a building to be relatively similar to something we might see here, but with increasingly shoddy construction on each successive floor going up.  Often, the first floor was commercial, with the remaining floors looking as though they were residential.  With mild weather all year, the need for good insulation is not the same as it is here.
The Vietnamese economic growth outstrips ours, so that they seem more like a capitalistic society than a communist one, except for the propaganda spouted by the tour guides.

Hong Kong, although now a part of China, still seems like another big financial center, with people living in tiny apartments and space at a premium.  There are skyscrapers designed by almost every famous architect that you can name, and there are many high-rise residential structures perched on hillsides, but on big bases (they still look scary to me, though).  Many people who live up in the hills travel to work on big public escalators, which change direction by the commuting times.

 Buyers of property, which is all owned by the government, bid on it at auction.  Just before we went, one parcel of three-quarters of an acre, located in the prime downtown area, sold for the equivalent of $3 billion U.S. dollars!  And, bear in mind, that's cash up front. Often buyers come from the mainland, where they can't buy what they want to with their new money.

 Residential transactions take place at equally dizzying prices, with apartments in good neighborhoods transferring for sometimes more than $2000/sf, and with car owners paying $500/month to garage their cars.  No wonder the birth rate is so low there now.

It's always good to get the perspective on home that travel brings.  The world has many different market conditions, governmental structures, and customs, and I got to see a bunch of new ones this month.