Fed Chair Yellen- Maybe we are turning Japanese

Actual and Expected Inflation in Japan
“Here, Japan’s recent history may be instructive: As shown in figure 9, survey measures of longer-term expected inflation in that country remained positive and stable even as that country experienced many years of persistent, mild deflation.” – Janet Yellen Sep. 24, 2015

Was talking about this just last week (again):

As a value guy like you it’s hard to figure out how buying something in the sixes on cap rate works out to be a good deal. But what if the Fed is trapped at the Zero Lower Bound and we are turning Japanese? Their ‘Lost Decade’ is now old enough to graduate with a Master’s degree and we’re following the exact same playbook. I offer last week’s Fed decision as exhibit #1. They would dearly love to raise rates just to prove they can but there’s just thin ice between us and

Continue reading Fed Chair Yellen- Maybe we are turning Japanese

What’s your personal GDP- Gross Domestic Pleasure?

Most of the economic statistics that we rely on to understand how the economy is doing (and contribute to the apartment building investment cycle) were created in the 1930s and ’40s, smack dab in the middle of the Industrial Age. They haven’t changed much

What's your personal GDP- Gross Domestic Pleasure?
Click the image to see the thought provoking NYT Magazine article that inspired this post: “The Economy’s Missing Metrics”. Illustration by Andrew Rae

since then, you can find out a lot about woodworking-machine-setters but all web developers are thrown into a single category. Such as they are they were an attempt to measure something that seems quite radical especially coming from economists: Is the government making life better or worse for its citizens? Not how many pairs of shoes were manufactured, how long they sat in warehouses and the average price they sold for.

The intellectual leader for this radical thought was Simon Kuznets who as an immigrant had a special respect for the promises of democracy. He believed politicians should be Continue reading What’s your personal GDP- Gross Domestic Pleasure?

Are Interest Rates Caught in a Catch 22?

Are interest rates caught in a Catch-22? What if the Fed is waiting to raise rates until the economy is growing stronger but the economy won’t grow stronger until rates go up?

10 year Treasury Rates June 2014 - May 2015

For three years everyone has ‘known’ that interest rates were going up but other than during the Taper Tantrum of June 2013 which affected loan rates more than Treasuries, the T10 only moved up to the 2.75% area which was just picking itself off the floor of 1.66 where it got down to in May that year.

The Fed would like to raise rates, if for no other reason than to prove they aren’t turning Japanese by leaving rates low for two and a half ‘Lost Decades’. They’d also like to have room to lower them again if the economy dips back into recession (Note Q1 GDP was just revised down to -.7% that’s Continue reading Are Interest Rates Caught in a Catch 22?

How to Prevent Politics from Causing ‘Black Swans’ in your Apartment and CRE Investments

As apartment building investors it’s easy to get so deep into the trenches of our market sector that we get blindsided by political events that don’t make any sense from an economic or investment perspective. With every market being so local and at the same time now subject to institutional interest it’s a stretch just to be able to track what’s happening in the lending environment at the same time. But this is the biggest risk we face; how to avoid Nassim Taleb’s ‘Black Swans’ that could destroy our investment plans. As an options trader  Taleb could very easily have been overtaken by black swans if his vision was limited to the distance from his eyeballs to the trading screens he stared at. How wide is yours?

How to avoid black swans in apartment building investiment

Short of an asteroid strike from another time dimension there really aren’t as many black swans as there are limited perspectives. Many people considered the mortgage meltdown a black swan but there were also quite a number with wider vision who understood how it would all end and some of them made fortunes putting their insights to work. Since we’re multifamily and CRE investors, not leveraged derivative traders we probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to go short the apartment building in that bad neighborhood but how do we develop that wider perspective and still have time to do any investing?

The easy answer is Continue reading How to Prevent Politics from Causing ‘Black Swans’ in your Apartment and CRE Investments

QE is the connection between international tensions and your investments- Dr. Malmgren

Video: Dr. Philippa Malmgren explaining the connection between your investments and all the geopolitical wrangling taking place right now.

The exec sum:

  • Leading industrialized nations carry (and continue to pile on) unsustainable levels of debt
  • Most options for reducing the debt are non-starters:
    • Reduce current spending- Not good for re-election in a democracy
    • Reduce future spending by cutting retirement and healthcare benefits- Also politically untenable
    • Repudiate debt- Advanced economies run on debt and can’t afford to be cut off from debt markets
    • Restructure debt- Again advanced economies can’t afford to cut off from debt markets
  • But there is one tried and true method

Continue reading QE is the connection between international tensions and your investments- Dr. Malmgren

#Multifamily REITs best performers in 1st half 2014

REIT.com had a piece called REIT Returns Outpace Broader Market in Solid First Half Showing out late last week and the part that caught my eye was the section titled: Apartment REITs Lead the Pack in First Half:

  • Apartment REITs were the strongest performers during the first half.
  • Total returns as of July 7 in the sector stood at 23.8 percent.
Apartment Building Investment REITS perform best during 1H 2014
Click image to view article on REIT.com

“There was increasing comfort in the market that fundamentals in the [apartment] sector were not decelerating as fast as many had feared,” said James Sullivan, managing director at Cowen & Co.

Apartment REIT managers are some of the best multifamily operators in the world and it pays to pay attention to what they’re doing. Unfortunately the returns on REIT shares are too often driven  by capital flows from the stock market rather than the pure performance these managers generate. Patient contrarian investors  can be rewarded however by waiting for apartment REITs  to fall out of favor with stock market investors and pick them up at bargain prices.

Click on the image above or use this link to see the article on REIT.com: REIT Returns Outpace Broader Market in Solid First Half Showing

70% of Americans think housing crises continues, 51% say renting is more appealing #Multifamily

A MacArthur Foundation survey conducted by Hart Research Associates shows that 70% of Americans polled think that the housing crises isn’t over and 19% think the worst is yet to come, good for apartment building investment I believe. As reported by the Wall St. Journal in an article titled: Allure of Homeownership Slumps Amid Worries of Continued Crisis  the worst is yet to come figure is unchanged from last year, which may reflect a segment of the population that has been deeply scarred by collapse of the lending and housing bubbles. The still in the crises figure is down from 77% a year ago but it is still a big number that’s having a positive effect on apartment demand:

51% say renting is more appealing; positive for apartment building investment

Referencing the chart above, the article stated that 51% of those polled said renting was more appealing than in past decades which is definitely positive for apartment building investors. Note that while urban apartment demand and development has been getting a lot of action, 35% of suburbanites think renting is Continue reading 70% of Americans think housing crises continues, 51% say renting is more appealing #Multifamily

Apartment Building Investment in 2014, opportunities among interesting times

Wrapping up in the office on this last day of 2013 and wanted to share some things that have been twitching my antennae lately:

How will the taper affect apartment builiding investment?
The Taper, actually a Malayan Tapir
Source: www.konicaminolta.com

While there’s been a lot of ink/bits spilled over a slight and possibly temporary ‘taper’ in the Fed’s bond buying spree known as QE to Infinity! the one thing they have been unequivocal about is their intention to hold interest rates low (read: near zero) for an extended period that has now been stretched out as far as 2017. Meanwhile ‘everyone knows’ interest rates are going up.

Which will prevail? The Fed has been pretty successful at forcing them down and holding them there for years, going on 14 if you start counting from the dot com crash. On the other hand if everyone knows rates are going up they will act accordingly and that will tend to push rates up, at least long rates which the Fed has less control over. For a very interesting take on how to deal with what ‘everyone knows that everyone knows’ see Ben Hunt on Epsilon Theory.

What does it mean for us as apartment investors? If ‘everyone’ is right Continue reading Apartment Building Investment in 2014, opportunities among interesting times

Good News on Latest 10yr Treasury, Apartment Building Loan Rates and Spread Chart

In more good news for apartment building investors, both the 10 year Treasury and apartment loan rates have moderated since the Fed’s “non-taper” announcement in mid-September. The spread between the T10 and the 10 year apartment loan rate we track has come in as well. Since 9/16 the Treasury has drifted down from 2.88% to yesterday’s quote of 2.53% while the loan rate has moved from 5.282 down to 4.921, bringing the spread in to 2.381 from 2.402. The average spread for 2013 has also narrowed to 2.573%:


10yr Treasury and Apartment Building Loan rates as of October 29 2013. More at www.ashworthpartners.com

Notes about the apartment Continue reading Good News on Latest 10yr Treasury, Apartment Building Loan Rates and Spread Chart

Multifamily Loan Rates Moderate Then Dip, Good For Apartment Building Investors.

10 year apartment building loan rates had been in a range the last few weeks until Ben Bernanke ‘failed to taper’ last Wednesday causing the bellwether 10 Year Treasury to fall about a dozen basis points to today’s quote of 2.72%. This is good news for apartment building investors, home buyers and builders, stock market speculators, just about everyone except savers, retirees and the people running retirement plans. The upside is that loan rates may head lower but the downside is the economy and particularly employment haven’t improved enough to ease off the money printing pedal.

Here’s the latest chart showing the T10, the 10 year fixed apartment rate we track and the spread between the two:

10 year fixed apartment building investment loan rate lower

This week’s quote for a 10 year fixed rate, 30 year amortization apartment loan is 5.131%. (See below for more detail on this loan). The other thing noticeable on the chart is that the spread between the rates has been below the yearly average consistently since the beginning of July. In fact the average spread has fallen to 2.602 from 2.661 over that period. Partly because 4.5% was about as low apartment rates were going to go no matter how far down Treasuries went but also I think that lenders are getting more aggressive, especially in the multifamily sector.

Continue reading Multifamily Loan Rates Moderate Then Dip, Good For Apartment Building Investors.