Editors’ Weekly News Roundup, October 30 – November 3
Two breaking news stories and a surprising turn of events in broker-client relations dominated the most-read Connect CRE stories for the week ending Nov. 4. While school-age children everywhere were preparing to make the trick-or-treat rounds on Halloween, Connect CRE subscribers were reading about something far scarier: a $1.8-billion jury verdict.
Jury in Commissions Case Finds NAR, Brokerages Guilty reported that a federal jury in Kansas City, MO, found the National Association of Realtors and two major residential brokerages liable for damages stemming from a conspiracy to artificially inflate broker commissions on home sales. Under antitrust law, the damages could be tripled to more than $5 billion. Two days later, we reported that the CEO of NAR had stepped down.
The jury verdict occurred early in the week. The week ended with another startling decision, this time on the part of Brookfield Asset Management. The global firm decided to terminate Cushman & Wakefield’s listing assignment for its office and logistics properties. A New York regional story that also resonated nationally, Brookfield Fires C&W From Handling Major US Office Listings, was the week’s second most-read article.
Our NAR jury verdict story was neither the first nor the last breaking news mailing from Connect CRE last week. The week began with a breaking news story that similarly wasn’t the only one of its kind to be reported as October segued into November. Monday morning saw the third most-read Connect CRE story of the week, Healthpeak, Physicians Realty to Merge for $21B REIT.
The combined company will operate as Healthpeak Properties Inc. and will boast one of the nation’s largest outpatient medical portfolios. On Tuesday morning, we reported another proposed marriage of two REITs, this time in the net lease sector, as Realty Income and Spirit Realty Capital also intend to merge. Later in the week, the M&A news occurred in the amusement park business, with Six Flags and Cedar Fair planning to combine forces.
Our fourth most-read story of the past week detailed the latest results in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index of home prices. For multifamily landlords, the news was heartening. U.S. Housing Prices Continue on Upward Trend was the headline, and August—the most recent month for which figures are available—saw a bigger year-over-year increase than July. That dovetails with a recent story on apartment rents that quoted Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, saying it has become cheaper to rent than to buy in most major markets.
Completing the top five was a Chicago-based story involving another asset management giant, in this case, Blackstone, and an underlying theme that we’re hearing more frequently: distress. Blackstone Lists Two-Tower River North Office Property revealed that the company is selling 350 N. Orleans St. because it’s unable to refinance a $310-million CMBS loan that has gone into special servicing.
Speaking of distress, the past week also saw the launch of the second in our three-part series on the subject, this time focusing on identifying buying opportunities in distressed properties and debt. Click here to read the article, which includes a downloadable pullout on 10 questions potential buyers should ask.