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Real Estate Billionaire Barrack Says Commercial Mortgages on Brink of Collapse

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(Bloomberg) — Real estate billionaire Tom Barrack said the U.S. commercial-mortgage market is on the brink of collapse and predicted a “domino effect” of catastrophic economic consequences if banks and government don’t take prompt action to keep borrowers from defaulting.

Barrack, chairman and chief executive officer of Colony Capital Inc., warns in a white paper of a chain reaction of margin calls, mass foreclosures, evictions and, potentially, bank failures due to the coronavirus pandemic and consequent shutdown of much of the U.S. economy. The paper was posted late Sunday on online publishing platform Medium.

“Loan repayment demands are likely to escalate on a systemic level, triggering a domino effect of borrower defaults that will swiftly and severely impact the broad range of stakeholders in the entire real estate market, including property and home owners, landlords, developers, hotel operators and their respective tenants and employees,” he wrote.

Barrack said the impact could dwarf that of the Great Depression.

Rescue Plan

Specifically, his paper highlights the fragility of mortgage real estate investment trusts, or REITs, and credit funds and the lenders that provide them with liquidity via repurchase financing. He argues for a rescue plan coordinated by banks and supported by government that includes the following:

$500 billion of taxpayer funds to provide liquidity to the financial system, including for loans and repurchase contractTemporary suspensions of both mark-to-market accounting and certain loan-modification rulesDelaying until 2024 a new accounting rule governing the recognition of credit lossesLeeway for banks to provide loan forbearance without triggering bank-capital rule violations

Barrack, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump, has much at stake in the outcome. Most of Colony’s investments are in or connected to real estate. The Los Angeles-based firm’s year-end financial report lists $3.54 billion of assets in hospitality real estate and $725 million of debt and equity investments at Colony Credit Real Estate Inc., its publicly traded commercial mortgage REIT.

 

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Real estate market seeing new challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Edmonton

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CALGARY (CityNews) – Buyers are not able to go into homes, and sellers are taking them off the market as they quarantine.

The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service and can carry on but now, buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating a contactless world in a market full of unknowns.

“A lot of my buyers have just decided to put everything on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty with how their down payments may be with affected by RRSP’s (and) job uncertainty,” said real estate agent Joseph Burke. “We’ve also seen some listings come off whether people are being quarantined or concerned about their overall health.”

In Alberta, COVID-19’s impact on oil prices is also set to have a major effect on the market.

“We may not get hit with the crisis as hard as they are in Italy, but the economic side of things, with oil dropping as fast as it has and all of that, that’ll be what will affect us on the real estate side,” said Burke.

Homebuyers were already advised to take precautions during open houses, not touching surfaces and keeping distance but there’s been a directive from the Alberta Real Estate Association to discontinue them beginning this week.

“Our realtors are getting very creative in doing videos and showing the property in other manners however typically people still want to feel and be in the home,” said Diane Scott with Royal Lepage Solutions.

Because it’s only been weeks since a societal shift began, the true impact of COVID-19 is still not completely apparent.

“What we are yet to see, is the economic impact will be from this pandemic on the real estate market. As the data starts to come out we’re gonna start to see where those trends are going and how it will affect us moving forward,” said Burke.

Despite a time of uncertainty, Diane and Joseph say it’s creating unique openings.

“There will be an opportunity for you as a seller especially because you’re going to have less competition in the early stages of it, buyers will be looking at your home versus 5 other homes, instead of 50 other homes,” said Burke.

“It’s a great opportunity, our prices are lower, there’s inventory out there, so if they’re in a rental, for instance, it would be a very good time to start looking to buy,” said Scott.

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Toronto real estate sales plunge as coronavirus weighs on market: Realtor – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Canada’s largest real estate market “hit the brakes” in the last full week of March as sales plunged and sellers pulled listings in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Toronto-based realtor.

What had been a gradual softening in Greater Toronto Area sales after a strong February turned decidedly negative last week, with sales down 37 per cent compared to the same period last year, John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty, told BNN Bloomberg in email.

There was also a 27 per cent increase in cancelled listings as the economy absorbs record job losses as entire industries come to a near standstill in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

“The market has definitely hit the brakes,” said Pasalis. He added some of those cancelled listings may end up getting relisted at a different price.

Despite the plunge in sales, Pasalis notes “the market is still quite stable because new listings are also on the decline.”

Numbers compiled by Realosophy Realty show new listings for the region fell by 33 per cent last week.

While last week’s average Toronto home price of roughly $856,000 is up about nine per cent year over year, annual price appreciation had been running stronger at the end of February into early March when there were more high-end homes being sold.

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Real estate market seeing new challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic – CityNews Calgary

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CALGARY (CityNews) – Buyers are not able to go into homes, and sellers are taking them off the market as they quarantine.

The real estate industry has been deemed an essential service and can carry on but now, buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating a contactless world in a market full of unknowns.

“A lot of my buyers have just decided to put everything on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty with how their down payments may be with affected by RRSP’s (and) job uncertainty,” said real estate agent Joseph Burke. “We’ve also seen some listings come off whether people are being quarantined or concerned about their overall health.”

In Alberta, COVID-19’s impact on oil prices is also set to have a major effect on the market.

“We may not get hit with the crisis as hard as they are in Italy, but the economic side of things, with oil dropping as fast as it has and all of that, that’ll be what will affect us on the real estate side,” said Burke.

Homebuyers were already advised to take precautions during open houses, not touching surfaces and keeping distance but there’s been a directive from the Alberta Real Estate Association to discontinue them beginning this week.

“Our realtors are getting very creative in doing videos and showing the property in other manners however typically people still want to feel and be in the home,” said Diane Scott with Royal Lepage Solutions.

Because it’s only been weeks since a societal shift began, the true impact of COVID-19 is still not completely apparent.

“What we are yet to see, is the economic impact will be from this pandemic on the real estate market. As the data starts to come out we’re gonna start to see where those trends are going and how it will affect us moving forward,” said Burke.

Despite a time of uncertainty, Diane and Joseph say it’s creating unique openings.

“There will be an opportunity for you as a seller especially because you’re going to have less competition in the early stages of it, buyers will be looking at your home versus 5 other homes, instead of 50 other homes,” said Burke.

“It’s a great opportunity, our prices are lower, there’s inventory out there, so if they’re in a rental, for instance, it would be a very good time to start looking to buy,” said Scott.

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