Fed’s Rosengren flags risks to economy in WeWork-style model

Sept 20 (Reuters) – The rise in co-working spaces like those offered by WeWork may be a source of financial instability that could make the next U.S. recession worse by sparking a run on commercial real estate, Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said on Friday.

“I am concerned that commercial real estate losses will be larger in the next downturn because of this growing feature of the real estate market, which could ultimately make runs and vacancies more likely due to this new leasing model,” Rosengren said prepared remarks that also explained why he dissented against the central bank’s decision earlier this week to lower borrowing costs for a second time this year.

Office-space sharing companies often use special purpose entities to lease space, in order to shield themselves in case of bankruptcy, he said. That puts more potential stress on the property owners themselves in case of a downturn. But shared office space often pays higher rent than other types of commercial offices, making it an attractive option for property owners trying to squeeze more yield out of their assets in a low-interest-rate environment, Rosengren said.

“It will not be until a recession that this evolving model will be truly tested,” he said.

Rosengren did not mention WeWork or any other company by name. But while commercial real estate valuations and lending standards have for Rosengren been a persistent worry, it is the first time he, or any Fed policymaker, has publicly focused specifically on risks from the rise of such flexible workspaces to the overall U.S. economy.

Wework’s swelling lease obligations, and the potential risk to revenues if tenants vacate during a downturn, have been one of several issues that have soured investors against the company’s initial public offering.

WeWork owner The We Company this week postponed its initial public offering of stock planned after weak demand for its shares forced it to dramatically discount its expected IPO value to between $10 billion and $12 billion, down from the $47 billion valuation it achieved in January.

“The fact that the shared office model relies on small-company tenants with short-term leases, combined with the potential lack of recourse for the property owner, is potentially problematic in a recession,” Rosengren said.

“Its important to think about the potential for runs on commercial real estate stemming from a situation where short-term leases might not be renewed in recession, and long-term leases are no longer economically viable.” (Reporting by Ann Saphir Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

A Wave of New Apartment Construction Can Lower Rents

A wave of new construction is lowering apartment rents in Sydney Australia

Source: Heads Up, California: Sydney Has Figured Out How to Get the Rents Down – Reason.com

A supply glut also lowered rents in Los Angeles in the late 80s.  Combined with the recession in the early 90s, the oversupply kept kept rents down for almost a decade.  Los Angeles developers never produced the multifamily unit count achieved in the 80s.  A few years of 20,000 plus apartment deliveries would lower rents.


What It Is Like to Find a Rent Stabalized Apartment Without Vacancy Decontrol

Here is what it was like when New York allowed voluntarily vacated apartment rents to be increased by only 20% plus an allowance for renovation costs:

“At Thursday’s hearing, tenants described devoting hundreds of hours to finding apartments for their families only to be stymied by excessive upfront costs. In one example on the extreme end of the spectrum, a tenant who was renting a Manhattan apartment for $2,650/month who decided to go through with the lease said they paid $12,570 in fees before moving in—including a $4,770 brokers’ fee, a security deposit equal to one month’s rent, and a litany of other processing and application fees.”

Soon it will be virtually impossible to find a rent stabilized apartment in New York after the legislature revoked the landlord’s ability to raise rents when a tenant moves. In Los Angeles, you can find plenty of one bedrooms and even two bedroom rent stabilized apartments (and in some areas 3 bedrooms) for $2,650 by just looking in Craiglist, Zillow or any many other websites and Landlords compete for the tenant’s business.

Appfolio Snags 4,999 sq ft Lease at Rose Studio

Outside View

PMI is proud to announce that Appfolio, the apartment management accounting software company, is filling the 4,999 sq ft space located at 215 Rose Avenue in Venice. Their offices are located next to Mail on Line and House Brewing and across the street from Google’s Venice offices. David Wilson and James Wilson of Lee & Associates WLA represented the landlord and Greg Lovett of Cresa represented Appfolio for the five year lease.

Appfolio is software designed for property managers who want to automate, modernize, and grow their business. Founded in 2006, Appfolio has grown rapidly to become an all in one solution to manage multiple property types including multifamily, single-family, student housing, HOA, condo, or commercial properties. Appfolio allows owners and property managers to successfully manage the leasing, marketing, maintenance and accounting or their various properties.

Outside View

Rose Avenue offers creative working space and is perfect for smaller tenants who desire proximity to Venice Beach and Playa del Ray along with various cafes and coffee houses nearby. Indeed, Rose Studio is across the street from Rose Cafe.

Santa Monica Creates Dockless Scooter and Bike Parking Spaces; Owners Should Follow

Dockless Scooter and Bike Parking

The City of Santa Monica has embraced dock-less scooters and bikes as an enduring solution to the last mile transportation issue by creating parking for dock-less vehicles where car street parking would normally go. Owners should also encourage the dock-less revolution by also creating parking for dock-less vehicles in their parkway or in the front of their properties.