An Austin-based company plans to change the home buying market by making houses more universally accessible and sustainable. According to its website, ICON debuted the first permitted 3-D printed home in Austin on March 12, 2018, built using a prototype of a mobile printer that will have the ability to produce “a single-story, 600 to 800 square foot home in under 24 hours for less than $4,000.” The founders of the company partnered with New Story, a non-profit charity that works to transform slums into functional, sustainable communities, to address housing shortages around the world. The prototype model has a living room, bedroom, bathroom and a porch. The company’s plan is to finish tweaking and testing the design to get a community of up to 100 homes built in El Salvador in 2019.
Trump’s imposition of steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has sparked dire warnings from architects, contractors, REITs and real estate associations, who say the tariffs will put more pressure on already rising building costs — causing developers and investors to postpone or cancel new developments. Despite a carve-out for North American trading partners Canada and Mexico, Trump’s signed proclamations formalize 25% and 10% tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that will take effect in 15 days. “The bottom line is that any short-term gains for the domestic steel and aluminum industries will likely be offset by the lower demand that will come for their products as our economy suffers the impacts of these new tariffs and the trade war they encourage,” AGC chief executive Stephen Sandherr said.
U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue also issued a statement Wednesday saying “We urge the administration to take this risk seriously and specifically to refrain from imposing new worldwide tariffs, which would harm American manufacturers, provoke widespread retaliation from U.S. trading partners, and leave the true problem of Chinese steel and aluminum overcapacity virtually untouched.”
According to an estimate this week by Trade Partnership Worldwide, an international trade and economic consulting firm, while the plan will increase U.S. iron and steel, aluminum and other non-ferrous metals employment by about 33,450 jobs, the tariffs will eliminate 179,334 jobs throughout the rest of the economy for a net loss of nearly 146,000 jobs, including more than 28,000 construction positions.
White House Chief Economic Adviser, Gary Cohn, who opposed the tariffs, resigned this week.
New data and commentary from federal financial regulators are pointing to signs of increased risks in CRE lending. Notably, the amount of delinquent multifamily and owner-occupied property loans on the books of U.S. banks increased in the 4th quarter of 2017, according to statistics released this week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC data follows the Federal Reserve’s latest Monetary Policy Report that noted growing vulnerability in the commercial real estate sector. “By many measures, stocks, bonds, and real estate are richly priced. Stock price-to-earnings ratios are at high levels, traditionally a cautionary sign to investors of a potential market correction,” Gruenberg noted in the FDIC’s recent 2017 annual report. “Bond maturities have lengthened, making their values more sensitive to a change in interest rates. As measured by capitalization rates, prices for commercial real estate are at high levels relative to the revenues the properties generate, again suggesting greater vulnerability to a correction.”
Meanwhile, the total amount of commercial real estate loans held by U.S. banks and savings and loans has continued to swell. The $2.13 trillion year-end 2017 total CRE loans outstanding compares to $1.63 trillion at the last peak of the CRE markets at the end of June 2007.
In CBRE’s Second Half 2017 Cap Rate Survey, key U.S. takeaways include:
- Commercial real estate pricing was broadly unchanged, with the exception of some retail segments.
- Industrial cap rates fell by 13 basis points to 6.52%.
- Multifamily infill cap rates fell to 5.23% on average from 5.27%. Stabilized suburban assets also declined to 5.59% from 5.66%.
- Office and hotel sector cap rates were generally stable.
- Retail cap rates increased, with power centers moving to 7.98% from 7.54%. Neighborhood and high-street retail cap rates increased slightly by 7 and 9 bps, respectively.