February 22, 2012

The Wednesday Wrap: Feb. 22, 2012

Each Wednesday, The Wrap presents a compilation of recent noteworthy commercial real estate stories from a variety of publications. Here are five stories that caught our eyes in recent days:


“Grubb & Ellis Files for Bankruptcy and Agrees to Sell Assets to BGC” – By Kevin Roose of The New York Times. Citing the depressed real estate market of recent years, one of the nation’s largest commercial real estate brokerage firms has filed for bankruptcy and will sell almost all of its assets to BCG Partners.  BCG will provide financing of up to $4.8 million to keep Grubb & Ellis operating until the acquisition closes, according to Roose. 

In its bankruptcy filing, Grubb & Ellis listed $150 million in assets and $167 million in debts.

“We are confident this will be a seamless transition for our clients and that becoming part of BGC is an extremely attractive opportunity for our brokerage professionals and employees,” said Thomas P. D’Arcy, CEO of Grubb & Ellis, in a statement.

“Banks Face Crisis in Bungled Commercial Mortgages” – By Constantine von Hoffman for CBSNews.com. A new report by Harbinger Analytics Group warns the “nation's banks are looking at a robo-signing problem with commercial real estate [that] may dwarf the one for home mortgages,” von Hoffman writes.

Many analysts say 2012 could be a record year for commercial real estate loan defaults but banks could be hampered in their foreclosure attempts by the “widespread use of inaccurate, fraudulent documents for land title underwriting of commercial real estate financing,” von Hoffman says.

“Will Rollover Risk Sink the Office Recovery in 2012?” – By Victor Calanog, contributing columnist for National Real Estate Investor. The office market has shown some signs of improvement recently – the national vacancy rate dropped by 30 basis points last year – but lots of five-year rents signed in 2007 are coming due this year and that could spell trouble for some areas, Calanog says. Specifically, with effective rents still far from their 2007 levels, many office properties could be looking at a serious dip in revenue.

“The sky isn’t about to fall for office properties around the nation … ,” Calanog writes. “Still, some properties that have large tenants will find it challenging to renew leases at rent levels signed prior to the downturn.”

“Commercial Real Estate Has and Will Outperform Other Asset Classes” – By Natalie Dolce of GlobeSt.com. Given the ever-present fluctuations in the stock market and dissatisfaction with bond returns, institutional investors continue to seek a safe haven in commercial real estate, Dolce reports. 2012 should therefore be a busy year for commercial real estate transactions.

“Limited new construction, signs of economic expansion and a low interest rate environment provide compelling justification for long-term aggressive rent growth,” Marc Renard, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield of California’s Capital Markets Group, told Dolce. “As a result, 2012 should prove to be an excellent, vintage year for strategic acquisitions.”

“Generation Y Fuels Atlanta Rental Growth Boom” – By Douglas Sams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Two new apartment high-rise properties are in the works for Midtown Atlanta, and the developers of the projects say that 24- to 34-year-olds are a big reason why.

Known as “Generation Y” or “Echo Boomers,” the demographic frowns upon long commutes to work and embraces intown living, Sams writes. Not only that, they simply are not all that jazzed about buying a home.

“Home ownership is no longer the American Dream that it once was,” Mark Stewart, director of investments for Batson Cook Development, told Sams.

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