Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

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U.S. rental vacancies rise for the first time in nearly five years

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: October 2, 2014 - 9:11 AM

U.S. rental vacancies rise for the first time in nearly five years, according to a preliminary apartment sector trends report from Reis. The report says the apartment vacancy rate in the Twin Cities was 3.2 percent, virtually unchanged from the previous quarter despite the addition of hundreds of new apartments. Other highlights from the report:

  • The national vacancy increased by 10 basis points to 4.2 percent, the first time since the fourth quarter of 2009 that the vacancy rate increased.
  • Asking and effective rent growth was up from the second quarter, with both increasing by 1.0 percent.
  • On a year-over-year basis asking and effective rents grew by 3.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, in line with the results from last quarter.
  • New construction continues to rise, with 46,055 units hitting the market during the quarter. That was the second-highest quarterly amount since the fourth quarter of 2002. So far this year, 113,024 new units have come online compared with 85,438 units delivered through the first three quarters of 2013.

Opus to build speculative 121,000 square-foot warehouse in Shakopee

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: September 25, 2014 - 2:45 PM

The market for industrial space continues to improve. The Opus Group said Tuesday that it signed an agreement with Capp Industries Inc. to design and build a 121,000-square-foot speculative warehouse and distribution facility at 4551 12th Avenue in Shakopee.

The building will be adjacent to the first phase of project, which Opus built for Capp in 1996. The new building will have 32-foot height ceilings and 50-foot deep structural bays. Capp is a Bloomington-based commercial and industrial real estate developer that’s been in business more than 50 years.

With the economy on the mend and the commercial sector heating up, a growing number of companies are trying to anticipate future growth by building more commercial and warehouse space in the Twin Citeis metro. My colleague, Janet Moore, explored that trend in a story earlier this year. The vacancy rate for industrial buildings in the metro is just 10.8 percent, according to a Compass report from Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq.

This is not the first collaborative effort for the two companies. “We’re looking forward to again working with Capp Industries to bring another top-of-the-line facility to the Twin Cities industrial market,” said Leith Dumas, director, Opus Design Build, L.L.C. “This project will build on the success of our previous work for Capp Industries and provide a flexible, well-located facility to fill the demand for industrial space in the area.”

Construction is expected to begin this fall and be ready for completion in January 2015. Capp will own and lease the project.

Average monthly rent in the Twin Cities breaks $1,000

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: May 16, 2014 - 10:39 AM

More than 1,000 new apartments hit the market in the in the Twin Cities during the first quarter, but the average vacancy rate increased only slightly to 2.7 percent, according to a new Twin Cities Metro Area TRENDS report from Marquette Advisors. Here's a snapshot of what's happening around the region during the first quarter:

  • With the supply of units across the metro still below what's considered healthy levels, rents are on the rise.
  • The average rent across the metro rose 3.5 percent to $1,000.A total of 1,011 new units were added, including 757 units in Minneapolis and another 254 units in St. Paul. Absorption totaled 636 units for the quarter, in spite of a somewhat sluggish job market, as metro employment increased by only 900 jobs through March 2014, according to data from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN‐DEED).
  • The Downtown Minneapolis submarket saw its vacancy rate increase to 5.0 percent, up from 2.2 percent a year ago and 4.0 percent last quarter. This submarket has been the most active in the region in terms of new construction and leasing activity with 1,246 new units coming online in 2013 and another 389 through the first quarter of 2014. Rents downtown increased 9.1 percent, mostly a reflection of higher-priced luxury units hitting the market.
  • Vacancy rates are expected to increase is over the next several months as another 1,30-plus units are expected to open during the year.

The complete list of best and worst U.S. markets for rental housing returns

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: April 1, 2014 - 12:40 PM

In many parts of the country house prices are rising faster than rents, making it difficult to find investment opportunities that will cash flow. A new analysis by RealtyTrac takes a closer look at where median home prices and average rental rates make for good — and not so good — returns on rental properties. That rental return, by the way, for each county is the gross rental yield, calculated by taking the 2014 fair market rent for a three-bedroom home multiplied by 12 (months) and then dividing that 12-month total by the median sales price of residential properties in the county. Here's what they found:

North Loop neighborhood to get much-needed low-income rental housing

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: March 18, 2014 - 3:15 PM
The Cameron Transfer and Storage Company Building, most recently the Dial Building (at left), is next to the 710, 720 and 730 Lofts buildings.

The Cameron Transfer and Storage Company Building, most recently the Dial Building (at left), is next to the 710, 720 and 730 Lofts buildings.

The North Loop neighborhood is slated to get some much-needed low-income rental housing. Schafer Richardson , a prolific North Loop developer, received preliminary bond approval today from the city to help finance the transformation of the former Cameron Transfer and Storage company Building at 756 N. 4th St. into 44 units of "affordable" workforce housing. In addition to those bonds, the project will also be financed primarily with historic tax credits. Tod Elkins, Urban Works Architecture, is the architect of record on the project.

The hulking and neglected four-storybuilding is in the heart of the popular North Loop neighborhood and alongside three condo buildings built during the past decade. Most recently known as the Dial Building, the concrete structure was built in 1909/1910 as a cold storage facility. It's been vacant for the past dozen years, but will undergo a top-to-bottom renovation, including a new roof, windows and tuckpointing. The building will have a fitness center, bike storage, outdoor patio/grill area, laundry and surface parking.

The building will be transformed into 44 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments for people who earn 50 to 60 percent of the area median income. Because the latest wave of development in that area has been mostly market rate luxury rentals, there's a serious and growing shortage of inexpensive housing in the area that's affordable to many of the working class people who work service and retail jobs in the shops and restaurants in the area. By the end of last year the average rent in the area was more than $1,400, nearly 10 percent higher than the year before, according to Marquette Advisors.

What's next? The City Planning Commission has already approved the development plans, and at a Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development public hearing this afternoon (3/8/14) preliminary approval was given to the developer's request for up to $7.5 million in tax exempt multi-family housing entitlement revenue bonds. Final approval is pending another meeting in late spring or early summer.

Also, the developer hopes to have the building named to the Naitonal Register of Historic places because of its connection to an internationally known engineer from Minneapolis named Claude Allen Porter - he patented the "mushroom cap" reinforced concrete structural system.That designation will make the building eligible for those historic tax credits, which are aimed at helping subsidize the cost of renovating historically significant buildings.

Here's a side view of the building.

Here's a side view of the building.

10 percent of all Twin Citians still owe more than their house is worth

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: March 7, 2014 - 10:57 AM

Rising home prices have put a serious dent in the number of people who owe more than their house is worth in the Twin Cities and beyond. During the fourth quarter of last year 10.2 percent of all people with a mortgage were underwater, according to CoreLogic, a national real restate research firm. That's down from 16 percent last year, but up very slightly from the previous quarter.

Nationwide, nearly 6.5 million homes, or 13.3 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity territory at the end of last year.

Negative equity happens when house prices decline and/or when mortgage debt increases. Across the country,the national aggregate value of negative equity was $398.4 billion for fourth quarter 2013, compared to $401.3 billion for third quarter 2013, a decrease of $2.9 billion.

Here's Mark Fleming's, CoreLogic's chief economist, take on the situation: "The plight of the underwater borrower has improved dramatically since negative equity peaked in December 2009 when more than 12 million mortgaged homeowners were underwater," he said "Over the past four years, more than 5.5 million homeowners have regained equity, reducing their risk of foreclosure and unlocking pent-up supply in the housing market."

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