What is your outlook on New York City?

December 14, 2016

Panelists describe their outlook on New York and other gateway cities, looking across geographies, asset classes, and property types.


James Nelson: We're very bullish on gateway cities. If you just look at New York and job growth over the last 10 years, we've had 600,000 jobs added here compared to the suburbs 100,000. So no surprise that we've got residential vacancy here of 2%. Office vacancy is under 10%. And it's really, you look where people want to live and work today and the millennials now have a larger population in the workforce then the baby boomers, so we don't see that trend reversing. That being said, you can't say ‘I like all of New York City’. I found that today it is so specific, not just on asset class, but location. Take retail, which is getting hit very hard for the reasons you just mentioned on ecommerce. You go to SoHo, the availability rate there is 22 percent. That blows my mind that almost one in every four stores is vacant down in SoHo. Same thing in Times Square. So you need to be very careful when you're looking to invest. You can't just go with you thematically and say ‘I like retail throughout New York City’ - you've got to pick your spots.

Samantha Davidson: We're all benefiting from some favorable market fundamentals, but when you see slowing growth or just continued modest growth and then coupling that with the challenging capital markets we’re really away from what's been a more beta oriented market for the past few years, and we're really in an alpha position. And so when you look across whether its geographies or asset classes, property types, there really aren't the fat pitches or major themes that I think we were all following. I realized that David and I clearly think about the world similarly because I do think the small size logistics is an interesting space, but one tool that I had mentioned earlier - it's certainly an area that we focus on that I think is worth mentioning and I do think it's a source of outsized returns in real estate today - is actually the secondaries market. And sort of talk about the secondaries market a little bit. It's probably most frequently known as a source of liquidity or portfolio management for limited partners who are looking to rebalance maybe overweight components of their portfolio. But increasingly, it's actually been a tool for GP’s who potentially have, for example, we all know there's about $400,000,000,000 of capital that was raised around the crisis, not only are LP’s looking to continue to downsize that exposure, but GP’s frequently may have a handful of assets in their portfolio. They're reaching the end of their fund life, kind of fatigued. LP’s are not that willing to extend the fund life so that you can actually fully realize those seasoned assets and so as secondary players, we can go in and buy either assets, partial portfolios, full portfolios, trying to provide a liquidity solution for LP’s who would really like to move on, but GP’s who would also like to actually realize the benefit of their investment. And so the returns you’re able to underwrite in this space really do continue to be in the kind of high teens which you end up having to take a good amount of risk in value add investing today to really achieve those returns. And part of that really is the benefit of kind of what's currently a relatively nascent market. It's relatively new. The total transaction volume at this point isn't even quite $10,000,000,000 annually and that is a 40 percent increase over the last three years of what really started off as a quite low base about five years ago. Then you also end up having, just not that many players, so you end up being able to be quite selective in that market. So I think overall in terms of an area that we think makes a lot of sense as a tool for all of the participants in this market, we do think is an area you can generate returns in your portfolio.

About Kenneth Weissenberg

Kenneth Weissenberg CPA, Tax Partner in Real Estate Services, is experienced in tax saving strategies and negotiating sales and acquisitions. He represents owners of some of the most well-known real estate properties in New York City.

About Lisa Knee

Lisa Knee is a Tax Partner and National leader of the firm's Real Estate practice and the National Real Estate Private Equity Group with expertise in the hotel, real estate, financial services, aviation and restaurant sectors and is a member of AICPA, New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Bar Association.

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