Aug 07

I encourage everyone to download and read the following published research paper

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3641859

“Our research shows that in order to keep rental housing affordable and sustainable for low-income families, lawmakers have to walk a fine line in determining what will benefit the tenant and what may ultimately be detrimental to them,” Shen said. “On the surface, strict landlord regulation sounds good for tenants, but our paper points out, the solution isn’t that simple. The research suggests that conventional thinking on the issue of more regulation may have the opposite effect on tenants.”

“Though advocating for tenant rights seems noble and the right thing to do, the resulting consequences could have a devastating impact on this vulnerable population,” Shen said.

“Our research indicates that if landlords aren’t allowed to evict, rent will likely increase to compensate for their losses. The housing supply would diminish, though the demand would still exist. These landlords may choose alternative investments if owning property is no longer feasible. A reduced housing supply would mean less competition, which would drive up the cost of rent for everyone.

Aug 03

Halting evictions during the coronavirus crisis isn’t as good as it sounds

Read the whole thing, but here are some tasty nuggets

To protect renters from losing their homes, a growing number of cities and states have put a temporary halt on evictions, meaning that landlords cannot evict tenants who fall behind on their rent. While this may buy renters more time, a moratorium on evictions could cause ripple effects that further hurt local economies. But there is a more effective way to help renters by giving them cash that replaces lost income, while also supporting small businesses and local governments.

RENT HAS IMPORTANT MULTIPLIER EFFECTS IN THE LOCAL ECONOMY

Rent checks don’t just line the pockets of fat cat landlords—they also contribute to essential government services and other workers’ wages. If many households are simultaneously unable to pay rent, the economic impacts will be felt throughout the local economy.

The first entity that gets paid by a monthly rent check isn’t the landlord—it’s the local government. Property taxes have a higher priority even than mortgages; if a landlord falls behind on both property taxes and mortgage payments, the local government’s claim supersedes the lender’s.

Landlords are also responsible for paying building-wide utilities, including water and sewer fees, garbage and recycling collection, or gas and electricity for common areas. These are essential services that must remain functional even during the pandemic.

Additionally, many of the expenses incurred by landlords are actually the wages of other workers. Keeping an apartment building functioning, safe, and clean requires the efforts of maintenance and housekeeping staff. Larger buildings typically employ on-site workers, but even small properties have ongoing needs which they may outsource to local contractors, like plumbers or electricians. As rent payments dwindle, small landlords will defer some maintenance needs—which means poorer quality housing for all tenants in the building and loss of employment for maintenance workers.

 

Jul 30

The recording is at:

Newsmakers: Evictions in Wisconsin During COVID-19

It was a great program, and worth watching.

Discussion topics

  • Statistical comparison of eviction numbers from the first six months of 2019 vs. 2020.
  • A forecast for the remainder of 2020 for landlords and tenants.
  • Potential long-term effects on housing as a result of COVID-19. 
  • Potential fallout from a national eviction moratorium.
  • The rent strike movement’s effects on potential investors in rental property.

Discussion panelists

WisconsinEye senior producer Steve Walters will host the panel discussion with the following panelists:

  • Heiner Giese, lobbyist for the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW)
  • Chris Mokler, director of legislative affairs for the Wisconsin Apartment Association (WAA)
  • Colleen Foley, executive director for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
  • Joe Murray, director of political and governmental affairs for the WRA
Jul 06

We may wish to address the impact that fireworks have on housing and insurance before 2021.

There were 140 reported fires over the Fourth of July weekend 2020 (07/03/2020 to 07/05/2020 inclusive) 

The same period last year (07/03/2019 to 07/05/2019 inclusive) had 60 reported fires.  

Even when you include the weekend after the 2019 Fourth (07/03/2019 to 07/07/2019 inclusive) there were 81 fires reported

MPD/MFD fire calls 

07/03/2020 to 07/05/2020 140  (3 days)
07/03/2019 to 07/05/2019   60  (3 days)
07/03/2019 to 07/07/2019   81  (5 days to include the following weekend)

Jul 05

Below is the letter the Apartment Association sent to Mayor Barrett, President Johnson, and the Common Council on June 15th, 2020. We have yet to receive a response, but still hopeful that those representing housing providers are included in designing a meaningful solution to these problems

Dear Mayor Barrett

We are pleased that Milwaukee is considering offering financial help for tenants who are struggling to pay rent, and we would like to be a part of the process. We have been working with a coalition that includes Community Advocates, Legal Action, Legal Aid, and Mediate Milwaukee. The AASEW can bring valuable experience and insights to this effort, and we hope you will strongly consider our offer to participate in your deliberations.

While we applaud Governor Evers’ $25 million Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program, it represents approximately $30 of assistance per rental unit in Wisconsin. We believe the size of the rental population in Milwaukee and the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a more robust response.

In our view, sustainable rental housing is critical to the well-being of Milwaukee. Nearly six in ten, 58.2%, of Milwaukeeans live in rental housing.[i] In some neighborhoods, such as 53233, the number of renters exceeds 97%. The success or failure of neighborhoods and rental housing are closely tied. Currently, Milwaukee offers some of the most affordable metropolitan rents in the nation, a significant advantage compared to similar-sized communities in the country.

However, if landlords cannot collect rents and continue to cover the operating expenses for their properties, the impact could be worse than the 2008 housing crisis. “The economic impact of the Great Recession and mortgage foreclosure crisis has had a significant, detrimental, and ongoing effect on City households.” DCD 12/2019.[ii] Foreclosure filings in Milwaukee County were three times higher in 2009 than last year.[iii] From 2008 through 2010,16,000 Milwaukee properties were in some stage of foreclosure by lenders and the City.[iv] In those two years, the tax base lost almost $2 billion in value, with a resulting $16.7 million loss of tax revenue. The resulting demolitions had a large impact on the City’s budget due to the cost of razing along with the impact on the property tax and municipal services collections.[v] The neighborhoods where those properties were located suffered long-term damage. We continue to feel that impact even today, and we certainly hope to avoid a similar outcome in the future.

Rental Housing is the largest small business in Milwaukee, with over $10 billion[vi] invested in the City. Rental properties account for more than $700 million dollars per year of economic impact, starting with $270 million[vi] paid in property taxes.

In 2018, the Census Bureau found the yearly mean operating costs, excluding mortgage payments, per unit for rental properties was $5,270. [vii] Milwaukee’s rental housing contributes $1,198 in wages per unit, $161 Million per year. But more than direct wages are involved. There is also the local multiplier effect because the wages paid to employees of Milwaukee landlords are a major economic factor in the well-being of the City and its residents.

These numbers highlight the critical importance of a healthy and vibrant rental housing market in Milwaukee. We hope you will accept our offer to participate in the upcoming process to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Eviction Moratorium this year. Thank you for your consideration, and please feel free to use the contact information above for any clarifications or questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Ron Hegwood
President
Apartment Association of Southeastern WI, Inc

[i] https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?g=0600000US5507953000&layer=VT_2018_040_00_PY_D1&t=Housing%20Units%3AOwner%2FRenter%20%28Householder%29%20Characteristics&tid=ACSDP1Y2018.DP04&vintage=2018&hidePreview=true&cid=B25008_001E

[ii]Section 2: Housing Needs and Demand Housing Affordability Report Department of City Development  |  December 2019

[iii] State’s Foreclosure Rates Have Plummeted » Urban Milwaukee

[iv] www.sewrpc.org/SEWRPCFiles/HousingPlan/Files/foreclosure-in-milw-progress-and-challenges.pdf

[v] Tom Barrett wants to spend $2.4 million on home demolition, rehab

[vi] MPROP assessor records April 2020

[vii]  https://www.census.gov/data-tools/demo/rhfs/#/?s_byGroup1=12&s_tableName=TABLE4

Jun 17

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/success/rents-are-dropping-us-cities-coronavirus/index.html

“I’m seeing rents are down 10% to 20%, with higher-end and luxury units taking the biggest hits,”

Considering that the typical owner’s net operating income after mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, employees, is 7-9% there will be a lot of failures, of both owners and municipal budgets.

Jun 11

Housing Choice Voucher Wait List. A random lottery will be held from the applicants with 3000 families to be added to the waitlist.

Why will only 3,000 applicants be selected in the lottery to be on the wait list?

The wait list will be limited to 3,000 applicants so that they will have a reasonable expectation that they may receive a Housing Choice Voucher within a 2- to 3-year time period.

This shows how great the need is for expanded rent assistance.

May 24

The NY Mag has an excellent, sorry depressing, article about “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini prediction of an extended depression.

In September 2006, Nouriel Roubini told the International Monetary Fund what it didn’t want to hear. Standing before an audience of economists at the organization’s headquarters, the New York University professor warnedthat the U.S. housing market would soon collapse — and, quite possibly, bring the global financial system down with it. Real-estate values had been propped up by unsustainably shady lending practices, Roubini explained. Once those prices came back to earth, millions of underwater homeowners would default on their mortgages, trillions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities would unravel, and hedge funds, investment banks, and lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could sink into insolvency.

His predictions for 2020 are far more dire

A decade later, “Dr. Doom” is a bear once again. While many investors bet on a “V-shaped recovery,” Roubini is staking his reputation on an L-shaped depression. The economist (and host of a biweekly economic news broadcastdoes expect things to get better before they get worse: He foresees a slow, lackluster (i.e., “U-shaped”) economic rebound in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath. But he insists that this recovery will quickly collapse beneath the weight of the global economy’s accumulated debts.

Go read the article

Apr 30

https://www.naahq.org/news-publications/explaining-breakdown-1-rent

Apr 09

As an industry, rental housing providers must be present to PREVENT harmful legislation, because it is much more difficult to be made whole after the fact.

If the government does something that causes a large number of owners to fail, those owners will not have financial resources to fight back. They will be merely trying to feed their families.

This is not just bad for the owners that lost, but bad for tenants as well. In the years after the 2008 crash, there was a significant consolidation of rental ownership in Milwaukee. The city went from around 36,000 individual owners down to ~23,000 at a time that homeownership plummeted. Today Milwaukee has 41.8% owner occupancy. Nationwide that number is 65.1%.

Consolidation and owners doing what they could to survive the ’08 crisis has driven rents up significantly.

Those owners that come out of 2020 intact will likely be stronger than today. But not necessarily as municipalities will suffer more financially this go-round than in 08.

Owners that don’t fare well in the next few months will continuously be looking over their shoulders, hoping Jeff Bezos’ latest robot doesn’t take their job at the Amazon warehouse.

Or our government can keep printing trillions of dollars of new money and when end up like Venezuela where a quart of milk costs 4,200 bolivares, 11% of the monthly minimum wage. In 1990, a VEN bolivar was nearly equal to USD.

Hyperinflation, while bad for working folks, is good for those who enter it with assets and debt. Your debt remains in old dollars that you are paying off with new, cheaper dollars. Your assets acquired before the inflationary cycle will rise in value.

Look at what happened in the US during the late seventies and early eighties with annual inflation and interest rates on standard bank loans hit 18% in 1980. I was buying everything I could get my hands on. It was a risky, but good play when interest rates corrected and I could refinance at low rates like 12% APR. Yes, you can make money on rentals financed 90% at 18% APR. But you do have to pay almost nothing.

Look at average new home prices Dec 1977, when I started in real estate, $52,700 to Dec 1987 at $111,800.

Then look at historic interest rates. They were “cheap” in 1975 at 8.8% and cheap again in 1986 at 9.3% with a belly of 18.6% early 1981.

Yes, I do laugh when I hear investors fretting over half percent fluctuations in rates.

I’ll end this overly long post with there will be a huge risk to some, but also huge opportunities for others in this economy that we’ve never seen before and have no idea how it will turn out.

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