The Daily Dirt: Recession or no recession, watch those mortgage rates!

TRD New York /
Aug.August 16, 2019 10:30 AM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

The thing to watch right now is mortgage rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged a terrifying 800 points on Wednesday, and the fact that it bounced back on Thursday didn’t seem to inspire much confidence that a recession isn’t still on the way. 

What’s interesting, though, is the fact that mortgage rates stayed put. According to the Washington Post, high demand for long-term bonds (which outpaced short-term bonds on Wednesday, a development that was partially responsible for sending the stock market spiraling) typically drives down mortgage rates. Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate average was 3.60 percent — exactly where it was last week. 

Still, this is a record low and has motivated homeowners and buyers. As a result of the low rates, refinancings are on an upswing, jumping 37 percent this week compared to last. In a statement on Freddie Mac’s website, the firm noted that the “sound and fury of the financial markets continue to warn of an impending recession, however, the silver lining is mortgage demand reached a three-year high this week.” It’ll be interesting to see if the housing market continues to be (relatively) insulated from forces like the U.S.-China trade war and that pesky inverted yield curve.

The We-man woman-excluders club? The We Company doesn’t have any women on its board.

After the dust settled from the flurry of stories on the state of the We Company’s finances, several news organizations made a pointed observation: The unicorn’s board is 100 percent male. The company isn’t alone. According to Fortune, of the nearly 100 companies that went public between January and mid-August of this year, 40 percent have all-male boards. 

Still, public companies have faced increased pressure to diversify their boards, especially in light of the #MeToo movement. This year, for the second year in a row, public real estate companies added more women than men to their boards. During the spring proxy season, real estate investment trusts added 60 new female members, meaning 50.4 percent of the 119 new directors were women, according to data from Ferguson Partners. Last month, the Washington Post reported that the last remaining S&P 500 company with an all-male board added a woman. (Though, only 10 S&P 500 companies have boards that are at least 50 percent female, according to ISS Analytics.)

The lack of women on the We Company’s board may come as a surprise to some. One of its co-founders is a woman. And the company’s mission statement, according to its website, is to “elevate the world’s consciousness.” But at the end of the day, as was reinforced by the firm’s prospectus, the We Company is a real estate company. And real estate, both in the private and public sectors, has a long way to go in diversifying its ranks. 

What we’re thinking about next: Where will Apple set up shop in Manhattan? Send a note or details on Apple’s search to [email protected].

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Thursday was for a condo unit at 12 East 88th Street in Carnegie Hill, at $10.3 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 60 East 12th Street near Union Square, at $106.5 million. Slate Property Group was the buyer, and Heller Realty was the seller. 

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 71,870-square-foot residential building at  955 Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights. Collin Cohen filed the permit application.  

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 76 11th Avenue in West Chelsea, at $7.45 million. Douglas Elliman’s Madeline Hult Elghanayan, Jade Chan, Kirk Rundhaug and Ronnie Diamonde have the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…
The New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, which had a significant hand in pushing through the dramatic changes to the state’s rent law, is now setting its sights on the city’s unions. According to Politico, members are focusing on six labor groups, including the city’s largest construction union, the New York City District Council of Carpenters.

Top stories from our other markets:

Jeffrey Epstein’s death raised a fresh round of questions for his accusers and their supporters. Chief among them, can the women seek restitution from the dead financier’s estate? The estate includes multiple luxury properties in New York, New Mexico, Paris and the Virgin Islands.

Former federal prosecutor Silvia Piñera-Vazquez said nothing was preventing his estate from selling the properties, now the criminal forfeiture case was over, unless an injunction was filed.

A group of Lakeview condo owners is seeking to cash in on the deconversion craze by offering up their three-building complex for $36 millionThe condo association for the complex known as Barry Quad is seeking a buyer for its 115-unit property spread over three courtyard-style, walk-up buildings in Lakeview East, according to Kiser Group, the brokerage who is listing the development. If it sold at asking price, the complex would trade for about $313,000 a unit.

Add another to the growing list of big industrial deals in the Inland Empire. ASB Real Estate Investments paid $124 million for the 1 million-square-foot Columbia Business Park distribution facility in Riverside.

The seller of the recently-built property was a joint venture of Washington Capital Management and Trammell Crow. The two firms owned the property on behalf of a pension fund client, according to a release about the sale.

The U.S. arm of Henley, a United Kingdom-based private equity firm, closed on the acquisition of an Ocean Drive hotel with its partner, hotel startup Life House. Life House announced the $34.75 million purchase of the 81-key Lord Balfour Hotel at 350 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on Thursday. It’s the fourth deal for the Henley and Life House partnership. Henley plans to invest more than $40 million in the property, including acquisition and renovation costs.

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