May 21st 2024 - This Week in Real Estate

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What’s new in the world of Real Estate
  • A $10 billion REIT is in trouble

  • Another all-time high for housing prices

  • Real Estate is #1

  • Short-term rental revenue is falling

Plus: More price cuts, build-to-rent is booming, the fastest-growing cities, and more.

Listing of the week: 23.2 square miles of prime Arctic land.


Freddie Mac 30 Year Fixed
7.02% (-.07% weekly)
Dow Jones Real Estate Index
336.90 (+2.7% weekly)
327.77 (+2.4% weekly)
Zillow Home Value Index
$359,402 (+1.2% monthly)


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Market Updates

Starwood’s $10 billion REIT (SREIT) is facing a liquidity crisis. As investors continue to request their money back, Starwood has had to limit payouts and tap into a diminishing credit line. There are around $800 million of outstanding investor redemption requests, but the fund only has $752 million in liquidity, as it is running out of cash and has already tapped $1.3 billion of its $1.55 billion credit line. Starwood is looking to potentially sell some assets from its multifamily-heavy portfolio, but getting fair market value in this situation will be difficult. The net asset value (NAV) of the REIT has dropped by 16% since 2022 and its public cash crunch could encourage further investors to seek an exit.

The median U.S. home sale price hit $433,558, a new record. According to a report from Redfin, prices have risen by 6.2% year over year, in large part due to a lack of new supply over that time period. The markets that saw the highest gains were Buffalo, Anaheim and Rochester, while San Antonio, Memphis and Birmingham saw the biggest losses. There are promising signs for buyers, however, as reports that the number of homes for sale has reached a 4-year high, and new listings have grown by 6.6% year-over-year. With mortgage rates declining slightly in the past two weeks, there are signs that the sluggish housing market could see a boost heading into summer.

Americans ranked real estate as the best long-term investment for the 11th straight year. This finding comes from a new Gallup poll, where it beat out stocks, gold, savings accounts, bonds and crypto. Real estate ranked first across income levels, though it is more popular among wealthier people. The belief that real estate is a good long-term investment is a reflection of past performance but also can lead to greater confidence in the market, which in some ways helps future performance.

Revenue per available room dropped in April. The key metric for the short-term rental market fell by 6.1% year-over-year, and overall occupancy fell by 8.4%. Available listings rose by 8.7%, while total demand was up just 0.4%, leading to a softer market. However, supply growth is slowing and listings in urban areas actually fell by 1%, due to high interest rates and restrictive regulations in cities like New York. Early data is pointing to increased demand for the summer, which could be a respite for a market that has been struggling.

Listing of the Week

A property that caught our eye

(Knight Frank)

The Norwegian archipelago Svalbard is midway between Norway and the North Pole, and is one of the most remote places in the world. Now, its last privately-owned swath of land has hit the market - 23.2 square miles of mountains and glaciers, with three miles of shoreline and “significant environmental, scientific and economic importance.” All that for the very reasonable listing price of $324 million - but be warned, buyers have to be from one of the 46 countries (the U.S. is one) that have ratified the Svalbard treaty, which recognizes Norway’s sovereignty over the archipelago.


  • Price cuts rise: The share of home listings with a price cut jumped to 22.4% in April, a significant bump compared to last year’s 17.2% mark, and in conjunction with the rise in housing supply, perhaps a sign that the market is softening.

  • Inflation slows: In potentially good news for real estate investors, the consumer price index (CPI) rose by a lower-than-expected 0.3% in April, which could make interest rate cuts more likely to happen later this year.

  • The build-to-rent boom: Construction of single-family rental homes grew by 39% in 2023, as housing prices and rising interest rates turn would-be-buyers into renters, particularly in the Sun Belt.

  • Assumable mortgages: An increasingly popular, but potentially difficult to execute option for buyers, is to take on the seller’s existing mortgage.

  • Agora’s Series B: The proptech company billed as the “Carta for real estate” raised $34 million to continue building out its operations that help real estate investment firms of all sizes consolidate and track their data.

  • Texas is growing fast: The latest census data showed the Lone Star state with the top four and eight of the top fifteen fastest-growing cities, as high housing construction rates have kept prices relatively affordable.

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