National Rents Stall For 4th Month In A Row As Multi-Family Supply Glut Takes Its Toll

After a steady march higher in the wake of the ‘great recession’ nearly a decade ago, a note today from Rent Cafe reveals that average rents in the United States have now stalled for 4 months in row with September’s national average coming in at $1,354 per month, which is virtually flat from the $1,350 average reached in the summer.

National rents have barely moved through the entire peak rental season and into September, marking the longest period of stagnation in recent history — 4 consecutive months. Coming in at $1,354 for the month of September, the average rent is only 2.2 percent higher than this time last year. This is the slowest annual growth rate we’ve seen in more than six years — having reached a high point of 5.5%-5.6% peak growth around two years ago — a pretty good indicator that the rental market has entered calmer waters.

Still, that doesn’t mean rents have flat-lined everywhere. Though nationally and in the most expensive cities for renters prices have finally come to a full stop, there are still some holdouts—and it seems renters in smaller and mid-sized cities are not yet getting a break, on the contrary.

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As we pointed out over the summer, just like almost any bubble, stagnating rents are undoubtedly the symptom of a massive, multi-year supply bubble in multi-family housing units sparked by, among other things, cheap borrowing costs for commercial builders.  Per the chart below from Goldman Sachs, multi-family units under construction is now at record highs and have eclipsed the previous bubble peak by nearly 40%.

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But, while rents are certainly slowing – and construction is indeed playing its part – the impact isn’t spread evenly across all markets as Rent Cafe notes that the construction boom in Texas has earned the state 6 out of 10 of the worst performing rental markets in the country. 

The anticipated rent drops from Hurricane Harvey have not been realized in the city of Houston, but are seen in other Texas communities, with the biggest changes being outside of Harvey’s reach, as a result of the major apartment construction taking place throughout the state. Lubbock, located on the west side of the state, came in at No. 1 for biggest year-over-year rent decreases in the nation, with rents dropping 3.4 percent since 2016.

Rents for apartments in Round Rock, a suburb outside Austin—another city barely touched by Harvey, dipped to $1,092—3.4 percent below last year’s numbers. Round Rock took the No. 2 spot for biggest rent decreases of the year.

Texas claimed the third spot, too, with McAllen’s 2.6 percent drop in rents since last year, and three other Texas towns—College Station, Waco and Plano—also made the top 10, with decreases of 2.4 percent, 2 percent, and 1.1 percent, respectively. The rest of the list was spread throughout the nation, with California’s Simi Valley taking No. 4 (down 2.6 percent), New Orleans at No. 5 (down 2.4 percent), Manhattan, NYC at No. 8 (down 1.9 percent), and Tulsa, Oklahoma at No. 9 (down 1.5 percent.)

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Meanwhile, areas with stronger job markets and/or better overall affordability are still seeing demand growth which, combined with a lack of capital investment, is driving rents considerably higher.

Though smaller and mid-sized towns used to be a haven for renters looking to avoid the sky-high prices of large urban areas, it seems those days are in the past. September’s list of fastest-growing rents is dominated by small and medium-sized towns—many boasting double-digit growth since this time last year.

The Lone Star State’s Odessa and Midland—both hubs of oil and gas activity—came in at the top two spots, with jumps of 24.7 percent and 20.7 percent, respectively. Odessa rents now clock in at $1,060 per month, while Midland’s reach even higher, coming in at $1,225.

The rest of the nation’s fastest-growing rents can be found largely on the West Coast, with California, Washington, Nevada and Colorado taking up the remaining bulk of the list. The only Northeastern cities to see big year-over-year rent growth were Buffalo, New York, with an 11.2 percent jump over 2016, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, which saw rents climb 8.5 percent to $1,187.

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Finally, here are the top 10 most and least expensive rental markets in the U.S. at the end of September 2017. To our complete lack of surprise, New York and California continue to dominate the expensive list while Southern and Midwestern markets continue to provide the best value…perhaps this is why all those domestic migration studies show a mass exodus from the cities on the left to the cities on the right? Just a hunch…

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Source: ZeroHedge

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What Was Going On With MGM Resorts In September, Just Before The Terrorist Attack?

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On Tuesday, September 5th, 2017,  the board of MGM Resorts International decided to approve a $1 billion share repurchase program. At $17.7 billion today, the program represented a significant portion of its current market cap. By the end of the week, MGM’s CEO, James Murren, had coolly divested himself of 80% of the shares he owned in his company. The divestment came just days before the ex-dividend date on September 8th, 2017.

The sales were originally disclosed in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Murren had previously divested 57,269 shares on July 31st and August 9th, 2017.

It’s currently unclear why Murren chose to sell when he did. To date, MGM’s stock has not experienced a significant decline in value due to the repurchasing program. It could be interpreted to run against the company’s interests for the CEO to convey a sense of urgency in the selling of his shares by disposing of them immediately after the commencement of his company’s share repurchase program. It’s also strange that the CEO of a company would sell more than half of their stake (let alone 80%) in the company that they represented.

Mr. Murren and his fellow board members were not the only speculators who were bearish on MGM’s prospects. Billionaire investor George Soros also bought $42 million worth of puts on the company, according to SEC filings from mid August.

That point being made, it needs to be asked why any profit-oriented CEO of any company would sell 80% of his personal stake in his own corporation, especially after he thought it was in the business’ best interest to initiate a massive share repurchase program which one would theoretically assume to reduce the number of shares in the company and increase the price of each share, ceteris peribus.

Why would the individual with the most information about the company sell 80% of his shares immediately after the commencement of a program that most would consider positive for the stock? Shouldn’t he want to hold on to his shares? Is there something he knew, that others didn’t, that lead to so much movement in such little time? What a week!

On September 5th, 2017, 18 analysts were bullish on MGM, 1 had a hold rating, and 1 had a sell rating. Taking the events of September and October into consideration, has MGM’s picture heading forward improved, or worsened?

… and finally, should James Murren’s membership on the DHS Infrastructure Advisory Council mean anything to investigators and shareholders?

By William Craddick | Disobedient Media

Century of Enslavement: The History of The Federal Reserve (video)

What is the Federal Reserve system? How did it come into existence? Is it part of the federal government? How does it create money? Why is the public kept in the dark about these important matters? In this feature-length documentary film, The Corbett Report explores these important question and pulls back the curtain on America’s central bank.

Jerry Brown Forbids Landlords from Cooperating with ICE to Deport Illegal Aliens

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California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of new laws Thursday designed to protect illegal alien tenants from being threatened with deportation by making it illegal for landlords to report a tenant’s immigration status to Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The bills were part of a package of laws pushed by the Democrat majority and signed by Brown ostensibly to protect illegal aliens from any increased enforcement measures under theTrump administration.

According to the Los Angeles Times,

One proposal by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would bar landlords from disclosing information about immigration status in order to intimidate, harass or evict tenants without following proper procedures. It also would allow immigrant tenants to file civil claims against their landlords if they do.

Another bill by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) would ensure that no state office or entity in California could compel a landlord to obtain and disclose information on a tenant’s immigration status.

The rationale behind the latest package of bills protecting illegal aliens, according to the Sacramento Bee, is fear of enforcement by ICE under President Trump, and fear that unscrupulous landlords might use a tenant’s illegal status to harass, intimidate or abuse them.

Chiu argues that tenants should not have to “live in fear” because they’re immigrants or refugees. He cited the legal uncertainty over young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally but have been educated here and hold down jobs as one of several reasons for the legislation.

“Trump’s escalating war on immigrants is ripping apart families and mass deportations could be our new reality,” Chiu said recently.

“This bill will deter the small minority of landlords who unscrupulously take advantage of the real or perceived immigration status of their tenants to engage in abusive acts.”

With the package of bills signed into law Thursday—including SB54 making California a “Sanctuary State” for criminal aliensCalifornia Democrats have kept their word to put the interests of illegal aliens first, ahead of legal, law-abiding California citizens.

By Assemblyman Tim Donnelly | Breitbart

Migration of the Tax Donkeys

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A Great Migration of the Tax Donkeys is underway, still very much under the radar of the mainstream media and conventional economists. If you are confident no such migration of those who pay the bulk of the taxes could ever occur, please consider the long-term ramifications of these two articles:
Allow me to summarize for those who aren’t too squeamish: a lot of cities and counties are going to go broke, slashing services and jacking up taxes, all to no avail. The promises made by corrupt politicos cannot possibly be kept, despite constant assurances to the contrary, and those expecting services and taxes to remain untouched will be shocked by the massive cuts in services and the equally massive tax increases that will be imposed in a misguided effort to “save” politically powerful constituencies and fiefdoms.
These dynamics will power a Great Migration of the Tax Donkeys from failing cities, counties and states to more frugal, well-managed and small business-friendly locales. I’ve sketched out the migration in this graphic: the move by those who can from incompetently managed and/or corrupt cities/counties/states to more innovative, open, frugal and better managed locales.
Unlike Communist regimes which strictly control who has permission to transfer residency, Americans are still free to move about the nation. This creates a very Darwinian competition between sclerotic, corrupt, overpriced one-party-dictatorships whose hubris-soaked political class is convinced the insane housing prices, tech unicorns, abundant services, and a high-brow culture ruled by an artsy elite are irresistible to everyone, and locales that are low-cost, responsive to their Tax Donkey class, welcoming to new small businesses, employers and talent, unbeholden to a politically-correct dictatorship and conservatively managed, i.e. not headed for insolvency.
Not everyone can move. Many people find it essentially impossible to move due to family
roots and obligations, poverty, secure employment, kids in school, and numerous other compelling reasons.
However, some people are able to move–typically the self-employed independent types who can no longer afford (or tolerate) anti-small-business, high-tax municipalities and their smug elitist leadership that’s more into virtue-signaling than creating jobs and a small-biz conducive ecosystem. (Giving lip-service to small-biz doesn’t count.)
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Memo to hubris-soaked politicos and elites: in case you haven’t noticed, an increasing number of the most talented and experienced workers can live anywhere they please and submit their output digitally. In other words, they don’t have to live in Brooklyn, Santa Monica or San Francisco.
This is the model for many half-farmer, half-X refugees I’ve described elsewhere: people who are moving to homesteads with the networks and skills needed to earn a part-time living in the digital economy. In a lower cost area, they only need to earn a third or even a fourth of their former income to live a much more fulfilling and rewarding life.
Not that hubris-soaked politicos and elites have noticed, but only the top few percent of households can afford to own a home in their bubble economies.Paying $4,000 a month in rent for a one-bedroom cubbyhole in San Francisco may strike the elites living in mansions as a splendid deal, but to the people who have surrendered all hope of ever owning anything of their own to call home–not so much.
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Though this chart is based on national data, there are many regional variations. When it takes a year just to obtain a permit to open an ice cream shop (in San Francisco), how much will the insolvent “owner” have to charge per ice cream cone to make up a year in hyper-costly rent paid for nothing but the privilege of being a scorned peon in a city ruled by privilege and protected fiefdoms?
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Dear Rest of the Country: you have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eat the lunch of all the overpriced, corrupt, bubble-dependent locales that are convinced they are irresistible to the cultured, creative class. Many of those folks would actually like to own some land and a house without sacrificing everything, including their health and family.
Dear local leadership: here’s the formula for long-term success: welcome talent from everywhere in the U.S. and the world; make it cheap and quick to open a business, and cheap to operate that business; make public spaces free, safe and well-maintained; insist on a transparent, responsive government obsessed with serving the public as frugally as possible; support a political class drawn from people with real-world enterprise experience, not professional politicos, lobbyists, etc., and treat incoming capital well–not just financial capital but intellectual, social and human capital. Focus on building collaboration between education and enterprise–foster apprenticeships not just in the trades but in every field of endeavor.
Provide all these things and success will follow; ignore all these in favor entrenched elites and fiefdoms and go broke as those paying the taxes decide to save their sanity, health and future by getting out while the getting’s good.

 

 

Which American Cities Will File Bankruptcy Next?

We harp on the massive, unsustainable, yet largely unnoticed, debt burdens of American cities, counties and states fairly regularly because, well, it’s a frightening issue if you spend just a little time to understand the math and ultimate consequences.  Here is some of our recent posts on the topic:

Luckily, for those looking to escape the trauma of being taxed into oblivion by their failing cities/counties/states, JP Morgan has provided a comprehensive guide on which municipalities haven’t the slightest hope of surviving their multi-decade debt binge and lavish public pension awards

If you live in any of the ‘red’ cities below, it just might be time to start looking for another home…

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To add a little context to the map above, JP Morgan ranked every major city in the United States based on what percentage of their annual budgets are required just to fund interest payments on debt, pension contributions and other post retirement benefits.

The results are staggering.  To our great ‘shock’, Chicago residents win the award of “most screwed” with over 60% of their tax dollars going to fund debt and pension payments.  Meanwhile, there are a dozen municipalities where over 50% of their annual budgets are used just to fund the maintenance cost of past expenditures.

As managers of $70 billion in US municipal bonds across our asset management business (Q2 2017), we’re very focused on credit risk of US municipalities.

The chart below shows our “IPOD” ratio for US states, cities and counties.  This measure represents the percentage of a municipality’s revenues that would be needed to pay interest on direct debt, and fully amortize unfunded pension and retiree healthcare obligations over 30 years, assuming a conservative return of 6% on plan assets.  While there’s no hard and fast rule, municipalities with IPOD ratios over 30% may eventually face very difficult choices regarding taxation, non-pension spending, infrastructure investment, contributions to unfunded plans and bond repayment.

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So, what will it take to fix the mess in these various municipal budgets?  How about massive tax hikes of ~30% or a slight 76,121% increase in worker pension contributions in Honolulu…

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Anyone else feel like the winters in South Dakota are suddenly looking much more manageable?

Source: ZeroHedge

Rare Video Footage from 1906 Shows Amazing Bustle of San Francisco’s Market Street

A Trip Down Market Street‘ was shot on April 14, 1906, just four days before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, to which the negative was nearly lost. It was produced by moving picture photographers the Miles brothers (Harry, Herbert, Earle and Joe). Harry J. Miles hand-cranked the Bell & Howell camera which was placed on the front of a streetcar during filming on Market Street from 8th, in front of the Miles Studios, to the Ferry building.

A few days later the Miles brothers were en route to New York when they heard news of the earthquake. They sent the negative to NY, and returned to San Francisco to discover that their studios were destroyed.

Filmed during the era of silent film, Sound Designer and Engineer Mike Upchurch added sound to enhance the incredible video and immerse viewers into the hustle and bustle of San Francisco’s Market Street at the turn of the 20th century. Upchurch adds:

Automobile sounds are all either Ford Model T, or Model A, which came out later, but which have similarly designed engines, and sound quite close to the various cars shown in the film. The horns are slightly inaccurate as mostly bulb horns were used at the time, but were substituted by the far more recognizable electric “oogaa” horns, which came out a couple years later. The streetcar sounds are actual San Francisco streetcars. Doppler effect was used to align the sounds.

Market Street – San Francisco 1906 – After the Earthquake – DashCam View – Silent

Source: Twisted Sifter