Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-63864 Sun, 15 Apr 2018 13:27:46 GMT 247,977 stories in the Vacant City, priced out of reach for most Early numbers from the Census Bureau's Housing and Vacancy Survey show the unoccupied city has ballooned by 65,406 apartments since 2014, an astonishing 35% jump in size in the three years since the last survey.

Today, 247,977 units -- equivalent to more than 11% of all rental apartments in New York City -- sit either empty or scarcely occupied, even as many New Yorkers struggle to find an apartment they can afford.


But that still leaves more than 100,000 units -- 74,945 occupied temporarily or seasonally, and 27,009 held off the market for unexplained reasons.


Additionally, many of the 75,000 temporary apartments are pied-à-terres, weekend or vacation crash pads for the rich, up from just 9,282 in 1987.


Rewind again to 1987. The city, still recovering from decades of arson and abandonment, had 6,241 apartments that were vacant because they were too dilapidated to inhabit -- down from nearly 23,000 in 1975. The median asking rent for someone looking for an apartment to move into that year was $450 -- just 14% higher than median rent existing tenants paid.

Given the apparent benefits of bringing busted-up apartments back into use, it was possible to argue that encouraging more renovation and construction would be good for the city.

In 2017, the Census Bureau couldn't even locate enough dilapidated apartments to count -- but did find a median asking rent of $1,875, 30% higher than what a typical existing tenant pays. What's more, the vacancy rate for those expensive units is huge. Almost half the apartments available for rent in New York cost more than $2,000 a month -- and the vacancy rate for them is above 7%.


More than 63,000 New Yorkers are living in homeless shelters (almost three times more than in 1987), and 30% of city households are shelling out more than half their income in rent. What they and all New Yorkers need is not simply the construction of more housing, but better means to keep rents within reach.

This is starting to be brought back in line by a price crash, now. Of course, that won't bring down the vacancy numbers for a while, as new supply is added even faster.

iehi-feed-63853 Wed, 11 Apr 2018 22:43:41 GMT The Housing ATM is back: Cash-out share of all refis hits pre-crisis levels iehi-feed-63849 Tue, 10 Apr 2018 21:38:09 GMT Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations - The Washington Post Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.

FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen's Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen's clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation.

Investigators took Cohen's computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, that person said.

In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients -- including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

The raids -- part of an investigation referred by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to federal prosecutors in New York -- point to escalating legal jeopardy for a longtime Trump confidant who is deeply intertwined in the president's business and personal matters.


Two of the potential crimes being investigated -- bank fraud and wire fraud -- suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds.

Cohen has acknowledged facilitating a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

Trump made his first comments about the payment last week, saying he did not know about the transaction.

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels and said that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment.

Banks don't usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines. However, Cohen may have been asked to provide explanation for the large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.


To serve a search warrant on a practicing attorney, federal prosecutors are required to obtain approval from top Justice Department officials. That means the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman [A Trump supporter], who was appointed to his role by Sessions in January, as well as Justice Department officials in Washington, probably signed off.


To pursue criminal charges against Cohen for breaking federal election law, prosecutors would have to prove that he made the payment to Daniels to influence the election, rather than for personal reasons -- to protect Trump's reputation, for example, or his marriage.


At some point, Cohen's New York bank, First Republic, flagged the transaction to the Treasury Department as a suspicious payment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen used his Trump Organization email in negotiating the agreement with Davidson and in communicating with his bank about the funds.

In February, after a watchdog group filed a complaint about the payment with the Federal Election Commission, Cohen released a statement saying he "used my own personal funds to facilitate" the payment. He rejected the idea that the payment should have counted as a campaign contribution.

This article has very comprehensive background with all you need to understand the possible basis for RICO-type charges against Trump, Cohen, and associates.

iehi-feed-63848 Tue, 10 Apr 2018 21:31:52 GMT WeWork rival Knotel is now valued at $500M Knotel closed a $70 million in a Series B funding round on Tuesday, with plans to expand rapidly and muster a serious challenge to industry leader WeWork.

The flexible office space startup led by Amol Sarva has now raised $100 million between two seed rounds, and is valued at $500 million, according to research firm Pitchbook.

Knotel, which in the past two years has leased more than 1.1 million square feet in New York, San Francisco and London, said the new funding will allow the company to double in size.

iehi-feed-63844 Sun, 08 Apr 2018 16:26:03 GMT Kushner Partner in 666 Fifth Ave. Says It Has Deal to Sell The Kushner family appeared on Friday to have struck a deal to buy out its partner in the troubled Fifth Avenue skyscraper at the center of its real estate empire, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Kushners' partner, the publicly traded Vornado Realty Trust, has indicated for months that it was interested in selling its stake in the building, and on Friday, Steven Roth, Vornado's chairman, said in the filing that it had reached a handshake deal "to sell our interest to our partner."

The Kushners have attracted enormous public attention because of their connection to President Trump. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, was chief executive of the company until he joined the White House last year as one of Mr. Trump's key advisers.


It is unclear if the announcement from Vornado means the Kushners have found a new partner, or who might be providing the financing for such a deal.


In 2011, the Kushners sought to restructure their debt. Vornado bought a 49.5 percent interest in the building's office space and agreed to invest up to $80 million and take responsibility for a portion of the mortgage. The mortgage was divided into a $1.1 billion note and a $115 million secondary loan.

But Vornado imposed stiff terms. It was getting 11 percent interest on money it actually invested in the building, and a 3 percent return on the remaining money, if any, according to a financial report from Trepp, a company that tracks real estate debt.

The mortgage has swelled to $1.4 billion with accrued interest. The partners have been forced to cover shortfalls on the mortgage payments. And Vornado subsequently bought much of the retail space along Fifth Avenue from Crown and Carlyle for $707 million, except for a portion owned by Zara, the Spanish clothing chain. Vornado is expected to hang onto the retail space.

iehi-feed-63841 Fri, 06 Apr 2018 21:48:43 GMT San Francisco Median Home Prices Have Over Doubled Since 2012 (Now $1,610,000) iehi-feed-63830 Tue, 03 Apr 2018 17:00:39 GMT Manhattan Home Sales Tumble Most Since 2009 as Buyers Walk Sales of all condos and co-ops fell 25 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to 2,180, according to a report Tuesday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc.and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. It was the biggest annual decline since the second quarter of 2009, when Manhattan's property market froze in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s bankruptcy filing and the global financial crisis that followed.


While just a few years ago, bidding wars were the norm, "there's nothing out there today that points to prices going up, and in many buyers' minds, they point to being flat," said Pamela Liebman, chief executive officer of brokerage Corcoran Group. "They're now aggressive in the opposite way: putting in very low offers and seeing what concessions they can get from the sellers."

Corcoran Group released its own Manhattan market report Tuesday, showing an 11 percent decrease in completed purchases and a 10 percent drop in sales that are pending.

For sellers, to reach a deal in the first quarter was to accept a lower offer. Fifty-two percent of all sales that closed in the period were for less than the last asking price, according to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. Buyers agreed to pay the asking price in 38 percent of deals, but often that figure had already been reduced. Combined, the share of deals without a premium was the biggest since the end of 2012.


The median price of all sales that closed in the quarter was $1.095 million, down 5.2 percent from a year earlier, brokerage Town Residential said in its own report. Three-bedroom apartments saw the biggest drop, with a decline of 7 percent to a median of $3.82 million, the firm said.

Neither new developments nor resales were spared from buyer apathy. Purchases of newly constructed condos, which continue to proliferate on the market, plummeted 54 percent in the quarter to 259, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. Sales of previously owned apartments dropped 18 percent to 1,921.


iehi-feed-63816 Fri, 30 Mar 2018 16:44:25 GMT Sydney real estate: Home sellers drop listed prices by up to 30 per cent Homeowners in pockets of Sydney have been selling properties for up to 30 per cent below their advertised price after a steep fall in buyer demand.

Property experts claim sellers have been forced to accept GFC-level price declines due to a weakening market which makes it difficult to achieve the inflated sums properties were fetching six months or even a year ago.


Sydney's median home price fell 1.3 per cent over the three months to December and by another 2.5 per cent in the following three months to March, according to property research group CoreLogic.

The latest three-month decline was the largest since August 2008, near the height of the GFC, and helped push the typical price of a home back down to $880,743.

iehi-feed-63813 Fri, 30 Mar 2018 00:44:54 GMT Manhattan Apartment Sales Chill Amid Supply Increase Overall, apartment sales were down more than 10% compared with the first quarter of 2017, according to a Journal analysis of city records of closed sales. That is the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2013. Sales of co-ops, which include many lower-priced apartments, fell only slightly, by 2.3%, but sales of new condominiums were down by more than 35%.


Median prices of the apartments that sold fell slightly, by 1.5%, from the same quarter in 2017. But average prices dropped by 10% in the same period.

The Journal's analysis, based on sale documents filed with the city's Department of Finance as of March 23, put the median price of a Manhattan apartment at $1.095 million, about 8% below the all-time peak price recorded in the second quarter last year.

The median price for a condominium in the first quarter was $1.625 million, down 4.6% from the year-earlier quarter. The median price of a co-op was $810,000, up 7.3% during the same period. Sales of co-ops above $4 million rose by more than 30%, while sales below $1 million were down 7.4%.


The top sale in the first quarter to date--a red-brick-and-limestone mansion on East 69th Street near Central Park--illustrates this pattern of price cutting. The house sold for $39 million in mid-March. It was listed for as much as $55 million in 2016, before several price cuts. It had previously sold for $48 million in 2011.

Sales inventory is also increasing. A new report by Brown Harris Stevens found that inventory in Manhattan is up 14% in March, compared with a year earlier. The biggest increase in supply is among studio and one-bedroom apartments.

iehi-feed-63812 Fri, 30 Mar 2018 00:37:04 GMT Millennials Beat Gen-Xers and Boomers For Rent Burden by Age 30 iehi-feed-63809 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 21:01:19 GMT NYC developer in danger of defaulting on ultrathin billionaire luxury tower near Flatiron In the latest chapter of his storied, up-and-down career, Ian Bruce Eichner is once again verging on losing control of his signature development project of the market cycle.

Eichner, who has notoriously gone bust in each of the past three decades but bounces back each time, is now battling with his joint-venture partners Fortress Investment Group and Dune Real Estate Partners over financing at his glassy Flatiron District condominium tower at 45 East 22nd Street.

The head of the Continuum Company is accusing Fortress and Dune of stymying his efforts to refinance the struggling project in an effort to protect their returns, thus edging him toward default and putting him on the hook for personal guarantees, according to a lawsuit Eichner filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday.


The condo project, like many across the city, is struggling to move units amid a slow sales market. Eichner claims that more than 70 percent of the units are sold, but when the $343 million construction loan Goldman Sachs provided for the project came due last fall, the partners had to seek additional financing to complete construction.

iehi-feed-63808 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 20:50:23 GMT Google, JPMorgan Chase and the new age of spectacularly rich corporate real estate buyers In the early 20th century, New York's tallest skyscrapers were built by big companies for their own use -- think of the old MetLife Building and the Woolworth Building. But in the second half of the 20th century, more and more firms ditched their real estate holdings and began leasing office space instead. They were looking to simplify their balance sheets and focus investment on their core business in a bid to appeal to stock market investors. Owning real estate usually meant taking out mortgages, which increased liabilities, Brodwin said. It also carried risk.

Now the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction. One reason: the sheer accumulation of wealth in the hands of corporate behemoths. Cash and liquid investments held by U.S. non-financial firms rose by 5 percent in 2017 to $1.9 trillion, according to a November report by ratings agency Moody's. The report projected Google's parent company Alphabet would hold $103 billion in cash by the end of last year. Apple's cash reserves were projected at a staggering $265 billion.

Companies need to store all that wealth somewhere, and low interest rates make bank accounts and bonds somewhat less appealing. Real estate offers an alternative. Meanwhile, the recently passed federal tax reform allows firms to repatriate their offshore wealth at a lower tax rate for a limited time, adding an incentive to move funds from overseas into the New York property market.

Another big change concerns accounting rules. In the past, companies weren't required to list leases as liabilities on their balance sheets, even though that's exactly what they are. But starting in 2019, that will change. Public companies that sign leases will have to include their present value as liabilities, making them look worse on paper. Companies that buy buildings may add liabilities in the form of a mortgage, but they also add a valuable property to their balance sheet.

iehi-feed-63807 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 20:34:40 GMT Judge rejects Trump push to dismiss emoluments lawsuit A federal judge on Wednesday rejected President Trump's push to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of violating the Constitution by collecting profits from his luxury hotel in the nation's capital.  U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte shot down the Justice Department's request to dismiss the lawsuit, which argued the plaintiffs had no legal standing to sue. The judge, based in Greenbelt, Md., said he will schedule another hearing to weigh the administration's other claims. 

The decision is a blow to Trump, who has long claimed that his business arrangements are legal and do not pose a conflict of interest. 

Critics say that Trump is violating the emoluments clause, which bans presidents from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments without Congress's explicit approval.

After the 2016 election, Trump broke with precedent by refusing to divest in his businesses. The then-president elect instead placed his assets in a trust controlled by his two adult sons.

Ethics watchdogs say the president is violating the clause every time his hotels or golf courses receive payments from foreign governments because Trump still owns his stake in them.

The Trump Organization has said it would donate all profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. Last month, the Treasury Department said it received a check from the business meant to cover last year, but would not confirm the check's amount or date.

Messitte sided with attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and Maryland who argued they have standing to sue because other hotels in the region must compete with the Trump International Hotel for business. 

It's still a conflict of interest even if Trump returns every penny of profits.

iehi-feed-63767 Sun, 18 Mar 2018 19:10:18 GMT Exclusive: Slumlord Kushner filed false NYC housing paperwork, Will be Investigated Now a clue has emerged as to how President Donald Trump's son-in-law's firm was able to move so fast: The Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds.

While none of the documents during a three-year period when Kushner was CEO bore his personal signature, they provide a window into the ethics of the business empire he ran before he went on to become one of the most trusted advisers to the president of the United States.

"It's bare-faced greed," said Aaron Carr, founder of Housing Rights Initiative, a tenants' rights watchdog that compiled the work permit application documents and shared them with The Associated Press. "The fact that the company was falsifying all these applications with the government shows a sordid attempt to avert accountability and get a rapid return on its investment."


In all, Housing Rights Initiative found the Kushner Cos. filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in 34 buildings across New York City from 2013 to 2016, all of them indicating there were no rent-regulated tenants. Instead, tax documents show there were more than 300 rent-regulated units. Nearly all the permit applications were signed by a Kushner employee, including sometimes the chief operating officer.

Had the Kushner Cos. disclosed those rent-regulated tenants, it could have triggered stricter oversight of construction crews by the city, including possibly unscheduled "sweeps" on site by inspectors to keep the company from harassing tenants and getting them to leave.

Instead, current and former tenants of the Queens buildings told the AP that they were subjected to extensive construction, with banging, drilling, dust and leaking water that they believe were part of targeted harassment to get them to leave and clear the way for higher-paying renters.


At a six-story walk-up in Manhattan's East Village that was once home to the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the Kushner Cos. filed an application to begin construction in late 2013 that, again, listed zero rent-regulated tenants. Tax records a few months later showed seven rent-regulated units.


New York City Council member Ritchie Torres, who plans to launch an investigation into permit applications, said: "The Kushners appear to be engaging in what I call the weaponization of construction."


Submitting false documents to the city's Department of Buildings for construction permits is a misdemeanor, which can carry fines of up to $25,000. But real estate experts say it is often flouted with little to no consequences. Landlords who do so get off with no more than a demand from the city, sometimes a year or more later, to file an "amended" form with the correct numbers.

iehi-feed-63763 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:10:44 GMT Michigan Priest Financially Rapes Parishioners To Build $4 Million Mansion iehi-feed-63750 Sun, 11 Mar 2018 01:30:14 GMT Follow The Money To Trump (And Jared's) "End Times" Even up to the moment Trump surprised everybody (including himself) by winning the 2016 election, major American banks would have sooner flushed their money down the toilet than lend any of it to him. Deutsche Bank and other foreign-based financial titans would work with the Trump Organization from time to time, but American bankers, having been burned too many times in the past, wanted nothing to do with him.

When the dust finally settles from the several on-going "Russiagate" investigations, it should become clear how Trump was able to bounce back from seemingly irreversible financial ruin as often as he has; the kindness of German bankers only explains so much.

... It is looking more likely than not that Russian oligarchs and similarly unsavory characters from distant lands with lax financial regulations figure in the explanation, and that person connected to criminal organizations or to Russian intelligence services played a role as well.

The way to find out is clear: follow the money. In this instance, there is a via regia, a royal road, a (comparatively) easy way to do that: look where the son-in-law has gone begging. What are Kushner's problems, after all, but Russiagate writ small?


Whether of not Trump's Teflon armor keeps on protecting him, the fact remains: the gods are closing in.  "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad," wrote Longfellow.  We can see it happening before our very eyes.

iehi-feed-63740 Thu, 08 Mar 2018 14:29:13 GMT Kushner to be out of Gowanus, Brooklyn Property in sale to allow rezoning A deal has been reached to sell a major Gowanus development site that is co-owned by one of the largest commercial landlords in the city SL Green and White House adviser Jared Kushner's company Kushner Cos... The property is being purchased by RFR Realty for the rumored price around $120 million. In 2014, the site was bought for approximately $70 million by Kushner and SL Green. Kushner held a 5 percent share while the majority 95 percent was owned by SL Green.

... Kushner's involvement in the Gowanus development site had been viewed as problematic by some real estate investors in the area, according to sources, because of the antagonism it spurred from city officials who hold sway over the Gowanus rezoning.

... Back in November, the local councilman Brad Lander, whose approval is required for any rezoning in the Gowanus area, told WNYC, "Voting to take part in enriching the White House senior adviser ... that feels ethically tainted in a way I don't see how I could do and how I could ask my colleagues to do."

iehi-feed-63727 Mon, 05 Mar 2018 22:29:29 GMT Trump's name stripped from Panama hotel as showdown with majority-owner appears to end Workers began removing the Trump name from the only Trump-branded hotel in Latin America on Monday after the majority owner of the Trump Panama hotel won a legal battle to eject the president's company as its manager.

In early afternoon, a worker hooked a crowbar behind the "T" in the large "Trump" sign outside the hotel along Panama City's waterfront and hit the crowbar with a hammer. After a few blows, the letter was pried loose and fell.


Earlier Monday, majority owner Orestes Fintiklis -- a Cypriot businessman now based in Miami -- said that a Panamanian legal official had allowed him to take over the hotel's administration.


After the official's decision, Fintiklis said he had won a weeks-long legal battle with the Trump Organization, which he blames for the hotel's declining revenue and low occupancy rates.

"Today, this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country," Fintiklis told reporters. He declared that he was so impressed by Panama's legal system that he would soon become a Panamanian citizen himself.


If it wasn't the end of the standoff at the Trump hotel, it seemed at least to be a turning point. For the past week, this 70-story building in Panama's capital -- designed to resemble a billowing sail -- has been the scene of shoving matches between rival security guards, repeated visits by police, power outages and reports of documents being shredded.

Now, for the first time, Fintiklis seemed in control.


The Trump hotel in Panama opened in 2011. The president's company does not own the building, but it had a contract to manage the hotel until 2031.

Fintiklis bought 202 of the hotel's 369 room units last year, assumed control of the hotel's condominium owners association and quickly moved to kick out the Trump Organization.


[Fintiklis] noted that, in 58 units, the owners had lost so much money on rentals that they were refusing to pay their condo fees.

iehi-feed-63713 Sat, 03 Mar 2018 22:20:26 GMT Eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Without the GSEs, the mortgage market would not look radically different than it does today. Proponents argue that the GSEs lower mortgage rates, ensure the availability of the standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage, support home ownership and lend to people with lower incomes or weaker credit profiles, all of which the private sector presumably would not do. Not true on all fronts.

Since 2009, the GSEs have been required to recognize risk in their pricing of mortgages, which has driven up their mortgage rates relative to the private sector. As a consequence, since 2014, new research undertaken with my colleague Steve Oliner shows that mortgage rates for private portfolio whole loans have been about one-quarter percentage point below GSE rates -- after controlling for risk characteristics.

And contrary to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's recent statement, the private market could ensure the availability of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages on its own. Data from CoreLogic show that 76 percent of private portfolio mortgages originated in 2017 were 30-year mortgages, not much below the GSE's 85 percent share.

iehi-feed-63705 Fri, 02 Mar 2018 22:02:39 GMT Jared Kushner Backed Qatar Blockade a Month After Qataris Wouldn't Finance His Propert Jared Kushner's family-run real estate company tried to seek Qatari government financing for its troubled New York City property a month before Kushner backed a blockade on the Gulf kingdom, The Intercept reported on Friday. 


Kushner Cos. directly solicited investment from Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi for its 666 Fifth Avenue luxury tower in April 2017, two sources in the finance industry told The Intercept. No deal came of it.

The following month, Kushner and the White House supported a blockade of Qatar organized by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Due to the crisis, alliances in the region have shifted, with Qatar--which holds the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East--aligning more closely with Iran and Turkey.

This isn't even new, but nice to see people caring once again...