For hot New York property market, a Fed move won't change much

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 September, 2015, 10:54am

Not even a rate increase from the Federal Reserve is expected to cool the New York commercial real estate market, where demand remains high, industry executives say.

While there are not rumblings of an asset bubble in Manhattan property, prices are high, and some valuation metrics are at or near record peaks with sales activity at a record pace.

"I've never seen more capital come into this market in 35 years of doing this," said Peter Hauspurg, the chairman and chief executive of Eastern Consolidated, a New York real estate investment service firm.

"There's been a feeling around the last three or four years that this has become almost monopoly money. We're awash in cash, the banks can't lend out enough," Hauspurg said.Investment in New York City hotels already has set an annual record, while sales volume for commercial real estate - hotels, office buildings, retail space, land, industrial and multi-family dwellings - appears poised to surpass the boom year of 2007, according to data from CoStar Group.

Transaction volume on deals of more than US$10 million reached US$39.3 billion as of September 15, on pace to surpass sales of US$51.8 billion in 2007, CoStar data shows, with a typically strong fourth quarter still to be counted.

Some may see a cautionary flag in the amount of money available to borrow, abetted in part by the Fed's historically low interest rates. But higher rates won't necessarily dent commercial real estate and experts say lenders are more disciplined now than the last cycle, when a housing bubble built on easy money burst in 2008 and spawned a recession.

The cash flow has been boosted by more sources of funds - private equity investors, increased securitisation, and foreign investment, which rose to more than 40 per cent of deals in the first six months of the year, more than double the historical rate.

At the same time, a limited number of properties for sale, particularly larger sites, has acted as a brake on transactions and helped to push up valuations, said Jon Caplan, a vice-chairman of JLL Capital Markets based in New York.

"We might be at higher numbers if there were more product available," said Caplan, referring to sales volume.

Institutional investors, both foreign and domestic, are holding assets for longer, which also has boosted prices.