Welcome To The Oligarch Recovery: 82% Of US Construction Is Luxury Units

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Here is good news for the plutocrat who wants to try out Manhattan’s ritziest neighborhoods before taking the multimillion-dollar plunge. The market for super-high-end rentals is booming, with plenty of enticing options for tenants of every taste.

 

In all, 82 apartments renting for at least $50,000 a month were listed on StreetEasy during the first three months of the year, more than triple the number listed in the first quarter of 2008. At lower thresholds, luxury listings are also on the rise. Apartments renting for more than $25,000 a month made up 0.95 percent of total inventory in the first quarter of 2015, up from 0.46 percent in the first quarter of 2008…

 

Of 370,000 multifamily rental units completed from 2012 to 2014 in 54 U.S. metropolitan areas, 82% were in the luxury category, according to CoStar Group Inc., a real-estate research firm. The firm defines luxury buildings as those that command rents in the top 20% of the market. In some places, including Denver, Tampa, Baltimore and Phoenix, virtually all new apartment construction has been targeted to high-end renters. In Atlanta, about 95% of new apartments have been in the luxury category.

 

– From Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal

The oligarch recovery marches forward with reckless enthusiasm, despite extremely disturbing underlying trends which are all but guaranteed to result in significant societal unrest in the years ahead. The U.S. economy, and indeed the global economy, is much more similar to pre-1789 France than any other historical period I can think of.

You have a handful of super wealthy people, completely disconnected from any sense of reality, running around telling governments what to do. All the same characters who created the global financial crisis remain in charge of the world’s most powerful institutions, and continue to benefit handsomely from its aftermath. While claiming to have “saved the global economy,” the only things they really saved were their own positions of power and wealth. The only thing that was saved, was the very thing that should have been completely discarded, the global status quo. 

The results of the global bailouts and backstops are now clear for everyone to witness. The entire global economy is one gigantic ongoing crime scene. It’s an economy in which fraud is rewarded and never punished. An economy where the rich, powerful and connected concoct unimaginably lucrative crony deals knowing the law doesn’t apply to them. To hedge their corruption, they feed scraps to the poor, not out of altruism, but so that the growing underclasses have just enough not to rebel.

Today, I want to highlight two related articles to clearly demonstrate just how completely screwed up the U.S. economy really is. The first one is courtesy of Bloomberg, and focuses on my hometown of NYC. The best decision I ever made in my life was leaving that place, and it’s gotten much, much more narcissistic and financialized since I left (for the story of why I left, see: The Biggest Trade of My Life). The second article is from the Wall Street Journal, and it highlights the extremely troubling statistic that 82% of multifamily rental units completed from 2012 to 2014 in 54 U.S. metropolitan areas were luxury units.

First, from Bloomberg:

Here is good news for the plutocrat who wants to try out Manhattan’s ritziest neighborhoods before taking the multimillion-dollar plunge. The market for super-high-end rentals is booming, with plenty of enticing options for tenants of every taste.

 

In all, 82 apartments renting for at least $50,000 a month were listed on StreetEasy during the first three months of the year, more than triple the number listed in the first quarter of 2008. At lower thresholds, luxury listings are also on the rise. Apartments renting for more than $25,000 a month made up 0.95 percent of total inventory in the first quarter of 2015, up from 0.46 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Real estate agents and wealth managers say the increase in expensive rentals is partly an outgrowth of the luxury building boom sweeping through New York City and partly due to the shifting whims of a global elite that wants luxury digs without the hassle of a long-term commitment.

 

The hot market for super-luxury apartments has spurred new high-end projects. Spending on residential construction increased 73 percent in 2014 from the year before, according to the New York Building Congress, but the number of new units increased by only 11 percent. That means fewer resources for more-affordable housing. “The existence of a greater share of pricey buildings implies that the lower end isn’t growing as quickly,” said Alan Lightfeldt, data scientist at StreetEasy.

 

In some cases, it’s the very demand for luxury real estate that’s providing supply to the rental market. As the global elite hit on Manhattan condos as a store of wealth, buyers are more likely to become landlords. Last year, condo buyers were twice as likely to rent their apartments out within 60 days of buying them as they were in 2010, according to a Bloomberg story in February.

 

“The question might not be how rich do you have to be—it might be how foolish,” says Michael Goodman, chief executive of Wealthstream Advisors. “It’s like, why do you buy a $250,000 car? Not because it gets good gas mileage, but because you want to, and you can.”

While the above article points out that most of the construction in NYC targets the very wealthy, what about trends across the U.S. as a whole? For that, we turn to the WSJ:

Of 370,000 multifamily rental units completed from 2012 to 2014 in 54 U.S. metropolitan areas, 82% were in the luxury category, according to CoStar Group Inc., a real-estate research firm. The firm defines luxury buildings as those that command rents in the top 20% of the market. In some places, including Denver, Tampa, Baltimore and Phoenix, virtually all new apartment construction has been targeted to high-end renters. In Atlanta, about 95% of new apartments have been in the luxury category.

 

“I don’t believe there ever has been a time where we have produced so much luxury rental housing,” said Susan Wachter, professor of real estate at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While these new buildings are priced for the affluent, many middle-class and young workers are straining to rent the units, in part because they have few others choices.

 

What’s more, rents in new apartment buildings are commanding a far bigger premium over older buildings than during past construction booms. According to MPF Research, a division of RealPage Inc., apartments completed a decade ago on average commanded rents that were 9% higher than older buildings. But new apartments delivered since 2010 have fetched a 21% premium over existing rental stock. In the Atlanta area, the premium for a new apartment is 39% compared with 2% a decade ago.

 

While some developers worry that the current construction boom could eventually result in overbuilding at the high-end—which could put downward pressure on rents for all types of apartments—there is considerable angst among city officials and housing advocates worried that the middle class is getting squeezed.

What’s the middle class? But don’t worry, there’s hope…

Some cities, such as New York, are moving to require that new developments in some areas include more units for middle- and low-income families.

I suppose after deliberately handing out subsidies to oligarchs, the serfs could use a few scraps. Let’s not forget: Tax Breaks for Oligarchs – The $100 Million Manhattan Apartment with a Property Tax Rate of 0.017%

Mr. Randall, owner of privately-held South City Partners, said when he started 30 years ago “almost 100%” of what he built was low-rise, suburban buildings with rents of about $1,000 a month in today’s dollars. Now, even as his business has shifted almost entirely to urban projects like Inman Quarter, he fears the supply of new high-end building could be overdone.

 

As a hedge, he’s in the process of purchasing two sites in suburbs of Atlanta where he hopes to return to building apartments for about $1,200 a month on average. He said the challenges are steep because suburban communities often oppose multifamily projects and banks aren’t anxious to finance middle-market projects.

Ah the banks. The taxpayers bailed them out so that they could turn around and steal billions by criminally rigging the financial markets, yet they can’t be bothered to finance projects for the middle class.

The reason everything is being built for the wealthy, is because all the gains from the oligarch recovery have gone to the wealthy. This is no accident. It’s how the bailouts were designed, and how the status quo operates. Our socio-economic system since 2008 can be best described as serfdom, and nothing is going to change until people admit this, rather than hanging on to false hopes that they one day too will become an oligarch. It’s not gonna happen.