Solus Says It May Buy Hovnanian Bonds to Cut Loss From CDS

April 11, 2018
Erik Schatzker and Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg

Hedge fund Solus Alternative Asset Management is considering an escalation in its battle with Blackstone Group LP over a homebuilder’s controversial debt refinancing.

After suing Blackstone’s GSO credit unit and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. for engineering a credit-default swaps payout that’s leaving Solus with steep losses, the hedge fund’s CEO, Chris Pucillo, said in a Bloomberg Television interview that he may just buy the builder’s bonds to limit his losses and cut Blackstone’s profit.

Reprinted courtesy of Erik Schatzker , Bloomberg and Sridhar Natarajan, Bloomberg

U.S. Homebuilder Outlook Eases While Hovering Near 18-Year High

March 29, 2018
Shelly Hagan – Bloomberg

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders slipped to a four-month low in March while remaining above historical averages, indicating developers expect demand to withstand rising mortgage rates, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo.

Princeton Must Build More Affordable Housing, N.J. Judge Rules

March 22, 2018
Elise Young - Bloomberg

Princeton, one of America’s richest towns, must build more affordable housing, a judge ruled in a decision that may have ripple effects across New Jersey.

The home of Princeton University, the state’s only Ivy League school, must plan for 753 low-and middle-income homes, more than double what the borough had anticipated, according to the March 8 ruling by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson. Its wealthy neighbor, West Windsor, has a burden of 1,500 homes for people of little means in a state with high living costs, Jacobson ruled.

Trump’s Tariff Is Forcing Homebuilders to Cut Costs

March 14, 2018
Jen Skerritt - Bloomberg

For the past 18 months, Eddie Martin has been trying to find ways to keep the affordable homes he builds, well, affordable.

About 40 percent of the Texas homebuilder’s framing lumber comes from Canada. The Trump administration slapped punitive tariffs on Canadian softwood timber last year, claiming the industry is unfairly subsidized. The move has driven lumber prices to near record highs. Tilson Home Corp., where Martin is president, has so far refrained from passing on the added costs to homebuyers. To do that, it’s cut back the number of home plans it offers and is considering swapping pricier fir for cheaper Southern yellow pine, even though its tendency to bow in the Texas humidity makes it more difficult for construction crews to work with.

U.S. Pending Home Sales Gauge Falls to Lowest Since 2014

February 28, 2018
Sho Chandra – ENR

A gauge of contracts to purchase previously-owned U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in January to a more than three-year low, reflecting a shortage of inventories and rising mortgage rates, according to data released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors in Washington.

U.S. Homebuilder Sentiment Remains Near Highest Level Since 1999

February 22, 2018
Shelly Hagan – Bloomberg

Confidence among American homebuilders held steady in February near the highest level since 1999, suggesting that demand for housing is expected to remain strong, according to data Thursday from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo.

Home Prices Hit Records in Almost Two-Thirds of U.S. Cities

February 15, 2018
Prashant Gopal – Bloomberg

Home prices jumped to all-time highs in almost two-thirds of U.S. cities in the fourth quarter as buyers battled for a record-low supply of listings.

Prices for single-family homes, which climbed 5.3 percent from a year earlier nationally, reached a peak in 64 percent of metropolitan areas measured, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Of the 177 regions in the group’s survey, 15 percent had double-digit price growth, up from 11 percent in the third quarter.

Toronto Home Sales Plunge Under New Lending Rules

February 7, 2018
Natalie Wong and Erik Hertzberg – Bloomberg

Toronto home sales tumbled in the first month of 2018, as tougher mortgage qualification rules came into play and borrowing costs rose.

Sales in Canada’s biggest city fell 22 percent to 4,019 units from a year earlier, according to data released Tuesday by the Toronto Real Estate Board. It was the weakest month of sales for January since 2009. The average price of a home sold in Toronto was C$736,783 ($587,968), down 4.1 percent from January 2017, though little changed from December.

Reprinted courtesy of Natalie Wong, Bloomberg and Erik Hertzberg, Bloomberg

This Rare Bear Who Called the Crash Warns Housing Is Too Hot Again

January 31, 2018
Prashant Gopal – Bloomberg

When real estate investors get this confident, money manager James Stack gets nervous.

U.S. home prices are surging to new records. Homebuilder stocks last year outperformed all other groups. And bears? They’re now an endangered species.

Stack, 66, who manages $1.3 billion for people with a high net worth, predicted the housing crash in 2005, just before prices reached their peak. Now, from his perch in Whitefish, Montana, he says his “Housing Bubble Bellwether Barometer” of homebuilder and mortgage company stocks, which jumped 80 percent in the past year, once again is flashing red.

Rival Company Says Puerto Rico Deal to Rebuild Homes Was Unfairly Awarded

January 24, 2018
Johnathan Levin, Daniel Flately and Yalixa Rivera - Bloomberg

Two disaster recovery companies are battling over a $133 million contract to repair hurricane-battered homes in Puerto Rico, with the losing bidder formally challenging the result and suggesting the winner should have been disqualified. The commonwealth’s Housing Department on Dec. 15 gave the deal to oversee 75,000 potential home rehabs to Utica, New York-based Adjusters International Inc., which employs as an executive a former Trump administration nominee to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. AECOM, the world’s biggest engineering firm, said Adjusters failed to show adequate financial resources and good standing to do business in Puerto Rico, according to a copy of AECOM’s motion for reconsideration provided to Bloomberg. Mr. Levin may be followed @JonathanJLevin Mr. Flatley may be followed @daniel_flatley

Las Vegas's Economy Is on the Brink of a Boom

January 10, 2018
Conor Sen - Bloomberg

What U.S. city will boom in 2018? If you're placing bets, you'd look for a place still suffering a hangover from the housing bust, with subdued economic activity and a lack of excess for a decade. You'd want to find an economy where demand is starting to exceed supply in a significant way, with price signals and economic activity responding. And with the U.S. economy as a whole starting to feel a bit frothy, you'd try to identify a place that benefits from American exuberance. In other words, you'd look for Las Vegas.

You can contact Mr. Sen on twitter @Conorsen

London Luxury Home at ‘Unbelievable’ Discount Shows Price Falls

January 5, 2018
Sharon R. Smyth and Nishant Kumar - Bloomberg

Unbelievable reduction,” says the broker’s email.

An investor who agreed to purchase an apartment at the ritzy One Blackfriars project on the banks of the River Thames is offering the two-bedroom home on the 20th floor for 1.8 million pounds ($2.44 million), more than 22 percent less than they agreed to pay for it in 2013.

The seller, who’s from Asia, wants to offload the property before it’s completed, according to Christian Barr, new homes manager at MyLondonHome, who’s brokering the sale. Stamp duty is payable after a property’s construction is finished.

U.S. Sales of Existing Homes Climb to an Almost 11-Year High

December 20, 2017
Sho Chandra - Bloomberg

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to an almost 11-year high, indicating demand picked up momentum heading into the end of the year, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Wednesday.

Hong Kong Property Doom Doesn't Begin at 1%

December 1, 2017
Nisha Gopalan - Bloomberg

Hong Kong's one-month interbank rate has reached its highest level since the global financial crisis. But don't expect the city's real estate prices to halt their spiral anytime soon, whatever the International Monetary Fund may say.

Blame banks and property developers.

Around 94 percent of mortgages in the world's least affordable property market are tied to the Hong Kong interbank offered rate, so the surge above 1 percent will cause some pain.

Home Depot Says Slashing Tax Deductions Won't Hurt Housing Boom

November 15, 2017
Matthew Townsend - Bloomberg

Home Depot Inc. isn’t buying the real estate industry’s claims that a provision in the House Republicans’ tax plan to reduce the mortgage-interest deduction would cause U.S. home prices to plummet.

“We don’t see much of an impact,” Home Depot Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome said in an interview Tuesday after the retailer reported third-quarter results. “There is no real empirical evidence that suggests mortgage-interest deductibility is at all correlated to home ownership.”

Homebuilders Slide After GOP Tax Plan Caps Mortgage-Interest Break

November 8, 2017
Sarah Mulholland - Bloomberg

The U.S. real estate industry reeled as the House Republican tax bill proposed capping the mortgage-interest deduction, a long-cherished incentive many Americans have had to buy a house.

The measure would limit the mortgage-interest deduction on newly purchased homes at $500,000 -- a departure from the current cap of $1 million for couples filing jointly, according to a memo written by the House Ways and Means Committee. The National Association of Realtors, which has been wary of the tax plan, said the memo “appears to confirm many of our biggest concerns.”

Homebuilders' Record Deal Belies Industry's Anxiety About Taxes

November 2, 2017
Oshrat Carmiel - Bloomberg

Lennar Corp.’s record takeover of CalAtlantic Group Inc. is a bullish sign for homebuilding in the U.S. Trade groups, meanwhile, worry that lawmakers are about to kneecap the industry.

Lennar said on Monday that it agreed to buy CalAtlantic for about $5.7 billion in cash and stock, a deal that would be the largest merger of U.S. homebuilders. Miami-based Lennar, which will have a stock-market value of about $18.5 billion after the takeover, will leapfrog D.R. Horton Inc. to become the country’s largest builder.

U.S. New-Home Sales Unexpectedly Jump to Highest Since 2007

October 26, 2017
Sho Chandra - Bloomberg

U.S. purchases of new homes unexpectedly surged in September to the highest level in a decade as activity accelerated in the South after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to government data Wednesday.

Canadian Homebuilders Are Actually Having a Breakout Year

October 19, 2017
Theophilos Argitis - Bloomberg

For Canada’s real estate developers, 2017 is shaping up to be a comeback year.

Builders are on pace to start work on more than 215,000 new homes. That would be the most since 2007, and a rebound after four straight years below 200,000.

The strength isn’t confined to Toronto. Advances are broad-based, including sharp rebounds in the Prairies and Quebec and elevated levels in British Columbia, in addition to residential construction in Ontario that’s on pace for its best year since 2004.

NYC Developer Races Against Rules That Would Cut Tower in Half

October 11, 2017
Oshrat Carmiel - Bloomberg

Laboring in a hole in the ground on Manhattan’s East 58th Street, Gamma Real Estate’s construction crews don’t quit for the weekend. They’ve been working Saturdays since June, trying to outrun New York City’s bureaucracy.

Gamma is excavating for a planned 799-foot (244-meter) condominium tower near the corner of Sutton Place, and is racing to finish the foundation before a potential rezoning can disrupt its plans. The building’s height is legal under current laws that govern the area. Neighborhood residents, who say it’s too tall for the sliver of Midtown close to the East River waterfront, are trying to change that.

Puerto Rico and the Consequences of Postponed Electrical Grid Upgrades

September 28, 2017
Pam Radtke Russell - Engineering News-Record

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico is exhibit “A” in the importance of maintaining and upgrading infrastructure despite the costs of doing so. It has driven home the point that infrastructure is costly, but its benefits are essential to life safety, the economy and human health and comfort. The storm has left almost all the island’s 3.5 million inhabitants without power. They must contend with the prospect of living without electricity for months.

Ms. Russell may be contacted at

U.S. Housing Starts Steady, Permits Rise Ahead of Hurricanes

September 20, 2017
Sho Chandra - Bloomberg

Steady U.S. new-home construction in August together with a jump in permits indicate the housing market was moving ahead before a likely temporary hit from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, government figures showed Tuesday.

US Postpones Canadian Lumber Tariff Finding

September 14, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

Chances may be improving for resolving a long-running trade dispute over pricing of Canadian softwood-lumber shipments to the U.S. The Trump administration had issued preliminary findings setting stiff tariffs. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Aug. 28 said his department was postponing final findings on tariff investigations of Canadian lumber until Nov. 14. The extension gives both sides more time to work out a deal.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at

Prolonged Rains Conceal Full Hurricane Harvey Destruction

September 7, 2017
Pam Radtke Russell, Debra K. Rubin, Aileen Cho, & Louise Poirier - Engineering News-Record

As reports trickled in of sinking streets, collapsed bridges, flooded refineries and overtopped dams, engineers, contractors and government officials remained focused on saving lives during the continuing disaster of Hurricane Harvey in Texas before assessing the damage of the storm and subsequent flooding.

Reprinted courtesy of ENR reporters Pam Radtke Russell, Debra K. Rubin, Aileen Cho and Louise Poirier

ENR may be contacted at


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