Thursday, February 23, 2012

Team HFO Continues Expansion

HFO Investment Real Estate is pleased to announce the addition of researcher/property analyst Mary Beth Christopher to the HFO team.

Mary Beth Christopher joined Affinity Management where she worked closely with portfolio managers to help streamline day-to-day operations. At HFO, she brings her 15 years of experience in apartment property financial analysis and research to the team, delving deep into the numbers and finding the unique story behind every property. Mary Beth holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College.

Wow For Looks - Wow For Price!

From Today's Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce"Everybody loves a bargain. We think we've found one in downtown Salem, Ore."

The Meridian is a bank-owned, mixed-use complex that cost more than $40 million to build and is now being offered for sale for $8.8 million. It is mostly completed but another $4 million will be needed to finish it, says broker Rob Marton of HFO Investment Real Estate in Portland. HFO has the listing with Grubb & Ellis' Portland office.

“It's a phenomenal looking building. You drive by it and you literally go, ‘Wow! What's that doing here?'” said Marton. He said The Meridian would stand out even in Portland's Pearl District.

We checked the photos, and that's not just broker hype. You can see too at

Dan Berrey of Commercial Concepts Inc. developed the six-story complex, which has housing and commercial above underground parking. The award-winning project was designed by Arbuckle Costic Architects and built by John Hyland Construction. It was substantially finished in 2009.

The Meridian has about 15,300 square feet of commercial space and 89 housing units. Roughly two-thirds of the commercial space sold for $180 a foot, and four of the 89 condos sold for between $214 and $383 a foot, Marton said. Thirty-seven other condo units are finished and rented for about $1.25 per square foot. 

Grubb and HFO started marketing The Meridian earlier this month. The call-for-offers date has not been set, but Marton said the team is aiming for March 9.

Berrey said the project was hurt when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stopped lending money to residential condo buyers. Work stopped when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shut down the construction lender, First Regional Bank of Los Angeles. “It was a double-edged sword,” Berrey said.

The original lender was taken over by First Citizens Bank of North Carolina. The Oregonian reported in 2010 that First Citizens sued to recover $35 million outstanding on the loan. Berrey declined to talk about how much was owed or name his equity partners.

The loans and other real estate that First Citizens acquired were covered by a loss-share agreement with the FDIC. That provided protection against losses to First Citizens Bank and, according to Berrey, made the bank less willing to strike a deal with him.

“We had tried several times to negotiate with [First Citizens],” Berrey said, though he offered the bank $20 million more than a year ago. The bank held on, and the value of The Meridian kept dropping. “It's a great example of taxpayer waste, in my opinion.” 

--Marc Stiles

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oregon Shows Signs of Widespread Economic Improvement

Economic activity rebounded in Oregon in the final month of 2011. Tim Duy, economist with the University of Oregon, reports that the University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators™ gained 0.7 percent in December, rising to the highest level since July. Read more in the Oregon Business Report.

Monday, February 6, 2012

HFO Announces 2011 End-Of-Year Corporate Philanthropic Contributions

At the close of each brokered apartment sale, HFO makes a contribution in honor of our clients to their charity of choice. In addition to thousands of dollars distributed each year to our client-preferred charities, HFO team members each pick one charity for an end-of-year contribution.

In addition to more than 1000 hours in volunteer time by our team members, total HFO cash donations in excess of $20,000 were made to the following charities in 2011:

  • Bicycle Transportation Alliance
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters Columbia NW
  • Charles O’Connell Scholarship Fund
  • Chelsea Hicks Foundation
  • City of Hope
  • Disabled Veterans Association
  • Doernbecher Children’s Hospital & Foundation
  • Ethan Jostad Foundation
  • Friends of Grant High
  • Historic Preservation League of Oregon
  • Homeward Bound
  • LEP Charter High School
  • Medical Ministries International
  • Mercy Corps African Hunger Crisis
  • OHSU Foundation/MS Center of Oregon
  • Oregon Food Bank
  • Outside In
  • P:ear
  • Rainbow Housing Assistance Corp.
  • Self Enhancement, Inc.
  • Smile Train
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • St. Mary’s Home for Boys
  • The Dougy Center
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Salvation Army
  • Urban Gleaners

Developers Noodle on Development Plans for NW Portland Con-way Property

Last week, Con-way Vice President of Corporate Development J. Craig Boretz joined GBD Architects principal Phil Beyl, Mill Creek Residential Trust Vice President of Development Sam Rodriguez and Northwest District Association President Ron Walters at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall in Northwest Portland to present an update of their efforts to develop a master plan for the project. The event, which was organized by the Portland Urban Land Institute Young Leaders Group, drew approximately 90 people. Read the full story in the DJC.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Apartment Industry Response to President Obama's Real-Estate Owned Initiative

"The President’s proposal underscores our key message that while there might be an oversupply of single-family housing, there is a shortage of rental housing. Demographics and changing lifestyles have led to a structural shift in our nation’s housing preferences to more heavily favor renting. Renters could make up half of all new households this decade, more than seven million new renter households." Read the complete response.

Apartment Industry Continues Recovery, Survey Says

"In the face of an unprecedented virtual shutdown of development, the apartment market continues its strong recovery as developers play catch-up to the growing demand for rental housing," said NMHC Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky. "Investors continue to view apartments as a preferred asset class in today’s environment and long-term demographic changes favor rental housing. However, we expect the pace of improvement in transaction activity to ease somewhat moving into 2012." Read the Complete News Release.

America Becoming a Nation of Renters

According to government statistics released yesterday the number of Americans renting continues to grow, outnumbering the number of people who own their own homes.  It's a trend that seems likely to continue.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Portland Metro Q4 Vacancy Rate Falls Again, to 2.9%

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the Portland/Vancouver metro area's vacancy rate fell yet again, from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. 

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA had a Q4 2011 vacancy estimate of 5.8 percent, down from 6.8 percent the prior quarter and the nation's 16th lowest.
The nation's 10 lowest vacancy rates were:

  • Rochester, NY 0.6
  • Bakersfield, CA 2.1
  • Syracuse, NY 2.6
  • Alburquerque, NM 2.8
  • Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 2.9
  • Springfield, MA 3.8 
  • Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 4.1
  • Austin-Round Rock, TX 4.3
  • Worcester, MA 5.0
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 5.1
  • Denver-Aurora, CO 5.2
The MSA's with the five highest vacancy rates were as follows:
  • Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 16.2
  • St. Louis, MO-IL 16.4
  • Richmond, VA 16.8
  • Memphis, TN-AR-MS 18.5
  • Orlando, FL 20.5  
Click here to download the full report.