Article | March 8, 2020
Financial modeling is a technical application as old as finance itself. Traditionally performed through excel sheets and various DCF models, I wanted to set out and use Machine Learning to build a predictive model for the movement of an asset’s price. Within a two week project time period, I set out to analyze and build predictive SARIMAX (Seasonal Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average with Exogeneity) models to capture the movement of eight different Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Before we get into the data, it is essential to first understand the nature of a REIT. REITs are just like any other financial asset in that ownership represents a “share” of a companies profit. These companies own and operate income-producing real estate and are usually centric to a particular sector of real estate type (data centers, retail properties, Senior/Assisted living communities, healthcare, etc…). There are two main types of REITS:
Article | April 9, 2020
It’s a specifically challenging time for the commercial real estate industry. The conventional wisdom has been that as businesses move to a more remote business model, they may question their space needs in the future. The ramifications of that pose a hurdle across all aspects of the industry, from rent forgiveness to managing lender relations to capital market ramifications and the effect on commercial mortgage backed securities. From the landlord perspective, the consensus a week into April has been that about 80% of office tenants have paid their rents for March. Most landlords have been ahead of the game and are maintaining open communication. That hopefully isn’t anything new. Deals have obviously slowed down but this period is different than perhaps pending recessions of the past. There is a lot of cooperation. There are obviously opportunists who may be seeking an advantage, trying to get out of leases etc; however, level heads are able to mitigate those situations by maintaining composure and transparency.
Article | February 25, 2020
There is a huge chance that you heard the word “scripts” thousands of times. It’s like a real estate urban legend that newbie real estate agents hear about all the time. Everyone has an opinion about it and no one can agree on it.
Some say scripts are just a shallow representation of a natural conversation between the real estate agent and the client. Others claim that it’s a very helpful tool—especially for a less experienced real estate agent—and scripts may help them overcome many unexpected situations. Well, we think there is a grain of truth in both of these statements and we should examine the scripts case more carefully. So, why are real estate agents so confused about scripts? Here is the thing. Many real estate agents go through the different conventions, purchase ready scripts and use them without changing even a word. So, in the end, you have tons of real estate agents starting their calls using the exact same words.
Article | August 18, 2021
The spring selling season might be pushed back for a couple of weeks or even months as lockdowns restrict activity in some states and territories, according to CoreLogic. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales and listing turnouts typically rise from September to November. Over the ten years to December 2019, the growth in new listings during spring averaged 15.7% while sales hit 6.8%.
CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said both sales and listings tend to be most seasonal in the capital cities, particularly in Sydney and the ACT. With the lockdowns, however, the in-demand locations might not witness the same level of activity this upcoming spring, which is only two weeks away. "Observing housing market performance through lockdowns reveals that both sales and listings volumes will fall through lockdowns," Ms Owen said.
What can be learned from last year's Melbourne lockdown?
The extended lockdown in Melbourne last year could provide a glimpse as to what could happen in this year's lockdowns. Melbourne was in lockdown from mid-July to late October. During the period, listings dropped consistently, hitting the lowest at 1,411 in the four weeks to September, which was 80.7% lower than the previous five-year average.
There are several factors that contributed to the slowdown during the period.
Aside from the obvious restrictions that have limited inspections and auctions to virtual sessions, the low levels of consumer confidence also dampened the overall market sentiment, with vendors being unsure whether they would get an optimal price for their properties. Mortgage repayment deferrals and other government support also contributed, as these prevented distressed sales. However, when restrictions in Melbourne got lifted by late October, there was a sudden shift in the market mood, with listings quickly recovering. "New listings volumes through December 2020 trended an average 40.4% higher than the previous five-year average, suggesting the spring selling season of 2020 was 'pushed back' into the final months of the year," Ms Owen said.
Lockdowns to only postpone market activity
Ms Owen said the trend in sales and listings through a lockdown indicate the relative stability of the economy and the housing market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "This has meant that housing purchasing decisions were more likely to have just been postponed through lockdowns, rather than abandoned all together.” In fact, the muted sales activity through lockdowns actually led to an uplift in sales across Melbourne in December of 2020 and July 2021, a time when seasonally, sales volumes would usually be far more subdued.
"There are tailwinds in place for housing market demand to suggest this may happen again; household savings rates remain elevated, new average mortgage rates continue to reach new record lows, and many government fiscal stimulus and broader institutional responses have been resurrected amid renewed lockdowns," Ms Owen said.
Affordability might become a concern
The consistent surge in prices across capital cities in recent months have already resulted in the inevitable constraints in affordability. CoreLogic's Hedonic Home Value Index in July showed a 1.6% gain in dwelling values, a retreat from the previous growth of 1.9%. Ms Owen said some support schemes that supported consumer sentiment, such as JobKeeper and HomeBuilder have already ended which could dampen the expected rebound in demand.
The rising threat of the Delta variant of COVID-19 might also be a major headwind, as it could result in further lockdowns which will ultimately impact the incomes of Australian households. "With affordability constraints becoming a larger obstacle in the market, as well as the potential for tighter credit conditions further down the track, if buyer activity does not match the lift in listings we could see a gradual rebalancing between sellers and buyers," Ms Owen said.