Housing Affordability Drops to 2010 Levels

Two new reports about the U.S. housing market show that higher mortgage rates, increasing home prices and tepid wage growth are all conspiring to keep home ownership out of reach for many middle-income Americans. The December 2016 Mortgage Monitor report from Black Knight Financial Services shows that housing affordability is currently at the lowest levels since 2010—a median wage earner would have to devote 22.2% of their income to make payments on a median priced home. With data from CoreLogic indicating that housing prices will continue higher, the trend seems likely to continue. As the firm’s chief economist told CNBC, “We expect our national index to rise 4.7 percent during 2017, which would put homes prices at a new nominal peak before the end of this year.”

OPEC Cut Brightens Prospects for U.S. Energy Producers

For the first time in 8 years, OPEC members have voted to reduce their collective output by 1.2 million barrels per day. The cut amounts to an approximately 3.5% reduction in OPEC production and, combined with reductions in Russian output, will be sufficient to trim total global oil production by about 1%. The immediate reaction in energy markets, with prices surging upward, no doubt gives OPEC renewed hopes of relevance in a global energy market that has seen several non-OPEC members emerge as key producers.

First on that list, of course, is the United States, where improved production techniques have led to a dramatic increase in output of both oil and natural gas in recent years. Having weathered the slump in energy prices, the producers left in the market today are in a strong position to compete globally. According to Rystad Energy, “The breakeven cost per barrel, on average, to produce Bakken shale at the wellhead has fallen to $29.44 in 2016 from $59.03 in 2014”, a remarkable move in such a short time span. While it may take up to a year for conditions on the ground to improve for U.S. producers, the cuts from OPEC and Russia are clearly good news for places like North Dakota and Texas, which can expect to see increased activity going forward.

Fiscal Implications of Trump Presidency Remain Unclear

As the shock of the Trump election wears off, markets and policy makers are turning their attention to the future and trying to determine what policies a Trump administration is likely to pursue. One thing that has garnered much attention is Trump’s intention to dramatically increase infrastructure spending. While this is the sort of investment that generally attracts support from across the political spectrum, coupling such spending with Trump’s proposed tax cuts is making fiscal conservatives nervous about the potential for an exploding deficit. With yields on the 10 Year Treasury up almost 30% since the election, there can be little doubt that market participants throughout the world are watching carefully and will demand an increased yield if we appear poised for an era of debt fueled spending.

EIA Administrator Sieminski Sees Higher Oil Prices Ahead

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a division of the Department of Energy tasked with collecting and analyzing data regarding energy markets and supply levels. In a recent interview with EIA head Adam Sieminski, Bloomberg Businessweek got some revealing opinions from a man with his fingers on the pulse of the markets. Most notable for those with an interest in oil prices, Sieminski declared that he sees a return to $50/barrell prices as imminent, with prices heading toward $60/barrell a real possibility. He points to the lack of investment over the last several years as a factor that could lead to constrained supply and therefore higher prices in the coming years.

Granite Capital Group Purchases Kipling Commons, A New Arvada, Colorado Rental Community

Arvada, CO—Granite Capital Group (GCG), a Santa Barbara, Calif. real estate investment firm with a number of Colorado holdings, has purchased the recently completed Kipling Commons, a 48-unit residential development in Arvada, Colorado, 11 miles northwest of downtown Denver. The sales price was $10.6 million. It is anticipated the project will immediately return to investors a better than 10% cash on cash return.

Located at 10125 West 72nd Avenue, Kipling Commons consists of six, two-story suburban apartment buildings, each housing eight units. The two-bedroom, two-bath apartments come with one-car detached garages, Class A finishes such as quartz counters, stainless steel appliances, plank LVT hardwood flooring and an in-unit washer and dryer. They range in size from 903 to 1,120 square feet.

Through its GCG Kipling Commons, LP investment fund, GCG purchased the new development in September, with 47 of 48 units leased prior to the close of escrow.

“New construction such as Kipling Commons is attractive to investors because no rehab is required. This lowers investor risk,” says Bruce Savett, GCG founder and principal. “Maintenance costs associated with new high-end construction are more predictable.”

Kipling Commons is designed to appeal to young professionals and families who are priced out of the housing market or choose to rent instead of own and are seeking an alternative to more urban settings. “Demand for housing in Arvada is high,” says Savett. “The vacancy rate is under 3 percent. Introducing new housing into the market helps fill a need while making it a smart venture for investors.”

Earlier this year, GCG closed initial funding and began developing Fairways at Vista Ridge, a $41.5 million, 14.5-acre, 169-unit single-family rental community in Erie, Colorado’s Vista Ridge Master Planned community. Occupancy is expected to start in spring 2017. It is anticipated upon stabilization, the project will return to investors a mid-teen cash on cash return.

“There is little new single family residential construction in the Denver market,” says Savett. “This will likely continue. Although a strong jobs market is keeping demand high, construction is getting cost prohibitive. However, the region remains one of the nation’s economic bright spots so GCG will continue to seek new residential investment opportunities.”

Granite Capital Group Closes Funding on $41.5 million Low Density, 169-Unit Rental Community at Vista Ridge in Erie, Colorado

Erie, CO—Granite Capital Group (GCG), a Santa Barbara, Calif. real estate investment firm, has closed initial funding and is in the midst of its development of Fairways at Vista Ridge, a $41.5 million, 14.5-acre, 169-unit single-family rental community in Erie, Colorado’s Vista Ridge Master Planned community.

Fairways will include 36, four-unit buildings containing 144 homes, each with direct access to one or two car garages. Fairways will also feature 25 single-family patio rental homes. The total rentable square feet is approximately 225,000.

The first of the fourplexes will become available for rent in the spring of 2017 with all units expected to be fully leased by the summer 2018. The apartments have one, two or three bedrooms and range from 677 square feet to 1,462 square feet. Monthly rent will average approximately $1,885.

The patio homes will have four floor plans with three bedrooms and three baths and will range between 1,700 and 2,700 square feet. Each home is on a separate lot and includes a direct access two-car garage, a great room and finished basement. The expected rent will average $2,550 per month.

Units in both developments will feature high-end finishes including nine-foot ceilings, quartz counters, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors and cabinets.

Fairways at Vista Ridge is the only multifamily addition to the Vista Ridge planned golf community. Its close-in suburban location is approximately 15 miles east of Boulder, 17 miles north of downtown Denver and 28 minutes from the Denver International Airport. Fairways residents can take advantage of Vista Ridge’s amenities including a 7,300 square foot community center with a public golf course, an exercise facility, tennis courts, swimming area and hiking trails. New close-by retail and restaurant construction is in the works.

“Powerful economic and demographic forces are pushing the demand for quality family-friendly attached and detached single family rentals,” says Bruce Savett, GCG founder and principal. “Millennials are starting families but don’t have the down payment yet to purchase a home. Baby Boomers are choosing to rent after retirement because they no longer want homeownership headaches or they are being forced to rent out of financial necessity. With Fairways, we’re creating an attractive, contemporary living environment at an affordable rental price to appeal to these markets.”

GCG raised $11 million toward Fairways from high net worth accredited investors through GCG Fairways at Vista Ridge, LP. GCG has undertaken several projects in the Denver area including Hearthstone and Bella Terra in Aurora and The Edge, Rise and The VUE in Denver.

GCG is active in the region because of Denver’s strong employment and population growth. “Most investor-funded residential real estate projects have an end date—a time when the project will be sold and the proceeds distributed to investors. What’s unusual about Fairways is that we’re building it to hold, not sell,” says Savett. “We want to create long-term cash flow for our investors. We project better than 13 percent annual returns on investors’ capital. Other investment types such as stocks and bonds are either too volatile or are returning next to nothing. Fairways offers a quality, well priced, high yielding investment opportunity.”

Chartered Development Corporation heads Fairways’ development and construction. Woodley Architectural Group, with offices in Colorado and Southern California, is responsible for the architectural design and Enertia Consulting Group of Denver for the land planning and civil engineering.

For more information on Fairways and other similar projects, contact Bruce Savett at

bruces@gcg-re.com, 805-259-3040.

NAR Report Highlights Denver Housing Shortage

A new report from the National Association of Realtors includes Denver on a list of the U.S. cities suffering from the biggest housing shortages. According to the report, more than 67,000 single family homes would have to be built in Denver just to return inventories to historically normal levels. Comparing that figure to the August housing inventory of 7,327 units reported by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, it’s clear that such a large imbalance will not be resolved quickly.

As noted in the Denver Business Journal , the area’s strong job market is a major contributor to this phenomenon, luring new residents who put additional demand on the already tight supply of housing. Needless to say, the single family rental options that GCG provides in the Denver market are the best alternative to homeownership for families and are likely to experience continued rent growth in the years to come.

Granite Capital Group Sponsors Commercial Real Estate Structured Limited Partnership for Accredited Investors

Santa Barbara, Calif.–Granite Capital Group, Inc. (GCG), a Santa Barbara, California real estate investment firm, provides accredited investors with access to the commercial real estate market through structured limited partnerships.

“Our real estate opportunities are strategically designed to deliver exceptional returns and mitigate risk while focusing on cash flow and asset appreciation,” says Bruce Savett, GCG founder and principal “That’s why we have a pool of over 250 investment clients who have invested in multiple partnerships with us. GCG leverages its decades of experience and extensive research in an ongoing search for superior investments.”

In 2003, Savett co-founded Granite Peak Partners (GPP), a real estate investment and advisory firm. In 2015, to best focus on their respective areas of expertise, the partners restructured GPP into two new entities including GCG.

Granite Capital Group’s current portfolio of six properties focuses on multi-family residential properties in the western United States. They represent more than $120 million of assets under management.

“GCG clients, including accredited individuals and families, trusts, institutions and pensions, value the exposure to this important real estate asset class without the operational and administrative burden generally associated with it,” explains Savett.

“GCG maintains a singular focus, continually working to deliver superior results for our investing partners. Through numerous economic cycles we’ve been able to successfully identify and select opportunistically priced investments and, through repositioning, rebranding and management improvements, have enhanced these real estate assets for our partners.”

Since 2003, Granite Peak Partners and Granite Capital Group have completed nearly $1 billion in real estate transactions.

For more information about Granite Capital Group, contact Savett at bruces@gcg-re.com, 805-259-3040, Granite Capital Group.