Just a few quick observations and thoughts on the real estate market on a rainy Thursday:
- My nephew works at a bank and he tells me anecdotally that only 25% of mortgage loan applications are being approved. Is that tight underwriting, a lack of desire to loan, lack of capital, or something else?
- On a related note, lenders are really taking underwriting seriously. While it can be a pain, I think that is a good thing so long as the lender is actually doing deals.
- I'm looking at the October issue of ICSC's monthly magazine, Shopping Centers Today. At a mere 54 pages, it is a tiny fraction of the size it was even a year ago. Presumably chalk that up to a lack of advertising.
- That same issue cited a headhunter who said he hadn't seen an opportunity in development, construction, tenant coordination or acquisitions. There was also a profile of a former GGP exec, David Grossman, who is working as the Chicago master franchiser of a fresh food restaurant concept. I haven't been to Freshii, but it looks interesting and I wish him well.
- All this makes me wonder if I should do something else sometimes. Even Justice Scalia said too many smart people are lawyers, and I can't say I disagree. But I do really like being The Dirt Lawyer. :)
- Totally off topic, but this high-speed rail stuff is a complete boondoggle in its present form. The proposed speeds of up to 150 mph -- and in many cases slower -- will never get me out of my car. I totally support high-speed rail, but if we are going to do this let's think like Eisenhower. 200 mph (see here, e.g.) is more like it -- but even that should only be as a start! For instance, a French TGV train has been tested at just over 350 mph. Imagine having that regionally and then nationally in 20 years, like the interstates. Much air travel, a big carbon burner, would be rendered largely obsolete. Put rental cars and ZIPcars, etc. at the stations and you can revolutionize travel. I don't mind spending money on good, sane green projects but let's do it right. Better yet, provide tax incentives to companies that spend the capital to make this happen.
- Speaking of green, if we want clean burning fuel, why are we not investing more in nuclear energy? Even the French (OMG, I complimented France twice in one post - a new record!) have this one figured out. That could be an interesting dirt play, too.
- ICSC Chicago is coming in a couple of weeks. A couple readers have already expressed in getting together. Anyone else so inclined should shoot me an email. I plan to be in Chicago on that Thursday.