Thursday, October 8, 2009

What a difference a year or two makes - random thoughts

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.
That's all that is on my mind and fit to print. Enjoy your day!


Chris Rodriguez said...

Good post. Interesting observation about Shopping Centers Today. I don;t think I've cracked that magazine open in the last 5 years. Never found any value in it.

David Stejkowski said...

SCT is a trade paper so I think it has inherent limitations. I do get more of note out of Retail Traffic and other similar publications.

David Bodamer said...

In regards to issue sizes, it's been a tough, tough year. Without advertising revenue, we all have to shrink the size of the print pubs. It's a huge reason why we at Retail Traffic have tried to amp up our online content this year.

David Bodamer said...

Oh yeah, and I totally agree with you on high-speed rail. Bring it on!

David Stejkowski said...

David, the ad limitations notwithstanding, you do a terrific job, both online and in print. Keep up the good work!

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