By the Numbers: U.S. Commercial Mortgage Originations are up from one year ago

By | June 10, 2015

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations, first quarter 2015 commercial and multifamily mortgage loan originations were 49 percent higher than during the same period in 2014.

Research by MBA indicates the year-end momentum from 2014 has carried over into 2015 and a combination of property fundamentals/values improving, and interest rates staying extraordinarily low are the reasons why.

Here’s a look at the numbers for loans for Q1 of 2015 compared with Q1 of 2014:

  • Industrial properties: 269% increase
  • Multifamily properties: 71% increase
  • Office properties: 53% increaseshutterstock_76380952-resized-600
  • Hotel properties: 51% increase
  • Retail properties: 5%
  • Government-sponsored enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac): 306% increase
  • Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities: 113% increase
  • Life insurance companies: 51%
  • Commercial bank portfolios: 1% decrease

The MBA 2014 Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Annual Origination Volume Summation shows commercial and multifamily mortgage bankers closed a total of $399.8 billion of loans in 2014. Commercial mortgage-backed securities lead investor groups, making up $106.3 billion of the total for the year.

Do these nationwide trends reflect what is happening in your area?

College Living Gets Classy: Top 5 Student Housing Buildings in the U.S.

By | May 27, 2015

Memories of the ‘college experience’ for most folks include a cramped dorm room, just big enough for 2 small beds and maybe a desk. A new trend is beginning to change the meaning of the ‘college experience’ as investment companies and developers are creating student housing that mirrors the experience that one would expect from a five-star hotel.

An example of this new classy student housing trend is University Park, a 279,097-square-foot, off-campus student housing community in Boca Raton, Fla. A joint venture between Rosemurgy Properties, Giles Capital Group, and Lewis Rental Properties, this new student community boasts fully furnished apartments with modern furnishings, energy efficient appliances, flat screen TV’s, in-unit washer/dryers, kitchens, living areas, bedrooms, and private bathrooms.poolshutterstock_114459544

Like University Park, developers in Texas are planning a new student housing project near the University of Houston. The Houston Business Journal reports Austin-based housing developer Aspen Heights has submitted plans for a high-density student housing project. While not much is published about the specifics of the project, Aspen Heights is known for developing luxury midrise and craftsman home communities with resort-style amenities, such as clubhouses, volleyball courts, and concierge service.

College news website recently ranked their top ‘Luxurious Student Housing Buildings.’

Here is a look at the Top Five:

  1. Hub at Tucson at The University of Arizona, Tucson

Price: $1,490 – $5,405 – per unit, per month (Split between roommates for 2-5 bedroom units)

Amenities: private bedrooms, private bathrooms, walk-in closets, in unit washer/dryer, gaming and fitness rooms, rooftop infinity pool, spa (complete with sauna, steam room, and tanning beds), grilling gazebo, sand volleyball court


  1. Osprey Fountains at The University of North Florida

Price: $1,130 – $5,000 per semester

Amenities: fitness center, video game room, convenience store, study library, outdoor pool (with a lazy river), tennis courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts, lighted track. Option of a single or double bedroom that is a part of a four or six bed suite – each suite with two personal bathrooms.


  1. The Callaway House at University of Texas, Austin

Price: $5,990 – $8,740 per Semester

Amenities: Choice of eight different floor plans fully furnished with leather couches, stainless steel appliances, a kitchenette, and hardwood floors (all suites come with a maid service). The building also has study areas, computer labs, iPad stations, a pool, a patio, a fitness center, and theater room


  1. Ivy House & Windsor Hall at the University of Florida

Price: $529 – $859 per Month

Amenities: Ivy House is a female-only residence with a sun deck, private jacuzzis, living rooms with fireplaces, big screen TVs, and a gourmet kitchen. Windsor Hall offers co-ed house rooms with their own kitchenettes and attached luxury bathrooms.


  1. Calhoun Lofts at University of Houston

Price:$4,146 – $5,881 per Semester

Amenities: 1-2 bedroom lofts with 10-foot ceilings, private kitchens with refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, microwaves, and granite counter tops. Access to roof terraces, sky lounges, exercise room, and private courtyard. Building also includes a 10,500 square foot retail center complete with a market, Subway, and Barnes and Noble.


What was your college living experience like? Would you pay the extra money to live in luxury while earning your degree?

Generation Gap: The Changing Face of Downtown Cleveland Apartment Living

By | May 20, 2015

If you were to ask most people to define the characteristics of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, you would expect a list of differences—differences in how they use technology, differences in political and social beliefs, etc.

What you might not expect, is that in Downtown Cleveland, the two generations actually have a lot in common – They are the driving forces behind the high occupancy rates of Downtown Cleveland’s apartment residential market.

While most wouldn’t be surprised that many young professionals live and work in the downtown area, according to Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) Baby Boomers have quickly become the fastest growing group making up the current downtown occupancy rate of 97.2 percent.babyboomers2

In fact, DCA’s statistics show that from 2000-2013, there was a 98 percent increase of the number of residents ages 55-64 flocking to downtown living.

Over the past several years, one of DCA’s biggest initiatives to attract more downtown residents of all ages, is to find ways to expand downtown’s walkability by bridging the gap between residential and retail. Another factor that has helped attract more folks downtown is the opening of the new Heinen’s grocery store.

With a higher demand for downtown living, residential lease rates have steadily grown over the past two years. According to DCA’s Q1 report for 2015, rates have grown from $1.15 per square foot in the first quarter of 2013 to $1.33 per square foot for the first quarter of 2015.

Despite the increasing lease rates, experts say Cleveland continues to be one of the most affordable metropolitan areas to live, with more than 500,000 Greater Cleveland area residents able to afford a one bedroom apartment at an average cost of $1,000 per month.

The Rise of “Cargotecture”

By | March 10, 2015

Have you head of “cargotecture?” It’s a type of construction that incorporates the intermodal shipping containers usually seen on the flatbeds of semi-trucks.  The phrase was coined around 2004 by HyBrid Architecture of Seattle, and is a quickly growing trend in the property management industry.

Photo by Joshua Yates / Photographer

With an estimated two million empty shipping containers sitting around at any given time, adapting these giant steel boxes seems like an obvious solution. After all, the construction is sustainable, and the pieces create original and memorable architecture, among other advantages.

In Huntsville, Texas, for example, property developer Wagamon Enterprises is repurposing a slew of the containers into student housing. The 540 square-foot standard efficiency apartments will include appliances, granite countertops and industrial-looking fixture, along with an estimated price of less than one dollar per square foot. Only a few short blocks away from the Sam Houston State University campus, Wagamon is beginning the construction of what will ultimately be 24 efficiency apartment units built four stories high in three buildings, using a total of 36 containers.

“The whole idea behind doing them in shipping containers is just because it’s cool. It’s student housing so we want to make it look cool,” general contractor Jack Wagamon explained. “….Most of the growth on Sycamore over the last five years has been all this student housing. So, we’re just trying to take advantage of that.”

Is there any cargotecture in your neighborhood?

When Search Comes First

By | March 6, 2015

Google and Amazon, two leaders in the consumer on-line experience, are both centered on a user experience that starts with search. Google’s home page is a search box, period. They have trained us to start with search and then take action. We ”Google” it, follow a link and get more info. Search, then act.MRI GO Logo

On Amazon we could navigate a hierarchy but we don’t. We use the search feature because it is easy and convenient. We search, get a list of choices, read reviews and make a frictionless buying decision. Search, then act. That is the construct of the internet user experience and it is time we bring that same construct to enterprise software.

To date, users of enterprise software had to remember where to go and then remember what to do and how to do it. Navigate to the correct screen, then do the required task. It is time to flip this script to one that starts with what the user knows (think contact, vendor, invoice) then quickly provides key data elements and immediate access to common tasks and reports.

Start with what you know, then GO.

At MRI Software, as part of our new Version X, we are introducing a search initiated user experience called MRI•GO. Like Google and Amazon, you start with search and you are presented with a well-organized and filterable result set. We then take it to the next level by coupling the search results with the most important pieces of information about the selected record, while also providing a number of GO•Links that enable direct access to frequently used functions within the software.

Let’s say a resident walks into a leasing office and wants to pay their balance. With MRI•GO you simply search for their name, access their record and then hit the MRI•GO link for Applying Payments.

If you receive an invoice, you search the vendor name in MRI•GO, access the record and then hit the GO•Link for Invoice Entry. Simple. Quick. Done.

In both cases you start with what you know (resident or vendor) and get quickly to the required actions. With MRI•GO we are providing a more efficient alternative to the traditional menu-based navigation that we have come to expect from enterprise software.

This simplified user experience, from menu based navigation to search initiated navigation, reduces training, increases adoption and provides greater efficiencies.

This new user experience brings the consumer experience from the likes of Google and Amazon into Property Management Software, allowing users to quickly GO and complete their desired transaction.

If your users struggle with the ease-of-use of your Property Management System, please contact me to learn more about the new MRI Software Version X and the time saving benefits of MRI•GO.

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