(New York)

The real estate space—at least parts of it—have been red-hot since COVID began. Residential real estate in particular has done well, as the fall in interest rates has sent mortgage issuance surging. One area of residential that you might want to stay away from, however, is apartments. Investors have been shying away from the sector. For instance, the FTSE Nareit Equity Apartments index is down 21% to-date. The big fall comes despite landlords saying rent collections are strong. The reason why seems to be the big rent reductions in coastal cities. Landlords in New York, San Francisco etc have had to drop rents by 15% or more to keep tenants and attract new ones, and that figure doesn’t even price-in other incentives, like months of free rent.

FINSUM: Our view here is that COVID will likely lower demand for urban apartments, since the pandemic highlighted some of the weaknesses of densely populated buildings. However, occupancy overall seems likely to stay strong.

(New York)

Real estate, especially residential real estate, is one of the sectors that has held up much better under COVID than many expected. With such hefty job losses, many thought early on that the market might suffer seriously. However, home prices have held steady, and in a bullish sign, homebuilders are feeling very confident. The bullishness in the sector seems to stem from a pair of factors—desire for single family homes during COVID, and exceptionally low interest rates. The Homebuilders index rose to a measure of 78 in August, up from 72 in July, setting a record that goes back to 1998.

FINSUM: This is a great sign for homebuilding stocks, and the economy more generally. It is a sign that the American consumer—at least the subset that is in the market for houses—is holding up okay. That said, it is the lower end of the socioeconomic hierarchy than seems to be suffering the most from COVID lockdowns.

(New York)

Yields have almost never been lower. In some cases, they are at all-time lows. This has made income-oriented investments a real challenge. So how can investors get great yields right now? Well the first thing to bear in mind right now is that to get really juicy yields, one is going to have to take some risk. With that understood, take a look at mortgage REITs. Mortgage REITs took a huge hit when the pandemic began for fear of declining credit quality in the underlying mortgages. To-date they have only recovered somewhat. However, two of the biggest—Annaly (NLY) and AGNC Investment (AGNC)—are sporting yields of 13.5% and 10.6% respectively.

FINSUM: Mortgage REITs have obvious risks right now given ongoing unemployment, but with prices low and yields high, they look like they have a place in the portfolio.

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