Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Florida Existing Home Sales Improve in March Compared to February 2008

(530 E. Central Condos above, at 530 E. Central St., downtown Orlando)

ORLANDO, FL/PRNewswire/ -- Florida Realtors(R) statewide reported slight gains in existing home and condominium sales from February to March 2008, according to the latest housing statistics released by the Florida Association of Realtors(R) (FAR).

(Top left photo shows 55 West Condos at 55 W. Church St., downtown Orlando)

(For a detailed copy of FAR's news release, please contact Jeff Zipper at 1 407 438 1400 or email

A total of 9,142 existing single-family homes changed hands in March, a 10 percent increase over the previous month when 8,310 homes sold. Existing condo sales statewide rose 13.7 percent, with 3,145 units sold in March compared with 2,765 condos in February.

The median price for both housing types increased slightly as well during the one-month period. The median price of an existing single-family home reached $205,600 in March, compared with $198,900 the previous month. The median price of an existing condo rose to $176,600 in March from $175,600 in February.

In the latest National Association of Realtors(R) (NAR) housing outlook, Chief Economist Lawrence Yun (photo at left) says, "Existing home sales could start to show a sustained increase within a few months, unless there are some additional economic problems or excessive inflationary pressure. We're looking for essentially stable sales in the near term, before higher mortgage loan limits translate into more sales in high-cost markets."

In the year-to-year comparison, a total of 9,142 existing homes sold statewide last month while 12,356 homes sold in March 2007 for a decrease of 26 percent, according to FAR. Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $205,600; a year ago, it was $242,800 for a 15 percent decrease.

But, looking back to March 2003, the statewide median sales price for single-family homes has increased about 35.5 percent, according to FAR records - at that time, the statewide existing-home median price was $151,700. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

(Photo at right shows The Vue at Eola condos, 150 E. Robinson St., downtown Orlando)

In a year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,145 units sold statewide compared to 4,153 in March 2007 for a 24 percent decline. The statewide existing-condo median sales price last month was $176,600; in March 2007 it was $221,200 for a 20 percent decrease.

NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $211,700 in February 2008. Dave Derrenbacker, (photo at right) president of the Realtor Association of Martin County and a broker with Water Pointe Realty Group, agrees that buyers are recognizing the long-term value of homeownership.

"There are some encouraging signs," he says. "It looks like home prices are starting to stabilize and buyer activity is picking up. In many cases, Realtors are able to show that homes in our area are back to a valuation of pre-real estate boom figures. I tell people, 'If you missed your chance the first time around, then now is a great time to buy.'


Marla Martin,
Communications Manager, ext. 2326, or
Jeff Zipper,
Vice President of Communications, ext. 2314
of Florida Association of Realtors(R),

HFF Secures $117.65M in Financing for 2.7M SF of Industrial Space in Four States

(Prisma Graphic Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, AZ above is included in the industrial portfolios being financed.)

DALLAS, TX – The Dallas office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) announced today that it secured $117.65 million in financing for two industrial portfolios totaling approximately 2.7 million square feet in Arizona, California, New Jersey and Washington.

(Prime-Line Products Co. factory at headquarters in Redlands, CA, photo at right above.)

HFF managing director John Rose worked exclusively on behalf of the borrower, ING Clarion Partners, to secure two separate five-year refinancings through Northwestern Mutual.

A $70 million, fixed-rate loan was arranged for the Arizona, New Jersey and Washington portfolio and a $47.65 million, fixed-rate loan was secured for the California portfolio.

The portfolios include 11 100% occupied industrial properties. Notable tenants include Payless Shoe Source Distribution Inc., Complete Logistics Company, Inc. and Prime-Line Products Company.

Founded in 1982, ING Clarion and its affiliates manage almost $50 billion in assets in the private equity, public equity and public debt sectors of the real estate markets. The ING Clarion organization has almost 500 associates located in major markets throughout the United States.

The firm is the U.S. investment management arm of ING Real Estate, a global real estate company active in investment management, development and finance.

With a total business portfolio of almost $160 billion and offices in 21 countries in Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia and Australia, ING Real Estate ranks among the world’s strongest real estate companies.

ING Real Estate is part of ING Group, a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance and asset management to over 75 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 50 countries. More information about the firm is available at


Laurie Fish McDowell
HFF Associate Director, Marketing
One Post Office Square, Suite 3500
Boston, MA 02109
tel 617.338.0990
fax 617.338.2150

John W. Rose
HFF Managing Director
214 265 0880

Loblaw Companies Ltd. Ratings Unaffected By Announced Executive Changes

(Toronto's night skyline)

TORONTO, Canada--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services says its ratings on Toronto-based grocery retailer Loblaw Companies Ltd. (BBB/Negative/--) are unaffected by the announced changes to the company's executive team.

Loblaw is entering the second year of its three-to-five year renewal plan to upgrade its IT and supply chain infrastructure, improve its food offerings, and streamline its general merchandising.

We believe that the management team changes will have no material impact on Loblaw's strategic plan. Nevertheless, the announcement highlights uncertainty regarding management's ability to deliver as projected under its turnaround plan, which was already reflected in our negative outlook on the company.

We expect that 2008 will be challenging for Loblaw since it will remain pressured by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (AA/Stable/A-1+) expansion into food as well as rising commodity prices, while its infrastructure and merchandising initiatives won't deliver meaningful improvements until at least 2009. (Toronto city flag photo at left)

We expect this will result in operating performance in line with that of fourth-quarter 2007 and a slight deterioration of the credit metrics during 2008. Performance below our expectations would create downward pressure on the ratings on Loblaw.

Media Contact:
David Wargin,
New York
(1) 212-438-1579,

Analyst Contacts:
Maude Tremblay, CFA,
(1) 416-507-2578

Lori Harris,
(1) 416-507-2546

Arby's Restaurant Group Inc. 'B+' Corporate Credit Rating Remains On Watch Negative

NEW YORK, NY--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services saya its ratings on the Atlanta, Ga.-based Arby's Restaurant Group Inc. ratings, including its 'B+' corporate credit rating, will remain on CreditWatch with negative implications where they were placed on Nov. 15, 2007.

This action comes despite Wendy's International Inc.'s rejection of a bid by Arby's parent Triarc Cos. Inc. to acquire Wendy's.

"At this point, Standard & Poor's cannot yet eliminate the possibility of a combination of the two companies, given the uncertainty around the future of Wendy's," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Charles Pinson-Rose.

Media Contact:

David Wargin,
New York
(1) 212-438-1579,

Analyst Contact:
Charles Pinson-Rose,
New York
(1) 212-438-4944