Thursday, April 02, 2020

COVID-19 and the Overall Real Estate Market

The COVID-19 Virus has made a giant impact on the health of people around the world. We encourage everyone to be vigilant and follow the guidelines in place to protect oneself. Not to minimize the health effect, these articles will be about COVID-19’s impact on real estate, which is our expertise. The stock and bond market is widely transparent on a minute by minute basis and we hope to provide a transparency into the real estate market.

What at first appeared to be a slow moving pandemic, snapped across our domestic world quickly to start the month of March.  Many of us faced choices on if our businesses would enforce work from home policies, and where our children would be educated and cared for during the school day.  These questions are still playing out and changing on a daily basis. 

The investment markets are in a state of flux. Stocks continue their up and down pace while investors try and get a sense of the next steps in the market. The same rapid movement cannot be said of the real estate market. By nature the real estate cycle is slower. It is a less liquid asset and it takes time to sell and have the market react to external factors. In place leases impact value, and those too take time and have long term. Finally the debt markets impact value, and again, that takes time to work through the system.

At our offices the reaction from users of commercial space have been mixed. Since the week of March 9, 2020 we have seen some folks pull back.  Some of them were expansion tenants, while others were user/buyers with new locations.  For each story of someone delaying plans there is another story of someone moving forward.

  •         National users of space, with multiple leases expiring, continue their review to look at the longer picture on relocation choices. They are in the market.
  •          Local users, with multiple businesses or divisions, are shifting their focus to those businesses less impacted by recent events that are in need of space. They are still in the market.

These examples may shift overtime, but they do illustrate the types of people who have businesses impacted by COVID-19, but remain in the market to find new lease space.

We will explore more of the investment real estate market over time, but the immediate reaction is, again, mixed. Some investors look at the dip in the stock market and assume that real estate should be at a discount as well, while others see a premium in the asset because of the volatility on Wall Street.  History has shown us that one week is too short of a time to take any meaningful conclusions away, because of the aforementioned speed of the real estate market. 

Certain sectors of the investment market will likely remain strong, such as those properties with apartments, grocers or medical practices. Services that are needed no matter the state of the economy. Additionally, the quality of the income stream is always important, but more so in this past week, as conversations regarding franchisee or franchisors signing of leases is becoming crucial.

This is the first of many articles we plan on distributing to our clients, customers and friends. We are all in this together, and we hope to empower you during this unprecedented time with our collective knowledge.

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