Declines in second quarter GDP were concentrated in a few front-line sectors, making it more likely that the economy can begin to recover by the second half of this year or the first half of 2021, according to Nareit Senior Economist Calvin Schnure.
Second quarter GDP data released last week showed an annualized decline of 32.9%, which was in line with expectations. Schnure noted that the decline was front-loaded, as shutdowns had the biggest impact in April. Since then, there has been a relatively robust rebound as the economy began reopening, although he warned that some slippage of gains could occur if COVID-19 puts the reopening on hold.
The total value and volume of real estate deals across all property sectors declined in the first half of the year compared to the previous six months, but activity is expected to recover by the fourth quarter, according to Tim Bodner, partner and U.S. real estate deals leader at PwC.
PwC recently released its mid-year review of real estate deal activity that showed almost a 50% decline in deal value and volume in the first half of 2020 compared with the second half of 2019.
While the declines occurred across the board, Bodner noted that on a six-month basis, logistics was the only sector that experienced a year-over-year increase. In the first half of 2020, about $42 billion of logistics activity occurred versus $34 billion in the first half of 2019, he noted.
The innovation trend that emerged in the office sector prior to the coronavirus is only going to accelerate as organizations adapt to changes in how workplaces operate in a post-pandemic environment, according to Julie Whelan, head of occupier research for the Americas at CBRE.
Whelan told the REIT Report July 24 that innovation will be accelerated in large part by the success of the remote work model during the crisis. “The office is now becoming just one place among a network of locations where work gets done, so of course the role of it is going to accordingly change,” she said.
Prior to COVID, organizations were moving to models that were less hierarchical, less routine- driven, and more project-driven—all of which requires collaboration, Whelan said. Going forward, the conflict between the need for collaboration and increased remote working will spur innovation in terms of the tools and technology that are used every day, and how physical workspaces tie the physical and digital together to drive seamless interaction, she noted.
The economy continued to rebound in June, according to housing market data released last week, although the outlook depends on the reopening continuing on its current path—an open question at this point, Nareit Senior Economist Calvin Schnure said.
Speaking July 27 on the Nareit REIT Report, Schnure highlighted the jump in new and existing June home sales, with new home sales actually higher than they were a year ago. He said this suggests that the underlying economic demand “is intact as long as it’s safe to go out and go about our business.” Although house prices were a bit soft, as indicated by the Case-Shiller index, on balance the data point to “a reasonably strong housing market as we’re coming out of the shutdown,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Schnure noted that jobless claims numbers out last week may have been misinterpreted as more negative than they actually were, as a result of confusion over seasonal factors. “This is really not sending a signal of growing weakness in the job market,” he said.
Economic data released last week show a lot of potential for rebound—as long as the reopening can continue to proceed, according to Nareit Senior Economist Calvin Schnure.
Speaking July 20 on the Nareit REIT Report podcast, Schnure highlighted the range of economic indicators for June that were reported, including industrial production, retail sales, and housing starts. Those numbers underscore the possibility of getting the economy back to where it was before the pandemic, but “only as long as the virus is under control,” he said. News that the virus is surging in parts of the United States is creating tension in the market and threatens a pause or partial reversal of economic gains.
Schnure also discussed the potential for another round of stimulus. While details remain unclear at this point, the expiration of extended unemployment benefits at the end of this month gives some pressure to meet that deadline, he noted.
Family renter households are likely to account for a growing share of the overall renter pool as the millennial generation begins to raise families and create homes of their own, says Christopher Ptomey, executive director of the Urban Land institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.
Families currently account for about a third of the overall renter pool, Ptomey told Nareit’s REIT Report, but that is likely to change. “The millennial generation is reaching a tipping point demographically,” he said. “With the size of the millennial generation, we really expect that family renter cohort being a larger and larger portion of the overall number.”
A rollback of state reopening plans across the United States is placing additional strain on REIT tenants, especially those in the retail real estate segment, according to Jim Sullivan, managing director and REIT analyst at BTIG.
On July 13, California announced a statewide closure of all indoor operations of dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, and family entertainment centers, among others. County indoor closures include fitness centers, hair salons and barbershops, and malls, if those counties have been on a county monitoring list for three consecutive days.
Speaking July 14 on the Nareit REIT Report, Sullivan said certain types of retail will be particularly hard hit by the reclosure orders.
“For retailers of apparel, footwear, and accessories, particularly if there’s a seasonal element, it’s going to be very, very difficult for the retailers in the malls to be open on an effective, efficient basis to generate levels of revenue comparable to pre-COVID levels,” Sullivan said.
REIT share prices edged lower last week, as both the broader economy and also the real estate sector continue to be buffeted by the opposing forces of economic reopening and the spread of the virus, according to Nareit Senior Economist Calvin Schnure.
Speaking July 13 on the Nareit REIT Report, Schnure said news of more rapid growth of new cases, especially across the Sunbelt, is leading to a reconsideration of the prospects of reopening right away or being able to do so fully, rather than in slow stages.
Those concerns were reflected in REIT performance last week, with the sector down on balance, with the exception of timber, infrastructure, and home financing mREITs.
LaSalle Investment Management Securities Global CEO Lisa Kaufman said REITs are attracting investor attention on the basis that they currently offer “very good value” relative to the private market, as well as on a historic basis relative to equities and bonds.
Speaking July 6 on the Nareit REIT Report podcast, Kaufman said REITs in the United States and globally have “dramatically repriced,” and are materially underperforming broader equities and private real estate, “so we do see very good value today.”
LaSalle has lowered its REIT net asset value (NAV) estimates about 15%, and even with that reduction “we see some big discounts on offer,” Kaufman said. This is not lost on investors, she said, particularly the more opportunistic ones who are “adding money to the sector or even launching new programs to take advantage of what they see, and what we would agree, is a really good entry point.”
Nareit Senior Economist Calvin Schnure said the June employment numbers released last week were a “welcome positive surprise” that shows commercial real estate is heading in the right direction.
Speaking July 6 on the REIT Report podcast, Schnure said the 4.8 million jobs reported for June exceeded expectations by a wide margin. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell more than anticipated, to 11.1%. While that is still a very high number, Schnure said, “this is a good down payment on the recovery that we’re going to need.”
Hiring last month was concentrated in the sectors that had the biggest job losses when the economy shut down, such as retail and hospitality, Schnure pointed out. Despite the jump in employment, many of these establishments will not be doing their pre-crisis level of business right away, he noted.