Changing Trends in Response to COVID-19

During the past few months, commercial real estate investment volume has dropped approximately 30 percent. This has made deal-making more difficult for both brokers and investors. Today, we will dive into a few of the trends that are reshaping the commercial real estate industry and how investors and brokers can capitalize on these changing dynamics.

Investors Search for Property Bargains

It is unsurprising to find that the value of commercial real estate assets has declined in recent months. This is a direct result of falling occupancy and rental rates. However, many investors are taking this economic downturn as an opportunity to acquire distressed properties. A distressed sale can include the following: auctions, foreclosures, bank-owned sales, short sales and deed in lieu of foreclosure transfers.

According to CoStar data, distressed property sales have surpassed that of traditional hotel and retail properties—two of the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. In June, distressed retail sales were at 2.2 percent, and distressed sales made up 4.4 percent of all hotel sales. What does this mean? Right now, investors are shifting their focus away from core assets in anticipation of future repricing opportunities.

E-Commerce Effects on Commercial Real Estate

E-commerce has gained in popularity over the past decade. Current e-commerce retail penetration rates have grown to 20 percent. This number is expected to increase significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting effects on the worldwide economy and consumer shopping habits. How will the commercial real estate landscape adjust to this “new normal?”

As consumers visit brick-and-mortar stores on a less frequent basis, lower-quality, struggling assets—like aging enclosed shopping malls—will either shutter or be repurposed into mixed-use developments. Restaurants, quick-service restaurants (QSR) and fast food retailers with drive-thru service will remain essential, but their reliance on delivery and takeout platforms will increase. Delivery platforms will also be critical to companies like Whole Foods and other grocery store chains. Experiential spaces—like movie theaters, gyms, fitness studios and even casinos—will also be affected as individuals consume more at-home solutions like Netflix, YouTube and Peloton.

Retailers React to COVID-19

While many retailers have begun to liquidate assets, close storefronts and file for bankruptcy protection, others have managed to meet these challenging times with new, innovative ideas. For instance, Walgreens Boots Alliance (the parent company of Walgreens) has partnered with VillageMD to introduce full-service doctor offices co-located in stores within more than 30 U.S. markets. This news comes as retail giant Walmart unveiled its plan to open freestanding Walmart Health Facilities and CVS Health begins to expand its HealthHub store format.

Ground + Space is Here to Help

Ground + Space is a leading commercial real estate firm that specializes in single-tenant and retail NNN investments. We have several listings available featuring retailers that are in a prime position to succeed in a post-pandemic economy. We are committed to providing up-to-date information and best-in-class services to clients during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The IRS 1031 tax deadline is less that one week away, so please contact one of our brokers for specialized guidance during this time.

Stay Safe and Informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers daily updates and other information about COVID-19 symptoms and testing in the United States. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has created a resource to help inform the public and advance comprehensive understanding of the novel coronavirus and its effects backed by experts in global public health, infectious disease and emergency preparedness. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to track the number and location of confirmed cases of the virus across the globe.