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CRE Values, Yields Forecasted To Increase Next Year

Experts are doing more than wishing the commercial real estate industry a prosperous New Year—they are promising it.

In a recent 2022 outlook webinar from Green Street, Michael Knott estimated that commercial real estate values and yields would increase next year. Values are expected to increase 11%, while yields will average 6%, according to his research.

On the value side, self-storage, industrial, retail and apartment values are going to be up the most. The reason for the boost in values is simple: real estate is cheap compared to the corporate bond market, and it is attracting a lot of attention and capital. The competition is driving asset pricing. According to Knott, the analysis compares real estate returns to corporate bonds, which are 22% higher that commercial real estate assets.

“That is a very bullish signal for commercial real estate in our analysis,” Knott, managing director and head of US REIT research at Green Street, said in the webinar, adding that the analysis also considers REIT pricing. “The REIT signal, which we think is typically predicative of changes in private market values. So, the REIT signal is much more sanguine. When we blend those two indicators, we come up with a roughly 10% higher real estate value.”

This isn’t a new trend. Real estate values have appreciated rapidly in 2021, and that momentum is carrying into 2022.

“We have all experienced a lot of real estate value appreciation in 2021. It is a buoyant time for commercial real estate values, and we expect that to continue,” said Knott.

In terms of the fast appreciating sectors, they are the usual suspects: single-family rentals, industrial and manufactured housing, which Knott said has been a favorite for a long time and the outlook is still positive. Self-storage is also at the top of the list.

“Self-storage has had an unbelievable run in terms of move-in rents, market rent and NOI growth,” he added.

At the bottom of the list is also the typical line-up, including office, malls and lodging.

The increase in asset pricing will deliver a 6% unlevered return to investors, on average.

“The important thing about this analysis is that the expected returns for commercial real estate are forward looking over the last 35 years. That gives some really valuable insight into what the spread is between expected returns at any given time and bond yields prevailing at the time,” explains Knott.

At the end of his forecast, he noted that commercial real estate generally acts as a solid hedge against inflation. “If inflation picks up, commercial real estate should do okay,” he said. “If it doesn’t real estate is still cheap compared to prevailing bond yields, so it feels like a favorable spot for commercial real estate.”


Source:  GlobeSt.

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Supermarkets Are Packed. How Will REITs That Own Grocery-Anchored Centers Perform In The Long-Term?

As Americans flock to grocery stores during the coronavirus crisis to stock up on essentials, foot traffic at grocery stores has soared., a platform that tracks retail activity, found year-over-year traffic spiked by 40 percent at Albertsons stores and by 36 percent at Kroger stores on March 13 through 15.

At the same time, stock prices of publicly-traded owners of grocery-anchored shopping centers have cratered. For instance, the stock of New York City-based retail REIT Brixmor Property Group Inc. tumbled from a 2010 peak of $21.33 on Feb. 20 to $12.40 on March 17. That’s a decline of 41.9 percent.

Jericho, N.Y.-based retail REIT Kimco Realty Corp. saw a similar drop—its stock plummeted from a 2020 high of $20.45 on Jan. 23 to $10.86 on March 17. That works out to a decrease of 46.9 percent.

Brixmor and Kimco aren’t the only retail REITs being punished by the stock market. As of March 17, year-to-date total returns had plunged 42.7 percent for all retail REITs, according to the Nareit trade group. Regional mall REITs have been hit hardest, with a 56.4 percent fall in year-to-date total returns. The dive in total returns was 38.9 percent for shopping center REITs and 33.3 percent for those with free-standing stores.

A boost for grocery-anchored retail?

Despite tanking stock prices, America’s dependence on grocery stores could provide a long-term lift to Brixmor, Kimco and similar REITs.

In the short term, though, grocery chains could experience a temporary dip in foot traffic as people stay close to home, researchers note.

“That being said, this [recent] momentum could play a role in making this uncertain time easier to get through, giving grocery chains a bit of a boost before a more difficult period,” according to “The strongest players will find ways to conduct business and continue building on customer loyalty, with timely restocking and home delivery options.”

This scenario should, in turn, help REITs with large portfolios of grocery-anchored shopping centers survive over the long haul—particularly compared with malls and other retail properties that lack necessity retail componenets.

Aside from Brixmor and Kimco, other publicly-traded REITs with a substantial amount of grocery-anchored shopping centers include:

  • San Diego-based American Assets Trust Inc.
  • Cincinnati-based Phillips Edison & Co. Inc.
  • San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corp.
  • Beachwood, Ohio-based Site Centers Corp.
  • Greenwich, Conn.-based Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc.
  • Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors.

Still open for business

Among publicly-traded REITs that own grocery-anchored centers, lower-levered REITs will likely “outperform,” notes Evan Hudson, a partner at New York City-based Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP whose specialties include REITs. Furthermore, Hudson anticipates those that can tap into lower-interest borrowing will try to expand their portfolios.

However, not every tenant at a grocery-anchored shopping center will thrive during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even if people are dissuaded from shopping for non-essential goods or going to the movies, the grocery stores and pharmacies are open for business,” Hudson says. “Of course, grocery-anchored real estate companies generally aren’t pure plays—the non-grocery components of the centers will see flagging performance…”

‘Reliable cash cow’

If—as many economist predict—the U.S. enters a recession, grocery-anchored retail centers will be more recession-proof than, say, strip retail centers, says Alan Cafiero, director of the national retail group and net leased properties group at commercial real estate services company Marcus & Millichap. Grocery stores “will survive and perhaps even thrive in a time like this,” he says.

“This type of pandemic tells us that it’s essential human needs that underscore the importance of a grocery tenant in a shopping center,” Cafiero says. “If you know that your anchor is functioning on all cylinders, you know that the majority of your income in that shopping center is secure. This is why the grocery-anchored centers are the most desirable retail in the market.”

The weakening of bricks-and-mortar retail makes every center vulnerable to economic slumps, notes Jerry Reichelscheimer, chairman of the retail leasing and development practice at Miami-based law firm Akerman LLP. But for owners of shopping centers, grocers are a “reliable cash cow,” he says.

“Although a grocery store might not be as attractive as an Apple store or otherwise produce the same high rental stream as some of the more flashy retail tenants, it is a steady revenue source,” Reichelscheimer says.

Strings attached

But that cash cow comes with a caveat. Reichelscheimer says any landlord of a retail center must explore the viability of a grocer before leasing space to it. For example, a grocery store should be able to adapt to shoppers’ demands for amenities like home delivery and order pickup, he says.

“The grocery chain needs to be very flexible, able to move and change quickly, and have the economic background to withstand disruptions to their stores,” Reichelscheimer notes. “A weak grocery store chain that doesn’t have vision is just as vulnerable as other retailers.”

The coronavirus pandemic promises to reshape our long-term shopping behavior, including how we buy groceries, as homebound Americans depend more heavily on e-commerce and grow accustomed to it, adds Patrick Healey, founder and president of Caliber Financial Partners LLC, a financial advisory firm in Jersey City, N.J. As a result, grocery chains and other retailers will need to undertake competitive tune-ups.

The future of online grocery shopping

Still, many people don’t feel comfortable buying groceries online, as they want to see and touch fruits, vegetables and other goods, Healey notes. A Gallup Poll taken in July 2019 showed that 81 percent of Americans had never ordered groceries online.

“Sectors that are able to capitalize on the switch to e-commerce and deliver that way will do better than others, but there’s no doubt retail is one of the areas that will suffer significantly,” Healey says.

The current “grand experiment” of staying indoors to avoid coronavirus exposure could spur a long-term shift in the way we shop for groceries, according to Scott Crowe, chief investment officer at Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based CenterSquare Investment Management LLC. This could harm retail REITs and other owners of grocery-anchored shopping centers, although Crowe says it remains to be seen whether coronavirus-imposed changes in consumer patterns will stick.

In a March 13 survey by New York City-based Gordon Haskett Research Advisors LLC, one-third of shoppers said they’d purchased groceries online during past week, according to Bloomberg. Of those consumers, 41 percent were buying groceries online for the first time.

“Consumers have been slow to adopt e-commerce as a way to shop for groceries, but consumers today, in an effort to quarantine as much as possible, have shown significant adoption of online grocery shopping,” Crowe says.


Source:  NREI

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Seven CRE Investment Strategies For 2020

With the Thanksgiving holiday weekend behind, it is not too soon to look at what will be the top investment strategies for next year.

Seven top CRE investment strategies for 2020 include:

1. Sell Overpriced Industrial Assets

The industrial market has been booming for the last few years and is the favored asset class among institutional investors. The market is “hot” because of the strong economy, increased demand for warehouse and distribution space due to rising Internet sales and last-mile same- day delivery of online goods. Cap rates for industrial properties have compressed 1.5% to 2.0% during the last 18 months and we would be net sellers of industrial assets in this market.

2. Acquire Beaten Up Retail Assets

Many shopping center and mall real estate assets are selling at 7.0% to 10.0%+ cap rates and some of these assets should be bought. Retail assets have been out of favor for the last few years and although there are tenant risks, with bankruptcies and store closures, they can still provide a higher risk-adjusted return than other CRE assets. A number of the public retail malls are also selling at deep 50%+ discounts to net asset value and are also ripe for a buyout or being taken private. These distressed retail deals are opportunistic investments and need significant renovation and releasing.

3. Invest In Data Analytics Companies

One of the key growth areas of CRE is in data analytics. Data analytics encompasses all aspects of big data for CRE including; demographics, ownership data, property data, historical value information, sales/lease data and financial analysis. The data analytics space is very fragmented with a few large companies like CoStar, RealPage, REIS (a unit of Moody’s) and many local and start-up companies. These larger firms have been acquiring smaller competitors to expand their service offerings and customer base. Recently, CoStar acquired Smith Travel Research, the leading hotel/lodging consulting firm, for $450 million and RealPage acquired Buildium, a property management software firm, for $580 million. As the industry grows, there will be more consolidation and an opportunity to acquire these smaller private firms and even establish a platform to consolidate these entities.

4. Sell Overpriced Core Assets and Reinvest In Opportunistic Assets

The risk and return for various CRE investment strategies range from the lowest risk, core investments, which are typically fully leased, institutional quality, Class A properties with little or no leverage, to value-added strategies which are higher risk strategies that involve some property redevelopment, tenant adjustment or leasing or with operational problems to opportunistic strategies, which are the highest risk category that involve a high degree of redevelopment, leasing, tenant relocation or change or may be in financial distress. Many core properties are still trading at 3.0% to 4.5% cap rates and should be sold. The proceeds should be reinvested in higher return opportunistic strategies, as discussed in #2 above, buying beaten up retail assets.

5. Provide Participating Mezzanine Loans

Even though there is a lot of capital sloshing around chasing deals, there is a dearth of debt/equity capital for the portion of the capital stack above the first mortgage at about 65%-70% and below the minimum owners’ equity investment of 10.0%. This slice of 20% of the capital stack is ideal for a participating mezzanine loan. The participating mezzanine loan may have terms as follow; interest rate at LIBOR plus 4.0%+, loan fees of 1.0%-3.0%+ and 20.0% to 30.0%+ ownership of the deal. The mezzanine lender will typically not be secured by a second lien on the property but by an ownership guarantee and assignment of the owner’s interest in the property. The lender is entitled to the equity kicker because it is taking some of the equity risk of the project. Internal rates of return of 12.0%-15.0%+ can be delivered with this strategy, which is very attractive for a fixed income investment.

6. Perform A Systematic Review and Analysis Of The 15 CRE Risks

As we have discussed before, there are 15 risks inherent in CRE investment as follows:

  • Cash Flow Risk-volatility in the property’s net operating income or cash flow.
  • Property Value Risk-a reduction in a property’s value.
  • Tenant Risk-loss or bankruptcy of a major tenant.
  • Market Risk-negative changes in the local real estate market or metropolitan statistical area.
  • Economic Risk-negative changes in the macroeconomy.
  • Interest Rate Risk-an increase in interest rates.
  • Inflation Risk-an increase in inflation.
  • Leasing Risk-inability to lease vacant space or a drop in lease rates.
  • Management Risk-poor management policy and operations.
  • Ownership Risk-loss of critical personnel of owner or sponsor.
  • Legal, Title, Tax and Political Risk-averse legal, tax and political issues and claims on title.
  • Construction Risk-development delays, cessation of construction, financial distress of general contractor or sub-contractors and payment defaults.
  • Entitlement Risk-inability or delay in obtaining project entitlements.
  • Liquidity Risk-inability to sell the property or convert equity value into cash.
  • Refinancing Risk-inability to refinance the property.

All investors that own CRE should perform a detailed and systematic review of the above risks and their potential effect on an asset or portfolio.

7. Acquire Small Capitalization Public And Private REITs

There are more than 30 public REITs with market capitalizations less than $1 billion that are trading at or less than their net asset value. These REITs are ripe to be acquired or taken private by other REITs, real estate private equity firms or other institutional investors. It also may be possible to get control of the board of directors of some of these REITs via a proxy contest.

Any acquisition or merger opportunity will have to comply with the REIT tax rules including, the 5 or 50 rule which states that 5 or fewer individuals cannot own more than 50% of the value of a REIT during the last half of the year. Also, more than two-thirds of REITs are incorporated in the state of Maryland which has broader liability protection, more flexible voting provisions for stockholders, easier Bylaw amendment provisions, better protection against hostile takeovers and easier stock issuance procedures. Notwithstanding a Maryland incorporation, there are still opportunities via a friendly acquisition or proxy contest.


Source: GlobeSt.

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Healthcare Real Estate Gains Steam As Possible Downturn Nears

Professionals involved in owning, developing, leasing or financing medical office buildings (MOBs) often point to the Great Recession as an instigator for new investors to become interested in the property type.

To be sure, the healthcare real estate (HRE) space and MOB development and investment certainly suffered during the big downturn of 2007-09. However, thanks to other, unrelated circumstances, existing properties performed well, retaining their physician and health system tenants and, as a result, maintaining their values.

With many economic and business pundits predicting that the country’s economy is once again heading toward a  downturn – albeit not as severe as the last one – the recession-resistant qualities of MOBs are once again piquing the interest of a wide range of would-be investors as well as providing a sense of comfort for those already involved.

A panel of well-known, experienced HRE professionals recently explored this topic, as well as a host of others, while discussing the short- and long-term outlook for the sector during a panel session at the recent InterFace Healthcare Real Estate Conference in Dallas. The panel, titled “What is the Short- and Long-Term Outlook for Healthcare Real Estate?” was moderated by Murray W. Wolf, publisher of Healthcare Real Estate Insights.

The panelists comprised: Lee Asher, vice chairman of the U.S. Healthcare Capital Markets team with CBRE Group Inc.John Pollock, CEO of San Ramon, Calif.-based MeridianGordon Soderlund, executive VP, strategic relationships with Charlotte, N.C.-based Flagship Healthcare PropertiesJonathan L. “John” Winer, senior managing director and chief investment officer with White Plains, N.Y.-based Seavest Healthcare Properties; and Erik Tellefson, managing director with Capital One Healthcare Financial Services.

As the session kicked off the conference on Sept. 17, one of the panelists, Mr. Winer of Seavest, said that during “recessions, healthcare facilities, in particular those with the characteristics that we all know about, do just fine.” But he added that if there is a caveat to that perspective. If a recession is indeed eminent, he cautioned, investors should make sure not to acquire assets with only short-term prospects for success, be they aging buildings and/or those that will not provide flexibility as the healthcare delivery model changes in the future.

“The assets most of us are going to be looking for are newer assets that we’re very comfortable with as a long-term hold; we’re not looking for short-term turnaround plays,” Mr. Winer said. “But otherwise, I think we’re in good shape and I think businesses (in this sector) are in good shape, whether a downturn occurs or not.”

Other Panelists Agreed

“We operate a private REIT (real estate investment trust),” said Mr. Soderlund of Flagship, “and so we have a very long-term view of holding assets, and we are becoming more aggressive, reasonably aggressive in pursuing acquisitions. We want to build our portfolio and we … figure out what we should (hold on to and) not hold on to. We’ve been through that process. There’s a continuing imbalance of supply and demand, and until that changes, and until interest rates maybe go in a different direction, we’re all in a relatively safe place right now.”

Mr. Pollock of Meridian, which often redevelops value-add medical facilities, noted that during a recent meeting with investors from various sectors of commercial real estate, he was “peppered” with questions about HRE.

When he told that group that the tenant retention rate in medical facilities is often in the 85 percent to 90 percent range, “they were like, ‘You’re kidding!’” Mr. Pollock said.

“In general office, it’s 70 percent across the board,” Pollack said. “I think what we’re all seeing is that investors who are in industrial, multifamily and office are now asking more about healthcare. So we’re seeing pension funds that haven’t been in the sector, institutional investors who haven’t been allocating to the space with the theme being that medical office assets are performing better and they’re readying, maybe not for an economic downtown, but toward diversifying their investor base,”


Source: HREI

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