Emerging Trends - A Look at Commercial Real Estate in 2014

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2014 should be another year of improvement across all commercial real estate sectors, according to the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014” report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Produced for the last 35 years, Emerging Trends is one of the most anticipated and respected forecasts for U.S. real estate. Interesting not only for its analysis of past and current performance trends to forecast future results, the report also looks forward by interviewing 1,000 U.S. real estate executives, investors, developers and market experts about their plans and market predictions.

Mitch Roschelle

Answering the Interest Rate Question

“While we were doing our interviews from July through early October, interest rates were on everybody’s mind,” said Mitch Roschelle, partner and U.S. real estate advisory practice leader for PwC. “In 2010, 17.7 percent thought the real estate market would be good to excellent. In this year’s survey, 67.8 percent thought 2014 will be good to excellent, so that tells you that rates won’t chill the market.”

If net operating income growth remains on pace with an increase in the cost of capital, the market can digest a rise in interest rates, Roschelle said. Additionally, lenders indicated that underwriting standards are loosening and spreads are compressing because of the profitability of banks, he added.

Lending Environment

As the economy continues to improve, lenders are getting back in the real estate game, guests said. A significant amount of capital still flows into the multifamily sector, but there is also capital available for retail projects in secondary markets, said Andy Warren, director of real estate research for PwC.

Andy Warren

“Lenders are beginning to expand what they are willing to look at in terms of deals,” he added. Regional banks have started to open up and contribute more to the lending environment, Warren said.

“CMBS will be a big story in 2014,” Roschelle affirmed. “In fact, it’s leading the list of lenders for 2014. The CMBS market lagged in the past, so that’s big.”

Looking ahead to 2015, shadow banking will be a big trend, Roschelle said. “Funds are aggregating capital and putting it out in the form of somewhat conventional financing for commercial real estate,” he said. “It’s going to be bigger and bigger in the months to come.”

Investors Bullish on Texas

While technology-driven markets such as San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., remain high on investors’ lists, Texas has emerged as an important investment target, Warren said. “Dallas, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth are all in the top 10 markets for investors,” he said. “If you add in San Antonio, which is in the top 20, you have all four major metro areas in Texas as top markets for this year.”

One notable change in the survey was the decline of investor interest in the nation’s capital. “Washington, D.C., continued to perform strongly during the downturn because the federal government held up. Now with the discussions about the fiscal cliff and budget ceiling, it’s beginning to have a blow-back effect on the local market,” Warren added.

The Impact of Millennials on Commercial Real Estate

“People between the ages of 15 and 29 years old represent 28.5 percent of the population, the single largest group,” Roschelle said. “Decisions about commercial real estate are going to be made around Millennials for years to come.”

“Apartments are the first thing that come to mind,” Warren said. Millennials are looking for apartments in an urban setting that foster a “live, work, play” environment. “This is having a huge impact on major cities.”

However, the impact of Millennials expands beyond the multifamily market. Office environments are being reconfigured into a more open floor plan in order to attract and retain Millennials, Warren added.

Retailers are following Millennials from suburban to urban markets, developing new store layouts that will work in urban areas. The industrial market has been impacted as well because online sales are up, which means fulfillment centers will continue to be created to meet this uptick in demand. “Millennials have touched much more than just apartments,” Warren said.

For more highlights from the Emerging Trends 2014 report you’re invited to hear my interview with Roschelle and Warren. This is the audio from the nationally syndicated Commercial Real Estate Show™ program.

Michael Bull, CCIM, is the host of the nationally syndicated Commercial Real Estate Show and founder of Bull Realty, Inc., a U.S. commercial real estate sales and advisory firm headquartered in Atlanta. You’re invited to connect with Michael on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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