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The Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate

CHICAGO – (Realty News Report) – A stream of urbanites will flee from cities where crowded subways and sidewalks have created health concerns in the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate experts say.

The pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts, and the associated economic decline are among the primary concerns resulting from survey of members of the Counselors of Real Estate organization.

The Counselors released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate during a webinar presented exclusively to members of the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE).

An early May Harris Poll showed that nearly 40% of city dwellers are considering leaving the city as concerns about the virus and economic effects of the pandemic take hold, the CRE group said. In recent weeks, residential realty agents have reported more consumer demand for rural properties.

As part of the suburban flight, corporations may be establishing more offices away from downtown areas, reducing their employees reliance on mass transit, CRE reported.

Michel Couillard, 2020 global chair of The Counselors of Real Estate

“The change wrought by the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath will teach us about priorities, resilience, and demand in ways that we did not dare test before,” said Michel Couillard, 2020 global chair of The Counselors of Real Estate.

“The 2020-21 Top Ten Issues are highly interrelated and are an attempt to overlay this new world onto an already changing real estate environment.

“In examining real estate markets, we must consider existing fragility, adaptability to new demands, and potential relevance to new markets,” said Couillard. “Demand will be defined by the extent to which this crisis leads us to abandon old habits and adopt new ones. The duration of the lockdown has been a factor, and so is the confidence with which we emerge.”

Economic renewal ranked second on The Counselors’ list, with the U.S. economy showing signs of decline prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were a number of statistical signals of deceleration for those willing to see them,” said Couillard. “The challenges facing the economy and the real estate industry are deep and persistent, with leisure and hospitality, retail, construction, and air travel seeing slow and partial rebounds into 2022.“

The Counselors cite that the impact of the economic lockdown on state and local tax revenues could reduce non-federal government employment levels and shelve important infrastructure projects, with such risks suggesting an unusual “W-shaped” recession.

“The post-COVID-19 economy will be constrained by long-run potential GDP growth of only 1.5 – 1.6 percent. That is the ‘new normal’ for which we need to prepare,” added Couillard, who is also president of BUSAC Real Estate in Montreal.

Capital market risk rounded out the top three issues of concern for The Counselors, as the last four months have presented not only real time volatility of the capital markets, but also confirmed how quickly debt and equity capital liquidity can stop flowing when risk and returns are difficult to measure.

“One thing we have seen since March is that volatility has spiked which makes pricing debt more challenging,” said Couillard. “Federal intervention helped to limit a complete seizing of the markets, but doesn’t necessarily mitigate the longer-term concern about defaults and loses. While pricing stability and liquidity appear to have somewhat returned, late payments and loan defaults have seen a significant increase.”

Distressed assets will be hitting the market as the impact of the coronavirus reaches tenants, property owners and lenders. “2020-21 will be a big year for distressed assets,” Couillard said.

Other Top Ten issues identified by organization are Public and Private Indebtedness, Affordable Housing, Flow of People, Space Utilization, Technology and Workflow, Infrastructure, and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).

The Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate  is developed by The Counselors of Real Estate’s External Affairs Committee, with issues identified, debated, and voted on by the general membership.


June 25, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020

NAREE will hold its annual Real Estate Journalism Conference in Miami Sept. 23-26, 2020. Click Here for More Information.

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