By Mark Heschmeyer
Here are the Top 10 Threats to CRE this summer based on CoStar reader responses, counting down from 10 to one.
No. 10: Risk Aversion
Risk aversion is a major threat to the real estate market and our economy, resulting in too much excess property on the market. The biggest part of the problem is no one wants to take a big hit and move on to the next level.
Morton Stein, broker, Trace Realty, Franklin, TN
No. 9: Inability to Sell Properties Quickly
Commercial real estate will continue to bounce along the bottom as it has been for the past two years. There is such a backlog of underwater properties still, that it will take several more years to get them all worked out. Therefore whether the economy rebounds significantly or it plummets sharply, the net effect on asset values will be minimal.
Marty Busekrus, senior associate, CBRE | Capital Markets, Boca Raton, FL
No. 8: Aggressive Competition for Prime Real Estate Investments
While job creation and the proposed changes in the tax laws will have the greatest impact on the overall economy, the variable that will most impact CRE is overly aggressive lenders that are over leveraging assets and limiting recourse — leaving few viable exits in the event a weakening economy leads to rent compression, higher vacancies and/or increasing interest rates.
Gary Owens, senior vice president, California Bank & Trust, San Diego, CA
No. 7: Potential Increases in Interest Rates
The repeated concern my clients vocalize is the specter of rising interest rates. I am seeing this play a huge role in financing decision and hold strategies. Many times guys are opting to pay higher costs for debt if they can get a 10-year or 15-year term on a loan to hedge bets on where rates will be upon maturity. Also, some guys are even willing to endure the brain damage of a HUD loan, as they put the deal to bed for good when they close on the 223 Loan (a 35-year, fully amortizing loan product).
A.J. Beachum, senior sales associate, Income Property Organization, Bloomfield Hills, MI
The world’s liquidity would seize up if we were to see a spike in interest rates. The tipping point for the economy has always been interest rates. The Fed through the Treasury control interest rates.Luke Wood, partner, Haverwood Management LLC, Austin, TX
No. 6: Inability to Acquire Capital or Financing
One of the main reasons the housing recovery continues to stumble is that of most of the U.S. population has an inability to acquire capital or financing. The banks and mortgage companies will look for any reason not to finance a residential purchase or a refinance because they cannot sell the loan to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac due to over restrictive under writing criteria. No one can qualify for the lowest interest rates in 60 years because the banks do not want to lend money to the average Joe.
Mike Austin, Madera County Assessor’s Office, Madera, CA
No. 5: Housing Recovery Keeps Stumbling
The secondary reason for the housing recovery stumbling is the asset impairment of the housing stock due to the banks unreasonable demands regarding selling their foreclosed inventory. There are multiple millions of properties sitting vacant for years due the banks inability to properly market and sell these properties in a reasonable amount of time. Until the banks are willing to take some of the losses and not rely on Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s insurance policies to cover their past bad financial decisions the residential sector cannot recover. As we have all seen time and time again, businesses cannot thrive and commercial real estate assets values will not improve until the residential sector comes out of its slump.
Mike Austin, Madera County Assessor’s Office, Madera, CA
No. 4: Financial Condition of Tenants
With little to no hiring going on our existing tenants aren’t expanding like they had been. Some of our tenants have bid work so tight they can’t turn a profit; so they’re renewals won’t happen and their ability to fulfill they’re obligated lease term is in question.
Wade Johnson, Jr., property manager, Shockey Cos., Winchester, VA
No. 3: Disorder In – or Even an Outright Breakup of – the Euro-zone
If there is a lack of foreign capital investing in the U.S., we will see less deals. I see that as a threat.
Damon Jordan, principal, The Swearingum Group Inc., Detroit, MI
We see this as a primary threat. Interest rates will go up for bonds and debt if European banks and the Euro crashes.
Luke Wood, partner, Haverwood Management LLC, Austin, TX
No. 2: Existing Debt Overhang from 2006-2008
There is still a pipeline of properties that have yet to be dealt with. You can only kick the can, delay and pray, hope and cope, for so long.
Nick Miner, vice president – investments, Commercial Properties Inc., Scottsdale, AZ
Existing lenders are more and more willing to work with borrowers to extend or modify loans. I believe these extension will backfire in the next few years when the huge refinance bubble comes.
Doug Austin, vice president, NorthMarq, San Diego, CA
No. 1: Lack of Job Creation
All of the threats are part of a larger threat to CRE which is now “stagnation” and not “recession.” There is no real overall economic growth taking place. Some sectors, like health care or recently autos are bright spots. But until there is real job growth in the 5% range this economy will continue to limp along impacting CRE for the near term and beyond.
Phil Cody, principal, The Cody Co., Milford, MI
Job creation is the No. 1 problem or lack thereof. If jobs could be created, people could/would spend money and that should kick start a demand of goods and drive manufacturing. Bring manufacturing back to the USA!
Greg Hunter, senior director / industrial specialist, Commerce Real Estate Solutions, Salt Lake City, UT
Lack of job creation seems the biggest stumbling block. Our part of the CRE business, office, is directly dependent upon job growth. Without additional employment there’s no need to take on additional space.
Brian Hennessey, senior vice president, Colliers International, Encino, CA
Our 2 Cents:
Although each of the above scenarios are real and have a direct impact on commercial real estate pricing, the San Francisco Bay Area always has a slightly different outlook than the national picture. Certainly higher interest rates would affect all investments, regardless of the location, but overall investors have been bullish on this area in particular. Office and industrial continue to trend strongly, and if the location and elements are right, there are buyers with cash. We’ll see how the trend continues in this uncertain election year, but so far we’ve seen overall positive strides in the market especially when compared to the previous 4 years. What are you seeing?