The pandemic has prevailed long enough to have established a new economy with new demography and technography – patterns of change, post pandemic. In many respects, the new norms are evolving, yet uncertainty about duration, shape and impact still prevails with daily impacts. Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon shared one of his personal inspirational messages in Congressional testimony recently, Every Day IS DAY ONE! So be it!
Capital assets for commercial real estate are in place and construction of additions has restarted. Pipeline is still active for most property types, although some starts are in pause. Most markets are experiencing expansion for logistics, stability for multifamily, pause for office, erosion for retail, reorganization for healthcare, uncertain struggle for hospitality and entertainment. Pundits will point out many of these trends were well underway before the pandemic. Specific geographic market and submarkets are comparatively weaker or stronger than others. Similarly, COVID-19 regulations and guidelines vary by jurisdiction and market. Commercial real estate has performed subject to local market conditions. Now, local pandemic conditions are a factor, too.
The dashboard for property market performance during multi-phased reopening is familiar to the commercial real estate profession with cyclical experience. Cash flow and cash balances, by property and portfolio, over time and forecast. At a glance, over stress matrices. Benchmarking with competition and submarket. Check with Chet and Mary across town. Be prepared to share. COVID-19 status and timeline. Reconciled with property performance, revenues, operations, and vice versa. Major national commercial real estate service firms have enhanced accessibility, timeliness and detail on the markets. CBRE Weekly Take has been user friendly for data, including client surveys, and outlook. Marcus & Millichap and Walker & Dunlop have reported, regularly, anecdotally with detail. Reconciliation with current and outlook macro and micro economic conditions. Feed for forecast of national and local employment and economic growth is difficult to disaggregate data to analyze for trends and relativity; commentary is improving. Local real estate inventory data is in catchup. Residential data is less relevant, more accurate and on target. Aggregations and anecdotal trends and data points all combine to refine forecasts and management and investment decisions under COVID-19.
And then we Zoom and Meet for ideas, entertainment, services, events, networking with real estate professionals, friends and family. Networking is certainly different. Much is offline, socially distanced. Call Chet and Mary. Supplemental primary diligence. However, these meetups are good for collecting intelligence on market status, conditions and trends. Relevant regulatory, financial, medical, Covid-19 updates and outlook. More importantly best practices, protocols, market strategies. Large lecture and forum formats, specialized issues, strategies, supplemented with podcasts, emailed advisories, working groups, HELP contacts and connections with governmental, regulatory, trade, supply chains.
Leadership during the pandemic is a contact sport – connectivity, engagement, constituencies, services, alliances. With the constantly changing pandemic and direct personal and economic impacts, predictability and stability are at a premium. Accordingly, thought leaders are good listeners and interdisciplinary team players – ready to set and revise the plan and protocols and shifts again for DAY ONE! And be smooth and predictable.
David Kirk is founder and chief executive officer of Kirk&Company, Real Estate Counselors of Boston.