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Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Outlook Shows More Signs of Optimism

Spring 2019 – Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Outlook Shows More Signs of Optimism for the Upcoming Two Years

The May 2019 University of St. Thomas / Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey is continuing to show to show changes in the sentiment of our panelists as they look out over the next two years. The biannual survey projects a two-year ahead outlook for Minnesota’s commercial real estate industry and forecasts potential opportunities and challenges affecting all commercial real estate sectors.

As was done with all sixteen of our previous surveys, the same group of 50 commercial real estate industry leaders involved in development, finance, and investment were polled regarding their expectations of near-term future commercial real estate activity. The decisions that these industry leaders are making today will determine what the CRE markets will look like two years from now.

Spring 2019 Results

Observations from May 2019 have recorded several notable changes in the panel’s expectations when compared to the previous survey conducted in Fall 2018. “There is still some concern that we are near the top of the cycle and that overbuilding and increased vacancies may occur in some product types and submarkets.” says Herb Tousley, Director of the Real Estate Programs at the University of St Thomas. “While our composite index for late 2021 remains slightly pessimistic, there are some bright spots worth noting. There is no expectation of a major downturn in the commercial real estate market in the Twin Cities within the next two years. The increase in online shopping, low interest rates, changes in housing trends and the continued redefinition of the office environment will remain major factors in the performance of commercial real estate in the coming two years.”

The panelists are very concerned about the expected increase in the cost of land and building materials and its expected impact on values and expected returns for developers and investors. There was a big change in the index for investor’s return expectations. It increased 9 points moving from a pessimistic level moving to slightly optimistic territory. This is a big change in sentiment since our last survey. It appears that our panel now expects interest rates to remain stable at current low rates. While our respondents are not expecting a major downturn, they are more somewhat concerned about where we are in the market cycle.

Index values greater than 50 represent a more optimistic view of the market over the next two years, with values of less than 50 indicating a more pessimistic view. More detailed information about each of the individual indices may be found below.

The individual indexes are detailed below:

Rent Expectations

The outlook for rental rates is essentially unchanged from our last survey. Market conditions expected in early 2021 are best described by the price for space (rental rates) and the supply of space (occupancy levels). The index for rental rates was 63 compared to 62 six months ago. This means the panel continues to be strongly optimistic in its expection of continued rent growth. The panel’s sentiment is that the economy will continue to grow and that business conditions will continue improve creating more competition for commercial space.

 Occupancy

The outlook for occupancy levels continues to be moderately pessimistic moving from 43 to a slightly less pessimistic 45. This indicates the panelist’s belief that occupancy levels and space absorption may not remain at current levels during the next two years. As a great deal of new product continues to be delivered, the panel is beginning to be concerned about the market’s ability to absorb the new space. This is especially noticeable in the multi-family and certain office and industrial segments. It is a continuation of a general trend that began 4 ½ years ago. Businesses expect to continue to grow but they are concentrating on reducing their cost of occupancy by doing more with less space.

Land Price Expectations

The rate of increase in land prices is expected to accelerate. The land price index has decreased (become more pessimistic) in the current survey moving from 46 last December to 40 this spring. Although, the lowest point for the index was recorded at 31 in the fall 2013 survey, a score of 40 for this index indicates increasing concern about the rapid rise of land prices. Since land prices are a major component of project costs, any increase has a great deal of impact. Higher land prices are a hindrance to new development, making it more difficult to obtain financing and adequate returns for investors.

Building Material Price Expectations

There is a continued expectation that increases in the price of building materials will continue to increase. The index for the price of building supplies remains strongly negative, moving from 26 in December 2018 to 32 in May 2019. The panel believes that commodity prices for lumber, concrete, steel and many of the other materials used in construction will continue to increase due to shortages and newly imposed tariffs. Since building materials are a major cost component of any development project any increases in prices will make it difficult to provide adequate returns on future developments.

Return on Investment Expectations

Our panel expects that investors return on investment expectations will remain constant. The index for investor’s return expectations made a big move, increasing from a pessimistic 42 to a slightly optimistic 51. This indicates that investors will be expecting to maintain their expected returns. The consensus among survey respondents indicates that investors will not be seeking higher returns in the next two years due to their expectation of stable interest rates. The panel’s concern remains about market fundamentals over the next two years. Investors will continue to seek out quality investments, but they will be much more diligent about how they price risk, evaluate projects and developer/sponsors when they evaluate potential return when considering their investment options.

Lending Expectations

Equity and loan to value requirements are not expected to increase. The index for the amount of equity required by lenders remained unchanged from our last survey at 41. That recorded level is somewhat pessimistic but, now that appears interest rates have moderated and are expected to stay that way, the panel’s belief that is even if interest rates were to increase moderately credit will still be available for good projects. However, they expect lenders will continue be more risk adverse by tightening their underwriting criteria in the coming two years.

 

 

 

 

 

Commercial Real Estate, Industry News, Investment Real Estate, Medical Office, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Brokerage, Retail Real Estate

Building Owners Brace for Tall Order: One Way to Measure Space

 Reposted fron a Wall Street Journal article that apperred on May 27th

 By
Ilona Billington

The MetLife building used to be listed at 2.4 million square feet. Now it is listed at 3 million square feet. Getty Images

Coalition Plans to Announce Measurement System in June

One of the biggest complaints of office tenants is that building owners throughout the world use different systems for measuring how many square feet or square meters tenants are leasing, deviating as much as 24% from one another.

Now an international coalition of real-estate organizations formed last year is hoping to change that. The International Property Measurement Standards Coalition in June plans to announce a single measurement system for the global office market.

“The current situation on measuring standards is totally unacceptable,” said Ken Creighton, chair of the coalition’s board of trustees.

But whether or not building owners adopt or ignore the standards remains to be seen. The coalition doesn’t have the clout to require owners to follow its standards and many landlords don’t want to change their current systems, which can mean millions of dollars in extra rent.

For some building owners, adopting a new measurement standard would mean that their building would shrink in size and lose value. “There is a risk that some firms may be sitting on balance sheets that are actually worth significantly less when measured by a common standard,” said Scott McMillan, chief of real estate at the International Monetary Fund.

For many, the debate might seem surprising. After all, landlords throughout the world are governed by the same laws of physics.

But they use widely different systems for measuring space and this affects rents, which typically are charged on a price-per-square-foot or price-per-square-meter basis.

For example, for a space that measures 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet), some landlords will simply charge rent based on that amount. But most will increase the size by some factor depending on what formula they use for apportioning public space in the building—lobbies, bathrooms, hallways—to tenants.

Landlords also vary in whether they begin their measurement from inside or outside an exterior wall. Some begin measurements at their building’s farthest extremity, like the nose of a gargoyle.

In some cities, including New York, landlords generally have increased loss factors over the years. For example, in 1979, architectural guides listed the Pan Am Building at 2.4 million square feet. Today the tower, which has been renamed the MetLife Building, is listed at 3 million square feet.

Tenants say consistent standards are greatly needed. “I would have preferred this to have happened five years ago, but better now than in five or 10 years’ time,” said Billy Davidson, group property director of Vodafone. VOD.LN 0.00% Vodafone Group PLC U.K.: London GBp209.50 0.00 0.00% May 30, 2014 4:38 pm Volume : 63.70M P/E Ratio 0.01 Market Cap GBp55.39 Billion Dividend Yield 7.13% Rev. per Employee GBp420,129 05/29/14 Vodafone to Meet With Indian O… 05/27/14 FCC Could Use Merger Concessio… 05/22/14 Why is Vodafone Flogging a Net… More quote details and news » VOD.LN in Your Value Your Change Short position “This is the right thing to do.”

The Standards Coalition was formed in 2013 by a group of international property organizations including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the U.K., the Building Owners and Managers Association in the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund. The move was partly in response to increasing pressure from large global tenants that are frustrated by the numerous measurement systems.

A group of 18 experts representing 11 countries have been working on the standards. Proposed standards have been circulating for comment among real-estate professionals for months.

Coalition members expect the standards to be controversial. “In any initiative in standardization there will inevitably be winners and losers,” said Marc Mogull, an executive with the investment firm Benson Elliot who also is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

There is also the question of implementation. Building owners will have to voluntarily accept the new standards and it isn’t clear how many will do so, especially if it could mean a financial loss.

Many real-estate executives in New York are skeptical that new standards will change the minds of the city’s landlords. “It’s an important enough market that they can make their own rules,” said Mark Weiss, vice chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

But tenants could put pressure on building owners to accept standards by avoiding properties that don’t. “I need the confidence from my suppliers to know when they give me comparable details that it’s really comparable,” said Vodafone’s Mr. Davidson. “With [the new standards] I can say that I won’t consider your building unless you show me the measurements based on these standards.”

Some government agencies say they will help pressure owners to accept the standards. One such agency is Dubai’s Land Department, according to Mohamad Al-Dah, a senior director. “From our own point of view we don’t have very fair standards in Dubai, but once the Land department begins using it, we will encourage businesses in Dubai to adopt it,” he said.

Write to Ilona Billington at ilona.billington@wsj.com

 
Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Industry News, Medical Office, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Uncategorized

Medical Offices Now Work as Timeshares

 The following article was reposted from Globe Street.com

By Carrie Rossenfeld | Orange County
 

Dopp-Grech: “The next step is for independent operators to offer this format without a specific hospital affiliation.”

IRVINE, CA—Like executive suites in the office market, shared medical space to accommodate multiple practices is being explored by medical landlords, Sonya Dopp-Grech, SVP/director of healthcare services for NAI Capital, tells GlobeSt.com exclusively. The concept allows for physician mobility and maximized use of the space.

“The healthcare industry is showing movement toward time-share concepts, allowing physicians to serve different geographical areas without the need to open additional offices,” says Dopp-Grech. “The concept has already been widely used by hospital groups to allow various specialists to reach out into the communities they serve. The next step is for independent operators to offer this format without a specific hospital affiliation.”

Medical landlords are beginning to explore this option with vacant or underperforming space in their buildings. The caveat is finding a responsible and reputable source to manage this type of space, which would look like a regular medical office with a common waiting area, receptionist and exam and treatment rooms. They may also contain a shared lab, equipment and other amenities.

“It’s like Regus does in the general-office market,” says Dopp-Grech. “Doctors go in and out and don’t need private offices so much anymore. They have their laptops and they see patients, but this way they can see patients at all ends of the county and don’t need to find a long-term lease in each location. It makes great sense, since the way of the future is consolidations.”

The concept makes sense for smaller independent practices or those who want to combine with a larger group. From the landlord perspective, if one is faced with vacant space, this presents another way to fill it with medical tenants.

As GlobeSt.com reported in January, consolidation is the keyword for medical practices today as they search for operating efficiencies. Since healthcare is moving away from the hospital setting into more of a retail environment, this consolidation presents challenges for larger medical practices seeking space to accommodate their needs.

One solution has been for larger groups to lease retail space that formerly held sizable stores such as Barnes & Noble, Dopp-Grech told GlobeSt.com. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier, as healthcare moves toward retail settings, many retail landlords are finding themselves for the first time involved in build-outs and tenant improvements for medical practices. While this trend is welcome among most landlords, they may not be prepared for the high cost of some of these improvements, according to Dopp-Grech.

“Consolidation is occurring because health systems want to make everything efficient for the groups,” says Dopp-Grech. “Smaller groups won’t be able to survive with malpractice insurance [and other costs]. So they’re consolidating and going into larger retail buildings, such as a Barnes & Noble that got vacated.”

 Follow this link to Globe Street: http://www.globest.com/
 
 About Our Columnist
Carrie Rossenfeld
Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the West Coast region of GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City for 11 years before moving to Southern California in 1997 to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics ranging from intellectual-property licensing and giftware to commercial real estate. She recently edited a book about profiting from distressed real estate in a down market and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.Email