Thought leadership: A new lease on life for old retail spaces

In a recent announcement, LightBox principal analyst Dianne Crocker predicted that as many as 25% (a quarter) of America’s malls can be expected to close down within the next three to five years.

This is, obviously, a trend that commercial real estate (CRE) professionals – like us within NAI Global – have been aware of and tracking for many years, but the LightBox prediction goes on to offer some idea of what we can expect to see filling these spaces in future and what investors see as the opportunities created by this trend – both projections worth exploring.

The “death of retail” has been hanging over the industry’s head for the better part of a decade, but what is more likely – Crocker and NAI agree – is a move away from brick and mortar towards e-commerce, with a hybrid model in future. This trend was merely heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Amazon effect

This is in line with what trend analysts and futurists like Doug Stevens are forecasting. Stevens told RetailDive last year that by “2033 the majority of our daily consumption will be transacted online”.

“In the future, all but the most convenience-based retailers will begin to use their stores as media to acquire customers and their media platforms as stores to transact sales…” – Doug Stevens, author of “The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism”.

This tracks: Our most recent Real Estate Outlook study, Q42020, found that over half of the survey respondents (57%) said the “Amazon effect” was expected to have an even larger impact on their CRE markets than the pandemic itself.

A buyer’s market

Crocker argues that the slowdown in deal volumes initiated by the pandemic has left a supply gap, and described the demand from investors as “pent up”.

“Institutional capital right now is focusing its repurposing investments on the safest benefits, the suburban metro areas that have seen meaningful growth in the past year…” – Dianne Crocker, LightBox principal analyst.

Multifunctional malls with a lifestyle component are not only the darling of consumers, but of investors too including private equity firms looking to score a bargain on a distressed CRE asset.

We are seeing this interest spiking too, and not just for straight sales. There is much interest in reusing these generously sized spaces in novel ways.

There are many such developments on the cards around the country. In Benton Harbor, Michigan, plans have been suggested to reconfigure the Orchards Mall with some 116 luxury two-bed apartments, with six-month leases to attract business travelers. Chapel Hill Mall in Akron, Ohio – which was foreclosed – expects to see new life as a business park.

There are also some less-traditional buyers in the market for malls these days. Gaming giant Epic Games recently bought up an almost 90-acre defunct mall in Charlotte, NC, that will be refitted into their new international headquarters.

Repurposing and extended life

The malls that outpace the trend will be those with a strong anchor tenant and those that offer the live-work-play balance. Crocker argues that malls that are grocery-anchored, or those “featuring medical services, pharmacies, gyms, and lifestyle amenities are more likely to survive in their current forms.” This is the kind of mall that will become a hub of urban life, she says.

An anchor tenant with a multichannel presence and a pandemic-proof loyalty is a gamechanger for mall and retail leasing.

Malls also have, we believe, a long life ahead of them as places to showcase goods and establish brand experiences. Raydiant makes digital experience tools for real life spaces. Writing for Forbes in 2020, Raydiant CEO Bobby Marhamat wrote that “in-store experience defines retail for people”.

“Touching products is part of that experience, but helpful staff, well-organized showrooms, unexpected activities, smart technologies and other components all combine to create exceptional experiences…” – Bobby Marhamat, Raydiant.

These factors combined are why smart money is betting on not ‘a death’, but ‘an evolution’ for our malls.

Imagining the Hospitality and Hotel CRE recovery

One of the hardest pandemic-hit sectors in the last 12 months is travel and tourism, a space with significant overlap with commercial real estate (CRE). For those who trade in and invest in hotels and hospitality CRE, it has been a dark time – and sadly analysts aren’t promising a rapid bounce back. Rather, we are hearing estimates in the region of two to three years for a return to pre-Covid-19 levels – or longer, if major markets are affected by further “waves”.

Economic Impact

According to research by Northern Trust, tourism and travel are worth an estimated 10% of global GDP, and provides jobs for 330 million people. Forecasts from Oxford Economics and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2020, predicted that international arrivals would drop by “over 70%, contributing to about 200 million job losses”.

That was their “worst case scenario” last year, but with multiple waves of this health crisis still being felt around the globe, the final impact is still to be assessed. 

Sector specifics

There are many things contributing to this, not least of all the correlation between travel and the spread of the coronavirus. Because this link was so immediately clear, international travel was all but shut down in 2020, and for many countries that remains the case with borders closed for anything other than essential travel.

As investors at Northern Trust explain, hotels are a “highly cyclical sector that experiences an overnight collapse in demand”. That speaks to the viability of tenants and operators in tough times, as well as the investment prospects that flow thereafter.

The acceptance for work-from-home will also keep more business travelers away and for longer, so areas that have economies built on conferencing and eventing are unlikely to see an uptick in business soon. Tourism recovery will, instead, start in cities that have clear pandemic-mitigation measures in place and those that can promise a safe “bubble” for tourists.

Looking forward for sustainability

On a more positive note, commentators have made the point that this is an opportunity to reset in many ways – shifting towards more sustainable tourism and hotel development practices. Deals with clear environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) principles will sweeten the deal for investors.

Outliers and options

A handful of destinations are expected to buck the trend, with sharper tourism increases, and a swifter hospitality CRE recovery in conjunction. Parts of Australia, for example, are already seeing a shift towards new inventory.

Hotel shares movements also reflect optimism. As Million Acres reports, “As of March 19, 2021, Park Hotels and Resorts (NYSE: PK) was up 33.4% YTD, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE: PEB) 35.4%, and Hersha Hospitality (NYSE: HT) up 47%”.

“That makes a good case for real estate investment trusts (REITs), says Steven Vazquez, NAI Global Capital Markets Hotel Expert, “and shows a willingness to buy in now as people think the bottom was reached and things looking up.”

What’s happening in… Seoul, Korea?

A quick reminder to NAI Professionals and clients: NAI Global’s reach is, well, global. We are proud of all NAI Offices around the world as well as their regional and local insight. For today’s edition of the ‘What’s happening in…’ blogs, we turn our attention to Seoul, the capital of South Korea – and specifically its office real estate vertical.

Located in the north-west of the country, Seoul is home to some nine million people (including over 400,000 non-nationals), and is the largest city in Korea. It is strongly associated with technology, finance, and business, and some 14 companies from the Fortune Global 500 are headquartered here, including Samsung, Hyundai, and LG.

Changing lives

In Seoul, our local experts and partners describe a commercial real estate (CRE) and office space environment that is relatively stable despite the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a limited amount of new supply expected to come on to the market in 2021. In early Feb 2021, Korea, as a country, had some 80,000 infections and a death toll of 1464, and Seoul was a key concern for pandemic management because it is such a densely populated city.

Still, there have been considerable social and work-life changes in Seoul as a result of the pandemic. The Korean Herald reports that residents of Seoul worked less and relaxed more during 2020. This comes from the findings of a city government survey that shows a 12-minute decline in daily working time compared to 2019.

Seoul itself offers a vibrant and diverse community, and it is a regional center of economic activity, in easy travel distance of many of Asia’s highlights. Industrial action has however led to a decline in working days, and tourism has been greatly slowed by Covid-19 fears. As the vaccination efforts roll out, these are some of the economic areas where analysts are hoping for a recovery in 2021..

Latest data

Despite the pressures of lockdowns and distancing, 2020 was reportedly a record-breaker year for office investment volume. Analysts suggest that this is underpinned by a healthy investor appetite for stable real estate assets and see Seoul as offering this.

According to the NAI Korea [HM1] monthly data analysis focusing on its market, published in January 2021, the average vacancy rate of office buildings in Seoul’s central business district (CBD) is 7.62%, with the average net occupancy cost (NOC) at $52.39 as of December 2020. NOC is the cost that 1㎡ of gross floor area incurs to a tenant who rents the property. NOC can be useful to compare different types of office buildings.

On the residential side, driven by low supply, there has been strong growth in prices, and this is likely to see policymakers relaxing some restrictions.

For a detailed breakdown of NAI Korea’s Seoul data, click here.


At your service: the role of CRE retail management services

We all know the old real estate adage – “location, location, location” – but economies in the 21st century are tending towards “as a service” thinking, a trend characterized by a handful of big-name disruptors like Uber (transport-as-a-service) and Airbnb (accommodation-as-a-service).

In this model, the hassle and upkeep, the peripheral add-ons, are all rolled into the cost for clients and can make a compelling ‘sales pitch’ for would-be buyers.

“The other downstream effect of this is the emphasis on service itself – the quality thereof, more than its existence,” says Cliff Moskowitz, EVP, NAI Global. “Commercial real estate (CRE) professionals and firms that offer competitive, value-adding services can set themselves, and their listings, apart.”

A partner in time

For the owner and occupants of a retail property, having access to smart, speedy services as part of your property contract is a game-changer.

Services for occupiers include the obvious (like group marketing, facilities management, and lease administration), and then superior service offerings (such as omnichannel real estate solutions and supply chain advisory).

With services for investors, this category might include property marketing, valuation, and advisory services, and project management, which all exceed the traditional-but-still-essential landlord representation and leasing, and property management.

Next generation services

Retail properties can now include considerable benefits to occupants and tenants on the “as-a-service” model, including technological infrastructure, security, renewable energy generation and management, event management, and even click-to-collect services.

The increasing availability of these kinds of options means that retail property managers can offer far more for their clients without intense capital expenditure on their part or the client’s part, as these are now shifting to the operational expenses column in the books.

X marks the spot

When we pivot to thinking of ourselves as CRE service providers, we shift from a “sales first” approach to one of “service first”, and we also see the corresponding language shift from “renter” to “customer”.

This encapsulates the contemporary approach to business which centers the customer experience (CX) above everything.

With CX as a guiding principle, CRE professionals can position themselves for longer-term partnerships with their retail clients, and as premium providers, achieving both better numbers for themselves, and a higher return on investment for their clients – and that is the definition of a win-win deal.

Thought leadership: How CRE fits into corporate strategy

The cliché of “Location, location, location” applies in commercial real estate (CRE) as much as residential, but what factors you bundle into that assessment are, naturally, vastly different and should be explicitly tied to corporate strategy. That’s the realm of corporate real estate management (CREM).

Corporate decisionmakers

A savvy corporate client on the hunt for premises will be asking whether a proposed site will support their corporate goals.

When considering a potential position for offices or logistics, for example, an assessor might ask about the transport links, the nearby shops and facilities. They may consider perception and whether the location is in keeping with brand identity.

They will need to understand the current and future demands the company will make of a location, and how the lease or sale terms will be perceived by a board or management team.

Access to (human) resources

There is another oft-overlooked location factor that NAI argues should form part of a CRE strategy: talent and access to the right people.

This is the nature of cities or areas that become hubs for specific industries and sectors: they have a rich pool of workers with the right mix of skills to draw from. If you’re looking for the top geologists in the world, you probably want to focus on an area associated with mining. Want people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the ocean? Try Hawaii. Silicon Valley, and increasingly Texas, are meccas for the technically minded.

There’s remote work and transferable skills to consider, of course, but generally speaking a talent pool linked to an area is self-sustaining, in the way that Silicon Valley and Stanford will always be linked in their mutual development paths.

What type of staff you envision filling your hallways and boardrooms will also inform other location considerations: like access to good schools, parks, or public transport.

Property as an asset

Last but definitely not least, the right property is an asset and an investment with future dividends. This is why a smart broker, or their corporate client isn’t just looking at what is now, but what could be, what’s on the horizon, and any prevailing trends that need to be considered.

A client with explicit return on investment (ROI) expectations or a particular appetite for risk – as just two examples – should place that information on the table from the get-go, as premises can be (and often are) serving the dual purposes of functional and financial.

Remember: business strategy should drive a real estate decision, not the other way round.

Prop trends: Sustainability is the new black

The Covid-19 pandemic might have been an unforeseen crisis that sent the world spinning but, general volatility and the incidence of global or major crises are expected to rise in the coming decades. This is the result of a complex matrix of overlapping issues, including climate change, globalization, population growth and urbanization, and migration.

Against this backdrop, analysts have been warning that companies need to relook at their plans and forecasts through an ESG criteria lens. ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance.

According to a McKinsey report on the topic (published in Nov 2019), “ESG-oriented investing has experienced a meteoric rise. Global sustainable investment now tops $30 trillion—up 68 percent since 2014…” They ascribe this sharp acceleration to “heightened social, governmental, and consumer attention on the broader impact of corporations, as well as by the investors and executives who realize that a strong ESG proposition can safeguard a company’s long-term success.”

ESG in CRE

ESG is a rising concern for all businesses, and commercial real estate (CRE) is not exempt. ESG within this context would include matters such as the energy footprint of a property or development, its carbon emissions, ethical and local supply chains, labor relations, diversity, and inclusivity, and then the governance procedures and controls in place to comply with the law and meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders.

A solid ESG strategy creates opportunities for partnerships, strengthens ties with communities, and links back directly to things like corporate missions and visions, for the way you want to operate and the changes you want to make in the world. On the other hand, failing to account for ESG in your property or development plans can become a material risk for your business.

Competitive advantage

ESG platform Goby looks at these issues specifically within CRE, and they believe having an ESG strategy is a competitive advantage for CRE professionals and brokerages. There are, they say, many tangible benefits to this – such as lowering your energy costs – but moreover, emphasize the intangible benefits that flow from a solid ESG strategy.

Goby’s ESG in CRE report (hosted on HubSpot) argues: “Intangible benefits are harder to measure directly, and include metrics like tenant comfort, word-of-mouth advertising from tenants about building improvements, and a reduced environmental impact.

Attracting investment through ESG

Over and above “doing the right thing”, ESG advocates believe that these holistic sustainability matters can make a compelling investment case within CRE investing.

As the Goby report outlines, when asked what they considered essential and important elements of ESG investments some 79% of investors cited ethical parameters and values, 78% mentioned positive environmental and social impacts, and 77% reported that they believed ESG factors could play a critical role in broader financial performance.

This echoes the McKinsey investment growth story, and with those numbers, it’s not a leap to say that that’s the final word on the bottom line.

CRE Capital Markets: making money work for you

The capital markets function within commercial real estate (CRE) is such a huge part of the property industry these days but is still quite poorly understood by those on the outside. Yes, there is a certain magic to bringing all the right elements together to support a smart capital market deal, but that doesn’t mean it’s a mystery or unknowable. Conquering capital markets is a matter of strategy and value. You just need the right partners to guide you.

Course 101

Let’s get back to basics: If you are talking about capital markets as a general term (not necessarily within real estate), then you are describing a place for buying and selling stock, bonds, and debt instruments. A stock exchange, like the NASDAQ, is a type of capital market.

Zoom back into CRE

Within CRE then, you can see how capital markets are places for brokering financial deals specifically in property. When a brokerage, like ourselves, offers capital markets as a service this means we are providers of capital solutions relating to property. This can mean solutions for investors and for occupiers and may include advising on investments, recapitalizing, or debt placement – what’s on offer really depends on the brokerage and its own expertise in-house.

NAI Global’s capital market services include:

  • Investment sales
  • Note sales
  • Live and sealed bid auctions
  • Debt placement
  • Acquisition advisory

The right capital market partners

A capital markets service provider needs two overarching things for success: A depth of knowledge (expertise in the financial specifics and deal types), and a breadth of network (access to the right people and right primary and secondary markets).

Emerging trends

From crowdfunding to app-based finance, capital market professionals are also facing a wave of innovation and change, largely driven by factors like digitization and the fourth industrial revolution.

“Evolving technology means the barriers to entry are coming down, but expertise and experience continue to be what sets capital market service providers and consultants apart,” explains Jay Olshonsky, President & CEO of NAI Global. “That’s what you want on your side when you’re looking for the capital solution you need.”

Simpler Times

By Alec J. Pacella for Properties Magazine, March 2021

This month marks an anniversary of sorts. I’m sure you can remember exactly what even made you realize that COVID-19 was going to be a much bigger deal than originally thought. Most likely, this event happened sometime in the first two weeks of March 2020.

For the complete article, click here.

Pants on Fire

by Alec Pacella for February 2021, Properties Magazine, Financial Strategies

The 2020 election will long be remembered for a host of reasons. If you can put aside all of the noise and focus specifically on the numbers, an interesting thing occurred. The Republican candidate garnered over 72 million votes, which is the most votes ever cast in the history of the U.S. election. Except, of course, for the Democratic candidate in this year’s election, who garnered over 81 million votes.

Click here for the full article.

Eye of the beholder: Tapping into the art of CRE photography

Commercial real estate (CRE) comes alive with compelling photography, and this has never been truer than in this age where most prospective tenants and clients begin and end their search for property online.

Of course, there are some things a great photo can’t do: it can’t negotiate rates, or check leases, and it certainly doesn’t have the connections that a broker has. Thankfully, they are not competing. In CRE, a great photograph (several actually) and a great broker are a killer combo.

Here’s how to get the best visuals of your listings:

  1. Work with the professionals: If you are selling your own home, you might – we repeat, MIGHT – just get away with taking your own pictures. For a serious CRE listing, however, you need seriously great photographs that can capture a sense of place and project the potential of a site.
  • Collaborate with creative: A CRE broker may want to identify a small pool of tried-and-trusted photographers and freelancers who they can turn to as listings come up. Then they know the quality they can expect, and the photographers know the kind of photos a broker is after. Look for photographers specializing in real estate and architectural photography specifically; they come with a wealth of insight and tricks up their sleeves.

Also on this point, one must give clear briefs to the photographer, especially if there is a particular market or prospective client they want the photos to appeal to – such as startups or ‘blue chips’, niche or volume audiences, and so on.

  • Look local (and timing is critical): Knowing the area – its rhythms and moods – can mitigate some of the challenges an outsider might be faced with when capturing an office space or retail park. A local photographer can advise on what time is best for the lighting you need and want, which is one of the most critical decisions that you will make before a shoot.

A golden reflection, deep color saturation, or the sparkling backdrop of a city at night can all make the difference between a photo that shouts out to a viewer and a site that looks lifeless and cold.

  • Landscape, landscape, landscape… except when not: Almost exclusively, the landscape orientation lends itself best to CRE photography, and it is the most versatile for listings online and the types of standard content management systems many listing sites use.

There are, however, a handful of excellent reasons to break from this, such as drawing attention to an architectural feature or making a splash with printed peripherals. This “standard” operating procedure is shifting, especially as more listings are being viewed on mobile sites and apps (more directly below) in square and portrait form.

  • Tech-led: Fancy a 3D rendering or a sweeping drone shot? These kinds of photography are becoming cheaper and more accessible every day, and a professional CRE photographer will likely offer these extras or be able to recommend another service provider. Not every listing needs this, so be discerning.

Got a photography tip to share with your colleagues or an example of great real estate photography, from your listings or archives? Share this article, with your photography tip, and be sure to tag us on social media!

Click-to-collect and e-commerce: a windfall for CRE

Pivoting from in-store sales to tech-enabled sales was one of the saving graces of retail in 2020 when stores emptied out, and shelter-at-home orders dragged one. The data now shows that companies and markets better positioned to shift to e-commerce fared better than those that didn’t. 

The upside to shifting sales online, though, was that it contributed to a longer holiday shopping season, and drove record-breaking extension in e-commerce market penetration, with some reporting as much as 70% e-commerce sales growth last year. 

When a door closes…

On the commercial real estate (CRE) side of the retail coin, it has also driven demand for warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping spaces – a shift that creates an opportunity for a savvy agent or broker. 

…A warehouse opens

The World Property Journal, for example, reports that 99.2 million square footage of industrial space was taken up in the last quarter of 2020, making it the strongest quarter on record. Some 203.7 million square feet were absorbed during the course of the year, which is 27% up on 2019’s net growth.  

This overview perspective echoes the reports coming from regional data, such as in Wisconsin, as well as abroad in the UK and Europe, and Australia. According to Bizjournals.com, in Southeast Wisconsin, the industrial property market in 2020 took up square footage equal to that of all the new builds coming to construction completion in the area. 

In the UK, FM Magazine reports, that available space is outpaced by demand, and this is tricky at a time when companies will have to manage their supply chain very carefully due to Covid-19 and ‘Brexit’. 

Standing out

This kind of growth is a beacon of light in the otherwise dismal statistics of 2020, where economies around the world took huge strain – but it also draws attention to itself, which means more competition too. 

“Just because you have industrial or warehousing space on your books, don’t assume it’s a done deal,” cautions Jay Olshonsky, President and CEO of NAI Global. “Some companies are also cautious and risk-averse at the moment, so you’ll have discerning clients looking for only places that fit their needs and not every warehouse building will do that.”

At this point, analysts generally expect this trend to continue into the second quarter of 2021, although the growth line may flatten out somewhat as we begin to see a stronger return to in-person shopping in Q3 2021.

Data demonstrates 2020’s brutal construction slump

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) confirmed this week that construction activity on New York City’s Manhattan Island had – predictably – slumped in 2020, to almost its lowest level in a decade.

The World Property Journal detailed the findings of REBNY’s Q4 2020 New Building Construction Pipeline Report, highlighting that “new building filings in 2020 represented a proposed 42.67 million construction square feet, which is an approximately 28% decline compared to proposed construction square footage in 2019”. This was, the report said, the lowest total since 2012.

Residential units proposed for construction in 2020 declined by roughly 17% compared to 2019, the report found.

Promising plans

The study, however, is not all ‘doom and gloom’, stating: While this new analysis highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the construction industry due to the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it also follows some promising recent infrastructure and construction plans being put forth.

Global effects

These sectors are important job creators around the world, and many states and countries are still counting the costs of the ongoing pandemic:

  • A new report by the Associated General Contractors of America shows that Texas had the sharpest construction jobs loss decline in the US shedding 33,600 building industry jobs in December, compared to the same period the year before, according to Dallas News.
  • In Northern Ireland, says the Irish Times, data indicates “firms reporting a deterioration in profit margins outnumbered those reporting an improvement by 11 to one”.
  • London’s Southwalk Council is calling on construction workers to participate in their rapid testing project, as the UK government begins rolling out vaccines to those that cannot work from home.
  • And ConstructionCanada.net is reporting that both construction jobs and the economic recovery of Ontario is at risk if their government doesn’t bed down the post-pandemic “restart” agreement and plans for financial assistance. This comes from the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario who say municipalities will have to scrap repair projects if funds aren’t forthcoming.

“The ramifications are ongoing,” says Jay Olshonsky, President and CEO of NAI Global, “A set-back like this is painful, but if we’re looking for silver-linings it does give the industry pause to consider how it can return stronger, in sustainable and greener ways.

3 Ways to Embrace Green Building

In contemporary developments, environmental building has gone from being a ‘nice touch’ to a nearly mandatory consideration. Today’s consumer culture is passionate about choosing brands and companies that make eco-conscious choices, which have put the pressure on professionals to take tangible (and marketable) steps towards going green.

Resultantly, this has fueled a major trend in the world of commercial real estate. As their clientele demand all things green, our tenants and investors are hitting the commercial markets with green building in mind.

With success on the line, CRE pros need to start incorporating the green building module into their strategies. Fortunately, there are tons of different ways this can be accomplished – many of which won’t break the bank.


Let’s take a deeper look at green building and review some tips that will help CRE embrace this lasting trend.

Green Building Defined

Green buildings place strong importance on sustainability, waste reduction, and lessening a property’s carbon footprint. Successful green buildings are given the official stamp of approval by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). There are more than 200,000 LEED-certified buildings globally and the trend is only growing.

It’s safe to say that nearly every commercial sector is taking steps to become more environmentally-friendly. Retail, multifamily, office, hospitality, and even industrial are all being pushed towards a greener outlook. This development is having a big impact on the physical spaces they inhabit.

The commercial industry is shifting its focus towards an eco-conscious building module. Data analysts anticipate that commercial property owners around the world will be spending $960 billion in eco-conscious investments by 2023.

However, that’s not to say that all green upgrades will rack up a big price tag. Here are a few great tips to help you achieve a building that’s good for both the planet and your bank accounts.

Keep Your Eyes on These 3 Trends

Apply these 3 environmentally-friendly tips to your commercial portfolio to seamlessly transition your buildings into a greener future. 

Include Green-Thinking In Daily Habits

Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most.

It doesn’t always take a huge effort to cultivate a greener building. Instead, property owners can add a few easy-to-do daily habits to your regular maintenance routine. Get serious about recycling efforts, install a bike rack for tenants, and educate building users about cutting back on wasted water.

Green Leasing

Have you heard of the green leasing trend? If not, you’re missing out on an eco-friendly practice that’s not only helpful but also nearly cost-free. When writing the lease document, draft up energy-efficient reports, create recommended-use directions to reduce waste, and add in green requirements.

Energy-Efficient Everything

Whether it’s appliances, tools, or lighting; green buildings employ eco-efficient products as much as possible. A great way to get started at a low cost is by replacing the building’s older lights with LED lighting. LED lighting lets off more light and less heat, meaning less energy is being wasted.

Wasting less means spending less. Watch utility bills reduce after applying energy-saving tools throughout the commercial property.

Stay tuned for more CRE tips and news.

CRE trend: Home is where the work is

“Work from home” is the first major trend highlighted in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021 – produced by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and professional services network, PwC.

This “trends and forecast publication” is now in its 42nd edition and is highly regarded in real estate and commercial real estate (CRE) spaces. The latest edition provides “an outlook on real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues”, focusing on the United States and Canada.

Go home

The trends in the report are not necessarily ranked, but “working from home” (WFH) opens the first chapter of the report, titled Dealing with Certain Uncertainties, which attempts “to start the process of discerning the trends that Covid-19 has instigated and their long-term potential”.

It continues: “One of the most oft-mentioned themes that we heard [during research for the report] was that Covid-19 did not create new trends but accelerated those that were already underway”.

And stay there

The report goes on to say that this trend’s sticking power was boosted by its early successes. “The WFH experiment has gone better than most managers and employees had expected, since new teleconference tools and advanced information technology systems have allowed for effective communication and collaboration (so far),” it reads.

Looking to the future, the report says that over 90% of the Emerging Trends survey respondents agreed that even after the Covid-19 crisis has abated “more companies will choose to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time.”

This experience of WFH has also spurred experimentation in work models from companies, with several announcing either a permanent move to remote work or increased flexibility for their workers.

“History suggests that offices will remain the dominant location for most white-collar employment, but the pandemic has taught us that there is a definite new variation now in the mix,” it concludes.

Making Your Real Estate Portfolio Green

Commercial real estate has long been striving to become a more environmentally-friendly industry. Sustainability concerns and CRE go hand in hand, and green-minded strategies continue to play a noteworthy role in this business.

Even in the face of the coronavirus crisis, commercial real estate did not lose its long-standing focus on creating greener portfolios. With environmental concerns on the rise, the trend of sustainability is gaining momentum. As a result, commercial real estate has slowly been shedding its wasteful habits and adopting new green models.

Moving forward, all signs point to a green commercial real estate industry. Is your portfolio prepared?

If you haven’t already been thinking sustainable, it’s time to start. Now is a good time to begin investing in green properties. Make “green investing” a part of your commercial real estate portfolio – here’s why:

Attract More Tenants

As global sentiments become more focused on sustainable development, going green can help your portfolio attract more tenants. Today’s companies are passionate about maintaining their commitment to going green – even when it comes to the place that they reside. A green asset can out beat comparable listings simply because it is eco-friendly.

Attracting environmentally-minded tenants to your commercial space is one tangible motivator to prompt investing in green spaces.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Commercial real estate is set to become a green industry eventually. While the transition may seem slow, it’s steadily moving forward. There’s little to no chance for green efforts to revert on themselves and become obsolete. Instead, green investments in CRE will become a ubiquitous element of this business.

Getting involved with green investments early will put your portfolio ahead of the curve, helping you prepare for the future of CRE.

Gain Access to Financial Benefits

Sustainable investing can open the door to substantial savings. CRE investors with green portfolios gain access to grant programs, development support, and joint investment interests specializing in environmental efforts. Making green choices can improve your investment returns with key financial benefits.

Compete with Industry Leaders

When CRE giants make a move, the rest of the business takes notes.

Nearly all of the big names in commercial real estate are publicly dedicated to sustainability. Follow in their footsteps to keep pace with the best in this business. Going green will set your portfolio on the same foundations as industry leaders.

Modernize Your CRE Culture

Going green is the way of the future. The industry is slowly transforming – but once the change happens, sustainability will be the baseline of business. CRE investors don’t want to wait until it’s too late, when the competition for green assets is through the roof and prices are higher than ever.

Stay prepared by developing a green portfolio in advance. Right now, sustainability is a best practice for modernizing your commercial real estate culture. Your portfolio will be primed and ready for the increasingly eco-minded market of the future.

Creating a green portfolio will set up your investments for success and prepare you for the market’s next movements.

These Perks are Getting Employees Back into the Office

Over the past few months, office owners and team leaders have been doing everything they can to make their workspaces safe and healthy. Office buildings have undergone massive alterations to prepare for the full-scale return to the workspace… but when will that happen?

Changes to the Office Space

Today’s offices are contactless, tech-powered, and socially distant. Commercial property owners and residing tenants have teamed up to build an office space that does not put occupants at risk.

This required immense investment on the part of CRE and individual companies, but the result is an office that can accommodate workers safely. In these times, health and wellness are priceless.

Even though COVID-combatting protocols are being adopted across the sector, most workers are still yet to return to work. WFH remains as the primary professional landscape since COVID-combatting efforts did not convince workers to come back to the office.

If All Else Fails, Incentivize It

There’s something about amenities that wins people over.

Office tenants have taken this route to convince their teams to return to their workspaces. This new incentive-driven company culture trend is giving workers a reason to come back. But, beyond the attraction, office perks are also solving some of the key issues that today’s workforce has been dealing with since the pandemic.

For example, offices and schools closed at the same time earlier this year. Even though offices are slowly reopening, not all schools have welcomed students back again. As a result, workers with children cannot return to the office without paying for babysitters – which isn’t always feasible in these challenging financial times. Allowing team members to bring their children to the office with them is enough to solve one barrier keeping people away from the commercial workplace.

This is one example of how offices are adding perks to draw people back to work – but there’s more. Let’s look at 3 other benefits that are gaining momentum within the office scene as companies try to win back their teams:

Free Lunch

Free, pre-packed lunches are also becoming a norm for in-office employees. Companies are providing free meals for their workers who have come back to the office. Not only does this financially benefit team members, but it also mitigates the risks of having to enter and exit the office building to get lunch from external restaurants.

Learning Pods for Children

With workers bringing their children to the office, many companies are creating positive educational environments for the little ones. Companies are setting up learning pods for children – and they’re even hiring professional tutors to teach them.

Discounts on Parking

Parking at home is free, so offices needed to compete if they wanted to win workers back. Free or discounted parking is becoming another industry standard within the office sector as companies want to make the transition back to the office as smooth as possible.

Companies are heavily investing in their commercial operations to get their workers to return. Will these efforts introduce new amenities that expand the current workspace model?

Hotels Offering Day Rates to Lure the WFH Crowd

As the old saying goes, hard times foster growth.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the hospitality sector is changing so rapidly. Hotels have had a tough year.

2020 introduced challenges for every facet of commercial real estate – but travel-based industries saw unparalleled disruption. For the first time, travel bans and market closures put all tourism on hold. Whether for work or play, there were no guests to be found in vacant hotels for months.

Reopening markets brought reprieve for many CRE sectors, but hotels still had a lot of work to do. The lifting of official travel restrictions simply was not enough to attract guests back into hotels. Social distancing concerns for health and safety kept guests at bay, preventing hotels from seeing any relief.

The Hotel Space is Reasserting its Value

As a result of the unsatisfactory market climate and negative sentiments from the public, the hotel space has been forced to reassert its value. Over the last few months, hotels have been working to change up their gameplans and re-calibrate their models.

Since these efforts have kicked off, we’re seeing hotel robots, tech-powered sanitation, and effortless social distancing dominate the hotel scene. These developments have made hotels cleaner, safer, and healthier than ever.

But, with tourism remaining notably low, hotels needed to further their efforts and find a new target demographic.

The New Strategy: WFH Professionals

Instead of jet setting leisure-lovers, hotels have shifted their focus to the world of business.

Right now, hotels are offering their rooms as personal office spaces to attract business crowds. It’s been months since offices have been closed, leaving a massive population of workers without an official place to work.

The WFH trend has been difficult to adapt to, forcing households to try and fit everything into a single space. At this point, many professionals are tired of working from home – but they’re also not ready to go back to bustling office spaces.

As a solution, hotels have introduced the solo office space.

Hotels across the country have begun offering daily rates for out-of-office professionals looking for a peaceful place to do their work. Of course, they’ll also gain the added bonus of access to all of the amenities the hotel has to offer. Dining, fitness, pools, and other luxury options are attracting business people to give the daily hotel workspace a whirl.

Blending Hospitality with Office Needs

This isn’t the first time that hotels have considered adopting professionally-focused strategies to enhance their business models. Even before the pandemic, when remote working was becoming an increasingly popular trend, hotels were dipping their toes into a flex-space system.

The contemporary hotel model has been seeking to create a place that perfectly adapts to a guest’s evolving needs. Whether it be work, play, or relaxation, the future of hotels continues to point towards flexibility.

Looking ahead, commercial real estate professionals should be considering how this innovative hotel model will adjust when offices finally do re-open and welcome their teams back again. Keep your eyes on the rapidly-changing market to see what happens next.

What’s Happening in the 5G World in 2021

The 5G revolution is unfolding before our very eyes – but if you don’t look closely, you’ll miss it.

5G, or fifth-generation of cellular technology, has been promising lightning fast speeds and incredible bandwidths since its initial announcement in 2019.

However, it was still a far-off reality at the time. 5G’s intensity requires a substantial technological infrastructure to actually deliver on those wow-factor promises. At the time, the network lacked the foundation for 5G to become the national standard of connectivity.

Since then, leaders in tech and communications have been working ardently to build the network to host 5G – and they’re not doing it alone.

Commercial real estate plays a significant role in preparing for the full-bodied launch of 5G. Being at the forefront of the commercial scene, CRE’s network of buildings will be primary homes to 5G tools and apps. This is creating a substantial link between this new technology and commercial real estate.

CRE pros need to keep their eyes on 5G’s progress. Here’s what we need to be watching in the 5G space for the new year:

Tracking 2020’s Progress

2020 was expected to be the year that 5G took off. This prediction only came true to a certain degree. In 2020, 5G has been slowly rolling out. The transition from 4G to 5G is proving to be a slower process than initially expected.

4G LTE remains the bulk processor for mobile network connections. Meanwhile, 5G’s infrastructure is gradually being built. Today, the primary goal of cellular companies is focused on development. Setting up, perfecting the tools, and working on facilitating a seamless transition remains top of mind for 5G in 2020.

The jump to 5G is immense. When 5G becomes the standard, running at its full potential, the world will see the tech boost we’ve all been waiting for.

What’s To Come in 2021

Announcements have already been made that 5G will be coming into tangible effect in the new year. Apple has already claimed that 60% of its new phones will be running on 5G in 2021. AT&T is also planning to scale its 5G network in the new year.

When this happens, the world’s latent tech capacity will finally be able to come into play. Right now, we have many technologies, such as smart cities and IoT buildings, that aren’t yet at their fullest potentials. 5G will provide the necessary power and speed to give the world a demonstration of the heights of modern tech.

In 2021, 5G will continue to be more active in the mainstream. By the time we’re approaching 2022, it’s possible that we’ll be on the precipice of a full 5G activation.

Impacts on the Commercial Space

In the coming years, expect PropTech to erupt across all sectors. Commercial real estate will be at the forefront of 5G’s transition – and professionals in this industry need to be ready to carry the weight. As we prepare to welcome 2021, now is a good time to strengthen the tech infrastructures of commercial portfolios.

A Charles Dickens Classic

By Alec J. Pacella, for Properties Magazine December 2020

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit through yet another online Zoom meeting. But this one was a little different, as it featured the entertaining and thought-provoking ideas of Dr. Ted Jones. Many people in Cleveland real estate circles simply know him by “Dr. Ted” and his in-person economic forecast typically draws hundreds each year.

For the complete article, http://digital.propertiesmag.com/publication/?m=15890&i=686668&p=36&ver=html5

3 Ways Brokers Can Protect Their Data

It’s nearly 2021 and nothing is more valuable than data. In today’s world of business, data is gold.

For commercial real estate, data has been playing an imperative role in shaping successful strategies. From small boutique brokerages to global firms, being data-driven is a must to keep pace with the industry’s contemporary movements.

When it comes to data, the most important thing is knowing how to properly leverage the information. Having data is necessary, but the value of data depends on how it’s used. As businesses strive to better flex their data capacities, a new concern is arising: data security,

Today, nearly every brokerage is safeguarding a hub of sensitive data. Information from every deal, asset, and client is digitally stored and used for analysis. This data needs to be kept safe – here’s why, and how your brokerage can protect its priceless data.

Why It’s Important to Keep Data Safe

The proper application of data allows businesses to make predictive analysis, helping them to better understand the next best moves to make.

This capacity is what makes data so valuable to contemporary business models. If you know what’s happened, you can know what to expect. Brokers who use data are able to better serve their clients, make confident moves, and handle their portfolios with a degree of foresight.

Data is valuable – there’s no question about that. But, keeping your data safe is a big responsibility. With industries turning to digital infrastructures at a rapid pace, cybersecurity concerns are skyrocketing. Brokers need to be sure that their data is not going to be stolen, leaked, or compromised in any way.

In today’s CRE climate, protecting data is protecting a broker’s most valuable asset.

3 Solutions for Safe Data

Commercial portfolios generate a massive amount of data. These 3 strategies will help professionals keep their data safe. This is what brokers can do to make sure that they’re taking the right steps:

Keep a Data Inventory

Staying organized the first step towards a robust data protection strategy. If you don’t know what your brokerage has, you won’t be able to keep it safe. Making a data inventory is a great way to keep track of your data, where it’s stored, and where it’s sent to.

Don’t Be Hit with Internal Fraud

Not all threats to data come from the outside. It’s equally as important for brokerages to guard against internal fraud.

For digital data, maintain encrypted access and security restrictions. Security clearance to access sensitive data should be a baseline practice for brokers. Paper-based data needs to be protected, too. Keeping sensitive documents stored safely is a wise protective move.

Have a Data Breach Emergency Plan

Always be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Forming a data breach emergency plan is required to develop a solid reaction plan. This includes proper training for all team members, planning the next steps, and preparing to move forward. Be ready to pivot, investigate, and solve the problem.

Data reigns supreme – be sure yours is safe with these best-practices.

For commercial real estate, data has been playing an imperative role in shaping successful strategies. From small boutique brokerages to global firms, being data-driven is a must to keep pace with the industry’s contemporary movements.

When it comes to data, the most important thing is knowing how to properly leverage the information. Having data is necessary, but the value of data depends on how it’s used. As businesses strive to better flex their data capacities, a new concern is arising: data security,

Today, nearly every brokerage is safeguarding a hub of sensitive data. Information from every deal, asset, and client is digitally stored and used for analysis. This data needs to be kept safe – here’s why, and how your brokerage can protect its priceless data.

Why It’s Important to Keep Data Safe

The proper application of data allows businesses to make predictive analysis, helping them to better understand the next best moves to make.

This capacity is what makes data so valuable to contemporary business models. If you know what’s happened, you can know what to expect. Brokers who use data are able to better serve their clients, make confident moves, and handle their portfolios with a degree of foresight.

Data is valuable – there’s no question about that. But, keeping your data safe is a big responsibility. With industries turning to digital infrastructures at a rapid pace, cybersecurity concerns are skyrocketing. Brokers need to be sure that their data is not going to be stolen, leaked, or compromised in any way.

In today’s CRE climate, protecting data is protecting a broker’s most valuable asset.

3 Solutions for Safe Data

Commercial portfolios generate a massive amount of data. These 3 strategies will help professionals keep their data safe. This is what brokers can do to make sure that they’re taking the right steps:

Keep a Data Inventory

Staying organized the first step towards a robust data protection strategy. If you don’t know what your brokerage has, you won’t be able to keep it safe. Making a data inventory is a great way to keep track of your data, where it’s stored, and where it’s sent to.

Don’t Be Hit with Internal Fraud

Not all threats to data come from the outside. It’s equally as important for brokerages to guard against internal fraud.

For digital data, maintain encrypted access and security restrictions. Security clearance to access sensitive data should be a baseline practice for brokers. Paper-based data needs to be protected, too. Keeping sensitive documents stored safely is a wise protective move.

Have a Data Breach Emergency Plan

Always be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Forming a data breach emergency plan is required to develop a solid reaction plan. This includes proper training for all team members, planning the next steps, and preparing to move forward. Be ready to pivot, investigate, and solve the problem.

Data reigns supreme – be sure yours is safe with these best-practices.

How are Retail Spaces Addressing Lease Renewals Right Now?

A business sign that says Open on cafe or restaurant hang on door at entrance. Vintage color tone style.

Since the pandemic, planning for the future has become incredibly difficult. Whether it’s the one-month outlook or one-year forecast, uncertainty looms over every prediction.

2020’s widespread barriers to foresight have been causing troubles across the board. However, the impacts have been particularly intense for commercial real estate leasing.

As a result, today’s leases are more creative than ever: new clauses have been added, lease timelines have adjusted case-by-case, and a general atmosphere of openness is reshaping CRE.  

This flexibility has given rise to new leasing trends that vary sector-by-sector. Unique and specialty lease terms are arising across the entire commercial industry, but some sectors are handling renewals with greater tact than others.

Retail: Pivoting at Renewal Period

The retail sector has been particularly resilient in developing creative solutions for today’s biggest leasing challenges. Right now, retail spaces are flexing new approaches to lease renewals.

Retail’s ingenuity can be linked to the specific difficulties this sector has faced in 2020. Brick and mortar retail was in a tough spot during the pandemic. E-commerce gained the upper hand as shoppers stayed home and opted for remote services. Meanwhile, retail property owners were struggling to keep their tenants from abandoning their physical spaces.

While some brands are choosing to go remote, others are holding onto their commercial real estate. CRE spaces are being viewed as essential to retail – but that doesn’t negate the persistent uncertainty. This situation has prompted retail tenants and property owners to work together to cope with today’s biggest challenges to commercial leasing.

Here’s a look at a few of the ways that retail spaces are approaching lease renewals right now:

Short-Term Leasing

The primary response to 2020’s lease renewal challenges was opting for shorter commitments. Typically, retail leases range from three to five years in duration. However, with five years feeling like a lifetime away, property owners and tenants reverted to one-year timelines.

Short-term leasing was the immediate way that the retail sector pivoted according to the pandemic’s hazy outlook. Shorter commitments meant lessened risks, making this a key strategy for tenants.

However, property owners took a hit. In times of uncertainty, it’s safer to have a portfolio of long term leasing contracts. These single-year leases were far less stable – but in the circumstances, it was better than no lease at all.

More Time, Lower Price

In order to solve the problem of shorter leases, property owners have made another compromise.

Today, CRE owners are offering lower rent rates for longer leases. This means a tenant gets a better deal if they opt for a longevous contract. While it does reduce the asset’s annual returns, it also keeps rent pouring in – which can be a vital lifeline during a crisis.

This trade-off is proving successful for the property owners and tenants who are trying it out. It’s attracting tenants and prompting them to sign for longer durations. The longer timelines is giving property owners a stable stream of income for years to come.

What’s coming next? To find out, be sure to keep your eyes on the new trends emerging in retail leasing.

Are We Ready to Travel Again?

2020 was far from a year of jet setting and traveling. On the contrary, people all over the world were hunkering down in their homes to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. The travel industry’s decline seeps into the commercial real estate arena through hotels and short-term rentals, like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Now that we’re on the apex of a new year, are we finally ready to travel again?

Hotel Hardships in 2020

Without guests to fill their rooms, CRE’s hospitality sector was in hot water. Data showed that COVID’s impact on hotels was nine times worse than the aftermath of 9/11. This level of disruption was unprecedented.

With commercial markets closed, hotels were some of the first CRE assets to see forced shutdowns. Without the necessary safety measures, hotels were unable to keep guests safe at the onset of the pandemic. As a result, hotels spent months with no guests. This impacted the bottom line of business so intensely that many weren’t able to survive.

Even when the bans on hotels and short-term rentals were lifted, guests weren’t flocking back to the hotel scene. Travel remained sluggish for months on end. Due to general uncertainty, hotels needed to make big changes before they were able to win back the trust of their guests.

Moving into 2021

Now that we’re transitioning into the new year, the commercial market has regained some semblance of normal. But, the situations aren’t the same as they were before the crisis. Today, CRE has gotten the knack for operating the ‘new normals.’

Prompted by an urgent need to survive, hotels pivoted during their months of hiatus – shaping safer, healthier, and risk-free environments. Hotels are using technology and creativity to create a new, post-pandemic model.

Fortunately, these efforts haven’t been ignored. Right now, there are plenty of signs pointing to hotels and travel sites getting a lot of attention. While the volume is not yet at its maximum, it seems like people are slowly becoming ready to start traveling again.

What Happens Next?

A sudden uptick in traveling again will certainly introduce new challenges to the tourism industry. However, the hospitality sector is better equipped to deal with an influx of guests than they were earlier this year.

After months of preparation and COVID-minded development, existing hotels are ready to safely welcome guests. Commercial real estate’s hospitality sector will greatly benefit from the resurgence of travel. After a hard year, the relief will be a savior to hotels and short-term rentals all across the country.

Looking ahead, expect to see new hotels popping up around the country. Throughout the pandemic, hoteliers have been working on new plans that revamp the health and safety precautions of existing hotels. New hotel developments are being designed with the current travel concerns in mind, making them perfect to deal with the looming concerns introduced by COVID.

If we’re ready to travel again, we’ll be seeing all that CRE’s hospitality sector has to offer.

Where are Self-Driving Cars Today?

In 2019, there was so much discussion surrounding the topic of automated vehicles. Electric trucks, self-driving cars, and autonomous delivery trucks were all the rage within CRE conversations… So what’s happened since?

Let’s take a look at how things have changed over the last year regarding self-driving cars, paying special focus to how these developments are set to impact commercial real estate.

Where 2019 Left Off

In 2019, the self-driving car topic was blazing across the industry.

However, without a tangible product or service model to look at, many of the self-driving predictions were without a strong foundation. The idea was here, but the autonomous vehicle trend was still too far off to make any certain claims.

What CRE did know was that there would be a need for change. Commercial spaces would need to adapt in many ways before they were ready to host these kinds of cars.

First off, the commercial industry would need to bolster its tech capacities to keep these vehicles connected. Second, parking lots would need to be adjusted to house these driverless cars. Pick-up and drop-off areas were being loosely planned, too.

Despite this industry-wide understanding that change was coming, CRE still needed clarity.

Big Brands are Boasting Self-Driving Vehicles

After a long period of silence, it looks like there are many car brands that are ramping up their efforts to develop a self-driving vehicle. Talk of upcoming self-driving car releases is beginning to regain momentum. Right now, we’re closer to a self-driving revolution than ever before.

All across the country, car brands are launching self-driving car services, sales, and programs. Many of these projects are already in the works and are anticipated to be released in the coming year.

With more and more brands promoting these products, self-driving cars are bound to become increasingly prevalent within the commercial scene at large. Naturally, owners of self-driving vehicles will require the infrastructure at home, work, and even in shops and restaurants.

Commercial real estate of the future will likely be considering self-driving cars in their designs to ensure that proper measures are established for safety, ease, and accessibility.

Looking Ahead

As with any new technology, self-driving cars will be making key impacts on the way that people live, work, and operate. Commercial spaces will need to make sure that they are offering the proper infrastructures to support these new realities.

Beyond the basic necessities like specialized parking spaces, commercial real estate will need to make room for assets specifically designed for self-driving car services.

Self-driving ride services or automated delivery companies are robust business models that are expected to make ground on the commercial scene in 2021 and beyond. These developments will require office space for team members, warehouse spaces, expanded parking lots, and client meeting areas.

This dynamic property model will be heavily relying on the commercial arena as the self-driving vehicle goes from rare to regular.

Stay up to speed with the self-driving car trend to make sure your CRE assets are ready for the upcoming changes.

Affordable Housing REIT Shining Light on Emerging Sector

2020 has been a tough financial year.

On a global scale, the coronavirus pandemic set off a major disruption within industries all around the world. In the United States, these economic stressors were felt across the board. Unemployment rose, the economy entered its first period of decline after years of growth, and households suddenly saw significant changes in income.

In response to the changing financial circumstances, government officials and industries alike are looking for solutions to today’s economic turbulence. Using rent forgiveness policies as an example, it’s clear to see that many of these solutions involve the commercial real estate scene.

However, CRE is also carrying its own weight. The multifamily sector has been eyeing affordable housing developments as a necessity amid today’s economic crisis. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are pushing this movement forward – and it’s helping brighten the outlook for both CRE and its tenants.

Here’s what affordable housing REITs mean for CRE investors, property owners, and developers:

Commercial Real Estate Seeks Stability

Right now, everything is about resilience.

Commercial real estate is finally regaining its balance after a treacherous year. Even though the outlook has improved, uncertainty still looms on the radar. The coming months into the new year may hold more surprises – something that the industry is more open to consider after learning the hard lessons of COVID.

Fostering resilience, flexibility, and stability is the primary goal for commercial real estate professionals. Everyone is looking for ways to pivot in case of an emergency, stay afloat even in the worst of times, and future-proof their movements for added safety.

The Promise of Affordable Housing

While seeking a resilient strategy to stay strong during market turbulence, multifamily has caught the eyes of many CRE professionals. Investors and developers are switching lanes to dip their toes into the multifamily sector.

During the worst of the pandemic, the apartment sector was one of the best performing commercial markets. This is due to the necessity of housing – people could skip out on shopping or going to the office, but they needed somewhere to live.

These crisis-minded commercial real estate professionals are zooming in on the affordable side of multifamily for added security. Instead of ultra-luxe, high-priced communities, affordable projects are holding all of the promise.

Right now, affordable housing is being viewed as one of CRE’s strongest and most resilient investment categories. It shouldn’t be a surprise that everyone in the business is eager to get involved.

The Promise of Affordable Housing REITs

Affordable housing REITs are quickly becoming the golden child of today’s commercial real estate scene. Even prior to the pandemic’s disruptions, affordable housing and opportunity zones were at the forefront of CRE development. After what the industry faced in 2020, the focus on affordable housing is continually intensifying.

Aspire Real Estate Investors has recently kicked off the first affordable housing REIT, shaping an acquisition pipeline hovering $1.1 billion. This REIT is publicly-held, and it’s becoming a staple of today’s CRE investment arena. Moving forward, expect to see major developments to affordable housing in the United States.

Is Your Building Really Pet Friendly?

Everyone loves their pets – especially your tenants. Today’s multifamily residents want to live in a building that rolls out the red carpet for fido. These demands are increasing, prompting the multifamily sector to reanalyze how they’ve been defining “pet friendly.”

Is your multifamily community showing its furry friends enough love? Beyond just allowing pets to live on the property, it’s important to start considering ways that you can make your multifamily building extra pet friendly.

If you’re thinking this isn’t such a big deal, it’s time to think again.

Data reveals that the number of U.S. apartments with pets is more than double the amount of households with children. In 2019, there was a recorded 84.6 billion households with pets throughout the country. That’s a massive portion of the multifamily tenant pool – and appealing to that market can be a major strategy to fill vacancies and attract residents.

Having a pet-perfect apartment community can give your listings some extra brownie points, helping to upend the competition. Here are 6 ways you can create a truly pet-friendly multifamily community:

Dog Washing Stations

Nothing is better than a community filled with clean and happy pets. Adding a dog washing station as an amenity to your multifamily property will surely wow pet-loving prospects. Even a small dog washing area can relieve some of the bath day stressors, making it a great pet-friendly consideration.

Offer Waste Pick-Up Bags

Keeping clean can be as easy as providing free waste pick-up bags. Encouraging residents to pick up after their pets not only helps to keep your community clean, but it also is a kind way to show that you care.

Relief Areas

Designing relief areas around your multifamily complex is a great way to keep things clean and help out your tenants in one smart move. If you’re tight on space, don’t worry. These areas don’t need to be huge. Even small patches of grass can serve as a useful pet relief area in your community.

Pet Gatherings

Not all pet-friendly projects need to involve your complex’s physical space. Multifamily operators can create a pet-loving community culture. Planning pet gatherings and activity days are savvy ways to get residents to come together for wholesome fun. Consider a weekly pet meetup or themed holiday events. 

Discounts with Local Providers

Teaming up with the local community is another way to promote a pet-friendly multifamily culture. Dog walkers, pet sitters, or pet stores are all promising candidates to collaborate with. Setting up discount programs can be a powerful incentive for prospective residents.

Coupon Codes for Pet-Centric e-Retail

E-commerce hasn’t forgotten about pets, so neither should your multifamily property. Setting up a discount program for your residents with mail services like BarkBox or Chewy.com can add that extra touch of pet-loving power.

These six ideas will turn your multifamily property into an oasis for pets – and their owners will love them, too. Don’t forget to highlight your pet-friendly amenities and programs on your building’s website and listing pages. It may seem simple, but being pet-friendly packs a powerful punch.

Self-Guided Apartment Tours: Helping or Hurting?

The pandemic revolutionized contemporary commercial real estate leasing processes.

But, we all already know that. This past year has been flooded with conversations regarding commercial real estate’s online migration after COVID put an end to in-person transaction models. The new era of commercial real estate is a product of social distancing efforts combined with efficiency-boosting strategies.

The Popularization of Self-Guided Tours

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the trend of self-guided touring has taken off this year.

If you’re new to the idea of a CRE-sector self-guided tour, think a self-guided museum tour with headphones. Now copy that system over into a multifamily complex, where a renter would take an independent tech-powered tour of an apartment. This system can also be used to show listings for office spaces, retail, and other sectors.

Today’s self-guided tours are mainly app-driven and feature maps, security settings, and audio content.

The Value of Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided tours offer a pivotal alternative to other remote touring options – most of which take place behind a screen. Walkthrough video tours, 3D virtual tours, and listing photos cannot achieve the in-person experience that tenants crave. Self-tours have the upper hand over traditional team member guided tours since they’re socially-distant options.


Even outside of COVID’s circumstances, self-guided tours provide tangible benefits to an asset’s productivity. Prospective tenants don’t need to depend on a member of the leasing team or property manager to explore a listing.

Instead, they’re able to operate on their own schedule which expands the opportunity for showings. Plus, it frees up team members to take care of other matters.

For both team members and tenants, it seems like self-touring is a total win.

Analyzing Self Touring within CRE

However, nothing is ever that clear. A deeper look and some experience with the self-guided tour system is prompting some CRE professionals to think differently.

Recently, the question has been raised as to whether self-guided tour systems are helping or hurting commercial real estate. Across every CRE sector, self-guided tour models are revealing some prominent drawbacks in the system.

One of the main issues with the self-guided tour system is that it standardizes the marketing process. When prospective tenants are going on a technically-driven tour, they’re not able to ask questions as they arise in real-time.

Property managers and sales teams also lose the opportunity to personalize the tour experience to the prospect’s unique needs. Since the benefits of a listing can’t be explained in person, the tour may lose its potency.

Even though the self-guided tour system is intended to feature all of the details about a listing, the real-life experience that CRE is reporting notes that this isn’t the case. It’s not easy to anticipate the specialty questions a potential tenant may have, and it’s idealistic to assume that tenants will get in touch post-tour with property teams to make inquiries. As a result, self-guided tours may result in missed opportunities for leasing.

What’s your opinion on self-guided touring within commercial real estate?

Are Tenant Engagement Platforms Changing Real Estate?

Nowadays, everything changes so quickly.

It only takes a blink of an eye for a massive change to take place. We all learned that lesson the hard way in 2020. The pandemic, economic turbulence, and extreme market activity were constantly changing the situation – which never seemed to settle in one place.

Commercial real estate’s tenants were constantly facing uncertainty at a time when they had more questions than ever before. What is safe? What are the rules? What is being done to mitigate the new threats to health and wellness that are now ubiquitous?

CRE needed to provide answers. Information resources needed to be live, accurately updated, and easy to interact with. This new real estate demand was, like many other pandemic-related issues, solved by technology.

Here’s what you need to know about CRE’s new secret weapon: tenant engagement platforms.

Learning from the Office Sector

Experts are hinting that tenant engagement platforms might be the future of the office sector. These tech-powered platforms open up a much-needed channel of communication between individual tenants and property managers. With these mobile hubs of information, it’s easy to stay abreast of the minute-by-minute protocols.

Everything from cleaning schedules to contactless navigation and social distancing guidelines is at the tip of team members’ fingertips.

These platforms strip away the daunting uncertainty involved in navigating the post-COVID commercial scene. Tenants can be more comfortable while they’re in the office since they feel like their questions are answered. They won’t feel unsure – they can finally be confident again.

When considering how much progress tenant engagement platforms saw within the office space, CRE is wondering how this tech tool can be implemented in other sectors. The trend is already gaining momentum across the industry as players from different arenas dip their toes into these platforms.

Here’s a look at how retail and multifamily are deploying tenant engagement platforms to improve the way they engage with their audiences:

Multifamily

Staying safe and socially-distant throughout the pandemic has been especially challenging for the multifamily sector. Close living spaces and numerous common areas have forced multifamily to develop new coping strategies.

In addition to these issues, getting everybody in an apartment complex to abide by the rules can also be difficult. Posting signs and sending emails does not guarantee full compliance, and in the case of a pandemic, these breaches become a hazard to everyone.

As a solution, tenant engagement platforms are being used to communicate the latest safety protocols as well as share community news. Tenants can quickly get their questions answered since they always have access to community management.

Retail

Tenant engagement platforms are being used in retail right now, and it’s helping fuel the sector’s recovery. Physical retail was hit hard during the pandemic as shoppers transitioned online. Tenant-landlord communication was required frequently to discuss action plans. This need is being met by synced engagement platforms, strengthening retail’s overall resiliency. Even after the threat of COVID passes, tenant outreach platforms will remain pivotal within the tech-driven world of CRE.

What Does the Shopping Mall of the Future Look Like?

Shopping malls have been at the forefront of commercial real estate conversations for years now.

After a seemingly endless discussion, the future outlook of the American shopping mall remains hazy. We still don’t know exactly what will save malls and bring these public shopping centers back into the spotlight for consumers.

A New World for Malls

Back in 2019, many predictions were made. The most prominent forecast for retail’s revival of the shopping mall was based on experiences. Fun, social, personalized, and specialty – malls were to become a place where you could do it all. Prominent retail brands were teaming up with eateries and entertainment companies to offer a totally new era of mall culture.

However, 2020 happened – and those predictions quickly became irrelevant.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the commercial scene with unexpected intensity, the needs of the American mall took another drastic turn. Right now, the attention has shifted away from luxury experiences and towards health, wellness, and safety.

These pressing demands have changed the course of mall development, but they’ve also added a welcomed dose of certainty. Unlike the quickly passing trends of experience, the ‘new normals’ of the coronavirus are here to stay.

CRE’s retail sector now has a better idea of where to take malls than it has in years, and these actionable items are set to reshape malls in 2021 and beyond.

Here’s an idea of what the malls of the future will look like:

The Rise of Omnichannel

The trend of omnichannel retail has been growing since 2018, but as we move forward, it will become standardized. Brick and mortar will continue to team up with e-commerce to meet consumer demands and keep up with industry competition.

Delivery, BOPIS, and same-day pick-up options for online orders will restructure the way shoppers interact with malls.

Blending with the Medical Space

With COVID-19 displaying immense resilience, health and safety will remain top of mind within mall development.

The addition of minute-clinics and small scale medical offices into the pool of mall tenants is expected to rise in 2020. Not only does this assist in promoting health and wellness for shoppers, but it will also coincide with the growing med space trend of smaller, more accessible offices.

Offering quick and convenient services combined with the need for COVID safety measures will initiate a blend between malls and CRE’s medical arena.

Multifamily Collaborations

The med space isn’t the only sector that is forecasted to merge with malls. Multifamily will also be taking steps to rebuild the modern mall as on-site living options are integrated within these commercial sites.

Multifamily is eyeing malls as a potential place to develop lifestyle communities. Whether the development projects completely recycle a weak mall location into an apartment site or retail and multifamily will be blended in a single asset will vary between projects. This trend of combining work, life, and play into one model is expected to reverberate throughout CRE in 2021. What are your predictions for the next phase of retail’s mall scene?

3 Things Property Managers Need to Consider about Evictions

The recent rise in evictions is becoming a growing concern for landlords.

All across the country, rental landlords are reporting a severe uptick in evictions – and it’s making waves within the multifamily sector. Today’s rise of evictions is threatening occupancy and interrupting returns for property owners.

These challenges are shaking the multifamily sector, and it’s keeping everyone on their toes. CRE professionals and landlords alike need to know what’s coming to stay prepared and pivot as necessary.

Why Are Evictions Rising?

First, let’s cover what exactly is sparking this sudden explosion of evictions. Like many other new issues we’re facing this year, it’s all stemming from COVID.

The pandemic interrupted the income stream of nearly all Americans, initiating a period of widespread economic turbulence. Markets closed, companies defensively let go of staff, and unemployment numbers severely increased. In order to help protect renter tenants, government authorities initiated rent forgiveness policies.

In efforts to help people cope with COVID’s financial disruption, evictions were banned until further notice. Renters were able to miss or only make partial payments to their rent, and landlords could not move forward with evictions.

The subsequent interruption to rental income placed the burden on landlords and property managers, who were left to face mortgage payments without the same level of flexibility their tenants were given.

Emerging from Rent Forgiveness

Over these difficult few months, national rent collection did fare better than expected. But, there are a significant number of tenants who have stacked up months of rent and simply won’t be able to pay.

As states across the country slowly begin to lift these protection measures, these tenants are facing eviction… and their numbers are intimidating landlords. New data reveals evictions have risen 75% since the start of the pandemic. Right now, the national eviction rate is 21%.

3 Things to Watch

As the pandemic-recovery period slowly progresses, the coronavirus remains as an active disruptor for multifamily. This is what landlords should be watching out for regarding the relationship between evictions and COVID:

Evictions are Revealing Tenant Deceit

As more and more evictions are being processed, CRE is learning just how common application fraud is. Tenants who lie about finances in order to rent an apartment are being discovered as they face eviction. This situation is causing landlords to understand how important pre-screening and application verifications are for protecting their investments.

Rethinking Leases

Adding a pandemic clause is becoming a new normal within CRE leasing. The details vary from deal to deal, but property managers and leasing teams are preparing for future disruptions by sorting out the crisis-payment plan ahead of time. In general, these clauses enable renters to make partial payments or set up a payment plan in the wake of a pandemic.

Thinking About the Future

As we approach the future, it’s clear that property managers will need to improve their leasing processes to safeguard their buildings.

Bolstering communication between tenants and landlords also needs to take place to foster collaboration. Working together is a must during a crisis, and multifamily needs to make sure it’s ready to face what’s coming – right alongside tenants. 

Why Data Collection is Imperative for the Success of Our Buildings

Data is being called the secret weapon of all contemporary businesses.

Within the commercial real estate scene, data has become the foundation of the industry’s progress. However, the focus is moving away from data collected from the building’s tenants. Right now, the industry is concerned with data surrounding the building itself.

Nothing is more valuable than data… expect maybe how you leverage it. As data becomes a vital commodity for commercial real estate, we’re all challenged to find better applications for data and analysis.

Here’s how data is expected to become increasingly pivotal for commercial real estate success into 2021 and beyond.

What Kind of Data is Collected?

Data collection in CRE will be spanning everything from operations, utilities, security, tenant movement, and more. In short, if it’s happening in a building, data will be collected.

Improving a building’s efficiency will only be possible through astute data collection and observation. Data allows commercial buildings to be responsive. This enables CRE to begin taking a preventative stance over maintenance, energy usage, and tenant management. By working with data, CRE pros can find perfect solutions to their issues.

Data shows us what we need to know and analysis shows us what we need to do. Shaping data-driven strategies and protocols are the only way to improve a commercial portfolio’s efficiency and profitability.

Helping CRE Cope with COVID

However, those baselines of CRE’s data collection are being expanded in the wake of 2020’s pandemic. As data becomes increasingly important, access to building data will be vital for both owners and tenants – especially in the era of the coronavirus.

Data has an amazing capacity to help us mitigate the risks of COVID. Air quality control, social distancing surveillance, and even predictive tracking of outbreaks are all a part of the new normals of CRE’s data collection. Whether it’s in the office space, retail, industrial, or multifamily, data will play a frontal role in keeping the people of CRE safe.

Data’s Place in the Future

As CRE evolves its data leverage, the role that information plays in the industry is expected to become more centralized. An organized and accessible database of collected information will help commercial real estate adapt to the future’s unexpected circumstances.

Data will be in charge of solving the biggest problems weighing down on the commercial real estate industry. Buildings are pressured to be more sustainable, more secure, and better equipped to operate safely during the pandemic-recovery period.

The end result of data integration with CRE will be a more resilient and stable industry. When individual assets begin flexing their data capacities, the entire network of commercial buildings will become stronger. Better building operations means better buildings, and it’s all thanks to data.

The human mind can’t comprehend everything. Fortunately, data is adding a strategic dose of clarity, helping CRE professionals maintain control even in the face of mass uncertainty.

Don’t underestimate the power data will yield over tomorrow’s commercial real estate arena. Make sure that you’re leveraging your commercial portfolio’s data well to prepare for the coming CRE trends.

DIVING INTO CRE – Episode 22: Thriving vs. Surviving in the New Normal Economy, podcast featuring Alec Pacella, President of NAI Pleasant Valley and NAI Global EVP Cliff Moskowitz.

EPISODE NOTES

Episode 22: Thriving vs. Surviving in the New Normal Economy features Alec Pacella, President of NAI Pleasant Valley in conversation with NAI Global EVP Cliff Moskowitz about what the new normal is for CRE and how you can be prepared for it. 

Episode 22: Thriving vs. Surviving in the New Normal Economy

If you have any questions, you can reach NAI Global at info@naiglobal.com. 

Learn more about Alec Pacella and NAI Pleasant Valley at naipvc.com.

4 Predictions for Holiday Shopping in 2020

‘Tis the season… but this year, everything is different.

As we flew past Halloween and move towards Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas, all eyes are locked on retail. After such a hectic year, what will this season’s holiday shopping look like?

The 2019-2020 Shift

Last year, even with e-commerce activity at an all-time high, eager shoppers still flooded to stores and malls to do their gift shopping. Despite tons of Cyber Monday shopping, Black Friday’s turnout was impressive across the country. 2019’s holiday shopping season marked a positive direction for CRE’s retail sector – which was much welcomed after a difficult year.

But, that momentum was shot as the pandemic swept through in 2020. Since then, nothing has been the same. As a result, many of those bright outlooks established in last year’s holiday shopping season have been muddied.

This year, anything can happen.

2020 continues to defy expectations. It’s difficult to predict the movements of consumers today, especially with so many different factors pushing and pulling shoppers in different directions. Even beyond sales volume and trending gift items, the commercial real estate market is eager to see how this holiday season plays out for brick and mortar.

To gain insight into the coming months of holiday shopping, let’s explore what experts are forecasting for this season:

Here’s What Experts Are Saying

With COVID still on the radar and social distancing concerns top of mind, consumers likely won’t be hitting the stores like they usually do.

At the same time, e-commerce brands are taking advantage of these pandemic-induced circumstances to win over shoppers during this year’s holiday season. Unbeatable deals, perks, near-instant shipping, and BOPIS will be boasted by online retailers.

All this considered, experts are calling for a major slowdown for in-person shopping this year. The majority of consumers are expected to conduct their holiday shopping on the web, funneling their sales towards e-commerce and away from physical retail.

Now that we know what the experts are predicting, let’s look at how retailers are responding. This is what CRE’s retail tenants are doing to prepare for this holiday season:

Boosting Online Infrastructures

The pandemic prompted even the smallest mom-and-pop shops to open up an online portal to extend their services online.

Now, as the holiday season looms overhead, CRE’s retail tenants are investing in their e-commerce capabilities. Being able to supplement their in-person sales with online transactions is vital for balancing business this year.

Setting Aside Space for Order Fulfillment

With online orders expected to rise alongside a sharp decline in shopper volume, stores are making room for order fulfillment. Portions of retail’s physical spaces will be devoted to inventory, packing, and shipping preparations.

Still Preparing to Welcome Shoppers

Retailers are preparing to welcome shoppers in-store with a pristine shopping experience. Even though the numbers might be lower, retail tenants are still optimistic. Safety, accessibility, and convenience are all major focus points as brands try to win back their foot traffic.

One thing is for sure, whatever unfolds for retail in the coming months has the power to initiate lasting trends for holiday shopping moving forward. Don’t take your eyes off of CRE’s retail sector.