Data-Less 2017 Market Outlooks (Analysis Without Paralysis) Part 1

CRE Data Market Outlook

Posted: December 7, 2016 by Eli Randel with Guest Contributor Paul Cohen

DATA-LESS 2017 MARKET OUTLOOKS (ANALYSIS WITHOUT PARALYSIS) 

The computer can’t tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what’s missing is the eyebrows. – Frank Zappa

As a tech company and a marketplace that has seen approximately 7,000 deals come through our doors since our inception in October 2015, we are data driven and pattern focused. However, for our market predictions we walked away from our computers to drive our neighborhoods, speak with our clients, visit stores to get a feel for the holiday retail pulse, and approach our forward-looking predictions instinctively to avoid analytical-paralysis or failures to read the stories between the lines. CRE data and surveys can often organize the “what” but sometimes fail to explain the “why” (or input). Our goal for our 2017 predictions was to focus on the “why” with the expectation that we (or anyone else) will not get the predictions perfect but that the value sometimes resides in the thought-journey and not solely the destination.

Industrial Outlook Paul Cohen – Southeast Regional Director

For many, industrial real estate is the most boring asset type. Buildings usually lack structural sophistication, are often “dirty”, reside in less traveled outskirts, and yields as of late are compressed to once unthinkable lows and lacking in the return premiums that used to often exist. Despite the lack of sex-appeal, it’s possible industrial real estate is currently the most stable asset type and poised for long-term prosperity.

During the last three or four-years land values have increased significantly in most major port and shipping markets and often the highest-and-best-use (or only use that will “pencil-out”) has been residential even in once industrial submarkets (Doral, FL for instance). Housing brings new residents and demographics which creates the need for warehousing particularly in our new economy where firms like Amazon and FedEx have made speed and logistics a priority and therefore need distribution proximity to population clusters. Rising land costs have done two things simultaneously: 1) because land doesn’t pencil-out well for industrial development there has been little new supply; 2) increased residential demographics has increased demand for industrial space.

A reason I particularly like Industrial real estate and find it a safe investment is it remains semi-immune to technological advances which may threaten other asset types. Modern technology advances and trends like automation, e-commerce, and telecommuting do not generally hurt industrial occupancy or demand but could actually fuel it. Whereas telecommuting trends can contribute to office space demands, and e-commerce has contributed to the decrease of brick-and-mortar retail demand, manufacturing and distribution continues to need distribution hubs across the country to quickly and efficiently produce and distribute products. And while automation has created less need for proximity to skilled workers and may change floor plans, the need to be near population clusters for quick distribution will limit major sprawl from cities.

Future segment potential impactors and risks include: oil prices – which are currently low and affect manufacturing and transportation costs, the political landscape and resulting impact on trade, new manufacturing technology, and the housing market. Politically, the incoming administration’s oft-discussed views on trade could result in decreased imports which could slow activity at port markets. However, penalties for companies moving overseas to exploit cheaper labor (known as “offshoring”) could keep companies and occupiers in the US and potentially increase domestic manufacturing and exporting. Additionally, a professed government plan for mass infrastructure investment will certainly require industrial storage and manufacturing to support those construction efforts. Next level technology like 3-D printers could eventually change how products are manufactured and delivered but I think we have time to see how that unfolds and impacts to industrial will initially be limited. Last, the housing market should be watched as a cooling in the housing market can affect the industrial market in two ways: 1) a decrease in residential development will likely decrease land and construction costs and open the door for industrial developers to deliver more supply; and 2) occupiers tied to the housing industry (like tile and furniture producers) will suffer if the housing market cools. In 2007 while leading the industrial investment sale team in Miami for CBRE, we saw occupiers struggle, vacancies increase, and rents soften.

Ultimately, while pricing has risen and yields have dropped as low as 4% for core product in top markets, I predict industrial real estate to be a very safe asset type with great fundamentals and macro-trends favoring its long-term health. Deal velocity or transaction volume, which is currently down about 25% from 2015, will remain below historical norms as some investors can’t stomach the compressed yields resulting from competition for deals and strong growth assumptions, but patient capital will continue to acquire assets and will benefit in the long-term when they do. While rents in some markets have reached once unimaginable highs and will someday soon flirt with $20/SF levels, lower transportation and labor costs resulting from cheap oil and automation have helped manufacturers offset increased occupancy costs. As land becomes more scarce and development of industrial space less practical, we think occupancies will stay high and rent growth will fuel long-term IRRs despite currently high asset values.

At www.CREXi.com we currently have 786 industrial properties (and growing rapidly) being offered by the best brokers in the business. We encourage you to visit and learn more or reach out to me anytime @ paul@crexi.com or 786.877.0544.

Recommended Reading:

LA Times – Warehouse Robots

USA Today – Offshoring

Eli Randel

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Paul Cohen – Guest Contributor

Paul Cohen is the Southeast Regional Director of Business Development and is based in CREXi’s Miami office.   Paul is primarily focused on expanding CREXi’s footprint in the southeast markets. Prior to joining CREXi, Paul was a Managing Director at Cohen Financial, his privately held real estate firm that specialized in investment sales and equity raises, and previously held a Senior Vice President position at CBRE.

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