|With Commentary by Victor Calanog, Ph.D., CRE®
Chief Economist and Senior Vice President | Reis, Inc.
Each year, the CRE External Affairs Committee engages our membership to determine which issues will influence the real estate industry most significantly. Counselors of Real Estate® (CRE) are prominent real estate practitioners who pass a rigorous screening process recognizing their expertise, experience, and ethics in providing advice that influences real estate decisions. Counselors come from a wide array of professional backgrounds — from valuation, consulting, law, brokerage, and asset management to development, investment, lending, and corporate real estate. Encompassing more than 1,000 members, CREs are leaders in their respective fields. In this survey, Counselors take a forward-looking view of key issues that will change the industry both in the near-term and in the long-term, bringing opportunities and risks for market participants.
1. Interest Rates & The Economy
The Federal Reserve’s plan is to nudge interest rates back to historically normal levels – pushing short term interest rates upward. Concurrently, the passing of The Tax Cut and Jobs Act has enacted fiscal stimulus through deficit spending. As expansionary fiscal policy collides with tightening monetary policy, some speculate increased Federal borrowing could crowd out private entities from the debt market, while those who successfully secure financing face higher interest rates. Financing is becoming harder and more expensive to obtain, which could result in an economic slowdown.
2. Politics & Political Uncertainty
Geopolitical uncertainty, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and potential trade wars are policies with the potential to affect real estate indirectly. However, some policy changes have more direct implications for real estate, particularly in the regulation of community banks. Broadly speaking, the new law relaxes some requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act, adjusts rules regulating HVCRE, and reduces HMDA data requirements.
3. Housing Affordability
There has been a shortage of housing supply for nearly two decades. Simultaneously, income stagnation for all but the highest income households has hampered access to affordable homes and rental units. Now, as Millennials and others move to cities and begin to gentrify aging neighborhoods (formerly de facto affordable housing stock), a crisis of affordability is beginning to emerge. As this issue develops over the next few years, key questions regarding solutions are “Who pays?” and “How?”
4. Generational Change & Demographics
The real estate market is currently influenced by four demographic groups: millennials, baby boomers, Gen X, and Gen Z. Some companies have already started to adjust work processes, location, and space utilization in response to demographic changes; the housing market will also have to respond to evolving demands. Even though the different groups have overlapping desires, there are important differences in timing and ability to pay.
5. E-commerce & Logistics
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that $123.7 billion of retail sales were conducted through online channels in 2018 Q1, accounting for nearly 30% of all retail commerce net of automobile and gasoline sales. As retailers cope with this changing landscape, several big name stores have announced waves of store closures, while others have continued to open new locations. Commercial real estate will be directly impacted by these shifts in retail strategy – whether they be in brick-and-mortar stores or in warehouse/distribution centers.
Chronic underinvestment in infrastructure has elevated the risk of economic drag in the short- and long-term. Despite some political efforts, there have been very few serious attempts to address America’s infrastructure maintenance problems. All real estate depends on well-maintained and reliable infrastructure: houses need reliable utilities, and warehouses and offices need efficient roads and transit routes.
2. Disruptive Technology
The real estate industry, like the rest of world, is poised to adopt new technologies. E-commerce has drastically changed the retail sector, while ride-sharing companies are altering the need for garage space in residential housing. Data continues to be commoditized, offering increased transaction transparency and enhanced demographic targeting. As owners and investors move to adopt these new technologies, they must decide which tools are most appropriate for their business and not rush toward “technology for technology’s sake.”
3. Natural Disasters & Climate Change
Natural disasters and climate change are expected to increasingly affect real estate over time, which in turn are pushing states and local communities to establish urban policies and energy and sustainability regulations in order to combat these environmental conditions. However, more legal measures at the state and local levels imply more hurdles for real estate developers, especially with respect to corporate relocations and expansions.
The RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy) restricts legal immigration, dropping the number of green cards from the present 1.1 million to 500,000 annually. As the U.S. faces a long-term labor shortage due to an aging population, the stifling of legal immigration will have implications for the economy at large as well as for real estate.
5. Energy & Water
A combination of higher energy prices and higher real estate financing costs is expected to create optimistic growth forecasts for 2018. Additionally, the population within urban centers across the U.S. is likely to increase and thus put pressure on existing real estate centers to be able to provide water and other essential resources. •
The Top Ten Issues represent the collective experience of a wide range of Counselors who are experts in their fields and are known for innovation and creative problem-solving. To locate a Counselor with expertise in these areas or for press inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.