Friday, December 9, 2022

Advice We’re Giving These Days


It’s been said March comes roaring in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. Metaphorical for the weather patterns experienced - this can be said for our commercial real estate market this year.
Shaking off the cobwebs of a post pandemic hangover, 2022 started with great momentum - only to be cooled mid year. We received some decent economic news of late with the consumer price index not increasing as fast and some major retailers posting better earnings than expected - but our path forward still remains murky.
So what advice are we giving to tenants, investors and occupants who own? Allow me to categorize each.
Tenants. We recently recommended a client of ours renew for a short period of time - six months - to gauge the market trajectory. Our tenant is faced with a lease expiration at the end of this year and we’ve been watching what’s become available for several months. His options to relocate were limited and we’d even created a plan B to stay put if we didn’t see some loosening. Low and behold - we noticed a trickle of new buildings hitting the market in October. Now it’s running about three per week. If you’re looking for space - this is a vast improvement versus six months ago when we were lucky to see one every three weeks. Another interesting metric is the asking rates have declined. Gone are the days when a new avail was swept up before it was widely marketed. Every new deal was a new high. Not anymore. Our advice centers around our belief of future softening. Tenants are becoming valuable again - especially if they pay on time and are easy on the building - which our clients is. What’s causing the increase in supply? Some businesses, faced with the new rent structure are headed out of state or out of business. What’s left in their wake are vacancies.
Investors. We see two sets of motivation these days - tax deferral and non. Unless motivated by tax reasons - it may be wise to put your money in short term treasuries - two years - and wait for the right opportunity to come along. Institutional capital is largely sidelined and occupants are priced out. Private investors rule. If belief suggests a softening of rents in the face of rising interest rates - values can only decline. Will there be better deals mid 2023 than today? Our opinion is yes. Certainly, if your investment is dictated by tax deferred timeframes - you either transact or pay the gains taxes. But remember, the impetus of those buys was a sale. Our sense is they’ll be fewer equity sales as values have declined or the market’s evaporated - leading to fewer tax fueled purchases.
Occupants who own. We saw a voracious appetite from institutional capital targeting these arrangements. Their pitch was a sky high purchase price in return for a leaseback of two-ten years. This activity peaked in June. With the uncertainty of recession, inflation, and rising rates - these deals weren’t as attractive. With more lease deal hitting the multiples - our prediction is some of these owners will need to sell - especially if faced with a refinance bullet or a shortage of dollars necessary to refurbish the building into rent ready condition. Once again. Patience is key.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104.

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