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Is There Any Upside Left for Office REITs?
Ethan Roberts covers the weakness in office REITs over the past couple years in a Benzinga article and whether there is any opportunity to buy the dip. To recap, the sector’s struggles began due to the pandemic with remote work gaining in popularity, leading many companies to downsize or abandon their offices.
Not surprisingly, office REITs were crushed and their struggles were exacerbated by high interest rates. Many of these REITs dropped more than 50% and are trading below their March 2020 levels, despite the broader market being substantially higher.
However, some contrarians are turning more optimistic on the sector. They believe that valuations have become very compelling especially given that public market valuations are much cheaper than private markets. Additionally, there are increasing signs that corporations are pushing back against remote work culture by insisting that workers must go to the office at least a couple of times per week.
In addition to this, real-time metrics like metro ridership and miles driven also seem to confirm that more workers are returning to the office. Finally, with increasing cracks in the labor market and expectations that the unemployment rate will increase over the next year, workers have less leverage and may be forced to return to the office.
Finsum: Office REITs have been crushed over the past couple of years due to the pandemic and high rates. Now, there are some reasons for optimism.
Benefits of Private Real Estate vs REITs
It’s not surprising that real estate investment trusts (REITs) have endured a brutal bear market given the combination of rising rates and recent bank failures which have led to tighter credit conditions. In a recent Benzinga article, Kevin Vandenboss discusses why private real estate has performed much better.
As a result, the Real Estate Select SPDR Fund (NYSE: XLRE) is down 28.7% from its 2021 high, while the S&P 500 is down 19.6%. This underperformance has intensified in the past month with the Real Estate Select SPDR Fund down 5.2%, while the S&P 500 is up 1.4%.
Interestingly, private real estate has performed substantially better with many investments continuing to deliver positive returns. One factor is the reduced use of leverage which leads to more resilience during downturns. Another is being removed from the pressures of public markets and quarterly results often leads to better decision making.
Therefore, investors, who are interested in real estate, should consider this asset class as it can generate positive returns even during periods of poor stock market performance unlike REITs. Private real estate funds are able to focus on particular segments which remain in growth mode even amid adverse economic and financial conditions.
Finsum: REITs are mired in a bear market and their performance has worsened amid recent bank failures and the Fed’s hawkish policy. Yet, private real estate has outperformed and continues to deliver positive returns.
Annuities Are an Antidote to Volatility
Given increasing volatility in financial markets, it’s not surprising that many investors are feeling nervous. According to Corebridge President Bryan Pinsky, annuities are one option for investors to reduce the volatility in their portfolios and prevent them from making rash decisions. His perspective was shared in an article by Allison Bell for ThinkAdvisor.
Corebridge Financial is ranked third in terms of individual annuity sales at $20 billion and was previously known as AIG Life & Retirement. He believes that negative emotions during volatile markets often lead investors to sell low and buy high.
In terms of his thoughts on the current market, he said that the doubling in the yield of the 10-year Treasury note in 2022 was historically unprecedented. It’s also resulted in annuities paying out higher rates which has led to a surge in demand for these products.
He says that the elevated market volatility since the end of 2021 have validated the use case for annuities. He also doesn’t believe it’s too late to seek downside protection and that annuities can be an integral part of any retirement portfolio with recommended allocations between 10% and 30%.
Finsum: According to Corebridge’s Bryan Pinsky, market volatility has proven why annuities are an essential part of any investors’ financial plan. Additionally, he believes that buying conditions for annuities remain attractive.