Displaying items by tag: realestate
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.
Anxities Increasing Over Commercial Real Estate Issues
Commercial real estate was facing serious issues at the end of 2021 due to the increase in remote work and changes brought about by the pandemic. This resulted in a situation of excess inventories amid declining demand. However, these issues have been exacerbated by recent bank failures.
In a MarketWatch article by Joy Wiltermuth, she covered a research piece by Lisa Shalett, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who warned that commercial property prices could drop by as much as 40% and even have negative effects for other parts of the economy.
Shalett’s concern centers around the trillions of dollars of commercial mortgage debt set to mature over the next decade. And, the pressure is more acute in the current environment especially given high rates.
In terms of the broader economy, Shalett sees collateral damage from offices at depressed occupancy levels in terms of the businesses and municipalities that rely on people working in the cities. In her opinion, the stock market’s performance in Q1 reveals that investors are being ignorant of these risks.
Finsum: Morgan Stanley’s Lisa Shalett lays out some concerns over the commercial real estate market, why it could get worse, and its potential broader impacts on the economy.
REITs Struggling Amid Higher Rates, Slowing Economy
While the entire real estate market is struggling amid a backdrop of rising rates, stubbornly high inflation, and a banking crisis, there is no area feeling more pain than commercial real estate (CRE). This segment never fully recovered from the pandemic as many businesses and employees seem to have permanently adopted a remote or hybrid work scheme.
Thus, commercial real estate was already struggling before the past year when these pains intensified due to a slowing economy and a hawkish Fed. However, some Wall Street analysts are seeing a contrarian opportunity in the sector despite these headwinds according to an article by Phillip van Doorn of Marketwatch.
Overall, the analyst community remains negative on the sector especially among office buildings. According to Adam Posen, President of the Peteron Institute for International Economics, office occupancy remains 30 to 40% lower than from before the pandemic. Many REITs with exposure to office buildings have already endured severe corrections.
Another risk is the potential of spillover pain into the financial system given that there is about $400 billion of annual CRE loan maturities. Current models estimate losses in the range of 1 to 3%.
Despite these headwinds, analysts see opportunities in the REITs with top-quartile properties and successful management teams.
Finsum: The weakest part of the real estate market is commercial real estate. It was already struggling due to the increase in remote and hybrid work, but these pains have been compounded by rising rates and a slowing economy.
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.