The current economic climate in the United States has been a bit of a roller coaster, and depending upon the industry you’re examining, you may find more ups than downs or vice versa. Trade wars, combined with a slowdown in the U.S. manufacturing sector and around the globe, shook up equity markets and businesses in 2019. But robust job growth has extended the spending power of American consumers, which is ultimately our nation’s economic engine, according to CoStar’s 2019 Year in Review of the U.S. Economy.
To put this into perspective, the United. States is currently experiencing the longest economic expansion since World War II. Additionally, key indicators point to the economy staying solid in 2020, which will extend the record bull run for U.S. commercial real estate. While there are some risks that could eventually move the nation toward a recession, as it stands, the growing U.S. economy is driving demand for commercial real estate, with many factors emerging as a result. Let’s take a look at what the most profound outcomes of this CRE growth.
The growing economy bodes well for demand for commercial and multifamily real estate.
What it means for CRE: Expanding payrolls will continue to fuel demand for office space, while rising incomes and consumption will boost demand in industrial and retail sectors. As job growth continues, consumers appear quite optimistic and unconcerned by the trade war and any economic slowdown abroad.
Migration of workers from the Northeast and Midwest is growing the labor markets, which is fueling real estate demand, specifically in the South and U.S. West.
What it means for CRE: With the increase in labor as well as a growing demand for real estate in the South and U.S. West regions, CRE developers and investors should look to these markets as viable areas of growth. An increase in job creation also means a rising demand for office spaces and apartments. Property management will benefit from high occupancy rates, and job growth will lead to an increase in leasing. With low interest rates, commercial prices will likely see some gains.
The answer to combat rising development costs and rental prices in urban areas may be micro-apartments.
What it means for CRE: Simply put, micro-apartments extract the most value from every square foot. Standardized designs and “pre-fab” or modular construction cut development costs and shorten construction time, meaning developers could reduce expenses and start generating rental income more quickly. Some developers are designing studio apartments that are one-fifth the size and 40% of the cost of a typical studio, netting out to as little as 175 square feet.
Investing in industrial real estate, over retail, is the safer bet.
What it means for CRE: The industrial vacancy rate is extremely low, in many cities it’s below 5%, even 1% to 2% in some areas. Meanwhile, internet sales are cannibalizing traditional retail spaces, such as department stores, malls, and shopping centers. A unique aspect of this changing market is the emergence of “click-to-brick” retailers, like Amazon, that are establishing small retail stores in key areas. These spaces don’t carry much inventory, but they give customers the opportunity to interact with physical products and place an order. So for CRE investors and developers, industrial real estate carries more certainty and less risk than retail at this time.
Moving into the new decade, economists expect economic growth to slow somewhat as the labor market cools.
What it means for CRE: Consumer spending may lose some momentum and persistent global and trade policy headwinds weigh on business sentiment and investment. For commercial real estate, 2020 should remain a solid year of growth, especially for the industrial market. Though real estate professionals should remain strategic and always be looking ahead to factors that could impact economic growth, and CRE growth as a result.
What is your view of the current state of the nation’s economy right now? How do you anticipate this changing in 2020? Share your thoughts and insights by leaving a comment below.