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CBRE: Hotels, Retail Will Take Up To 30 Months To Fully Recover

An imminent U.S. recession means a recovery period of 12 to 30 months for commercial real estate, depending on the sector and market, CBRE said this week in its updated outlook for the industry.

San Francisco, where the tech sector could lead to a relatively quick recovery.

Predicting an economic recovery starting in Q4 2020 and GDP growth of over 5% in 2021, CBRE researchers anticipate industrial properties will bounce back in 12 months and that the hard-hit retail, food and beverage, and hotel sectors will take up to 30 months to recover.

The most important variable affecting that timeline is how quickly the country manages to get the spread of the coronavirus under control, CBRE Research Chairman Spencer Levy said.

Levy's CBRE research team is using the global financial crisis and the dot-com bubble as templates, but they are also looking at the aftermath of the 2003 SARS outbreak and what has happened following the worst of COVID-19 in Asia, which hints at a relatively quick recovery for the economy as a whole, Levy said.  

“If you take a look at the SARS and the COVID-19, China and Asia [comparisons], you’re going to reach a different conclusion than if you take a look solely at the global financial crisis and 9/11," he said in an interview. 

For much of CRE, the bounce back will be anything but swift.

“Real estate does not have a V-shaped recovery," Levy said. "Real estate is going to be, to use the words of my friend and colleague Richard Barkham, a Nike [swoosh]-shaped recovery, which is subtler and will differ in speed and strength by asset type.”

After the tech bubble and 9/11, it took about six years for office rents to go from peak back to peak: two years for them to drop to trough, and another four years to go back up, Levy said.

In the case of industrial and its 12-month timeline, assets in that sector will be a long-term beneficiary of strong e-commerce growth and a new level of focus on inventory control by retailers, according to CBRE. 

Recoveries will also vary by market, Levy said. Markets like Washington, D.C., that have higher concentrations of the government, defense and tech sectors could fare better than markets like Las Vegas and Houston, which rely on the tourism and energy sectors, respectively.

“For other markets that have a heavy dependence on air travel, such as Dallas and Atlanta, there are also concerns that certain elements of their real estate stock may take longer to come back," Levy said.

Like the economy as a whole, how long it takes each of these individual timelines to get started depends on when containment is at satisfactory levels, he said.

"If that happens sooner, we’ll recover quicker," Levy said. "If it happens later, it’ll happen later.”