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War In Ukraine, Geopolitical Risk Will Spur Investors To Turn To Real Estate: Report


Barring catastrophic global escalation, the war in Ukraine poses few risks to U.S. commercial real estate and might even spur investors to turn to real estate assets, according to a new report by Marcus & Millichap.

The fighting has already had an economic impact, both in the United States and worldwide, especially in pushing the price of oil upward and driving equity markets into correction territory. Historically, such periods of uncertainty reinforce the investment advantages of real estate, the report points out.

In fact, the current squeeze on the U.S. economy, which was underway well before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, stands to be advantageous to existing real estate valuation. Material and labor shortages will restrain CRE development, keeping vacancy rates low and boosting revenue outlooks.

"Even the most seasoned political and military experts cannot predict how long the Ukraine crisis will last. ... Within this context, the combination of yield, stability and inflation resistance of real estate will become increasingly valued by investors, supporting transactional activity in the sector," the report says.

Any number of scenarios could create financial market instability, including  more inflation or a global or U.S. economic slump. 

"Within that context, commercial real estate is one of the few investments that usually generates reliable returns," the report says.

Even after the fighting is over, U.S. commercial real estate offers a durable yield outlook and an extended runway of growth, according to the report.

Longer-term demand drivers for some real estate segments are unlikely to be affected by the war, even if uncertainty pushes the economy into recession in the short term, Marcus & Millichap predicts.

The aging of the baby-boom generation, for example, will support demand for medical office space and senior housing, while millennials will continue to support the demand for apartments. The easing of pandemic restrictions should help the retail and hotel sectors and elevate demand for office space if return-to-work plans go forward.

Industrial will continue to be strong, the report says.

"The sector has also benefited from increased use of e-commerce platforms that leverage industrial space as an integral component of the sales fulfillment process," the report says. "The investor appetite for industrial assets remains well above historical levels, supporting aggressive pricing in most markets."