6 Top Economists On What The Worst January In 7 Years Means For Commercial Real Estate
With oil prices languishing below $30/barrel and China's stocks tumbling, January was a rough month for the global economy. In fact, it's the worst January we've seen in seven years. Bisnow talked to six top economists to get their view on what this bad start to the year means for US commercial real estate.
Robert Bach, Director of Research—Americas, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
"Market observers like to point out that the stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions. Since the end of World War II, there have been 23 corrections (-10%) or bear markets (-20%) and only 11 recessions. But I confess to a bit of angst. Nevertheless, I still think the US economy will muddle through 2016 thanks to consumer spending—which accounts for two-thirds of GDP—so long as consumers ignore the doom and gloom from cable news and politicians. And if the economy muddles through, so will commercial real estate."
Ray Torto, Harvard Lecturer, Retired Global Chief Economist at CBRE
"Commercial real estate has a good long term outlook, and prices are not in a bubble as of now. But in the short-term, commercial real estate, along with other asset classes, faces macro crosswinds due to oil, China and their impacts on stock market. We are in a profits recession, not an economic one at the moment. If the market continues to show a run for the hills attitude, in the short run, 2016 could be tough for all asset classes, including commercial real estate. My advice to portfolio managers is to prepare for the worst in the short-run but recognize the long run potential for commercial real estate. Hope is not a tactic to pursue right now. Implement careful planning and executions. As they say here in Aspen, don’t get over your skis."
George Ratiu, Director of quantitative and commercial research, National Association of Realtors
"Commercial real estate performance is predicated on economic fundamentals. Demand and supply for buildings stem from economic growth, payroll employment, wages and credit, among other macro factors. Financial markets play an important role in economic activity, and volatility seems to be their inherent nature, especially given equity investors’ short-term focus. Looking at the post-recession recovery, we’ve had other periods of volatility (e.g. taper tantrums), which had minimal impact on CRE performance. Given that commercial real estate investors take a longer-term view, we expect economic activity to continue driving the outlook."
Jack G. Kern, Director—Research and Publications, Yardi
"Investors frequently watch the performance of the stock market and changes in interest rates as a means of determining how this could affect portfolios. Commercial real estate investments—while not directly correlated to global stock markets—are nonetheless affected by them. From an economic perspective, we are in a lot of uncharted territory right now and the recent move by the Bank of Japan certainly caught a lot of global bankers by surprise. Properties bought based on solid underwriting and reasonable fundamentals will continue to do fine. Those acquired without recognizing the risks properly will be back on the market soon enough."
Jamie Woodwell, VP of Commercial Real Estate Research, Mortgage Bankers Association
"From a mortgage finance perspective, one of the biggest impacts of the rough January has been a continued downward push on long-term interest rates. As of Monday, the 10-year Treasury is trading close to 1.7%, meaning mortgages rates are low as well. With the good, however, comes the bad, in this case greater volatility and higher spreads—particularly in the public markets. Put it all together and a mortgage banker’s help is more valuable than ever.”
Victor Calanog, Chief Economist, Reis
"A variety of market players are already projecting business to be somewhat flat this coming year; there is certainly more volatility in equity markets, but beyond that we have forward-looking indicators like industrial production and corporate profits being weighed down by the poor performance of mining, oil and gas companies. We expect GDP and job growth to be positive, though slightly weaker relative to 2015. Property fundamentals rocked 2015, but we expect 2016 to be a bit rockier, pardon the pun."