A fter a year of bleak facts and figures, the news in early November that the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was more than 90% effective was a cause for celebration, and when it came to the economic sectors that would benefit, real estate celebrated like few others.
Shares in the biggest real estate names on both sides of the Atlantic saw huge gains; Simon Property rose 24%, Vornado by 25%, SL Green by 31% and British Land by 26%. The prospect that we would be able to move around the world more freely provided hope for a sector hit hard by the impact of lockdowns and social distancing.
But amid this almost-blanket rejoicing, the arrival of coronavirus vaccines will not be a silver bullet fixing the problems facing the cities and real estate markets of the U.S. and UK, as our four-part special report below demonstrates. The rollout of the vaccine will be complicated, fraught with potential delays, and will have an uneven impact on the recovery of different communities and property sectors.
Most importantly of all, the real estate strategy of the vaccine distribution needs to be equitable, with all ethnic and socioeconomic groups having equal access to this vital inoculation. There is a danger that the diverse and low-income groups that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 find it most difficult to receive protection. Those charged with overseeing its administration need to recognize and overcome the fact that the health care real estate and infrastructure currently being earmarked might compound some of the disparities the vaccine is supposed to eradicate.
A vaccine-fueled recovery of the real estate sector remains some way off. The real estate investors know it — in spite of property stock gains made on positive vaccine news, the sector remains well below its pre-pandemic levels. The arrival of a vaccine brings hope, but huge challenges and complexities too.
Click the tiles below to read all four parts of Bisnow’s special report on the relationship between the COVID-19 vaccine and commercial real estate.