It was a tumultuous 2020 and high levels of COVID-19 infections mean that it will be a difficult start to 2021, but economic prospects for the rest of the year are bright. This will provide a much more supportive environment for real estate, but challenges remain.
A gap in buyer and seller expectations led to low transaction volume in 2020. However, due to ample liquidity and investors’ mostly positive outlook on commercial real estate (CRE) fundamentals, the cap rates in 2020 remained relatively stable across the apartment, industrial and office sectors. Assuming widespread availability of a vaccine in 2021 and mass immunization, we expect commercial real estate to rebound and generate solid income, despite the office and retail sectors potentially facing lengthier impacts.
The U.S. Sum of Markets vacancy rate increased by 100 bps to 14%, marking the highest quarterly vacancy increase in two decades. Space demand shrunk by 30 million sq. ft., marking the second highest decline in demand on the record since 2001. However, the increase in vacancy and decline in demand didn’t lead to substantial rent declines, with the TW Rent Index dropping just -1.6% nationally.