Hotel Investors Hold Tight

After the last few years which saw hotel assets trading hands at a breakneck pace, hospitality investors are exhibiting more willingness to hold on to their assets. The “hold” sentiment is the dominant investor strategy—at 38.1 percent– for the first time in five years, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ recently released Hotel Investor Sentiment Survey. Net buyers represented 37.1 percent of the respondents. A number of factors are responsible for the shifting sentiment, according to Kristina Paider, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. Many hotel owners believe the market will support their pricing expectations, so there is a gulf between what prices sellers want for their assets and what buyers are willing to pay. But, some investors are using this down time productively at their hotels, Paider said. “Many investors are utilizing this difficult lending time to upgrade their assets and improve performance,” she said. Hotel fundamentals are likely to deteriorate through the balance of this year, the result of slowing leisure and business travel demand. But this is only one factor that will affect investor strategies. Illiquid debt markets, high oil prices, and robust construction pipelines in certain markets all play a role in shaping investor sentiment, Paider said. “However, many investors are evaluating their strategies on an asset-specific, and market specific basis,” she said. Tampa and Philadelphia, for example, were two cities that exhibited a dominant hold sentiment, at 51.7 percent and 50 percent, respectively, with Denver and Atlanta close behind. The lowest hold sentiment was recorded in New York, ,San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., all high barrier-to-entry markets. =“Major international gateway cities, such as New York and San Francisco, are mainstays in terms of demand for hotel assets, along with Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.,” Paider said. “The sentiment for Tampa and Philadelphia in this survey is indicative that investors have not met their pricing and return hurdles.” Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels forecasts that global hotel transaction volumes should be similar to those of 2004 and 2005, about $30 to $45 billion.