Making Strides

The past few months have been fraught with unprecedented challenges.
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman

The past few months have been fraught with unprecedented challenges. Having begun the year only mildly concerned about an overdue recession that hadn’t yet arrived, we were plunged suddenly into an economic freefall brought on by quarantines, job losses, closed offices and stores, canceled travel plans and concerns about transmission of a virus we knew almost nothing about. Federal and state bailouts have been critical to keeping the economy afloat, with moratoriums on eviction and extra unemployment payments helping renters stay in their homes, and small business loans providing the means to maintain payrolls.

READ THE MIDYEAR UPDATE

Fast forward four months, and while we as a country still struggle to surmount the challenges brought on by the new coronavirus, we have begun to collect and apply knowledge aimed at allowing a return to some semblance of normalcy. In this, the real estate industry has a critical role to play. Given that viral transmission is seemingly more prevalent indoors, changes to building access, interior configurations, ventilation and shared amenities are necessary to create safer conditions in which to live, work and play.

Technology is playing a bigger role than ever. In the apartment sector, many property owners and operators that had been considering such innovations as keyless building access, smart intercoms and thermostats, and virtual property tours moved forward with implementation this spring. This created flexibility to accept deliveries, lease units and address resident needs despite reduced staffing and the need for greater social distancing.

Commercial and consumer-facing properties have become more focused on hands-free doors, elevators and turnstiles to reduce chances for germ exchange. Cellphone apps offer advantages over building and office access cards much in the way they have become keycards for hotel rooms. And greater consideration is being paid to HVAC systems, in an effort to reduce airborne viral transmission. Focuses have included introduction of more fresh air via open windows and circulation through the ventilation system. In addition, better filtration can improve the quality of enclosed cooled or heated air. The well building movement, which had been steadily catching on, is proving to be more valuable than ever.

With this Midyear Update, we offer a measure of how the commercial and multifamily real estate sectors are performing and what the rest of the year is likely to bring. We also take a look at the financing picture, and outline some experiences and ideas implemented to date. In addition, we feature our always popular ranking of the Top Property Management Firms of 2020, along with Yardi Matrix market reports on some major multifamily metro areas, plus a national look at self storage market performance.

As we navigate this untrodden path, we hope you find both information and inspiration. And we’d love to hear about your own experiences.