COVID-19

Pandemic could mean opportunity for real estate investors

Andy Uhler Apr 7, 2020
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Could the post-pandemic housing market look similar to the post-Great Recession market? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
COVID-19

Pandemic could mean opportunity for real estate investors

Andy Uhler Apr 7, 2020
Could the post-pandemic housing market look similar to the post-Great Recession market? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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The COVID-19 pandemic has left no industry untouched. Many Americans and property owners didn’t have the cash to pay their rent this month. Which means some landlords are going to struggle with the mortgage, which means an opportunity for some property investors.

During the last financial crisis, there was a lot of distressed property to be had in South Florida.  

Daniel Lebensohn, co-founder of the investment firm BH3, said buying that distressed debt built the foundation of his company. He said nobody feels good about taking advantage of misfortune, but firms will be looking at this pandemic in the same light. 

“Now’s the time to innovate and go hunting because there will be opportunities,” Lebensohn said.

But KC Conway, chief economist at the CCIM Institute, thinks market changes will come in two phases.

“Phase one is really a repricing opportunity. And I think then the acquisition comes a little bit later, maybe six months down the road,” he said.

That’s because the real estate market moves slowly, and this pandemic is only a month old in the United States.

“It’s not as if anybody who owns anything is suddenly going to step up and say, ‘Oh, sure. A month ago, I could have sold this building for $400 a foot, but because I’m afraid of what’s happened in the market, you can buy for $200 per square foot,’” said Jim Costello, senior vice president at Real Capital Analytics.

He said it could get there at some point, it’s just not there yet.

And the hospitality sector is going to have an especially difficult time weathering this storm.

“Some of the areas like the hotels and the travel related … the restaurants, many of those are fairly tight on their cash flow and could actually be facing a situation where they need a buyer fairly soon,” said Calvin Schnure, senior economist at Nareit. 

And retail office space, one part of the market that many viewed as fairly safe, could be compromised because so many people have learned to work from home.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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