2020 ROI Influencers: Real Estate — our experts explain COVID’s impact on the sector

Mindy Lissner, an executive vice president at CBRE, spoke the uncomfortable truth when it comes to the pandemic: Some businesses benefited.

Mindy Lissner. (File photo)

“While COVID-19 has been devastating around the globe, it has been a boon for the industrial real estate market,” she said. “E-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales has increased 25% in the last six months, creating an increased demand for warehouse and fulfillment space.”

Kim Vierheilig, managing principal, buildings and places, at AECOM, saw another side of the impact of COVID-19.

“With agencies trying just to operate, we are seeing clients struggling with how to finance projects, how to deliver projects cost-effectively, how to deliver projects to market faster and simultaneously how to drive innovation in a new landscape,” she said. “Public agencies will need to explore alternative methods of financing in order for them to deliver for future generations.”

Kim Vierheilig. (File photo)

There’s no doubt COVID-19 has impacted the real estate market in New Jersey in many ways. That’s why, as part of the 2020 ROI Influencers: Real Estate list, we asked 18 experts, representing six different aspects of the sector, to explain how the pandemic has impacted their day-to-day dealings — and their future plans.

The answers — like those of Lissner and Vierheilig — spanned the distance between big help and big hurt.

Jose Cruz, senior managing director at JLL, said he’s seen it all.

Jose Cruz. (File photo)

“We have seen investors increase their demand to acquire credit and longer-term leases across product types, including industrial, retail and office, as capital sources sought out predictable and stable cash flow,” he said. “Suburban multifamily, both core and core-plus product, is trading at a slight premium as compared to pre-COVID pricing.

“Development land for both rental housing and for-sale housing also has seen a marked increase in demand from the investment community. We are looking forward to a very active 2021, as there still is significant amounts of equity to put to work.”

It sounds as if plenty of equity will need to go into fixing up the office, too.

Wendy Andrew-Doele, studio director at Gensler, said COVID-19 has forever changed workplace architecture.

Wendy Andrew-Doele. (File photo)

“COVID-19 has presented an opportunity for us to reassess the purpose of workplace so it better services the workforce, culture, values and business,” she said. “We know from our U.S. Workplace Survey 2020 Summer/Fall that more than half of U.S. workers prefer a hybrid work model, wanting to work both at home and in the office based on needs.

“To address this change, we are working with our clients to determine their workplace’s new purpose, instill well-being and establish required technology to support this hybrid model, because the future of work is now.”

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Want insights on public projects, housing and changes in the workplace? Click here.

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Read our past ROI Influencers: Real Estate lists, too.