Real Estate Forecast 2009

As a member of the school’s Real Estate Club, I got a pretty interesting update on the real estate forecast for 2009. This is just the summary. The whole article was signficantly bigger. A lot of it is obvious, but it’s still a good comprehensive list.

Serious dislocation has resulted in the following challenges:
1. A huge capital gap has been created (most debt has vanished, and all the available equity is not enough to fill the hole).
2. No one expects surviving financial institutions to ramp up lending once they finally stop their own mammoth balance sheet bleeding (even with gargantuan government bailouts).
3. Persistent risk aversion and new regulation could limit debt capital flows for the foreseeable future, muting transaction activity.
4. Many owners needing to roll over mortgages in the coming years can expect to face substantial refinancing hurdles, including higher lending rates, more stringent underwriting, increased equity requirements, and recourse terms.
5. The aftershocks of rampant “over-the-top lending” that batter the entire credit system leave property markets substantially overleveraged and vulnerable to significant depreciation.
a. Real estate value losses will average 15 to 20 percent off mid-2007 peaks, and could be more severe for lesser-quality commercial properties in secondary and tertiary locations.
b. For 2009, U.S. commercial real estate faces its worst year since the wrenching 1991–1992 industry depression:
i. Values will drop substantially
ii. Foreclosures and delinquency rates will increase sharply
iii. The limping economy will likely crimp property cash flows
iv. Lower growth going forward
6. In 2009, expected total real estate private equity investment returns will likely register in negative territory for the first time in nearly two decades.
7. In a classic flight to quality, those interviewed continue to favor familiar coastal global pathway cities as investment outlooks grow bleak—ratings uniformly decline for almost all markets.
8. Only apartments show some enduring strength—increasing numbers of young adults and people pushed out of the housing market keep rent rolls relatively healthy.
9. Always favored, industrial properties may weaken in the consumer downturn—fewer goods are shipped and distributed.
10. Businesses stop expanding or downsize, hurting office.
11. Hotels suffer as business and tourist travel is cut back in the recessionary environment.
12. Retail really hits the skids — cash-strapped Americans struggle with credit card debt, the mortgage mess, and gloomy employment environment.
13. Already savaged, homebuilders see little hope for improvement until mortgage markets come back and the job picture brightens—not in 2009.

Current prognostication: Expect financial and property markets to hit bottom in 2009 and flounder well into 2010.

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