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Long before the novel coronavirus pandemic sent Americans racing for their smartphones to order groceries, industrial real estate observers were keeping a close eye on the availability of temperature-controlled warehouses.

Covid-19 vaccines that require very specific temperatures — Moderna Inc.’s vaccine requires temperatures of minus-20 degrees Celsius and Pfizer Inc.’s candidate requires storage at minus-70 degrees Celsius — have put cold-storage warehouses in the spotlight in recent weeks.

But the sector has seen little vacancy for years, and industrial real estate experts don’t expect that to change as consumers shift more of their food shopping online, even after the pandemic is in the past.

Historically, the national vacancy rate of cold-storage warehouses has hovered below 10%, according to JLL, and much of that inventory is aging and rapidly approaching functional obsolescence. The average cold-storage warehouse in the U.S. is 42 years old, according to JLL.

“If we have a client who wants to know all the available temperature-controlled storage in the U.S. … on any given day, this isn’t something that takes up 10 pages,” said Tray Anderson, Cushman & Wakefield Inc.’s logistics and industrial lead for the Americas. “It’s more like two or three.”

The lack of available space is a function of economics: Temperature-controlled warehouses cost nearly twice as much to build as their dry-storage counterparts, according to JLL, which forecasts that those construction costs will only rise as demand intensifies. A temperature-controlled warehouse can cost $130 to $180 a square foot, whereas construction costs for a conventional warehouse range from $70to $90 a square foot.

“That pricing makes speculative construction — breaking ground without a signed tenant in place — difficult but not impossible,” said Anderson, who is based in North Carolina.

But the uptick in demand from food companies and retailers — coupled with the variable of a massive vaccine-distribution effort — is enough to embolden some developers to try their hand at speculative construction. Already, 95% of U.S. food goes through a third-party distribution center before it reaches consumers, according to CBRE Group Inc. And as early as May 2019, CBRE predicted that the country needed an additional 75 million to 100 million square feet of cold-storage space to meet demand for direct-to-consumer food orders — and that was before the pandemic threw online ordering of everything from furniture to food into overdrive.

“JLL is tracking more than 20 speculative cold-storage developments,” said Dustin Volz, a managing director on JLL’s capital markets team who specializes in such properties.

Cold-storage properties tend to be specific to individual users, but Anderson said projects could at least begin construction by pouring a floor that can handle a specific temperature.

“Speculative cold storage is still challenging, but a few select developers are figuring it out,” said Volz, who is based in Dallas.

Vaccines for the novel coronavirus aren’t expected to drive much additional supply for cold storage because the goal will be to administer the vaccines quickly. What that might do for short-term demand for space is another matter.

“The growth we’re talking about isn’t really vaccine-related; it’s food,” Anderson said. “Especially at minus-20 degrees … Minus 20 is much more common with pharma and food. You can find space that can do minus 20. You’re not going to find any vacant space at minus 80.”

Volz agreed that food is driving the majority of the demand — and that the pandemic highlighted weaknesses in the U.S. food supply chain, such as its reliance on international vendors and inability to handle sudden upticks in demand.

“The need for excess warehouse space is therefore a result of keeping additional inventory to handle any surges in food demand,” Volz said, “and maintaining a domestic supply chain with the unrestrained geographical access for the population with supplemental food imports to complement the new infrastructure.”

 

Source: SFBJ

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A key component of a successful real estate investment is choosing the right asset class to invest in within the given market.

Supply and demand is constantly changing, meaning what was a lucrative investment one, two, or 10 years ago may not be worthwhile today. See what types of real estate are in high demand right now and how investors can participate in the growing market.

Before we dive into where opportunity lies, note that just because there’s a general demand for these types of real estate doesn’t mean there’s opportunity for them in every market. Real estate is a very localized business that operates on a macro and micro level. For active investors, it’s important to identify what opportunities lie in your local market or participate in a more diversified investment portfolio specializing in these asset classes through a real estate investment trust (REIT).

1. Cold Storage

Cold storage is a type of industrial real estate responsible for the storage and transportation of cold goods, including food products. The global pandemic interrupted the food supply chain, making consumers and large grocery retailers adapt to the shift in consumer preferences for online grocery sales as well as the need for more cold storage as a whole.

This specialized niche has several barriers for entry, making it a difficult asset class to invest in outside of Americold Realty Trust (NYSE: COLD). Americold is the only industrial REIT specializing in cold storage, owning more than 1 billion cubic feet of cold storage space. The company is well positioned financially to grow with the increased demand.

2. Data Centers

We are undoubtedly in the age of technology, with more people and products becoming reliant on the efficiency, ease, and convenience of technology. Data centers are responsible for safely storing and computing data for the government, large corporations, cloud companies, and even data used from phones.

Demand for data centers has been on the rise over the past decade, but COVID-19-related work-from-home orders have put even more pressure on this growing sector. While demand as a whole is up, certain markets are leading the sector, including northern Virginia and Atlanta.

Data centers are another unique sector to invest in with large barriers for entry, making any of the top data center REITs a wonderful way to participate in this industry.

3. Residential Housing, With Emphasis On Affordable Housing

A study conducted by Freddie Mac found that the U.S. is short 2.5 million to 3.3 million housing units in 29 states, with states like Oregon, California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, and Colorado the leaders in the housing shortage. These states, among others, are also home to some top-tier markets, where housing prices far outpace wages for the area, putting affordable housing in serious demand.

This means multifamily properties, single-family homes, and new construction can potentially be good investments in the right markets. This asset class is the easiest point of entry for investors, with dozens of options available to participate in actively, like fix-and-flip or rental properties, or passively through residential REITs.

However, it’s important to note that with current eviction moratoriums and a record number of tenants being unable to pay rent, the rental industry is facing tough times, making this a volatile market to participate in right now as a smaller investor. However, this industry is fairly resilient, and while it’s currently facing unique challenges, this market clearly has long-term demand and should bounce back in time.

 

Source: The Motley Fool

As part of Colliers International South Florida’s annual Industrial Owners Forum, more than 50 institutional owners gathered in Miami.

They converged to take part in a closed discussion on the state of the industrial market in South Florida, where they own properties.

Steven Wasserman, executive vice president of the Colliers International’s South Florida industrial services team, hosted the forum. He sat down with GlobeSt.com to highlight the main takeaways from the discussion and the sentiment these influential leaders have about South Florida’s industrial market. In part two of this exclusive interview series, he spoke about evolving industrial market trends.

“There’s still a lot of excitement surrounding e-commerce and the impact it’s having on brick and mortar retailers,” Wasserman tells GlobeSt.com. “While many retailers are downsizing their retail stores, there is a growing demand for distribution space as consumers are buying their products online. Distribution centers near urban cores are in high demand.”

Wasserman pointed out another trend shaping the industry: construction costs. Construction costs have been on the rise, but he expects they will most likely remain flat in 2017 as the condo construction market slows down.

“Institutional owners expect the cost of labor and construction materials to start to level off after years of increasing costs,” Wasserman says. “New development construction costs are ranging from $70 to $100 per square foot for new class A warehouse space and will most likely remain at that price throughout the year.”

On the other hand, he says, cumbersome environmental and permitting issues continue to slow the construction process down. That is forcing tenants to holdover because space takes so much longer to build out in South Florida.

Another topic of discussion was the trend of parking requirements. Institutional owners discussed the significant increase in employee and trailer parking requirements for all sites nationwide, especially “last mile” sites.

“This used to be a requirement from larger tenants but they’re now seeing it from smaller tenants in the 80,000-square-foot range,” Wasserman says. “We’re also seeing growing demand for cold storage facilities. As population continues to increase and lifestyle patterns change, we’re seeing increasing demand for cold storage facilities. This particularly true in South Florida where suburbs are becoming urbanized.”

 

Source: GlobeSt.