Tag Archive for: supply chains

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Pesky, lingering inflation that is higher than we’ve seen in years, along with six interest rate hikes totaling 375 basis points since the beginning of the year have had varying degrees of impact on all sectors in commercial real estate.

The speculation of further hikes later this year and in early 2023 doesn’t help.

Industrial real estate remains one of the darling sectors, though it is being tested by current economic conditions.

Four industrial real estate professionals, including owners, investors and brokers, three of them based in Chicago and one based in Houston, participated in a roundtable discussion, giving their perspectives on inflation, interest rates and industrial real estate. The participants: Alfredo Gutierrez, Founder, SparrowHawk; Rick Nevarez, Director of Acquisitions, Clear Height Properties; Kelly Disser, Executive Vice President, NAI Hiffman; and Hugh Williams, Principal and Managing Broker, MK Asset Brokerage.

What are the implications of the five 2022 rate hikes on transaction/acquisition activity?

Alfredo Gutierrez: It’s a challenging time as there are more investors stepping to the sideline. This means that if you are selling an asset today you might get three or four offers versus a dozen one year ago. On the  buy side, if investors have cash or lines of credit tied to a low rate, they are utilizing their resources. The fundamentals on the income side of the equation, because of rent growth, are still strong—that’s factual. Some are putting down their pencils because they are concerned about the potential for a recession and whether we’ll see the same levels of rent growth.

In reality, cap rates are a function of how much capital there is to invest into something. The question is how much dry powder remains on the sideline. We’re seeing an erosion of capital on the retail side and people starting to get squeezed. However, banks, life companies and institutions still have capital to place, and I believe it will flow into industrial.

Rick Nevarez: Activity has slowed, but it hasn’t come to a grinding halt. Overall, we continue to see deal activity and are expecting a big fourth quarter. It’s like airplane turbulence:  some respond with white-knuckle gripping of the arm rest while others acknowledge it’s taking place and go about their business. It’s really a matter of understanding the fundamentals of the real estate and how the current economic environment impacts those fundamentals.

Kelly Disser: It’s an interesting time with different groups being impacted in different ways. Owner occupants, private investors, institutional investors—all have acted or reacted differently. The demand for industrial space and leasing absorption today is still very strong. Inventory/vacancy is at an all-time low. As a result we’re seeing rent growth like we haven’t seen before. In certain underwriting acquisitions, we are seeing the impact of interest rates on values somewhat mitigated by rent growth and rents trending even higher than what we see today. The equation is evolving.  The development and investment sales markets have reacted and adjusted. Those with large funds have the ability to remain active and aggressive—and they are distinguishing themselves. Investors/developers who are sourcing capital on a deal by deal basis may be having issues in the current environment.

Hugh Williams: There was a point this summer when large institutional investors essentially said, “pencils down on all deals,” unless it was a perfectly placed asset/tenant combination in the middle of the fairway. Investors and developers are proceeding with haunting caution because at some point the math does not work.  You cannot acquire an asset when you underwrite debt costs that are greater than your projected return. That is problematic.

But we need to remember we’ve been in a low-rate environment for a long time, an environment that couldn’t last forever; and there are geopolitical events taking place that are also important considerations.  I have heard people say they are pulling back but some of them aren’t sure why. Overall, leasing activity is quite strong, and things are still moving forward particularly in select markets and micro-markets.

How are the rate hikes changing the flow of acquisitions and dispositions, if at all? And are they impacting different size buildings differently?

Nevarez: Interest rate hikes have pushed some buyers and sellers to the sidelines. But we are still buyers, looking at a variety of opportunities including value-add acquisitions. Sometimes you have to tweak underwriting to have a deal pencil out and make sense. Now more than ever, you need to understand ALL elements of the transaction, and what is motivating buyers and sellers.

Gutierrez: The effect based on size is really a case by case situation. But in general, if you had two assets where essential building characteristics except for size were essentially the same, the smaller asset would feel the pinch more. While smaller buildings are more likely to have shorter term leases, it will depend on the tenant roster and the lease terms. At the same time, because the rent roll may turnover more quickly, smaller buildings may be able to adjust pricing more quickly, too.

Disser: Interest rate hikes are impacting the flow of acquisitions and dispositions. The  pace has slowed in the second half of 2022 from what we saw the prior 18 months. But it is all relative, the first 18 months coming out of covid we saw activity levels, values and rents not seen before—in Chicago and across the country. An adjustment was needed.  There was simply too much money chasing too few assets:  the definition of inflation. Impact varies from case-to-case, according to location, submarket, or quality of asset.

Williams: My hypothesis is that if you go to a smaller, non-institutional building, it’s generally a different type of buyer, with a different mentality. For example, an operator like Blackstone is taking the long view. They are likely focused on main and main locations. When they go to build, they are focused on operating their platform as a business, not necessarily the conditions of the moment or focused on a near to short term exit. Smaller owners may be at greater risk—real and emotional—based on being prisoners of the moment (as we all are).  The short stroke is big boats are better ballasted against storms. Small boats get tossed about.

In other asset classes—like office and multifamily—some say that activity has slowed as the market looks for a re-set. To what degree is that occurring in the industrial sector, and are there other considerations (i.e., size, etc.)?

Nevarez: It’s really hard to say that any asset class is recession-proof, but industrial certainly is close. If the market was overbuilt, the impact might be different. There may be a scaling back and slight reset of pricing, but it’s not the same as other sectors because demand has been so strong. Our portfolio, for example, is 96% leased due to lack of product in the markets we own and operate in.

Gutierrez: A lot of people have put pens down, so to speak. Unless you need to place capital, you won’t. With some of the overall questions that exist, and fewer offers to consider, there isn’t necessarily a lot of pricing clarity. As 2022 wraps up our volumes will be down, particularly for the second half of the year.

Disser: It is always dangerous to generalize. The idea of a price reset isn’t absolute in industrial, as it may be in other sectors. In the industrial sector I think value equations are evolving, given rent growth. We see absorption, leasing and rental rates continuing to increase. The user/occupier clients of mine generally are operating businesses that are still strong and eyeing expansion.  In addition to scrutinizing interest rates, many are watching how lenders behave—as many have slowed loan origination activity. For some groups, the ability to secure the capital for a project in some cases is as much of a question as the cost of the capital.  If you lose your equity partner or can’t get a loan—you’re out.

Williams: There is a group that has been waiting 5-6, 10 years for a reset! The sky is continually falling.  Say it long enough and eventually you will be right. Pricing may fluctuate from its peak, but I don’t anticipate an incredible swing. The reality is that developers are much more rational today and have been that way for the last decade. What is going on in the interest rate environment forces additional austerity measures onto industrial developers.

All of the various elements at play lead me to believe that the sky will not fall, maybe a little rain, but rainwater is one of the keys to life—ask California.

How are higher interest rates impacting user sales/acquisitions? Are the higher rates making them any more or less likely to look at renting versus owning?

Nevarez: Higher Interest rates make it harder for users to come up with the capital to purchase an asset. Most users would rather place their capital in their actual business operations (machinery, employees, etc.).  Current owners may also look at their overall business plan to determine where they may need additional capital and find creative ways on how to get that capital. They look at their actual real estate as an opportunity to raise capital—through a sale leaseback—and to Clear Height (landlords) as a way to get that capital, creating a win-win situation for both parties.

Gutierrez: One of the factors that pushes users to consider an acquisition is the upward trajectory of rental rates. They figure they might as well buy. But in the current interest rate environment, the cost of ownership—if there was an inventory of buildings for users to buy—is up as well.

While there are concerns across the industry about interest rates, inflation and their overall impact, Alfredo Gutierrez suggests that the potential for stagflation would be worse. “If the Fed is going to push us into a recession, put us there and make it short-lived.”

Disser: Everything is getting more expensive across the board; that is why inflation is so crucial at this point in time. I don’t believe the increases in interest rates have impacted user sales whatsoever.  The most limiting factor is just availability of space or available options that could be purchased.  There is virtually no inventory. I have clients who want to sell their buildings—they need more space—but have no where to go; because there is nothing larger for them to buy.   Clearly the higher cost of funds results in larger interest payments, but the demand and growth seems to be greatly outweighing borrowing costs.

Williams: Not everyone needs to own a home, not everyone needs to own industrial real estate. Unless there is a specialized need, most operators should probably focus on their business and not try to get into the real estate game. The other consideration is that because of the overall tightness of the market, it’s hard to make a move—hard to buy a building. For many owner-users real estate is as emotional as it is practical.  Those that really want to buy will find a way but my supposition is that things slow on the user front because higher interest rates also affects the entire supply chain of activities within a warehouse as much as the cost of acquiring that warehouse.

 

Source: REjournals

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Among the harsh lessons the pandemic taught industries is that relying on thinly sourced supply chains, particularly for manufactured goods, can be a mistake.

Something coming from that experience is a degree of reshoring manufacturing—bringing it back to the U.S., as Avison Young notes.

The push has been growing for “several years … with 1.3 million manufacturing jobs brought back to the U.S. since 2010.” Manufacturing grew by 21.6%, according to the Census Bureau, and new manufacturing facilities construction was up 116%. The reason is to diversify supply chains.

“Many companies are investing in domestic facilities based on lessons learned during the pandemic, as product shortages disrupted their business flow,” the firm wrote. “Recent intense pandemic lockdowns in China took many businesses by surprise and threw another jolt into the already disruptive supply chain. By locating facilities in the U.S., they can mitigate risk and gain more control over the production, quality and distribution of their products.”

Technology companies have been leaders in the push to reshore manufacturing. Examples are multi-billion-dollar chip plants, thanks to the $52 billion CHIPS and Science Act that was part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The shift isn’t only the province of giant companies like Intel, Samsung, and TSMC.

“Many small- to mid-sized companies are also reshoring or expanding domestic manufacturing,” said the report. “Aside from the supply chain benefits, companies are also trying to work around skyrocketing shipping costs and other transportation costs. And, geopolitical issues related to China are prompting some companies to reduce their reliance on those foreign labor ties.”

With the increase of manufacturing facilities comes a boost to warehousing, because factories need storage and distribution space, as do tiers of suppliers to these manufacturers and potentially distributors.

“Despite the higher labor costs of operating in the U.S., it can be more cost-effective to manufacture products closer to the customer base, when reduced shipping and distribution costs are factored in,” the analysis noted.

An additional benefit that experts in supply chain and manufacturing logistics have noted for at least 20 years is shortening that by shortening the distance to a customer base, a company can react more quickly to changes in the market. Having factories in Asia and then shipping goods by sea leaves 30 to 60 days of inventory in transit, setting an effective time barrier on how quickly updates, design modifications, or error corrections can be incorporated.

 

Source: GlobeSt.

 

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A building that makes “no sense” to most investors could be a diamond in the rough to another — and knowledge and information is key in the current rising rate environment, according to one industry watcher.

“You can’t add value to bonds — and unless you own a VC firm or you’re Warren Buffett or Elon Musk, you really can’t create value by owning stocks,” says Marcus & Millichap’s John Chang. “Other than owning a company or a franchise, only real estate allows investors to roll up their sleeves, either physically or metaphorically, and create value in an investment.”

And Chang says this happens in one of three ways: repositioning, management, or knowledge.  Repositioning can be as simple as upgrading common areas and as complex as transforming high-rise office towers into apartments (a trend that’s happening at a rapid rate in some major metros).  It can also fall somewhere in between those extremes: think moving a Class C property to Class B or repurposing an outdated shopping mall into a mixed-use asset.

“Creating value in management can also run the gamut,” Chang says. “At the simplest level, an investor may see some high value but basic operational things that can be done — perhaps just cleaning up a property, adding professional management and moving the rents to market. Something more complex may be re-tenanting a building. An office investor I know bought a very large property with an enormous vacant space. He already had a major tenant lined up so he bought the building, restructured the space a bit and then plugged the new tenant in. Boom: the building went from 25% occupancy to 90% occupancy and the property value changed dramatically.”

Chang also draws on another anecdote, this time in the multifamily space, to illustrate this point further. He says an investor he knows with a great apartment management team bought several small- to mid-sized near the ones he already owns and leveraged that team across multiple units.

And finally, there’s knowledge, which Chang says is “all about finding market inefficiencies and exploiting them.” This could include acquiring assets based on emerging demographics or population migration, or could come on the heels of a major employer changing its HQ location or in advance of a tax or policy change. Chang says there are ample opportunities to “capitalize on information where the pending changes are not baked into an asset’s price.”

Several recent examples bear that out: the global supply chain dilemmas plaguing virtually every sector of the economy have prompted many companies to consider re-shoring or near-shoring to mitigate those types of risks in the future.

“These and more opportunities are out there, and a lot of them will make sense regardless of rising interest rates or other factors affecting the market,” Chang says.

 

Source: GlobeSt

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Retailers, third-party logistics firms and e-commerce groups alike are eating up the most big-box warehouse space in today’s red-hot market.

Retailers and wholesalers accounted for the most industrial deals at 200,000 square feet or larger last year, or 35.8% of all leasing activity, a considerable increase from 24.7% in 2020, according to CBRE Group Inc. E-commerce fell from the No. 1 spot in 2020 to third last year, accounting for 10.7% of all deals, while 3PLs grew from 25.8% to 32.2%, ranking No. 2 among large industrial leases in both 2020 and 2021.

Propelled by a surge in online ordering, and changes to consumer preferences in part because of the pandemic, retailers and 3PLs have ramped up their distribution networks considerably in recent years. That demand is expected to be sustained this year, and could become even more frenzied with the recent surge in gas prices.

The cost of regular gas has risen nationally 20.9% in the past month, from an about $3.50 a gallon to $4.32 on Tuesday, according to figures from Heathrow, Florida-based American Automobile Association Inc.

James Breeze, senior director and global head of industrial and logistics research at CBRE, said transportation accounts for at least 50% of a typical industrial occupier’s costs, even before the recent hike in inflation and oil prices. But, largely because of sanctions imposed on Russia from the war in Ukraine, oil prices have risen dramatically, although Brent crude futures — a key benchmark for oil prices — just began to decline. National gas prices were down 0.2% between Monday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 15, according to AAA.

“Any run-up in transportation costs will likely outpace warehouse rent growth, even while that’s growing at a rapid clip, which could result in even more demand for warehouse space,” Breeze said.

Carolyn Salzer, senior research manager of industrial logistics at Cushman & Wakefield PLC said higher gas prices could have a ripple effect on the industrial market, depending on the user and their supply-chain model. Both Salzer and Breeze said real estate costs for warehouse users have typically been about 5% of a company’s costs but, more recently, that’s gotten closer to 10%, Salzer said.

“If you bite the bullet and pay the more expensive rent to be close to the population center, and be more competitive with the labor pool and provide easier options for commuters to get to where you’re located, it can cut your transportation costs on gas and mileage in general,” Salzer continued.

Cushman & Wakefield is forecasting rent growth for warehouse and logistics space will rise by more than 15% in the next two years. Class A and new construction rents are anticipated to grow at an even higher rate. Those rental surges are creating a squeeze for some users, with tenants looking at lease terms sooner than what’s typical, or negotiating an early renewal or a smaller extension to resize a facility or consider real estate farther out, Salzer said.

But, Breeze said, for most industrial users today, higher rental rates generally aren’t causing companies to hit the brakes on expansion because they need the space to store inventory and lower transportation costs.

Salzer said she anticipates e-commerce users will occupy about the same share of the market it has since the pandemic, or 40%. That’s compared to 28.2% of all industrial absorption from 2016 through 2019, according to Cushman. Many retailers are opting to work with 3PLs to bolster their supply chains, which will continue to comprise demand in 2022 and beyond.

“CBRE so far this year has seen ramped-up leasing activity for groups that deal in building and construction materials, as well as medical supplies, which typically represent a lower share of the overall warehouse market, Breeze said. “That’ll likely mean a more diversified occupier base this year.”

 

Source: SFBJ

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The U.S. industrial real estate market will continue to be on fire heading into 2022 but longer lead times to obtain construction materials and across-the-board price increases will also affect the sector.

Cushman & Wakefield PLC took a two-year look into the future, predicting industrial absorption from the start of 2022 to the end of 2023 will be 855 million square feet. Although demand will be high, and issues will make new industrial development challenging, Cushman expects new supply will slightly outpace demand in the next two years, which’ll help moderate the market somewhat.

Cushman is predicting new industrial deliveries will reach 932 million square feet in 2022 and 2023. E-commerce is a big reason — but not the only one — behind the warehouse sector’s massive growth since the pandemic. Online sales rose to 21.6% of total retail sales in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 16.2% in Q1 2020, and remain around 20% as of Q3 2021, according to CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBRE) research.

“2021 was the best year ever for industrial real estate,” said James Breeze, senior director and global head of industrial and logistics research at CBRE, during a recent forecast call with reporters.

Third-party logistics have dominated industrial deal activity this year, a share that could grow in 2022 as costs continue to rise, and space and labor becomes more challenging to find.

“Many retailers or wholesalers will outsource their distribution to 3PLs at a greater clip in 2022,” Breeze said. “This outsourcing is going to be prevalent throughout the country.”

CBRE is forecasting vacancy rates next year for warehouses to remain at or even below 3.6% in 2022. Cushman is predicting industrial vacancy in North America will end 2023 at 4.1%. Expect rents to continue to rise for industrial occupiers, too. Cushman is forecasting average net asking rents for warehouse space in North America will reach a new high of $8.72 per square feet by the end of 2023.

“Even with the rental-rate hikes, tenants need warehouse space so much they’re willing to pay the new rates,” said Erik Foster, principal and head of industrial capital markets at Avison Young USA Inc.

“In fact, transportation costs are a bigger concern for many groups leasing warehouse space,” Breeze said.

Real estate costs are typically only 3% to 6% of total logistics costs, compared to 50% for transportation. The cost to ship goods via ocean freight grew more than 200% in 2021, while domestic-freight costs jumped more than 40%, according to CBRE.

 

“Leasing more space may actually save some occupiers money, if they are able to use additional facilities to cut down on domestic or international transportation,” Breeze added.

Investment activity for industrial real estate is expected to remain hot in 2022. Since the pandemic, some capital sources have pivoted away from uncertain asset classes, like retail and office, and instead poured money into industrial and multifamily, both of which have been on a tear in 2021.

Capitalization-rate compression across several U.S. markets has been observed in 2021 and is expected to continue, but cap-rate spreads between primary and secondary markets will be observed, CBRE predicts.

CBRE is predicting Phoenix and Las Vegas will post cap rates in line with the Inland Empire, about 3.1% in the first half of 2021, in 2022. Prices in the Pennsylvania Interstates 78/81 corridor are expected to be closer to those seen in New Jersey industrial markets, about 2.9% in H1 2021, says CBRE. Northern and central Florida could approach cap rates observed today in south Florida. Miami industrial real estate saw cap rates averaging 3.75% in H1 2021.

“With the amount of investor interest in industrial right now, there are some groups that don’t have much experience owning or operating warehouse real estate,” Foster said. “We’re seeing folks that are sophisticated, with real funds behind them, move in like never before to an asset class that they don’t know that well, which can cause risk.”

 

Source: SFBJ

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In Prologis’ recent third quarter earnings call, CEO Hamid Moghadam was blunt in his assessment of the industrial sector’s supply-demand equilibrium:

“With vacancies at unprecedented lows, space in our markets is effectively sold out.”

It is, of course, little secret that industrial rents are at a premium and tenants are jockeying for what space they can find. But new details in Prologis’ Industrial Business Indicator report show just how much of an uphill climb supply will have before it meets current and future demand.

Prologis reports that construction starts have risen to an all time high of 120 million square feet, with speculative construction representing roughly 88% of all starts in the quarter. But pre-leasing has also reached its own record of 70%. That, coupled with construction delays, which are spreading out deliveries, means the risk of oversupply is low.

“We do not anticipate significant supply relief in most key locations; new supply is concentrated in low-barrier secondary and tertiary markets and the outlying submarkets of inland markets,” Prologis Research said.

Indeed, it concludes that demand is set to outpace new supply through the near term. The reasons include the ongoing rise of e-commerce penetration and companies’ move to build resilience into their supply chains. In addition, retail sales are robust, and trillions of dollars in pent-up savings and record-high consumer net worth should support future spending growth.

Prologis Research forecasts net absorption of 375 million square feet and deliveries of 285 million square feet for the full year.

“Looking ahead, we expect that market conditions will remain exceptionally competitive for customers looking to expand, making it essential to plan early and move quickly.”

 

Source: GlobeSt.

American dollars grow from the ground

The growing logistics industry has not only created insatiable demand for warehouse space, it has ramped up growth in the transportation industry, creating a need for modern truck terminals with high-volume flow-through facilities.

Commercial real estate investors are beginning to take notice and are allocating more of their money to this niche sector.

“Historically, investors in truck terminals were large trucking companies that wanted to own their own facilities, like Old Dominion ABF, SAIA, R&L, Carriers, Central Transport and ESTES,” says Dean Brody, executive managing director and specialist in this investment area with real estate services firm JLL.

Today, this sub-sector is attracting big institutional investors and industrial real estate developers/investors. These include Centerpoint, Realterm Logistics, Terreno Realty, Brookfield, Duke Realty, Prologis, Stonemont, Altera, JP Morgan and others that have recently entered this market. Speculative development may not be far behind.

For example, in April, Chicago-based Dayton Street Partners acquired a 17,897-sq.-ft. truck terminal near Tampa International Airport in Florida from a private investor for an undisclosed price. The property is 100 percent leased to ABF Freight.

“This was a great opportunity to capitalize on increasing demand in the market and is part of a larger corporate strategy to invest in well-located, logistics-related real estate assets in Florida and throughout the U.S.,” said DSP Principal Michael Schack in a statement.

Integrated Service Provider (ISP) facilities are essential to supply chain efficiencies, Brody notes. Amid higher transportation costs and driver shortages, the need for them has been growing over the pst 15 years.

“The e-commerce boom has accelerated demand for those facilities by multiples,” Brody says.

“The purpose for these buildings is either redirecting cargo mode—usually from container to truckload—or consolidating and redirecting freight direction and what freight rides together,” according to John Morris, executive managing director and Americas industrial and logistics leader with real estate services firm CBRE.

De-containerizing cargo and transloading it onto trucks or rail cars facilitates logistics efficiencies, according to Brody. He explains, for example, that cargo from three 40-foot containers can fit into two 53-foot truck trailers, and it is more cost-effective for those trucks to deliver the cargo than directly transporting it over 50 miles to the final destination because the empty containers then must be returned to the origination point.

Markets that see the heaviest cargo movements have the highest demand for these functionalities, Morris notes. For example, there is a significant density of transload buildings in Southern California’s Inland Empire, where cargo is often moved from the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach, Calif. because it costs less to de-containerize it there than closer to the ports.

“Containers coming in from China are dray-moved to these buildings, de-containerized into different trucks or rail cars and moved out to mostly points further east from there,” Morris says.

The fee revenue models for these facilities are similar to any real estate tenancy—users typically own or lease them, according to Morris. However, many are also third-party facilities, where users are charged through a 3PL arrangement that is a blend of fixed and variable costs. Brody notes that pricing is on a per-door, per-month triple-net basis.

ISPs are located in logistics hubs all over the country. Those near intermodal facilities and ports will have transload options, Brody says, noting that terminals in infill locations in places like Northern New Jersey, New York City outer boroughs, Chicago, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire are achieving the highest rents.

ISP property values are dependent on location, but cap rates on these assets tend to be on average 1.5 percent higher than those for class-A warehouse properties, according to Brody. He notes that the spread is narrowing in core markets, where cap rates on ISP assets are now only 50 basis points to 100 basis points higher than for a warehouse, or might even be the same.

While returns on investment for ISP facilities are lower than those for warehouse properties, Morris says that they are marginally less expensive to develop, as transloading buildings do not require much clear height, and their structures typically do not need to support heavy automation. Such buildings also have lower coverage ratios, typically about one-tenth of the site, but they do require a lot of land to accommodate the higher number of axles travelling in and out than a traditional warehouse does.

“ISPs, which are basically concrete yards with a transloading facility, haven’t changed much over the last 50 years, except modern facilities have 100-foot dock doors as opposed to 70 to 90-foot doors found in older facilities, to provide greater flexibility in movement,” Brody says.

Cities generally don’t allow the development of ISP facilities near large population centers, as they have several negative aspects: they are aesthetically unattractive and inherently involve heavy truck traffic and significant CO2 emissions. Therefore, Brody notes that there is tremendous value in land already zoned for ISPs.

Despite high demand for these facilities, they have traditionally been developed on a build-to-suit basis for single-tenant users, such as large Fortune 100 retailers or third-party logistics providers, including Fedex, UPS, XPO and National Retail Systems. But going forward, Brody expects that spec developers will soon begin capitalizing on the growing need for ISP buildings.

 

Source: Wealth Management

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Since the pandemic started affecting the U.S. economy last March, industrial real estate has proven to be the bright point in an otherwise challenging real estate market.

As part of CommercialCafe‘s Expert Roundup series, a number of commercial real estate experts from across the country give their takes on why the industrial asset class is so resilient, what challenges it still faces, what the near- to mid-future has in store and even break it down to a regional perspective.

Industrial construction projects in the U.S. are projected to eclipse 342 million square feet in 2021 – the highest in five years. What are the main drivers of this expansion?

Grigoriy Azayev

The main drivers of the accelerated expansion we see in industrial construction projects in the U.S. and abroad are the following:

Due to stay-at-home orders and lockdowns throughout the U.S.,people had no choice but to shop online for household products, clothing,equipment, and food. The e-commerce and last-mile delivery trend has beenemerging rapidly for the last five years, but the pandemic accelerated growth and demand to numbers and targets that no one in the industry expected to see until 2030 (ratio of online sales vs. in-person retail shopping and dollar amountsspent online in purchases).

But the writing was on the wall for quite sometime pre COVID 19..The retail experience has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, and year-over-year,less Americans go to physical brick and mortar stores for everyday consumer goods. Instead, they’re opting for online platforms which have been improving their ease of use, variety of products, and most importantly: delivery speed. It doesn’t pay to get in the car and drive 30 minutes to the store, walk around the store for an hour putting your goods in the cart, and then driving backhome, if for the same price, I can click a few buttons and have all my goods delivered – sometimes as quickly as 2 hours. 

Steve Buss

Right now, three major factors are driving industrial demand — the rise of e-commerce; manufacturing growth due to reshoring; and supply-chain diversification. All three were accelerated due to the pandemic..

E-commerce was a huge driver of industrial real estate expansion before the pandemic and — after a short pause initially in 2020 — it’s only expanded in cities of all sizes.

Industrial real estate demand is a natural reaction of the marketplace, which has doubled down on online sales — not just business to consumer, but also B to B. Corporations are expanding how much they’re willing to buy via e-commerce just like household consumers.

We’re living in a world where competitive delivery pressure is ratcheting up every day. Everyone needs to find warehouse space to help them deliver goods to their customers. They want to offer expedited delivery and develop last-mile e-commerce supply chains to compete against giants like Amazon.

Fulfillment and third-party logistics companies are increasingly in need of distribution centers within a short distance of urban and suburban areas. That’s not going to change. Demand is only going to grow, especially in secondary and tertiary markets. In-fill industrial — as well as new construction — will continue to grow in 2021.

Will Curtis

The biggest things that has driven the growth in industrial is online shopping and the changes in the consumer purchase process. Between delivery driving the need to last-mile distribution to the click and pick up has increased the need for warehouse space for retailers.

The other thing that is adding to this trend is the move to suburban office space and looking at flex properties to combat COVID concerns like shared common areas, elevators or shared HVAC systems. Flex buildings have the ability to mitigate those issues and have driven the demand for more industrial demand.

Fletcher Dilmore

One of the main drivers of this expansion is that traditional big box retailers are conceding market share to online retailers, creating increased demand for industrial warehouse and fulfillment space from these growing online retailers who do not have a traditional physical presence.

Michael Edwards

Construction on industrial projects is booming, because we’ve seen consistently that despite periods of economic uncertainty or even crisis, industrial properties tend to remain stable. This means consistent cash flow and reliable investment growth. Industrial may not be the sexiest part of the real estate industry, but it might be the steadiest right now.

Additionally, sectors like e-commerce, data centers, and self-storage have recently seen higher-than-normal demand, and low supply. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for infrastructure to support these industries.

Max Levinston

Industrial was already growing at a fast pace before Covid, and this pandemic has accelerated many of these trends. In our market warehouse space either for sale or lease is quickly absorbed, both by investors and owner users.

Bruce Lowry

In our experience, the drivers in construction has two main drivers, (1) increased demand for warehouse space in general and (2) the lack of modern industrial and warehouse space. Increased demand for industrial warehouse space has significantly increased over the past several years as consumers have increasingly changed their purchasing habits from brick and mortar in person purchases to online orders with door step delivery. The global pandemic has increased this demand for door step delivery of online goods and services including perishable goods such as groceries.

Older consumers were forced to learn new technology and they are learning that they like the convenience of door step delivery. In turn, this increased demand for online ordering and door step delivery has increased the demand for both large warehouse projects and so called last mile warehouse space.

Secondly, outdated building infrastructure including lack of access to technological innovations such as communication and data infrastructure, buildings designed for automated sorting and delivery systems are increasing demand for newly constructed warehouse and manufacturing space. Buildings with narrow spans containing repetitive floor to ceiling support structures simply will not accommodate modern automated manufacturing and warehouse logistics systems and these buildings are being replaced with structures that contain these innovations.

Bryan Shaffer

E-commerce sales was growing before the pandemic, but the crisis accelerated this trend, with consumers unable to obtain goods from some retailers. Further, it was harder for manufacturers and sellers to get their goods to the market therefore many small suppliers have partnered with Amazon to keep their distribution line open. Overall, year over year industrial values increased 8.1% from February 2020 to February 2021, more than any commercial real estate asset class. The E-commerce sales resulted in much stronger demand for logistics and more demand for cold storage space.

 

Industrial real estate has fared better that other asset classes in the last year. How has 2020 affected the industrial market this year and beyond?

Grigoriy Azayev

The industrial market in 2020 has become the sweetheart ofCRE. Everyone is chasing industrial deals and some of the biggest players inother asset types are jumping ship to bid on industrial deals. Unfortunately,it is creating a supply shortage in the market throughout the country, and prices for both leases and investments are on the rise. I don’t see this trend slowingdown because companies like Amazon have publicly stated they want to doubletheir square footage in the next year and are paying top dollar for class A industrial space and land. Regrettably, it’s weeding out the little guys and small-to-mid-size businesses that also rely on supply chains and logistical real estate.

Steve Buss

Another huge factor driving demand for industrial real estate is a much greater awareness of supply chain risk, which was exposed due to the pandemic shutdowns. Shortages of all types of goods revealed just how tight supply chains were for many sectors. For example, some U.S. automakers weren’t able to operate because they couldn’t get onboard computer chips. That led to sustained automotive inventory shortages. Until the pandemic, that was an unseen or under-rated risk in the supply chain. Now, it’s impossible to ignore such risks. Businesses are diversifying those supply chains and rethinking how they manage risk, including where they want to store finished goods.

While it’s typically more profitable to run a really tight supply chain, businesses faced a rude awakening and discovered it’s also much riskier. Businesses and their customers found they were taking on far more risk than they realized by holding very little inventory. They weren’t ready to handle the supply chain disruption. Now, they’re asking how much more inventory they should have on hand to make it through the next supply disruption.

Will Curtis

Certainly of returns is always going to drive investments. With large players like Amazon, Walmart, and others that they need additional warehouse space has added to the investment-grade properties and brought in more demand.

Fletcher Dilmore

2020 has made industrial real estate an essential asset class. Distribution and warehousing went from being apart of everyday business to being the everyday business. Had it not been for the pandemic, I think it is safe to say we would not have seen as quick of an adaptation of online grocery shopping, something that had been available, but was a minuscule amount of overall grocery sales in previous years. 

Michael Edwards

2020 was quite a year – and it was fascinating to see the shifts in the real estate industry. In commercial real estate in general, most markets saw a decline in demand – but industrial saw a significant increase in growth and investment. We anticipate that investors will be eyeing industrial properties favorably in the months ahead.

Part of the reason for this growth in industrial investment is the consumer behaviors that accelerated e-commerce and data centers when the pandemic rocked our worlds last year. Grandparents who’d never ordered anything online before were suddenly getting groceries delivered and medications shipped and birthday gifts sent directly to their kids and grandkids from fulfilment centers. We expect this trend to continue, so demand will remain for the industrial properties needed to support those activities.

Max Levinston

Online shopping has been a huge reason for the increased demand. Many of these shifts in consumer shopping will not revert back once we’re further out of this pandemic.. 

Bruce Lowry

The industrial and warehouse real estate market is strong and the demand for new industrial and warehouse properties across all sectors will continue as companies innovate and automate their manufacturing, logistics and delivery programs. We see only increases in this sector for the foreseeable future due to high consumer demand for e-commerce goods and the need to continue to automate manufacturing facilities.

Bryan Shaffer

The pandemic forced people to adapt to E-commerce. It likely pushed forward the market in the US by 5-10 years. People who were possibly thinking of looking at eCommerce were forced to utilize it during the pandemic to receive their needed supplies and services. In addition to industrial logistics demand, the vaccine also created more cold storage space. New technology has also developed quicker because of additional capital being invested in this space.

 

Are there any other use-types besides e-commerce and cold storage that you see expanding more in the future?

Grigoriy Azayev

We’re starting to see some secondary uses come into play,such as fleet parking for delivery providers and there has is a growing demand for movie studios and film production campuses in New York City. This is due to some excellent tax incentive programs for film production here and tremendous demand growth for instant and fresh content. There is also movement in the smaller “maker spaces” and manufacturers here in New York and other cities. The costs of shipping andoutsourced manufacturing on the rise, paired with long delays of production due to COVID-19, the cost of manufacturing in the U.S has become comparable to outsourcing due to a growing supply chain. It has become more and more seamless and cost-effective to manufacture all types of goods here in the states.

Steve Buss

Another issue that will drive industrial real estate in the years to come is reshoring or bringing manufacturing operations back to the U.S. Because of the pandemic supply chain issues, some companies are less convinced they want all their goods coming from one country like China if they can find local alternatives.

Will Curtis

In San Antonio, we are seeing a huge push for Cyber Security. Flex space is showing as a great cost-effective option compared to traditional office buildings. Cyber Security SCIF (Sensitive Compartmentalized Infrastrcture) is expensive to build out and flex gives a lower-cost option. Things like Port San Antonio has been a huge driver for the growth in San Antonio.

Fletcher Dilmore

I have seen an increase in demand in my local market for smaller flex space by tenants that have a specialized manufacturing or business specific needs.

Michael Edwards

Data centers, undoubtedly, will continue to grow in importance and their needs will evolve along with the technology that’s stored inside them. We’ve also seen self-storage grow over the past few years as a result of more people moving to smaller homes in urban settings. And, self-storage is a sector that tends to resist the overall trends during economic slowdowns – including this COVID-related one. More people than ever before are “working from wherever”, which means they can put their things in storage and hit the road.

Max Levinston

Self-storage and flex spaces.. Many investors are targeting the lucrative nature of self-storage, both industrial conversions and new construction. Flex space is also highly desirable for companies who need a few offices/conference room for staff which is connected to the warehouse.

Bruce Lowry

Self-storage and flex spaces.. Many investors are targeting the lucrative nature of self-storage, both industrial conversions and new construction. Flex space is also highly desirable for companies who need a few offices/conference room for staff which is connected to the warehouse.

Bryan Shaffer

Industrial overall is very affordable to build. Over time I expect to see an over-supply. This usually happens with real estate asset classes after they become over heated. I believe that e-commerce will drive more activity and offer a hybrid space between industrial and retail and logistics space will be incorporated into current retail properties. Walmart is an example of a brand where we are seeing this trend now.

The other likely impact on industrial will be the emergence of more food service, commercial kitchens, located within industrial properties, which will service the food delivery companies.

 

What’s the #1 challenge industrial is facing in 2021?

Grigoriy Azayev

The biggest issue that industrial real estate faces is beinga follower of the market rather than the leader. It’s great that Amazon candeliver my package to me in under 2 hours here in NYC from one of their manyfacilities, but if workers don’t return to the office and come back to living in the city, to who will they be delivering these packages? At the height ofthe pandemic, vacancy rates in NYC for residential buildings touched 25%, and to-date,offices are still at 15% occupancy. These huge investments into last-miledelivery will be a tremendous loss if the theme continues and people don’treturn back to NYC.

The second issue is more industrial real estate leads tomore air, water and noise pollution, and a substantial increase intraffic. In NYC, there is scarce industrial space and they depend on only a fewmajor roads that trucks can go on to reach the facilities. There are more andmore trucks and vans on the road, causing ridiculous traffic, and it’s alreadybecome an ongoing concern in the city.

Steve Buss

Industrial real estate is one of the few big winners of the pandemic. We see enormous investment potential in industrial properties due to the expansion of e-commerce and the growing demand for warehouse space. We’re expecting growth not just in big cities, but also in secondary markets, particularly in the Midwest.

For tenants looking for industrial properties to lease, it’s very competitive. It’s hard to find space. Due to high demand, industrial rents are going up. When tenants get ready to renew their leases, they’re getting sticker shock. They’re not used to that. That all means, of course, that industrial real estate is a particularly sound investment.

While many bigger box distribution centers are going up in the biggest markets, we see huge potential for developing or building smaller industrial properties closer to urban centers in secondary and even some tertiary markets. You can find 20-, 30- and 40-year-old buildings in excellent locations and make them very functional for multiple tenants. If you stay near urban centers, you can deliver last-mile supply chain accessibility, but also access to workers.

Will Curtis

Lack of inventory and pricing smaller users out of the market. I am working with a client now, who is more price-sensitive and we simply can not find space and the few things we do find are more expensive than what can be unwritten into the business plan.

Fletcher Dilmore

Keeping up with demand with functional product. Industrial has been the safe haven for real estate investors during COVID, but that doesn’t mean all industrial product is created equal or as equally valuable. There are many industrial buildings across the U.S. that are for practical purposes functionally obsolete. This can be because of low ceiling height, inadequate power supply, difficulty moving trucks in and out, lack of proper sprinkler systems, distance from major transportation arteries, etc.

Michael Edwards

We feel really optimistic that challenges will be few for industrial properties this year, at least relative to the opportunities in this part of commercial real estate. But it will be interesting to see how many people miss shopping in brick and mortar stores or having face-to-face interactions, cutting into the growth of e-commerce. We don’t expect that to happen, but it’s something industrial investors should be looking at.

Max Levinston

Supply, the availability is between 1 – 2% right now for quality industrial space, both for lease and for sale.

Developers cannot keep up with the demand which has also caused the prices of industrial land to go up as well. We’re seeing the prices/sq ft go up and some buildings getting leased before construction is completed.

Bryan Shaffer

Developers will race to add more industrial and flex inventory to the market because of the lower cost compared to other types of real estate and the current low vacancy rates. At the same time, overall changes in the retail market caused by e-commerce, will lead to more repurposing of existing better located retail properties into some type of hybrid distribution/ retail projects. Both factors together can lead to oversupply in some markets. Markets with higher land cost and more limited development opportunities will out preform markets with unlimited expansion potential. The long-term need is going to be for better located properties closer to shipping and population centers This will ensure that products can be delivered quicker. For 2021, I believe industrial will overall remain very strong, but the new growth in development may hurt the asset class in the future.

 

Source: CommercialCafe