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| February 12, 2020
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While many workers plan, at least according to recent surveys, to continue spending at least part of each week working from home, a shorter commute still seems to be holding increasing appeal. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB ) says its first quarter Home Building Geography Index (HBGI) indicates not only a pandemic driven shift in construction to low density, low cost markets, but a rapid expansion in areas with the shortest commutes.
Litic Murali, writing in NAHB's Eye on Housing blog, says workplaces are moving toward hybrid home/office work models which could affect 30 to 40 percent of the American workforce. This will give renters and buyers increased market power over their travel times and the ability to reduce both housing and transportation costs.
The nationwide average commute is 26 minutes. Those counties in the bottom quintile (lowest 20 percent) have a commute time of 18 minutes or less while the commute in the highest quintile is 28 minutes. The data show that 36.2 percent of the U.S. population resides in the counties in that top slice.
The HBGI indicates that the top two quintiles with the longest commutes together had 63.6 percent of single family building. However, growth was strongest in that bottom quintile with a four-quarter moving average annual growth of 22.2 percent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted most every industry over the past few months, creating a scenario of rising financial stress, retracting employment and diminishing market confidence for companies around the globe. The commercial real estate industry hasn’t been immune from the pandemic’s downward pressure on the economy. Many real estate owners and investors, and the service-based companies supporting these organizations, have found themselves in a wait-and-see mode before making decisions about projects and other business initiatives.
To that end, according to a recent Bisnow story on data collected by independent research and advisory firm Green Street Advisors, real estate investment trust shares have decreased by 34% since mid-February, while office high-rises have experienced a 10% decrease in overall value across global markets. The same story notes unsurprisingly the retail sector has been among the most negatively impacted product types across the world’s commercial real estate portfolio.
As the property technology world develops, real estate firms are devoting more attention to how technology can help their businesses. Technology impacts real estate agents to an ever-increasing degree, and tools for every aspect of a real estate company are currently being developed. New programs and apps help manage and streamline real estate processes for realtors not just in the course of their everyday work but also when disasters strike. For example, in areas of the country that suffer from severe weather-related issues, property management can be extremely challenging for industry professionals and their clients. Software products recently released on the market, however, can help property managers connect with residents and track communications. With just a few clicks of a button, the software can ensure tenants get the help they need by using targeted text messages and phone calls. This greatly eases the stress on client and owner alike. More than half of commercial real estate agents are now using at least one form of property technology. Two common ways they’re using technology are to analyze performance and to manage accounts and properties on their lists. The goal of moving toward artificial intelligence (AI) in real estate is to give business owners the freedom to customize information technology to better fit the needs of their companies.
When speaking with perspective investors, the first question that I ask is how well they understand the numbers of a potential investment. If they reply with a simple, “everything’s good,” I know the deal probably isn’t for me. But, if they respond with hard data about the market, property and financial information, I can take them seriously and consider the investment. As an investor in any industry, numbers are your best friend. I’ve spent hours pouring over spreadsheets of data and mastering best accounting practices and it’s made me the diligent investor that I am today. I believe that this dedication to digging into data is what sets met apart from other real estate investors and continues to give me an edge.
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