It’s about that time when people start to reflect upon the last year, making note of progress that has been made, and milestones that have been achieved.
In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, there are certain things that should have commercial real estate agents, in particular, feeling grateful for what 2018 has brought with it.
Here’s a look at six things that should have CRE professionals giving extra thanks this year — and looking to 2019 with high expectations.
1. Interest rates are still historically low.
Yes, interest rates are indeed rising and people are panicking over them reaching 6 percent, but keep in mind that we are still way below the average rate of the last 47 years at 8.35 percent. Furthermore, recent gauges of U.S. inflation signify little need for the Fed to change its slow-but-steady stance on interest rate hikes at this juncture, so we don’t expect this to jump up several points overnight. Plus, there are a lot of other factors working in the economy’s favor, including the following:
2. Unemployment hit a 49-year low.
It’s the headline you’re seeing smattered across every major news publication — the U.S. unemployment rate reached 3.7 percent in September — the lowest it has been since December 1969. What’s more, the job market is so tight that the amount of available jobs far exceeds the number of people seeking employment! Employers reported more than 7 million unfilled jobs in August, the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000.
3. Demand for industrial space remains strong.
In Central PA, 2018 brought with it an increasing demand for industrial real estate. The third-quarter saw rent grow hit 6.9 percent. When compared to the historical average of just 1.9 percent, it’s easy to see how this boom in demand for industrial space is an exciting new trend for our local economy, particularly because we are poised to welcome more and more warehousing and distribution companies to the area.
4. Sales of multifamily real estate hits record high.
In the third-quarter, multifamily real estate sales set a new record with the all-time high of $160.6 million. This same sector set another record this year in the second-quarter with an all-time low vacancy rate of 4.3 percent. With just two numbers, 2018 paints the picture of Central PA’s thriving commercial real estate market, particularly in the multifamily sector.
5. The Fed raised short-term interest rates for a third time this year.
At its September policy-setting meeting, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for a third time this year. While to some a rate increase may not be something that has you feeling grateful, this is yet one more indication of a healthy, growing economy that can sustain such an increase. Furthermore, forecasters contend that unless inflation picks up or the economy starts slowing, the federal funds rate, which is currently between 2 percent and 2.25 percent, should continue to head higher.
6. New industries are expanding their commercial real estate.
The sixth and final thing that should have commercial real estate agents feeling grateful this year is healthcare mergers. Why? Because this is shaking up the way healthcare systems are approaching real estate. Across the region, the commonwealth and nationwide we are seeing mergers taking place between healthcare systems small and large. All of this teaming up is causing a change in the way these organizations are using commercial real estate. In some instances, such mergers call for consolidating medical office space to reduce redundancy. In other instances, more space is needed to break into new markets or regions. This burst of acquisitions and activity spurs growth and fuels CRE sales.
Gratitude and caution
It’s important to note, this is the highlight reel from 2018. The CRE market has certainly experienced both its ups and downs in the various sectors of retail, office and industrial real estate. What’s most important is to take all good news, and bad news, with a grain of salt and know that what goes up, will eventually come down — whether that’s next quarter, next year or next decade.
For now, we can slide into the holiday season feeling grateful for these gifts the market has given us this year and enter 2019 cautiously optimistic.
Mike Kushner is the owner of Lower Paxton Township-based Omni Realty Group.