Beyond the Build

Leadership

Moving Past COVID: Real Estate

As I mentioned last week, I recently had a phone call with a sharp group of professionals from our region. I shared takeaways related to the vaccine and business operations. I also have a few notes regarding the service sector and real estate:

It appears that across the Southeast, restaurants are beginning to enjoy increased occupancy in anticipation of the vaccine. The general feeling is that restaurants with the right management have been pivoting well.

Hotels and airlines may see some permanent reduction in customers as we have figured out how to do business by other, less costly means. This reminds me a bit of bricks and mortar vs Internet over the last 20 years.

We haven’t seen the full effect of pandemic fallout in regards to commercial real estate just yet since lenders have given struggling owners lots of forbearance to avoid fire sales. It looks like the industrial sector will come out the least impactedAtlanta Fed’s momentum index has more specific numbers.

One of the CFOs in the residential sector reported that she is seeing a consistent desire to maintain monthly home mortgage payments, which is much different than the financial crisis of 12 years ago. A fair amount of residential forbearance ends in about a month, so we will see, but I think thus far with home ownership, it’s at least a decent trend.

I found our discussion to be encouraging. I do not think any industry, or any person for that matter, will emerge from the pandemic without having shape-shifted at least a little. But change isn’t always a bad thing. I know we’ll be stronger as we move forward.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.