“Nothing is on our ‘No’ List,” said one panelist at GlobeSt.com’s RealShare Net Lease conference.
NEW YORK CITY—E-commerce is not going away. So, Jimmy Goodman, a partner at the Boulder Group, moderating the “State of the Industry” panel at GlobeSt.com’s annual Net Lease Conference asked experts how is it affecting their strategies?
“Almost every transaction we do institutionally today is more and more geared around, ‘Is it an internet resistant type business?’” said Glen Kunofsky, executive managing director of investments at Marcus & Millichap.
He noted although people may think the private market is less sophisticated, it doesn’t have to report to boards, analysts and investors. So, the private market can be much more flexible. As a result, Kunofsky is seeing it’s filling a gap.
“The acquisition people in institutions understand the real estate fundamentals, the underlying cash flow of the business. But some of their investment pieces are being dictated by investors and analysts and can’t be as competitive,” he said. “We’re seeing large private money both in the 1031 exchange space as well as non-1031 doing larger transactions in the $150 million to $200 million range.”
One of the most marked trends Kunofsky said he has observed it that based on whom people have to report to —demand is shifting.
Andrew Fallon, executive managing director at Calkain, added the internet has affected the pipeline of new development. He commented, “Retailers are hunkering down in trying to book some of those profitable stores and not necessarily focusing on expansion. Opening net new stores is actually down this year, so people are asking where is the new inventory coming from?”
The industrial asset class has long been a focus and strength at W. P. Carey. Gino Sabatini, the managing director and head of investments at the company, pointed out that the industrial class passed office and retail last year by a considerable amount in deal volume.
“We’ve always invested in industrial. That’s how we offset the lower yields that we received in retail. In this yield environment, industrial is going to trade at an all time premium,” said Sabatini. He noted the Amazon effect has even pushed down on tertiary markets. W. P. Carey still plans to purse industrial, chasing down yields.
Gordon Whiting, managing director at Angelo Gordon & Co., voiced skepticism as to whether the Amazon effect was driving down cap rates. He underscored the tremendous amount of capital entering the net lease space—particularly foreign capital. Whiting recalled when he started in the business 25 years ago, no institutional investor wanted to touch industrial or net lease real estate. Neither were considered institutional asset classes. “Now they are. People are realizing industrial is less volatile and less TI has to be put into it. It’s a great asset class,” said Whiting. “Now you’ve got giant institutions Hoovering up just everything they can.”
Barclay Jones, EVP, investments at iStar, said with 1031 exchanges people are a little nervous about the Amazon effect, wanting to own an industrial building over a retail one. “Routinely, especially here in New York, with the political dynamics, you are seeing exchange buyers with four or five big multifamily buildings that are routinely $70 million to $300 million exchanges they have to place, and industrial is easier to place.”
Lower cap rates and plentiful capital in the market can present more challenges with deploying capital following disposition of assets.
Sean Cutt, the chief investment officer at Broadstone, said his company predicted with all the dry powder on the sidelines, the real estate market would get even more competitive. That has certainly been the growing trend with industrial property. He summed up his company’s strategy in diversification. “We are in four to five-ish groups. Medical, office, industrial, retail and our other bucket is everything that doesn’t fit in the first four. We are looking for returns that make a lot of sense,” said Cutt. “There is nothing that is on our ‘No’ List.”