The New Normal in Commercial Real Estate

This week my coach #John Richie at #Venture challenged our CEO group as we were talking about getting back to “normal” and “when this thing blows over.”  He hit us with the stark reality that what we knew as “normal” before March 2020 will NEVER be back.  WOW!

So…. what do we do with that thought bomb?  As leaders, we have to find the opportunities within the storm of change.  Opportunities are ALWAYS there.  We have to find and focus on them and not the current storm or the past.  Those who best perceive the opportunities and adjust are the ones who grow and often are much better in the “new normal.”  Those who resist and fight to get things back to “where they were” may not survive at all.

What could the new normal look like in our industry of #commercialrealestate?

Office –   What has “work from home” taught us in the last 6 weeks?  Many leases are longer term (3-10 years) so the impact may not be immediate, but will companies reduce their physical footprint as quickly as they can?  If so, how do office building owner/operators shift to accommodate?  Do they become focused on collaboration spaces?

Multifamily – Working from home brings a whole new perspective to this vertical!  After the immediate crisis of unemployment, how will apartment owners/operators need to shift their communities in the new environment?  There may be huge opportunity to add amenities and infrastructure to make these communities more functional in the new reality.

Retail – Does work from home now shift the tide back to retail locations being social gathering places?  The live/work/play concept seems like even more of a home run now.  But what can be done with other retail sites like indoor malls and strip centers?

Industrial – On the surface this seems like a no-brainer.  Online retailers/distributors are a huge driver to this business.  But what about other opportunities as EVERYTHING shifts to online and distancing?

Student Housing – What if colleges and universities shift to online?  Many have predicted this as the way to reverse the exponential rise in the cost of education.  Has COVID accelerated that massive shift?   If you have teenagers in your house, this may be a horrifying thought.  The reality is they will need to go somewhere… eventually!  Will student housing become the social epicenters for online education as young adults learn to live on their own while being educated outside the classroom?

While this exponential change can be terrifying, I’m generally excited about finding the opportunities and shifting to accommodate the needs of those we serve.

I’ve been through 5 massive shifts in my life (some would consider devastating).  Through FAITH and persistence none have resulted in devastation but rather put me in a better place.  After 53+ years of life experience I can look back and say I learned more from those bad circumstances than all the good ones. I can actually be grateful for the shifts and I personally attest to the truth that when a door shuts a window opens.

No matter how long this current situation lasts or how bad it gets, take up hope and search hard for the opportunities that will come from the “new norm.”  They are certainly there!