While just a mere month into 2017, there are already a few emerging trends that savvy commercial real estate investors are taking notice of according to the 2017 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report recently released by the Urban Land Institute and PWC. After reading the report for ourselves, here are our top six emerging trends to watch out for in 2017!
We’ve gone into great length previously on the impact that the rising number of Millennials and Baby Boomers entering and exiting the work force is forecasted to have on the commercial real estate market, and the crossover point where more Baby Boomers are retiring than Millennials entering the labor force is now upon us. Boomers are retiring at a rate of approximately 10,000 per day and America’s population of persons over the age of 90 has almost tripled since 1980. This, combined with the fact that many younger (millennial) households are falling behind, has left older and younger households competing for housing in many of the same places, indicating that Multi-Family developments with evolving amenities will continue to stay a strong investment.
Urbanization / Densification
This trend, which has been steadily growing over the least several years, seems to have no indication of slowing down any time soon as walkability, extensive live/work/play opportunities and alternative transportation options continue to draw people of all ages into the urban core. Developers are also continuing to follow this trend, preferring to invest in creating high-density mixed-used centers that provide a mixture of luxury living spaces, retail, work, parks, gathering and entertainment spaces. Even the suburbs are feeling the pressure to become more “urban”.
The Suburbs Aren’t Dead
While urbanization is still a hot trend moving into 2017, it’s important to note that most suburban communities are still flourishing despite the fanfare of the urban movement. In fact, in America’s 50 largest (and most urbanized) metropolitan areas, suburbs account for 79 percent of the population and (despite popular and media perception) 75 percent of the 25-35 year old population. So while many are feeling the pressure of the urbanization trend, it’s important to note that our nation’s suburbs are still poised to maintain their relevance and predominance.
The Rise Of The “Surban” Neighborhoods
As we just stated, the suburbs are far from dead. However, the market is beginning to see a trend toward the urbanization of existing suburban neighborhoods and new developments that are shifting their focus to provide greater density, diversity, walkability and transit accessibility. This trend is due in large to the Millennial preferences for these qualities, which studies have found they find equally attractive in the suburbs as they do in the densest urban core. This has seen more and more retail stores transforming their spaces into locations that sell experiences, rather than goods and more developments combining housing and retail to satisfy consumer demand for places that offer convenient, car-free shopping.
Forward Looking Strategies
One trend that has become glaringly apparent as we move into 2017 is a push toward investors and property owners utilization of forward-looking strategies. Whether it be opting for the build-out of dynamically configurable office spaces that can easily be transformed to suit a variety of tenants or the conversion of class B and C shopping centers into last mile distribution centers to help e-retailers tackle the holy grail of same day delivery, investors are looking forward to the future and taking drastic steps to breathe new life into outdated spaces that are rapidly trending towards functional obsolescence. It seems that while often viewed as a “disrupter” for real estate, e-commerce is gradually emerging with a symbiotic relationship beyond the first clicks-and-bricks rapprochement.
As labor shortages in the construction industry continue to rise across the US, demographic projections are indicating that the issue will only intensify over the coming years. As of April 2016, there were over 200,000 unfilled job openings in the building and construction industry. More young people than ever are seeking higher education and therefore remaining out of the workforce longer at the same time that the Baby Boomer generation is slowly leaving the labor force creating a significant shortage of skilled laborers. These shortages are poised to not only reduce the number of projects undertaken by developers (some are already hypothesizing that this may have been a key factor in preventing over building in 2016) and delay the timing of these projects, but may also drive up the cost of new development. This, in turn, may see a push towards developers opting for projects that target the luxury end of the market in order to help cover costs.
“One thing is coming through loud and clear from the Emerging Trends interviews: you can find opportunities in any of the markets in this year’s survey, whether the market is number-one Austin or number-78 Buffalo. It all comes down to your strategy, risk tolerance, return requirements, and access to deals. If the markets are the squares on the chessboard and the property sectors the pieces, then there is an almost infinite combination of moves that can be made.”
To read the rest of the Urban Land Institutes report on Emerging Trends in Real Estate for yourself, click HERE.