Five Current Myths About Commercial Real Estate In 2021

Early last year, once the pandemic took hold and work-from-home became the new normal, many “experts” were quick to predict our recovery. We learned about V-shaped recovery, U-shaped recovery, K-shaped recovery, and even the Nike Swoosh recovery, among others. Here we are, nearly one year later, with a K-shaped recovery prevailing. Some sectors of the economy are recovering nicely, yet many are still struggling. As we continue to talk with professionals inside and outside of the commercial real estate, we’ve captured perceptions of the real estate market and thought it was time to address these five prevailing myths that have emerged in recent conversations.

 

Myth #1: “Commercial property values have taken a big hit this year.”

This myth is only partially true. While some commercial real estate has been devastated by the effects of shutdowns, work-from-home trends, eviction moratoriums, and business closures, not all real estate classes have been equally impacted. Hence, the K-shaped recovery.

Sure, hotel occupancies are well below norms, WeWork is closing locations, and many entertainment and restaurants have been forced to close.

However, in the Denver/Boulder market, industrial real estate and owner-user demand remains strong, multi-family remains in demand by investors, and the lack of quality commercial properties for sale is keeping prices resilient for industrial, quality office, medical office, multi-family, and yes, some grocery-anchored or single-tenant net-leased retail.

There is capital on the sidelines with a HUGE appetite for well-leased properties, and with little product on the market available for sale, now is a great time to consider selling.

It is simple supply and demand. When we measure the supply of the limited inventory available for sale compared to the investor and user demand for hard assets such as real estate, property values for many asset classes remain unchanged, with some sectors showing increased pricing despite the pandemic.

Myth #2: “The office is dead.”

While we have witnessed the work-from-home trend explode last year, the appeal has worn off, and many companies and employees are eager to return to the office. While the office might look different in a post-COVID world, there is still a need for collaborative spaces, flexible work options, employee interaction, mentorship for younger talent, and a truly enhanced culture with in-person experiences. That is not to say that companies are not considering downsizing their office footprint – many are. But the office is not dead.  Our work is simply evolving, and office usage is a critical consideration for companies moving forward. The good news is that this past year has forced companies to put office use under the microscope, and many will come out with a new vision, and we expect to see a healthy amount of activity as leases expire in the coming year. Some companies are even decentralizing and looking to suburban locations in favor of urban centers.  In Colorado, technology companies make headlines with announcements to open locations or headquarters in Denver, and tech firms have been among the most active in new leasing activity. While sublease listings are on the rise, a shift in how we work will bring the office alive again, just not in the way we left it behind in early 2020.

 

Myth #3: “The 1031 exchange is at risk, and there is nothing to buy.”

With the new administration now in place, many are concerned about the uncertainty involving a 1031 exchange, and many are also worried about raising capital gains taxes. With the few quality options available for sale in the market, some owners are concerned there is a limited pool of properties to trade into.

Full disclosure: I am not a tax advisor. Only you and your accountant and advisor can navigate your tax implications. That being said, no one has a crystal ball on this issue. The fact is, even if the 1031 exchange were to go away or be modified under the new administration, tax reform takes time and does not happen overnight. Suppose you are considering a trade, upgrading to another property type, or alternative investment such as a DST to take advantage of a 1031 exchange. In that case, this may be the year to initiate dialogue with your accountant, exchange intermediary, and trusted broker.  Some owners who believe capital gains taxes will rise are considering taking proceeds now to hedge against higher capital gains taxes in later years.

Myth #4: “With the commercial real estate market in the tank, my property tax bill will be lower.” 

Not so fast. See Myth #1. Also, if your property is located in Colorado, you likely received your tax bill recently, and chances are you saw an increase. That is because property taxes are paid in arrears. Under Colorado law, real estate is re-appraised every two years by your local Assessor. This occurs in each odd-numbered year (2019, 2021, etc.). The Assessor analyzes the prices of comparable properties sold during the 18 months ending on June 30 of the year before the reappraisal. This means that your current tax bill reflects property values BEFORE the pandemic, lockdowns, and economic impacts rippled through the market. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but do not expect a break on your tax bill this year.  You will have to wait for the 2021 re-assessment to determine if your local Assessor factored in the impacts of the pandemic on real estate values – which will show up on your 2022 tax bill.

If you don’t own a commercial property but you lease commercial space for your business, this will impact your bottom line if property taxes are passed through to you as the tenant.  Be prepared. Have a broker evaluate your current lease for any triple net lease charges and property tax pass-throughs so you can prepare for these costs.

 

Myth #5: “This is a great time to lease – there must be huge discounts for office space right now.” 

I won’t pretend to be a leasing broker. However, I thought I would include this myth since I’ve heard it in multiple conversations recently. This comes as a surprise to many office users that landlords haven’t significantly dropped their lease rates in the current leasing environment. Since my background as an appraiser leads me into the thought process of property owners, I thought I could shed some light here. Owners are trying to preserve value as much as possible. While it may be a great time for a tenant to pick up incentives, such as rent concessions (free rent), generous tenant improvement packages, and pandemic-friendly lease terms that were previously overlooked, owners still want to preserve the value of their investment. After all, the value of their real estate is tied to long-term, predictable cash flow.  While landlords may be willing to entice new tenants in the short run in the form of free-rent or tenant finish allowances, owners want to maintain their face rents, and many views this past year as a short blip in a longer-term hold strategy. Overall, they do not want to set a precedence for lower rents over five-, seven-, or ten-year terms. Short-term incentives are easier to negotiate rather than lower long-term lease rates. If you are a prospective tenant searching for space, put yourself in the landlord’s shoes, and you’ll see why many are hesitant to drop their face lease rates right now.  If you’re still looking for a deal, then check out the growing number of sublease options. There has been an uptick of office sublease options in the market, and many turn-key options include furniture, which can result in cost savings.

 

Ready to talk real estate?

As you contemplate your commercial real estate market perceptions currently, I invite you to a conversation. I challenge you to define your shaped recovery and consider how commercial real estate impacts your business or your investments. Contact Jaimee Keene at Jaimee@crebenchmark.com to learn about navigating through the commercial real estate market in Denver.

 

 

 

 

 

Issues with Searching for Space on Your Own

Searching for space on your own is possible, and companies do it all the time, but we highly encourage you to use a tenant representative to save you time and money. It is good to start doing your research at the beginning of your search to help form your requirements. Some important things to consider are:

  • What is your ideal location?
  • How much square footage is ideal for your business?
  • What is your preferred lease term/price?
  • What type of amenities are important?

Having these critical aspects identified will help narrow down the spaces you should be considering. To learn more about how to pinpoint the square footage requirements for your office space needs, please click here (LINK).

There are aspects of leasing office space that are difficult without a tenant representation broker. Not only is the search incredibly time-consuming, but it takes away from critical time that you could be spending working on your own business. Additionally, finding space is only the first step. Commercial leases are complicated, and the negotiation process requires extensive real estate knowledge that comes with experience. Most importantly, your negotiating power may be limited without a tenant representative broker on your side.

There are numerous benefits to hiring a tenant rep, and for the high majority of the time, it doesn’t cost you a thing. We can save you time and money and make the process very efficient, allowing you to make your company’s best decision.

If you would like to learn more about leasing commercial space, please reach out to Ellory Read at Benchmark Commercial.

Email: ellory@crebenchmark.com

Phone: 303-395-0114

Shop Small This Holiday Season: Support Local Denver Metro Area Businesses

Now, more than ever, it is important to support local businesses throughout our community. When you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday lives, it is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment, and labor these hard-working individuals contribute to make their business thrive and grow. Small businesses count on our patronage to stay afloat, so let’s shop local this holiday season and help out in the communities we love! Below is a list of our team’s favorite local spots that we supported last year. If you would like to read more tips on supporting local businesses this holiday season, see our tips here.

Berkeley Park Sushi Co

Address: 4404 Yates Street. Denver, Colorado 80212

Website: https://cosushico.com/

This is a great sushi restaurant in the Berkeley neighborhood dedicated to celebrating and serving the highest quality of fish while offering good prices in a simple execution. They have a simple menu consisting of mostly hand-rolls along with Colorado’s best Japanese craft beer list. While they can’t do in-person dining currently, they do offered a to-go “roll it yourself” hand-roll kit that makes for a fun and delicious eating experience.

The Perfect Petal

Address: 3600 W 32nd Ave B, Denver, CO 80211

Website: https://www.theperfectpetal.com/

The Perfect Petal has a staff of leading Denver floral designers who can teach a room full of flower lovers, style a flower photo shoot for a local restaurant group, or be completely happy with a mug of tea and a birthday order to contemplate. Creative florist shop with a boutique offering soaps, scents, plants & other hostess gifts. This is the perfect spot to find a last-minute holiday gift for someone in your life that has everything.

Footers Catering & Events

Address: 4190 Garfield St, Denver, CO 80216

Website: https://www.footerscatering.com/

Footers Catering was founded in 1981 by Jimmy Lambatos. In 2010, Jimmy’s son, Anthony, and Anthony’s wife, April, purchased the business and transitioned to a second-generation family business. Their passion for amazing events and distinctive company culture in their industry has elevated the Footers tradition to become a top business in Denver.

Footers Catering is committed to using the freshest ingredients cooked on-site at every event. Footers Catering is proud to offer full event coordination to ensure that every detail is perfect for your wedding, corporate event, charitable gathering, or family party. Footers Catering is currently offering a holiday special of hot cocoa kits.  Don’t forget to treat yourself, your family, employees, or neighbors to our unique Holiday Dinner Experience that includes our Cocoa Kit as well as our famous Decorate-Your-Own Cookie Kit!

Abrusci’s Fire & Vine

Address: 2200 Youngfield St, Lakewood, CO 80215

Website: fireandvineco.com

Great wood-fired pie’s along with all the amazing Italian fare.  The beautiful atmosphere when you can be there!  At Fire & Vine, we serve classic wood-fired pizza, proudly made from local ingredients, paired with exceptional wines and craft beers from around the world within a contemporary rustic environment. We carry on Abrusci’s community-oriented cuisine and tradition of homemade recipes and homegrown ingredients.

Teller’s Taproom & Kitchen

Address: 1990 Youngfield St, Lakewood, CO 80215

Website: tellerstaproom.com

Tellers Taproom is a favorite neighborhood spot, great beers, great food, a special treat on your birthday. Established in 2011, Tellers Taproom is a place where friends, family, and neighbors can gather together and enjoy each other’s company—offering a wide selection of beers on tap and a menu that will bring you back for more. We look forward to seeing you often.

Malone’s Club House Bar and Grill

Location: shopping center on NE corner of 64th & Indiana

Website: https://www.malonesclubhousegrill.com/menu

This place is great for a menu variety that covers everything … and it is inexpensive, too.  Malone’s Clubhouse Grill is a local restaurant proudly serving the Arvada and Golden communities with casual dining for 15 years. Featuring a diverse menu, full-service bar, live sports, and a family-friendly atmosphere, Malone’s is the perfect place for a casual family night out. When searching for an American restaurant in the Arvada and Golden communities, look no further than Malone’s.

 

Table Mountain Inn

Location: In downtown Golden at the SW corner of 14th & Washington

Website: www.tablemountaininn.com

This is almost as good as going to Santa Fe, and the food (although it isn’t northern New Mexico) is very good.  From its Spanish Style to its Western Elegance, Table Mountain Inn has come full circle from its origins. Table Mountain Inn is a hotel where nothing has been overlooked for the guest’s convenience and comfort and a hotel where the city of Golden can be proud!

From its Spanish Style to its Western Elegance, Table Mountain Inn has come full circle from its origins. Table Mountain Inn is a hotel where nothing has been overlooked for the guest’s convenience and comfort and a hotel of which the city of Golden can be proud!

Mythology

Address:  3622 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211

Website: https://www.mythologydistillery.com/

With high-quality spirits and creative, globally-inspired cocktails, Mythology is a place to discover adventurous libations with your favorite people. Visit the Mythology Bar in the heart of Denver’s Lower Highlands to sample our award-winning spirits, enjoy great cocktails. We recommend ordering their cocktail kits during this holiday season to give as a gift or to treat yourself.

Sushi Den

Address: 1487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

Website: https://www.sushiden.net/a

Sushi Den has been regarded as one of the premier sushi and Japanese restaurants in the United States for 34 years. Sushi Den has been considered one of the premier sushi and Japanese restaurants in the United States since the opening in Christmas 1984. Independently owned and operated, Sushi Den continually raises the bar and sets the standard for high-quality cuisine. This is a great spot for an authentic and elevated sushi experience.

Cafe Jordano

Address: 11068 W Jewell Ave, Lakewood, CO 80227

Website: http://www.cafejordano.com/

Café Jordano will be reopen serving takeout at lunchtime for the rest of December for your Holiday celebration orders. Patio seating is also available-weather permitting. With newer hours in place, they are open Monday-Friday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm or Saturday 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm!

Viv Cycle

Address: 3611 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205

Website: https://www.vivcycle.com/

“Viv” is Latin for life, alive, lively – which is exactly the atmosphere we want to embody at Viv. Their goal is for their members to feel happy, inspired, and live. We’ve created a fun and engaging environment where our members can connect and form wonderful, genuine relationships. This is a beat-based, indoor cycling studio. They offer high-intensity, instructor-led classes that incorporate speed, resistance, and weights. The classes feel like a dance party while on a bike. Viv Cycle is currently open and is offering small, COVID-safe classes.

This list is just a few of our favorite local businesses in the Denver Metro Area. We hope that you found this list helpful in finding local businesses to support this holiday season. As always, we wish you all warmly a happy and safe holiday season.

10 Ways to Support Local Businesses This Holiday Season

The COVID-19 lockdowns have taken a toll on our local communities. It has also resulted in many local businesses’ difficult times, incredibly vital, and unique to our communities. Some companies have been forced to close temporarily, and many others have had to scale back or change their operations completely. This Holiday season, it is imperative to support these small businesses. While it’s easy to feel powerless in a time like this, we can still do a few things to support our local businesses.

  1. Shop Remotely, Shop Online– Many businesses can purchase their goods or services through their website, Facebook, via a phone call, or through email. Online purchases are a great way to support local without leaving the comforts and safety of the home!
  2. Order Takeout or Delivery – Most restaurants have found a way to continue serving during this difficult time. Many have a curbside pickup or even delivery options that they couldn’t offer before. Now’s the perfect time to order from your favorite restaurant or to try somewhere new! As long as you don’t have to cook, it will be delicious!
  3. Purchase Gift Cards –For those businesses who are unable to remain open, purchase a gift card now to use later. By purchasing now, you will help bridge the cash-flow gap for those businesses. Buy a date night for a later date, or lunch with friends!
  4. Order Ahead –Make your transactions easier and less stressful by placing your order before arriving. Being proactive with ordering will shorten your exposure time and lessen the risk for everyone involved.
  5. Buy Local –Many of the items you might typically buy in the big city or at the big box stores are available at your local shops as well. Buy local and support small business owners, the people who live in your neighborhood and know your name. They appreciate it.
  6. Stay Home –If you are feeling at all ill. A cough, sore throat, fever, or runny nose are all signs that you should stay home. You’ll be helping out businesses by ensuring their employees stay healthy.
  7. Avoid Paying with Cash –This is another simple way to limit the risk of exposure to employees. Credit, Debit, and especially contactless cards and options like Apple Pay or Google Pay are great ways to eliminate touching keypads or handling cash. Plus, these transactions are usually faster, getting you in and out of the shop quickly!
  8. Write Good Reviews –The Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce has initiated a #WooHooWednesday! Try to write three positive reviews of your favorite local businesses each Wednesday. Facebook, Google, and Yelp are all great sources to write reviews.
  9. Utilize Social Media –Engaging in your favorite business. Social media accounts help them to have more exposure. So remember to follow, Like, Share, Comment, and spread your local businesses’ news to all of your friends and followers! Did you get an incredible lunch delivered right to your door or fantastic customer service from your local grocer? Please give them a shout-out!
  10. Be Understanding –We are in unprecedented times, and some businesses have either been forced to temporarily close or have made the difficult decision to do so for safety reasons. Be understanding. Know that each business is different and they are doing what’s best for them, and try to support them in any way possible. Reach out to the business owners or employees to ask how they are doing or let them know you support their decisions. It means a lot!

By doing just one of the items on this list, you actively help your community and keep your favorite local business open. Your engagement can go a long way in helping businesses improve cash flow, keep employees on the payroll, or to feel connected and boost morale.  Benchmark Commerical Real Estate has put together a list of some of our favorite local businesses in Denver, Colorado. If you are interested in who made our list, please read here.

What does the crystal ball say about post COVID leasing?

What does the crystal ball say about post-COVID leasing? Our experts are here to tell you what they predict with their years of expert experience. Our office stays up to date on leasing trends to better serve our clients. Jeff Mason breaks down lease forecasting through the office, industrial, bio-medical, and retail markets.

The office sector will take some time to come back, but Jeff believes that we are social animals and will want a place other than home to call “the office”.  He states that our capability to work from home has become stronger with Zoom and another emerging tech and that has helped us adapt.  He believes that business and employees will eventually come around to the desire of having brick and mortar offices.  Blending both physical and remote working capabilities will be key in commercial real estate moving forward, however.  One sector that has been hit hard is Denver’s oil and gas companies with many large blocks of office space in the CBD offered for sublease. With this in mind, Jeff thinks that the office demand will bounce back eighteen months after a vaccine is distributed throughout the country.

The economic boom in e-commerce has been good to the Industrial sector; we suspect this will taper off slowly in the next few years. Direct vacancy remained stable quarter-over-quarter in 2020 at 6.9%, while total availability increased by 10.5% in Q3 2020. The industry will still see more growth than other sectors of the current economy, but it will grow slower after a vaccine has been widely distributed. We predict that this will take more than two years to see, and the level of activity in this sector will remain strong at this time.

The Biomedical sector will see a blossoming that may last for 5 to 10 years. About 266 medical office buildings in the Denver metro area total nearly 10.9 million square feet.  The vacancy rate in the first half of 2020 was just above 10%, as it was in the second half of 2019. Of that total, 1.1 million square feet is considered vacant.  According to a CBRE report on medical real estate, Denver and the Front Range will see this sector grow due to our five major health systems.  At the end of Q2 2020, more than 344,000 square feet of medical office building projects were under construction in metro Denver.  Jeff expects to see growth here but not as much as having projected in 2019.  There will be continued growth due to hospitals needing expansions because they required additional medical office capacity.

Now we have the true loser in the post-COVID economy, retail. There are seeming contradictions from pre-COVID days, however.  Retail’s largest market, the Northeast part of the state, realized a vacancy increase of 7.9%. While a relatively small piece of the total market, Downtown retail space remains well occupied and maintained a vacancy rate of 1.7%.  There were almost 58,000 sq. ft. of new retail space in Q3 2020.  Jeff suggests that home improvement stores will have a higher demand.  Jeff anticipates that some restaurants will come back and some shops will come back post-COVID with regulations loosening up, but they won’t be as vibrant a part of the economy as they were only a year ago.

Jeff is confident that the more challenging environment is for new construction because people are more hesitant about signing long-term leases during a volatile economy. Of course, time will tell if these predictions come true, so keep this article handy and tell us how well we predicted the future in 18 months, two years, and five or more years. Jeff Mason is happy to discuss more market forecasting and explain how these market forecasts can affect your company or your commercial real estate.

Jeff Mason is a partner and broker at Benchmark Commercial, boasting over two decades of experience working within commercial offices with office furniture and over ten years in commercial real estate. You can reach Jeff at Jeff@crebenchmark.com or give him a call at 303-395-0113.