Industry Pros Find Reason To Give Thanks Even As Market Takes Brutal Turn
It’s been a tough year for many in real estate: Record inflation, rising interest rates and lingering malaise in the nation’s return-to-the-office movement have complicated the work of getting deals done.
Still, real estate professionals tend to be an optimistic lot, and many found reason to give thanks this holiday season, often for the things that helped them navigate the year’s economic turbulence.
In Dallas, Mohr Partners CEO Robert Shibuya said he is glad he heeded the keen advice of the company’s chief financial officer.
“I’m thankful, as we close out this year and prepare for an uncertain real estate market in 2023, that I listened to my CFO Sohail Hamirani, who advised me last year to pay off all of our corporate debt, and put aside a war chest of cash to take advantage of the opportunities which will come our way once the markets recover,” Shibuya said in a text message.
John Alba, chief investment officer for Winthrop Capital Partners in Jericho, New York, is thankful that mezzanine debt, a slice of the so-called capital stack that sits between a building’s equity and the amount of money owed to creditors, “is once again a double-digit business, which more accurately reflects the level of lender risk,” he said in an email.
In Las Vegas, Logic Commercial Real Estate broker Natalie Wainwright is appreciative for the cooperation and creativity among landlords and tenants who come together to complete deals during uncertain times. Wainwright said she’s also thankful for the wave of companies looking to move to new states, particularly Nevada.
“I’ve never been busier,” she said in a text message. “The exodus out of California has led to more calls and leads through LinkedIn than the team can handle. And I’m not complaining lol.”
This Thanksgiving is extra special for Wainwright because she has a new business partner who “knows me inside and out,” she said. It’s her brother Vince Wainwright, a Navy veteran who joined her group after serving as a recruiter for the aerospace industry.
“We’ve gotten 3 new requirements this week alone,” she wrote last week. “He’s really excited, but I want him to understand this demand is bizarre and his success his first year will be tough to be beat every year.”
Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP New Jersey, said in an email he’s thankful for the continued investment in his state “despite the economic challenges facing not only our nation but the entire world — challenges arising from the pandemic, war in Ukraine and climate change.”
Trevor Adler, a New York-based partner at the law firm Stroock, said he’s “grateful to be in an industry that enables me to work with people who care — about our city, about the environment, about diversity, about giving back and about doing the right thing.” Adler works on deals across the office, retail, coworking, nonprofit and education sectors both in New York and nationwide.
The return to the office this year “has been a positive experience for many that has spurred [commercial real estate] transactions in an extremely challenging market,” he said in an email.
Joe Harney, founder of Reliance Real Estate Advisors in the San Francisco Bay Area, expressed gratitude to the people he counts on to get jobs done.
“With the well-published layoffs in the Bay Area, I am thankful and blessed to have dedicated, loyal contractors willing to work around the clock to complete projects for my clients!” Harney said in an email.
Dwight Dunton, CEO of Bonaventure, an Alexandria, Virginia-based alternative asset manager focused on multifamily properties, is grateful that his prognostication about interest rates was right and that the firm is benefiting from it.
“I’m thankful that I have finally been proven right after 20 years of predicting that interest rates would finally rise … which is why we have been conservative and used fixed rate long-term debt,” Dunton said in an email.
Matt Garrison, CEO of Chicago-based developer R2, is thankful his firm maintained relatively low leverage even in boom times, before rising interest rates slowed the pace of deals and decreased property values.
“It can be painful to structure deals like that in a good market because you’re leaving money on the table, but the long-term, prudent deal structures allow you to have staying power,” Garrison said in an interview. R2 is now looking at buying opportunities amid economic uncertainty while some firms tread water, he said.
“Office buildings in the [downtown Chicago] Loop are trading at or below their debt,” Garrison said. “We’re seeing some of the same things with hotels. We’re even seeing prices move on apartment buildings. We’re seeing opportunities we haven’t seen in years, and we think there will be more.”
In Austin, Texas, Sabot Development Managing Partner Jim Young said he is is thankful that his firm secured construction financing and got two apartment complexes underway “before capital markets & interest rates went sideways.”
“I’m also very thankful for the tight knit relationships that tough times reveal as broker, bankers, developers, and vendors put their heads together to find ways to accomplish more with less,” Young wrote in an email.
Eric Teusink, an Atlanta attorney who represents investors and lenders in multifamily, office and retail property sales, said he is grateful he no longer has to be glued to Elon Musk’s Twitter app.
“I am thankful that the election is over and that the election in Georgia is almost other so that I can stop incessantly refreshing my Twitter feed in the hope that it will give me answers as to the fate of the republic,” Teusink said in an email. “Instead, I want to solely focus on the needs of my law firm and our clients.”
In Hollywood, California, celebrity Realtor and president and founder of The Oppenheim Group Jason Oppenheim reflected on all that he is grateful for.
“Family and friends, No. 1. My health. My girlfriend. My dogs. Success. The shows. But I think I’d have to go with family and friends with what I’m most thankful for,” Oppenheim, whose TV shows include Netflix’s “Selling Sunset,” said in an interview. “I wish I took more time to be thankful. Sometimes I just run through the motions and I don’t take time for that.”
Back in Dallas, Ran Holman, a Newmark executive vice president and its Texas market leader, said he is thankful to be a part of a brokerage with the “discipline and forethought to recognize that there are better days ahead and that we can use this time to prepare.”
“I got into the business in the late 80s, in an ebb tide. Cycles happen and will continue to, and while no two are the same, some aspects are universal — that what we can control is how we respond,” Holman said in an email. “At Newmark, we plan to use this time to sharpen our swords and continue to prioritize attracting the best of the best talent.”
CoStar News reporters Katie Burke, Candace Carlisle, Andria Cheng, Randy Drummer, Mark Heschmeyer, Richard Lawson, Linda Moss, Ryan Ori, Andy Peters, Parimal Rohit and Jack Witthaus contributed to this story.