Resiliency Will Get Us Through

Commercial Members Are Showing What They're Made of During Uncertain Times.

2020 NAR President Vince Malta

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein’s words inspire us to stay positive through these challenging times. Clients look to us for flexibility and innovative ideas for adjusting to uncertainties around health and safety—and the state of our business—and, as REALTORS® do, we are rising to the occasion. I’m heartened by the generally upbeat responses by members to NAR’s Market Recovery Survey, released July 9. NAR surveyed commercial and residential practitioners, and the results confirm what I’ve been finding from my virtual engagement with members from coast to coast: Resiliency within our ranks is strong. Nearly two-thirds of members reported in late June that their market was back to normal or slowly entering recovery. And 28% indicated their market is hotter than normal.

Of course, we know the picture is quite different in commercial real estate. Building owners are facing pressure from both directions. When tenants struggle with cash flow, owners’ financial limits and patience are tested. This struggle is real for me as the owner of multifamily investment properties, and where I can offer my tenants forbearance options, I do. Many of you are doing the same. In the survey, nearly 60% of property managers and nearly 50% of landlords said they were able to accommodate delays in rent payments by commercial tenants. The figures were slightly lower, 40% and 24%, for residential tenants. In these times, the grace we show one another as well as the unwavering support we get from the REALTOR® community—will help us prevail. Meanwhile, dramatic jumps in the residential market in June and July—bolstered by an improving employment outlook—bode well for commercial real estate for the long haul.

black and white curvy road

As I write this, NAR continues to advocate for pandemic relief for our industry. Among the provisions we’re supporting are direct assistance to housing providers whose tenants have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and limiting of eviction moratoriums to those financially impacted by COVID-19. We also continue to strongly defend the 1031 like-kind exchange rules against policymakers who seek to repeal the rules or limit the use of 1031s. And we’re keeping the lines of communication open with the lending community. In July, with COVID-19 continuing to surge in many states, we spoke with Leanne Spies, who heads Freddie Mac’s servicing portfolio operations. Spies outlined new forbearance options, such as delayed repayment and elongated repayment periods, for multifamily borrowers whose 90-day forbearance agreements were reaching an end.

Living through uncertainty is hard. But what you can count on is that NAR is committed to working for a strong real estate industry that supports the needs of commercial practitioners. While many of you would ordinarily be making plans now to attend the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, originally scheduled for New Orleans, in November, this is a reminder that we’re going virtual. (Watch for details, as they become available, at conference.realtor.) I’ll miss seeing everyone in person, but gathering online makes it easier and safer for members to hear from and engage with industry influencers, government officials, and NAR leaders. Based on the turnout for our successful virtual Legislative Meetings in May, we’re expecting to at least double typical participation levels during the Nov. 13–16 conference, which will include vital content for commercial practitioners. It’ll be an opportunity for professional growth and connection.

Einstein surely would have approved.

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