October 2020 Commercial Real Estate Market Trends and Outlook

The Commercial Real Estate Trends & Outlook Report discusses trends in the small commercial market or transactions that are typically less than $2.5 million. This report is based on information collected from NAR’s 2020 Q3 Commercial Real Estate Quarterly Market Survey about the commercial transactions of REALTORS® and members of NAR' commercial affiliate organizations (CCIM, SIOR, RLI, IREM, and the Counselors of Real Estate) during the third quarter of 2020. The survey was sent to approximately 76,000 commercial REALTORS® and members of affiliate organizations during October 1–18, 2020, of which 658 provided answers to at least one question.

The survey results indicate the continuing impact of the pandemic on the volume of transactions and on commercial business practices. The impact of the pandemic is still evolving but the survey results are providing an indication of where changes are heading. In the office sector, 62% of respondents reported an increase in companies moving to smaller offices, and 58% of respondents reported an increase in short-term leases of two years or less. In the retail properties market, 52% percent reported they are seeing more vacant malls being repurposed for other uses, such as mixed-use, industrial use, hospitals, or as churches.

REALTORS® reported a decline in sales and leasing transactions, except for industrial properties, clearly the strongest leg of the commercial sector. The land market has also been a strong sector, especially sales of land for recreational use, as the pandemic has curtailed leisure activities in the urban areas.

Bar graph: Year-Over-Year Change in Commercial Sales Volume by Property Type, Q2 2020 and Q3 2020
Bar graph: Year-Over-Year Change in Commercial Leasing Volume, 2009 to Q3 2020

Over the next three months, Realtors® foresee an increase in land sales and industrial properties and more construction for industrial and residential properties.

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