Investors Push Commercial Sales to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Worker in warehouse

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Investors are swooping back into commercial real estate, sending sales volume this year back to pre-pandemic levels. Low interest rates are also helping to drive the renewed interest, as is investors’ optimism that the worst of the pandemic may be over, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But the commercial sector has changed compared with pre-pandemic days: Sunbelt cities posted record sales, suburban offices appear to be more favored than downtown locations, and demand has soared for warehouses and office buildings that cater to pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

“There is a move to both new property types and new markets,” Real Capital Analytics, a data and research firm, wrote in a recent report.

Investors purchased $144.7 billion of U.S. commercial property in the second quarter. Activity in the second quarter of this year is 14% higher than volume in the second quarters from 2015 to 2019, according to Real Capital Analytics.

Investors are bullish on certain types of commercial properties, such as life-sciences office buildings and rental apartments. LaSalle Investment Management has spent $1.9 billion on U.S. real estate investments this year, up from $202 million in the first half of 2020 and from $1 billion in the first half of 2019.

The markets seeing some of the biggest increases in commercial real estate have also seen some of the largest influxes to their populations during the pandemic. Real Capital reports record high first-half volumes in Dallas; Atlanta; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; and San Antonio.

But the commercial real estate market is not recovering in every sector. For example, tenant demand decreased in malls and office buildings during the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports. Also, the growth of remote work has reduced demand for office buildings.