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Insights from Sheri - Commercial Real Estate in Southeast Texas

Reflection on 2023

In the face of challenges, it brings me great pleasure to announce that our current commercial real estate market in Southeast Texas is more robust and resilient than ever before, marking a significant departure from the tumultuous times of the 2008 financial crisis. The economic landscape of 2023 witnessed a promising recovery, with a real GDP growth of 2.8%, driven by substantial job gains and a surge in construction spending, particularly for manufacturing facilities.

A standout achievement was the 22 consecutive months with a national unemployment rate below 4%, a feat not seen in over half a century. Even in challenging economic conditions, small businesses flourished, especially in the local industrial sector due to pipeline and petrochemical industry expansions here in Southeast Texas.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge the hurdles faced by the CRE market in 2023, such as labor shortages, inflationary pressures, and the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes. Banks pulled back on lending, resulting in a significant decline in loan volume. The cautious approach of investors, influenced by higher borrowing costs and external uncertainties, has prolonged decision-making processes.

Trends and Shifts

The current market dynamics reveal noteworthy trends that shape the landscape of commercial real estate. Transactions are increasingly being completed with all-cash, 1031 exchanges, and seller financing, reflecting a cautious approach in the high-risk environment. Buyers with no time constraints are meticulously searching for properties that align with today's higher-risk conditions.

Lender equity requirements have become more stringent, with a notable shift in banking practices. Seller financing, particularly in small markets with robust local economies, has emerged as a viable option. In the sales arena, despite 2023 not matching the record- breaking year of 2022, the demand for small retail, office, and warehouse buildings remains strong. Our dedicated team, including esteemed members like Debbie Cowart, continues to excel, earning well-deserved national recognition and achieving impressive sales milestones.

Current Market Trends

As we navigate the current landscape, we observe a scarcity of m otivated sellers in national markets, leading to lower inventory levels. Buyers are exercising caution, unwilling to overpay for properties in the face of high-interest rates. Contrary to expectations, distressed assets were scarce in 2023, prompting investors to await the impending wave of refinancing in 2024. Millennials and Gen Z, inheriting generational wealth, are deviating from the tradition of immediate selling, anticipating a more favorable market in 2025.

Sector-specific insights, let's delve into specific sectors to gain a deeper understanding of the current state:

Industrial Sector: After years of rapid expansion, the industrial sector is facing new challenges. Local contractors, suppliers, and businesses seeking small warehouses and flex space have driven demand. However, prices remain high, and the shortage of small buildings persists. While caution lingers, optimism prevails for the latter part of 2024, especially post-presidential elections.

Retail Sector: The retail sector, particularly outside central business districts (CBDs), continues to attract investor demand. Cap rates are rising moderately as investors focus on stable assets like auto dealerships and grocery-anchored centers. Retailers in suburbs and neighborhood centers with easy access and parking are thriving, ensuring stability in 2024.

Office Sector: Challenging sales conditions have shifted the focus to office lease renewals, with landlords offering concessions to retain tenants. Smaller spaces are in demand, but high-rise buildings face significant challenges. The outlook for the office sector remains uncertain, with questions arising about the fate of office buildings and potential conversions.

Multi-Family: Multifamily activity in 2023 varied across markets. While some experienced healthy rent growth, others faced challenges due to oversupply and financing constraints. Our local area, fortunately, remains resilient, with ongoing new construction. Small buildings and units continue to be highly marketable, attracting self- funded buyers and investors willing to adhere to strict borrowing terms.

Looking Ahead to 2024 As we peer into the future, we anticipate 2024 to be a year of caution for investors navigating valuations amid stabilizing cap rates. Sellers are likely to hold onto properties, awaiting a more favorable pricing environment projected for 2025. Cash remains king, with major banks exercising caution in lending and liquidity issues expected to persist throughout the year.

While economic indicators remain positive, geopolitical tensions and uncertainties around policy shifts pose concerns. The International Monetary Fund suggests a slightly slower pace of expansion at 2.1% in 2024. However, we remain optimistic, recognizing that true investor confidence will return only when the Federal Reserve begins to lower interest rates.

In response to these challenges and opportunities, our team remains proactive. We've updated our marketing plan, hosted events, expanded our network, and actively engaged with the community. Our dedication to customer service and marketing has brought considerable financial rewards, thanks to the hard work and commitment of our CBC AAA Sales Team.

As we navigate the complexities of the commercial real estate market, we invite you to join us on this journey. Your support today and in the fut ure is invaluable. If you have commercial real estate needs, or if you know of friends, family, or clients seeking guidance, we stand ready to offer our expertise and assistance.

In closing, we acknowledge the challenges ahead but embrace them with resilience and optimism. Together, we can navigate the currents of change and build a stronger, more prosperous future for the commercial real estate community. Thank you for your attention, and here's to a successful and resilient 2024! Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Sheri Arnold, CCIM

Owner - Lead Broker Coldwell Banker Commercial Arnold & Associates

One Acadiana Court

Beaumont, TX 77706


Sources CBC Worldwide News

Local Economic Development News

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