We all knew something was on its way to ending the longest bull run in the history of the commercial property sector, but we didn’t expect a high-speed, runaway train to hit us head-on.
If someone had told us nine months ago that we’d be approaching 2021 having spent the majority of this year at home, and that human contact would be something to be feared, we’d never have believed you. But, here we are.
Since March 13 (or thereabouts), commercial real estate lenders, a particularly social bunch in an industry that thrives on in-person interactions, have been forced to quarantine — albeit in some very nice locations — and close transactions remotely.
Gone are the days of hopping on a plane without a second thought to walk a property or meet a sponsor. Gone are the “meeting of the minds” conference room gatherings. Gone is the shoptalk over a martini and (gulp) shared bar nuts. Gone are the elaborate closing dinners. And, heck, gone are the days of the good, old-fashioned handshakes.
On the flip side, the market flipped from a borrower’s market to a lender’s market overnight. So, perhaps it’s not all bad? For the lenders who didn’t rely too heavily on leverage and were somewhat prepared for a downturn, there are now some market opportunities to be had.
So, how have real estate financiers fared over the past year? What are some of the biggest market lessons learned during COVID-19? Which closed deals are they super proud of? What’s their take on New York’s recovery? And which show have they been binging as they wait for the pandemic to end?
Commercial Observer was keen to find out and asked 20 of the industry’s top lenders those very questions (and more). What we learned is that the debt markets can’t be hindered by a global pandemic when the deal is right, and those at the very top of their game financing the nation’s most prominent buildings are just like us — they continue to get down to business, while juggling home life and all of its unexpected curveballs, and still make time for some Netflix escapism when the day is finally done.