“Location, location, location” remains the real estate gospel.



Every developer, every broker, every investor, every HGTV show, every home hunter, everybody says, “Location, location, location.” This is more than just a buzzword. As for real estate, this is the gospel.

Michelle Wheeler, Jackson Shaw

I am often asked, “What real estate markets do you invest in?” The answer makes me smile, as the data and trends constantly point to “States of a smile.” This term usually refers to the East and West coasts, which are joined by the Sun Belt. Markets that people are looking to invest in usually consist of two types of metros: large urban areas along the coast (known as entrance subways) and markets along the Sun Belt (known as growth subways).

If you mapped the locations where Jackson Shaw invested, it would roughly form the familiar shape of a smile. This includes our Renaissance Hotel and Parc Post in Las Vegas; Element Hotel in Skysong, Parc 17 and Parc Germann in Arizona; Santa Fe Park in Colorado; countless industrial plants and hotels throughout Texas; International DC 1 & 5 and Jacksonville International Trade Port in Florida; and the Brickyard and Andrews federal campus in Maryland.

Most Successful Markets – Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh / Durham, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Tampa / St. … St. Petersburg and Tucson are a mixture of metro gateways and growth, and they are all within the Smile States. These commercial real estate markets are distinguished by a combination of key metrics: population growth, economic strength, employer diversification, job growth, affordability and quality of life.

Consider also that low government taxes (in some cases none at all) are a significant advantage.

Real estate development and maintenance is usually cheaper in warmer climates. Likewise, the trend of millennials and younger generations moving to southern states has not gone unnoticed by large employers, many of whom are moving or expanding in these regions.

Geographic diversification is an essential component for achieving long-term and predictable investment results. Real estate markets do not react in the same way during economic downturns and recessions.

While it is difficult to determine the long-term sustainability of these trends, they do appear to take hold in the near future. There is no doubt that 2020 has been a year of transformation in commercial real estate. Through 2021 and beyond, I expect continued industrial demand to remain strong, apartment buildings to continue to grow, retail to grow, and interest rates to remain low. After all, smile a little more and regret a little less.

Michelle Wheeler is President and Chief Operating Officer of Jackson-Shaw.


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