Coronavirus Impacts Commercial Real Estate and Related Jobs

Observations from a commercial real estate expert and an SMU business professor on the pandemic economic fall out

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The North Texas real estate market and the jobs that depend on it are one of the many industries impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

How serious the damage will be is not yet clear, but Southern Methodist University business professor Mike Davis said he did not expect a rapid recovery.

“We know things are going to be different,” he said. “We’re entering into this horrific recession and recessions this bad, you feel the echoes of that for two or three, maybe even longer, years after that.”

The drastic hit to aviation and the hospitality industry could cripple future construction of hotels and airport-related business. Shopping center development that was already hurt by a shift to online shopping may decline further as customers become even more accustom to e-commerce during forced time at home. Employment and job opportunities will be hurt.

Idle planes at DFW Airport spell trouble for airport-related hospitality industry.

“We’re going to see a fundamental shift in the way we shop and the way we do business. That may mean fewer people getting on airplanes, which means fewer sales at all those food places and shopping places at the airport," Davis said. "It could mean more on line sales as more people discover that’s just a good way to do business."

The number of homes posted for sale is well below the typical spring season with so many people forced to stay in their homes. The number of tenants looking for new apartments is also down, posing a big complication for a market where many new apartment complexes are under construction and demand has been strong.

Commercial realtor Cody Payne with Colliers International in Fort Worth specializes in office and industrial investment and development.

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Baggage carts parked at DFW Airport on Monday, April, 13, 2020.
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Rental cars at DFW Airport on Monday, April 13, 2020.
NBC 5 News
Planes parked on a runway at DFW Airport on Monday, April 13, 2020.

“I know several of them have pulled back on large development types, all across the board. But some are still moving forward. So, its very area specific and product type driven as well,” he said.

Some real estate development seems safer, despite current circumstances.  Construction of new warehouses has been booming in recent years and new warehouse leasing has continued this year.

“We still have a lot of private people that are looking to buy in Texas,” Payne said.

On the other hand, many retail and commercial properties are owned by small investors who suffer along with small businesses if tenants can’t pay rent.

“They very much rely on that income. I know quite a few of them that can’t go more than a few months without it,” Payne said.

Payne and Davis both said stimulus programs may help, but damage would be severe and long lasting for many businesses and investors in the wake of coronavirus.

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