The beginning of 2019 saw a number of wild swings on Wall Street and pessimistic media coverage about the state of the U.S. economy. Yet, by the end of last month the stock market delivered it’s strongest January in 30 years and superb new jobs numbers were announced. What’s the real story for 2019: volatility and a looming recession or stable economy in growth mode?
Recent economic forecasts by leading economists and market watchers that specialize in the real estate sector offered upbeat assessments for the remainder of the year. Although 2019 won’t be as spectacular as 2018, the economy broadly, and the real estate sector in particular, are poised for solid growth.
The Urban Land Institute’s recent webinar about late cycle investing and what 2019 will bring for the commercial real estate sector provided a rosy outlook. Among the key takeaways were confidence in the strength of the labor market and continuing low-levels of unemployment. In fact, even the notoriously stubborn labor gap in the construction industry saw some improvement as that sector picked up over 50,000 new hires last month. Combine the strong labor market with $295 billion of capital waiting to be deployed and 2019 is shaping up to be a positive year for commercial real estate.
Top CRE investment dollars in 2019 are going to industrial projects, student housing, and senior housing. Retail and suburban office remain relatively soft and aren’t attracting much investment, unless it’s for truly unique and place-making projects that offer distinct experiences.
On the residential side of the market, the Home Building Association of Richmond held its annual Local Forecast Seminar last week. Among the keynote speakers, economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg predicted decent economic growth in 2019. Although GDP will slow this year, it’s still on track to grow by approximately 2.5 percent. The job market is the tightest in history, consumer spending remains robust, and wages are beginning to rise. These signs all point toward a strong economy. The residential housing sector should see results that mirror the broader economy with steady growth, albeit not as significant as 2017 and 2018. Despite the upbeat nature of the outlook, home building continues to struggle to meet demand as the number of new single-family homes built continues to be far below what’s needed. The good news is that there’s no housing bubble in the Mid-Atlantic or Southeast… just pent up demand. This conclusion was reinforced by a recentMetrostudy webinar that found that the vast majority of buyers in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic believe that 2019 will be a good year to buy a home.
Of course, questions about the next recession persist. The consensus from experts across various economic forecast sessions is to expect a mild recession in late-2020 and recovery in mid-2021. It sounds a lot like the brief recession in the early 2000s. The fundamentals of the American economy, including both commercial and residential real estate, remain strong and indicate the 2019 will see economic growth. As we continue to build on what will soon become the longest recovery in American history, we must remain positive about our economic conditions. Seize opportunities that are presented and don’t let pessimism or volatility shake your confidence in our robust economy. Short of a cataclysmic event the only factor that could undercut economic growth in 2019 is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that a recession is inevitable in the near term.
Stay upbeat because it’s shaping up to be a good year!