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From left: Jacob Werner, Blackstone, Paul Hughson, Island Capital, Sara Cassidy, AEW, John Ehli, Deutsche AM, Michael Desiato, ALM real estate media group, Eric Shepsman, Partners Group, Tuba Malinowski, Stockbridge, Brian Watkins, Clarion Partners, Steve Pumper, Transwestern/ Photo Credit ALM Media, by Carmen Natale

NEW YORK CITY—Real estate industry pros from leading national firms candidly shared their strategies and ideas at the Capital Markets symposium sponsored by Transwestern and Real Estate Forum. The event was at the Sofitel hotel in Midtown Manhattan on December 5, 2018.

This year is ending with a strong economy and market, with abundant capital to invest in US real estate. But in this cycle, the prolonged economic expansion has repeatedly been called “long in the tooth”—with economists saying it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” the economy will slow down.

With that in mind, moderators, Michael Desiato, vice president at ALM real estate media group, and Steve Pumper, executive managing partner at Transwestern, asked questions of players active in the market. Some of their questions included the following: Where are you investing? Are you willing to accept lower returns in any investments? What’s your strategy? Where are you in secondary and tertiary markets and where are you seeing positive trends? 

Jacob Werner, senior managing director of the real estate group at Blackstone, said he expects to see more stock market volatility in 2019. He has observed where 10-year Treasury interest rates go up and the value of REITs goes down. But he noted this has nothing to do with the value of the underlying real estate. Thus, he sees opportunities for companies to go private and realize the capital of the underlying assets to the benefit of the shareholders.

Brian Watkins, managing director at Clarion Partners, says he sees strength in urban, downtown, office high-rises, where there is a lot of walkability. What is his company avoiding now? The classic, suburban commodity office building is not what Clarion Partner nor their competitors are interested in pursuing now.

Other panelists answering the pointed, relevant real estate questions included Sara Cassidy, director at AEW Capital Management; John Ehli, real estate portfolio managers at Deutsche Asset Management; Paul Hughson, executive managing director, Island Capital; Tuba Malinowski, fund portfolio manager, Stockbridge Real Estate; and Eric Shepsman, VP, Partners Group.

In the January/February 2019 Real Estate Forum magazine, read more about their insights and what leading companies are planning. The issue will cover the Transwestern symposium in detail.

Betsy Kim

Betsy Kim is the bureau chief, East Coast, and New York City reporter for Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. As a lawyer and journalist, Betsy has worked as the director of editorial and content for LexisNexis Lawyers.com, a TV/multi-media journalist for NBC and CBS affiliated TV stations in the Midwest, and an associate producer at Court TV.

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