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WHEN THE CORONAVIRUS FIRST MADE ITS presence known in the US, I had a conversation with Thomas J. Illmensee, a senior director at SquareFoot. He was having trouble getting into the habit of not shaking hands with clients. It was such a counterintuitive thing to do, especially in real estate where relationships are so important. And social distancing? “As a broker we make money being out on the street,” he told me. But even in those very first days, Illmensee and his colleagues were already adapting to the new normal. “These are all issues we can work around.”

So it goes for the larger commercial real estate industry. Without a doubt, CRE, along with the rest of the broader economy, is grappling with how to handle the coronavirus. As I write this, there have been widespread shutdowns across most sectors of the economy as the novel virus continues its march across the US. Even just a few weeks into this national emergency, there have already been reports of financing falling through and deals being put on hold. Certain industries, such as the hospitality and retail sectors, are going to take a painful hit. But at the same time, the community is taking proactive steps to do its part to stop the spread of this disease.

Will these efforts pay off? We pray so, because the worst case estimates for deaths are unfathomable.

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Erika Morphy

 

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