Industrial, Apartments Drive December Price Gains

US commercial property prices grew 7.3% year-over-year in December, according to the latest RCA CPPI: US summary report.

But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that apartment and industrial drove the gains. The industrial sector, which posted the largest annual increase of any property type, grew 0.6% in December and rose 8.8% year-over-year. The pace of growth in the sector declined modestly from previous months. Prices increased 0.9% for apartments in December, while annual gains hit 8.3%.

Despite strong industrial sales, cap rates remained flat at 6.0% from Q4 1029 to Q4 2020, according to The RCA Hedonic Series. Apartment cap rates fell 20 basis points year-over-year to 5.1%. Warehouse cap rates were 5.9%, which was lower than the 6.0% reached in Q1’20. The retail sector, which underperformed other property types in 2020, was the only index to post a negative annual return in December, dropping 4.3%. Despite uncertainty about return-to-work trends, office prices increased into year-end, up 1.5% from a year ago. RCA noted that this marked “a petering out of the price growth seen before Covid-19 struck.”

Unlike The Global Financial Crisis, prices have not yet turned negative during the COVID recession—except for retail. However, transaction activity tumbled in 2020, though there were signs of a recovery in Q4, according to RCA.

Overall, US sales volumes fell 32% versus 2019. However, Q4 sales only dropped 19%, according to the latest edition of US Capital Trends shows.

Industrial, which held up better than other property types through the pandemic, was the second most active sector in 2020 with $98.8 billion. Apartments had the most sales at $183.7 billion.

Some markets, such as the Southeast, have seen a healthy influx of people during the pandemic. And, demand for multifamily in those regions has picked up.

“We have found as a result of the pandemic, there is a demand for the Sun Belt strategy,” Joe Lubeck, CEO, American Landmark, told “Apartments are strong, and more and more people are moving here from the North to the South and from the coasts to the Sun Belt.”

The office sector, which used to rank at the top of the transaction list, was third with $86.1 billion. The three sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, retail, hospitality and seniors housing, followed with transactions $37.7 billion, $12.2 billion, and $9.6 billion, respectively.

Dallas, which had strong apartment and industrial sales, saw the most transactions in 2020, though they still fell by a quarter, according to RCA. Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta followed. Sales activity in Manhattan, which has been hard hit by COVID, was slashed in half. The city fell to the #5 spot of RCA’s list of top markets, which was its lowest position recorded

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