The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the world as we know it. As countries around the planet began to shut down, states within the U.S.A.. followed suit. While each state followed its own set of guidelines, the country as a whole experienced a cumulative economic downturn. Now, months later, the state of Arizona is beginning to re-open as life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, life will be anything but normal for the commercial real estate market in the weeks, months, and potentially even years following COVID-19.
Understanding the Impact of COVID-19
While much has been made regarding the discussion of COVID-19s true impact on the country, it is hard to ignore the economic fallout that has taken hold in Arizona’s commercial real estate market. According to a vacancy report detailing post-COVID office vacancies, Arizona’s business sector is sporting Great Recession-levels of vacancy rates within traditional office buildings. A report compiled by the team at Costar projected that vacancy rates in commercial offices will remain between 11% and 15%. Seeing these numbers and understanding their impact are two different things. While only a sliver of the picture, this vacancy number gives us plenty to digest.
Let us briefly chart a few primary ways that the commercial real estate industry in Arizona will shift for the foreseeable future. As the state of Arizona continues to re-open, these expectations should be held for the commercial real estate industry:
- Space Requirement Changes – Living in a post-COVID world means acclimating to the new normal. Social distancing, sanitation, and large open spaces will dominate commercial property in the coming months and years. As OSHA and HR reps around the state adjust to these new regulations, expect businesses to need larger spaces for the same amount of work.
- Equalizing Rental Rates – As individuals struggle to make ends meet, there is an expectation that rental rates will reach an equalization factor. Landlords who are not beholden to debt or lenders that are offering amenable rates will do what is possible to keep their buildings fully staffed. As landlords compete to retain the best tenants, there is an expectation that flexibility in lending and renting can be met.
- Changing Operational Expectations – Industries that rely on call centers will also experience rather large changes in the way that they perform in the post-COVID world. Call centers will be expected to split shifts to reduce the footprint of their employees. Buildings will be reorganized and adjusted for CDC and OSHA regulations which could include the installation of filter systems, sneeze shields, and other sanitary safety measures.
While there is no telling exactly where Arizona will be on the other side of the COVID-19 re-opening, it does appear that the state is primed for a healthy launch. Arizona sports a warm and dry heat thanks to its geographical location. With plenty of room for potential land development and a healthy infrastructure for commercial construction, Arizona is in a primed position to succeed.