Key Highlights

  • Shifts made to somehow accommodate the COVID pandemic plus standalone happenings from companies such as Airbnb and Vacasa directly impacted real estate investors this year
  • Summaries of 2020’s stories that affected investors

2020 has clearly been an historic year. Every person, every service provider and every industry sector have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including the real estate investor sector. Let’s take a backward glance to some of 2020’s happenings that have most affected the real estate investment community the most.

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  1. The market for vacation rentals has made an incredible comeback from its gloomiest days at the onset of the pandemic to now. In March, travel ground to a halt and vacation rental guests couldn’t break their reservations fast enough. Owners of vacation property rentals spent many sleepless nights worrying about how they were going to pay their mortgages and ongoing costs without any revenue from travelers and guests. Vacation management companies laid off and/or severely cut hours of their employees. Additionally, some vacation management companies essentially created stipends in hopes of helping to keep their “hosts” afloat. Now, according to Vacasa’s senior director of real estate , Shaun Greer told InmanNews, “…there is much more demand than we anticipated even in a best case scenario. Our best case was to get back to our 2019 levels. (Now) is well over our 2019 levels.” Non-urban areas have been the beneficiaries.
  2. Federal government and individual state bans on evictions have been welcomed by tenants who have been unable to pay rent due to the pandemic’s negative impacts on their jobs and incomes. Now extended through January 2021, many landlords, Realtor associations and lobbyists are fighting against eviction bans in courts around the country as landlords are being left in the lurch with billions of dollars in rent debt. Any kind of tenable situation for owners and landlords continues to be up in the air while they are left without rental income to pay their property taxes, mortgages and ongoing essential costs. Additionally, rental concessions and, in some cases, lease terminations have become a fact of life in expensive urban markets due to commercial and residential relocations due to both the pandemic and remote working.
  3. Read #1 above to get an idea about the saga of Airbnb’s financial downs and ups during the pandemic. Could the company remain in business as its hosts were facing nightmare cancellations? Even after receiving $1B in debts and equity funding from venture capital funds in April, could the company file and execute documents for an IPO. All of this is past tense now as its IPO was, to put it mildly, successful. All this said, Airbnb’s saga continues as class action lawsuits remain in the company’s present tense.
  4. Property managers and owners have had to proactively help prevent the spread of COVID among their residential and commercial tenants by rethinking their daily operations, staffing policies, predictive cleanliness and maintenance protocols, updating their HVAC systems, etc. As coronaviruses become more and more common in the future, likely such rethinking will become the required norm.
  5. Leadership changes and/or terminations in companies such as WeWork and Vacasa have rendered some commercial properties vacant and some companies rudderless while holding significant debt. Professionals from other industry sectors have rallied to jump on CEO and board of director merry-go-rounds in efforts to hold on to as much of these companies as possible.
  6. The most savvy real estate investors have maintained diverse investment property portfolios. Warehouse and portable storage locations, repurposed parking lots and mobile-home parks have been among the soundest areas of investment in 2020 and, likely, beyond.


Thanks to InmanNews.

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