Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Springtime for Retail, Sale Leasebacks, and Urban Investments
As spring unfolds, key areas of the net lease market such as retail, sale leasebacks and urban investments seem set to grow. Numbers and analysis from the first quarter of 2010 point to better days and more opportunities ahead.
As of March 2010 consumer spending has increased over the past five months and retail sales have risen the past four. Retail sales in the first quarter 2010 are up 1.9% over the previous quarter and up 5% compared to the same period last year. Retail transaction volume totaled $3.1 billion for the 1Q 2010, which is a steady improvement from $2.2 billion in the same period last year. Furthermore, according to a major commercial real estate magazine “investors are showing strong interest in well-stabilized retail properties that generate consistent cash flows”. This description fits perfectly with net lease investments, which are defined by their stability.
It has been estimated that there is at least $1 billion in corporate owned essential real estate and according to RW Baird “strong corporate demand for sale-leaseback transactions”. If only a fraction of this $1 trillion were to enter the market, it would be a huge boon for net leases. Sale-leasebacks, which are almost always structured as net leases, offer corporations a chance to pull vital equity out of their real estate and enhance current operations. The real estate is sold and a long term lease is signed which leases back the property. Sale leasebacks have already provided the basis for many net lease transactions in the last two years and that trend looks to continue to pick up steam.
There has been a lot of talk about the upward trend in urban investments. Walgreens purchased Duane Reade and their 258 New York metro area locations for $1 billion and those leases have been recently valued at $74 million. The German group, GLL Real Estate Partners also entered the urban market by purchasing 14,000 sq. ft. of New York retail condominiums from Hines. The urban market is one the most attractive today because it ensures a properties close proximity to large populations. As a result, net lease urban properties have increasingly been in demand.