This may be a bit wonky, but I found it interesting, nonetheless.

A report Thursday from Wells Fargo Securities explores whether commercial real estate is still a hedge against inflation.

Runaway inflation hasn't been an economic issue in our economy in recent years. But the report says recent discussion about monetary policy is "stoking fears of rising inflation."

Commercial real estate has historically been a hedge with returns far-outpacing inflation; however the recent economic downturn has severely reduced CRE returns, the report states .Although these returns have rebounded since 2010, outpacing inflation, "investors are wondering if the gains will hold and if commercial real estate will remain an effective hedge."

Wells Fargo Senior Economist Anika Khan cites the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries Property Index, noting, "income returns should continue to improve across property sectors, as constrained supply drives vacancy rates lower and rents higher for most property types." Capital returns, though, have been "moderating along with sluggish economic growth, suggesting total returns could be heavily weighted toward operating fundamentals in the coming year."

Bottom line: Even if property values modestly improve, "fundamentals suggest solid positive real returns."

Khan also notes that not all markets are created equal, and factors such as lease structure and market fundamentals also play a role.

Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.



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