Real estate investing carries a certain degree of risk, but it also has the potential to be very rewarding. One factor that may contribute to your success as a property investor is the ability to adapt when necessary. Staying abreast of the latest developments and trends in the commercial and residential markets is important if you want to stay ahead of the curve. As 2017 looms on the horizon, here are the most significant trends that may impact real estate investors in the near future.
1. Drone Technology Takes Off
Earlier this year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the use of drones in commercial activity. For real estate agents, that opens the door to new possibilities in terms of how they show available properties. That also expands the scope of how investors are able to vet homes, office buildings or other potential investments.
A drone video feed could allow you to view a property from every possible angle without having to see it in person. You can check for any possible defects in the structure that are visible to the naked eye before moving on to a more in-depth inspection. That could save you time and money in the long run if the drone video exposes a serious flaw. (For more, see Delivery by Drone: New Rules for Flights.)
2. Global Economic Growth May Be Muted
In terms of the worldwide economic forecast, the global economy is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While that’s an increase over the 3.1% growth rate for 2016, it still represents a slight downgrade of the IMF’s original forecast. That was triggered by a dampening of the economic outlook in the wake of the U.K. Brexit and a U.S. economy that didn’t grow as quickly as initially expected. (For more, see Brexit's Effect on the Market.)
While global markets were shaken after the recent presidential election, they’ve more or less rebounded. However, now that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by 0.25%, the second increase in a decade, there may be a dampening effect on stocks. Taken together, those factors could work to quell the real estate market to a degree, as well. Investors may need to consider how foreign markets may be affected by a global slowdown and what that could mean for U.S. real estate.
3. New Home Construction Will Regain Steam
After a period of slowdown, 2017 looks like it may be the year that housing starts begin to climb once again. Kiplinger’s predicts that single-family-housing starts will rise 11% in 2017, up from the 9% increase estimated for 2016. With inventory 4.3% lower than it was a year ago and home prices continuing to rise, there’s an opportunity for builders to fill the gap in demand.
Commercial construction is also expected to see some positive growth in the new year. According to Dodge Data & Analytics, U.S. construction starts will grow by 5% for 2017, totaling $713 billion. That’s an improvement over the 1% increase in commercial construction reported for 2016, although it falls short of the 11% gain reported in 2015. While the increases on both the residential and commercial sides are modest, they’re still a positive for investors whose focus is on ground-up properties.
4. Optionality Will Reshape the Way Properties Are Used
The sharing economy has had an impact on the way people work, vacation or simply catch a cab, and it’s also leaving its imprint on the real estate market. According to the Urban Land Institute (ULI), optionality is adding a new dimension to the way that property investors – and their tenants – define the use for a particular space.
Co-living is perhaps the most visible example of this phenomenon. Companies such as Common, WeLive and Commonspace are putting a new spin on apartment living by offering units that combine private living space with communal areas for cooking, dining and socializing. A 2017 forecast for the U.S. and Canada done by ULI and PWC features optionality front and center as developers seek to identify the best use for investment properties. (For more, see Is Cohousing Right for You?)
The Bottom Line
These are just some of the things set to influence commercial and residential real estate in 2017, and they may afffect some investors more than others. As the new year gets underway, reviewing your property investments while analyzing your goals for the next 12 months is a wise move. Understanding what trends are poised to take off can make it easier to spot potentially valuable investment opportunities going forward.