Pandemic Boosts A New Real Estate Asset Class

When both commercial and housing property markets suffered during the pandemic, work from home increased interest in one category of real estate: data centers.

Some asset classes are thriving while others face a flood of ghost properties. How finance leaders navigate the uncertainty over the next six months is crucial.

Immediately after India went into a lockdown mode due to Covid-19, there was a 25-35% increase in data center capacity usage as companies began to overhaul their digital infrastructure to deal with the new work environment, according to Anarock Research. It expects that to boost the growth of data centers as a real estate asset. Data centers were classified as an essential service and there has been

Data centers were classified as an essential service and there has been a huge surge in cloud usage because of schools, e-commerce or streaming applications such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, said Shard Sanghi, chief executive officer-global data centers and cloud infrastructure (India) at NTT Ltd., a provider of hosting and cloud services. “You need to have more physical servers to be able to support demand from these places. So absolutely it is a factor in the growth in data centers.”

To be sure, developers were warming up to the idea of building their own data centers—dedicated space to house internet servers and other data applications. The pandemic will only aid this newly emerging asset class when owners of commercial real estate, so far immune to slowdowns, are also feeling the pain.

CFOs face consequential decisions over the next six months as the fallout from COVID-19 on commercial real estate crystallizes. Whether to buy or sell property, whatever asset class the CFO is concerned with or what to do about leasing, the market is shifting in major ways, property specialists said in a Turnaround Management Association webcast.

For some asset types, such as hotels and other hospitality properties, the pandemic’s shock on valuations and the drying up of debt and equity financing will likely be temporary.

Ample capital, low rates

Lack of affordable capital isn’t the problem today. White just worked on multifamily property deals for which the all-in rate was lower than pre-COVID, because interest rates, thanks in large part to the Federal Reserve’s efforts in the spring to ensure capital availability, have continued to fall.

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