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Disruption 2020 - Greater Boston Investment Sales Q3 Lookback

Author: Aaron Jodka

By Aaron Jodka | October 2020

Real Capital Analytics has recently published its third quarter sales statistics. Nationally, at first glance macro numbers look ugly, with year-over-year volume down 57%. However, digging deeper, volumes increased from Q2 to Q3 by a wider margin than typical seasonality would suggest (37% compared to a typical 9%). In Boston, though, the trends are a bit different.

At a high level, overall volume is off just 30% from year-ago levels, with Boston fourth in the country for total volume (trailing Dallas, Los Angeles, and Manhattan). Boston leads the country in office sales year-to-date, maintaining a rare No. 1 spot. That said, volume was down 22% from Q2 to Q3 (for all commercial property types and land), the opposite of national trends. Capital flows are also interesting.

Cross-border investment has been negative in both 2019 and year-to-date. This only accounts for direct investment, but international capital is not shunning Boston: just the opposite. The recent Colliers advised cross-border loan on Winthrop Center shows the international appetite for Boston properties. Institutional investment was strong to start the year, higher year-to-date than 2019’s full-year total. However, institutional investment is slow at the moment save for industrial and lab. REIT investment is positive, while private owners have been net sellers.

Investor Capital Flows

 

Optimism is returning to the market thanks to several large-deal offerings. Lab space, as we’ve noted in the past, is highly sought-after, attracting strong bidding when offered on the market. In addition, existing office assets in Boston, such as 601 Congress, is expected to sell to a lab buyer for future conversion. Meanwhile, several Boston assets on the sales block — if they’re able to close by year-end — would go a long way toward causing Q4 volumes to jump.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • National sales volume was down 57% in the third quarter year-over-year, but did grow from the second quarter.

  • While Boston volumes only declined 30% year-to-year, they fell by 22% from the second quarter.

  • The makeup of this year’s capital flows is changing. Cross-border capital sources have been net direct sellers in Boston in the past two years. Institutional ownership is up after a strong start to the year.

  • Cross-border investors still want a piece of Boston, though, as proven by a Colliers advised loan to restart Winthrop Center.

  • Optimism is returning to the market. Lab continues to be a hot commodity, while larger offerings on the market across property types suggest a stronger Q4.

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