As 2020 comes to an end, let’s hear from industry leaders about their expectations regarding the industry and COVID-19 in 2021 and what has helped them be successful this year. We will hear from Ashley Stiles, CEO and founder of Tribe Development; Chris Lonigro, CEO and founder of Generation Development; Gilda Zaragoza, founder and visionary-in-chief at Invalesco Real Estate and Development; and Dennis Polk, partner at Holley, Albertson & Polk P.C.
What do you expect — or hope — will happen in the construction or real estate market next year?
AS: I expect that we will see an increase of distressed assets coming to the market. For those who have managed their cash on hand well, this will be a huge opportunity to acquire great properties. For new starts, I anticipate we will see the construction cost correction we have been waiting for. I think this will be a function of labor costs decreasing, not necessarily material costs.
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CL: I hope that a medical cure brings some sort of normalcy back. Real estate development is challenging enough without pressures on the market that are truly unprecedented. … Hopefully, some of the projects that have been put on hold find legs again, and the pause brings time to innovate construction practices that pay dividends into the next cycle.
GZ: We are in the midst of a homebuying spree. … This may start to taper off, especially as we go into the holidays, but I think we will continue to see people move as their priorities, needs and wants change due to COVID. I believe through 2021, we will continue to see a shift toward homebuyers opting for the suburbs.
DP: I expect housing starts in the Denver metro area to shift to the suburbs and a few projects in rural areas. I believe this is a function of socioeconomic pressures in the city, coupled with the new remote-working mantra that has become pervasive. I also think that many office-space users will be decreasing their use of traditional downtown office space.
What one thing are you doing to be successful as we live through COVID in 2021?
AS: Remaining positive while being realistic. It is easy to get sucked into toxic loops, and even easier to minimize the seriousness of the challenges we face. Finding a balance between these two has been difficult, but something I am mindful of every day.
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CL: I find myself looking at how busy life was before the pandemic and appreciating the reduced number of events and noticing the people around us.
GZ: Go with the flow! I think we need to continue to pivot as best we can and remain fluid to be effective leaders and stay sane!
DP: I need to develop better technological skills to practice law in a virtual world. For me, it is the functional equivalent of learning a foreign language. All service-based businesses will forever be changed. On the one hand, it creates greater efficiencies and time savings, but on the other hand, it harms the interpersonal communications that underpin many relationships. I am learning how to balance these competing developments.