CCIM Office Sector Luncheon—Demand, Density and Flex Space: Systemic Change or Return to Yesterday?

Keynote Speaker: Dr. James Gaines, Chief Economist, Texas A&M University, Real Estate Center

February 2020, was the peak of the 128-month-long prior recovery; then we fell sharply into recession
• Down 31% in Q2 and down 25-30% in Q3 (est.)
• Since March nationwide, 63 million have filed for unemployment—about 38% of the workforce; in Texas, 6 million; Texas lost 1.4 million jobs in March-April alone; lost jobs have now recovered by about one-half; Houston has retained 92% of pre-COVID jobs
• Texas has had a ‘double whammy’: oil and COVID…energy demand is down and will stay there for a while, although price at $40 bbl seems to have stabilized
• Our federal deficit will hit $4 trillion this year, and the Fed has had to borrow $3 trillion of it; in 2-5 years there will be a huge debt overhang
• 3.4 million mortgages—7% of total-are in forbearance arrangements, but those arrangements may expire in early 2021
• For recovery, we must: a) get virus under control b) increase consumer demand and spending c) re-employ people d) stabilize/improve global trade
• We have no inflation and stable (low) interest rates at or lower than 3%
• Texas is a little better off than rest of the U.S., and it should be early 2022 before we approach under 5% unemployment
• Home sales are up 3.5%, and prices up 5-6%; there is an inventory shortage of single-family homes; new home construction is up and could be one of major drivers pulling us out of current slump