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Real estate investors taking 'barbell' approach to crisis

New York

INVESTORS are increasingly taking a "barbell" approach to a commercial real estate market that's been roiled by the coronavirus.

They are looking at distressed assets like malls and hotels hurt by the pandemic, as well as logistics facilities that are in demand as more shopping shifts online, according to Mike Van Konynenburg, the president of New York-headquartered real estate investment bank Eastdil Secured.

The changing strategies are playing out against a backdrop of high unemployment in and low interest rates in the United States that may persist for a long time, Mr Van Konynenburg said on Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

"There are two places to play," said Mr Van Konynenburg, who has advised Blackstone Group on real estate deals and began his career at Drexel Burnham Lambert.

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"One is playing into distressed assets, assets that were over-leveraged, or assets like the commodity office, certain lower-quality malls, and hotels that have been really hit."

The other option, he said, is to "start buying those better quality logistics and office properties and life-sciences properties" that have long-term leases and locking in a secure returning income stream, while I have the opportunity to do it at yields that are very high relative to where Treasuries are right now. Really it's a barbell." BLOOMBERG

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