The coronavirus pandemic continued to upset the U.S. real estate sector last week, with no property type left untouched — even those that investors considered safe in normal times, according to a report by S&P Global.
Healthcare has been one of the hardest-hit real estate investment trust sectors due to its proximity to the effects of the pandemic, with many investors assigning no value to private senior housing portfolios. Government-reimbursed skilled nursing facilities, however, although widely out of favor in recent years, have been valued higher because of their high likelihood of a government bailout, said SMBC Nikko analyst Richard Anderson. He argued, however, that when viewed rationally, senior housing is worth something more than zero.
“While we expect the seniors housing operators and the REITs to ultimately share the pain, and the extent of the damage remains unknown,” Anderson told S&P, adding that “the presumption of zero value on senior housing makes zero sense.”
“The future demand from the Great Depression-era elderly is going to come no matter what, while declining supply may be one silver lining to all of this — the combination being the longer-term opportunity.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to help publicly offered REITs with additional flexibility to retain more capital during the current financial crisis, the National Association of REITs asked the Treasury Department to issue new guidance reverting to a 90%/10% combination of stock and cash for 2020 and 2021 dividends.
In a letter sent to the department Thursday, Nareit said the move would help REITs maintain their operations by conserving significant amounts of cash generated from their real estate operations. The IRS last issued this guidance during the 2008 financial crisis but reverted to an 80%/20% mix in 2012.