JPMorgan’s Pil Sees Quick Return to Office Boosting Real Estate

People will likely return to the office more quickly than expected and that will help boost the price of some commercial real estate, according to J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Investors may be making a mistake by extrapolating the future from the current situation with lots of working from home due to Covid-19, according to Anton Pil, global head of alternatives at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, part ofJPMorgan Chase & Co. Top malls worldwide should see a faster-than-expected rebound in traffic, he said, and there’s an overshoot in expectations about how many people will want the status quo versus returning to the office.

“I’m expecting a pretty significant rebound in valuation,” Pil said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Financing terms are at some of the lowest levels that we’ve ever seen, and the income generation continues to be quite strong, at least if you own top-notch offices in strong locations.”

Urban centers have been able to survive previous pandemics and will do so again this time, Pil said. He pointed to the co-working trend as evidence that even when people could work from home they found there was value in being around others.

However, investors are taking things slowly at this point, with commercial real estate dealmaking in the third quarter far below pre-pandemic levels,according to data fromCBRE Group Inc. andReal Capital Analytics Inc.

Pil also said that easy monetary policy and available financing means that it’s harder to tell which companies have simply been hurt by the pandemic and which have business models that just aren’t viable. J.P. Morgan Asset Management has stuck to a relatively conservative approach that’s focused on the actual assets companies own, he said, to avoid potential trouble on that front.

Venture capital will be a very robust market over the next year or two, Pil added. Lots of new businesses will be started by people who were laid off or had salaries reduced during the pandemic, he said, plus the efficiency of working from home and broader adoption of cloud computing has made starting a business cheaper and easier around the globe.

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