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  • Alex Pettee, CFA

Office REITs: Always Sunnier In The Sunbelt

  • Work from Home Forever? The long-delayed 'return to the office' has been postponed yet again by another wave of the pandemic, but office demand has been stronger than many assume.

  • The office REIT outlook has brightened in recent months - particularly for REITs focused on business-friendly Sunbelt regions - following solid earnings results, favorable leasing trends, and strong comparable pricing.

  • Eighteen months after "two weeks to slow the spread," office utilization rates have recovered only a fraction of pre-COVID levels in the dense coastal "shutdown cities" with longer transit-heavy commutes.

  • One of the most pro-cyclical REIT sectors, we believe that investors should look to tactically allocate to office REITs focused on markets with the strongest working-age population growth, primarily in the Sunbelt.

  • A "new normal" on several levels, office REITs - which historically traded at persistent premiums to their REIT peers - have become relative "value plays" in the post-pandemic era while dividend yields have swelled.

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