Post COVID CRE Hiring: Good, Bad, or Ugly?


There’s no denying that the past few months have been hard on commercial real estate. But where do we stand now? What will post COVID CRE hiring look like in the months ahead, as we rebuild and move on? Are we getting back to business as usual? Is it a total loss? Or can we expect a little of both?

According to many experts in commercial real estate, the COVID-19 crisis created a mixed bag of both challenges and opportunities. There’s plenty of bad news, but also a lot of good.

If you make a living in the CRE field, you may be wondering what hiring will look like now that everything has changed. Let’s open up that mixed bag, and see what the future may hold for the industry.

CRE Hiring Post COVID: The Mixed Bag

The hiring freeze that occurred this spring was unprecedented. Employers laid off millions of workers, and the US unemployment rate hit 20% in April. According to data from Indeed, job postings are lower this year by nearly 34%. The biggest hit sectors were tourism and hospitality, which were devastated by the lockdowns. Retail is hurting, too. Many believe the US is falling into a deep recession at this very moment, and that the rest of the year will be rather bleak.

But in the commercial real estate sector, it’s not all bad news.

While most companies have reduced new hires, others are looking for new talent to help them navigate a difficult market. This is the time for talented professionals and innovative leaders to thrive.

Respondents to the Spring 2020 NAIOP CRE Sentiment Index provided a slightly negative outlook on a handful of CRE fundamentals, except for employment within their own firms, which they expected to remain consistent.

Also, there is now more opportunity for contract and remote-work positions than before. Self-starters and entrepreneurial talent will have more value in the coming workplace. Post COVID CRE Hiring will be much more flexible. Of course, relationships and networking will remain the currency of the realm.

In a recent BisNow interview, real estate consultant, Bernie Ocampo, predicted there will be greater demand for some CRE markets like distressed investments, asset management, accounting, and property management. CRE professionals in these areas can expect a competitive hiring field. Ocampo pointed out that, while assets may change hands, there will always be a need for management of those assets.

What CRE Hiring May Look Like Long Term

So some sectors are definitely hurting, while others will be in greater demand than before. But will hiring overall rise or fall in the months and years ahead? In the BisNow article, Jana Turner a principal for RETS Associates, reported her hiring has continued strong. And she believes the long-term projections for Post COVID CRE hiring will rise after a brief pause, stating:

In the last recession, hiring was slow. Here, companies have not canceled searches. Many are just on hold...Retail will definitely be getting hurt but there are a lot of deals out there.

Indeed, there are deals to be made in the new CRE landscape. The future of CRE hiring is to be found in the rising demand for multi-family housing, high-value real property. There will likely be higher vacancy rates and some stalled construction, but some markets may actually experience higher levels of construction and demand. Jobs will be created especially in lease negotiations, legal services, special servicing, and appraisals.

In spite of all the doom and gloom in the news, there is reason to believe the outlook for post COVID CRE hiring is not crashing, but merely changing.

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