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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Three Commercial Real Estate Executives. Three Vastly Different Views of CRE.

Anthony Malkin - Empire State Realty Trust, Kathleen McCarthy - Blackstone, and Barry Stenlicht - Starwood Capital Group

In the world of commercial real estate (CRE), clarity is a coveted commodity, yet it often seems elusive. The question on everyone's mind: where are the markets in the cycle now? As Federal Reserve executives volley back and forth, it's easy to feel like spectators in a game of badminton where the score has been lost.

Enter three influential figures in CRE, each with their own unique perspective on the current state of the market.

Anthony Malkin - Empire State Realty Trust

Anthony Malkin, Chair and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, exudes confidence in the face of uncertainty. According to Malkin, the current conditions resemble the period between 1989 and 1992 more than the Great Financial Crisis. He sees this as a generational opportunity for acquisitions, fueled by ample debt at low floating interest rates and values supported by low cap rates. Empire State Realty Trust has capitalized on this by acquiring residential and retail properties in New York City. Malkin emphasizes the need for patience and opportunism, with an eye on long-term partnerships focused on multiples of invested capital.

Kathleen McCarthy - Blackstone 

Kathleen McCarthy, global co-head of real estate at Blackstone, takes a more cautious stance. She predicts that a peak in interest rates, coupled with a slowdown in new construction, indicates that U.S. CRE markets are bottoming. With $600 billion in property under management globally, Blackstone is positioned to navigate the aftermath of what McCarthy calls "the shipwreck that's already happened." While bad news may be on the horizon, McCarthy believes the worst is behind us.

Barry Stenlicht - Starwood Capital Group

Barry Sternlicht, Chairman of Starwood Capital Group, paints a picture of caution tempered with opportunity. With $115 billion under management, Sternlicht acknowledges the looming specter of a distressed cycle ahead. High interest rates and underwater CRE loan portfolios present challenges, but Sternlicht sees potential in a "block by block" approach to investment. While the outlook may be uncertain, Sternlicht remains open to strategic opportunities.

The truth is, no one knows for sure. Each perspective offers valuable insights, but the reality is that by the time clarity is achieved, it may be too late to capitalize on the market's movements. In a landscape where uncertainty reigns, flexibility, patience, and a willingness to adapt are paramount. Whether it's seizing opportunities for acquisitions, navigating the aftermath of economic turbulence, or strategically investing in distressed assets, success in CRE requires a nuanced understanding of the market and the ability to pivot when necessary.

As the CRE industry continues to evolve, one thing remains certain: the ability to thrive in uncertainty is the hallmark of a resilient investor.


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