Understanding the advantages of a medical office property can provide stability to an otherwise risky real estate investment portfolio. The uniqueness of this commercial property type makes it a favorable investment, especially throughout ‘down’ economic cycles when stability, rather than overexposure, is sought to balance a portfolio. This, as evidenced by investments in 2008 and 2009, a few of the strongest years for medical office investment in decades and, notably, the worst for other commercial sectors happens to be the most recent phenomenon.
As for today, when greater threats appear to loom on the horizon and political strife sits at its highest plateau, and as office and industrial properties attract greater attention due to an improved economic position in the U.S., the healthcare sector’s investment has seen a moderate decline in volume of transactions. Most experts suggest that early-to-mid 2013 will see a resurgence of capital into the medical office property as hospitals seek to monetize real estate to offset costs associated with administrative growth, a precursor to healthcare reform.
So, depending on the current status of the property, and given a 12-month window with which to lease, redevelop or stabilize the property, the direction chosen today will likely determine if the property has the potential of resale during the next cycle.
What should you be familiar?
It starts with our research. Keen insight begins with dedicated research resources that provide for the persistent investigation into changes in physical relocation and current and future regulatory implementation. Our employed fact-finding & intelligence unit corroborates their mined data with paid, less reliable online resources and government data. While the cost of obtaining information remains high when paired to its return on investment, the overall collaboration of multiple data channels remains essential for the specialist whose clients require the most candid data for appurtenant decision-making. So, investigation into your premises is a first step to understanding potential referral patterns and tenant mix to maximize valuation.
Second, and of greater importance to sale of the asset, the medical office opportunity should have a hospital nearby that demonstrates economic strength mainly through specialized services that provide for in-house referrals, physician growth and collaboration. Orthopedic, Cardiology, Women’s Services and Gamma Knife procedures have been lucrative hospital services and, in turn, have provided for higher effective rental structures throughout these medical office buildings. While a property will fluctuate in transacted sales price, such services attract higher capital investment because of hospital’s strength from physician services and specialties. Thus, you can see where healthcare reform, and its proposed focus on volume, rather than profitability, has the potential to water down hospital revenues and, ultimately, potential sales prices.
Another factor to consider is the area’s residential growth of the 3-mile radius. What is the rent to own ratio? Younger or older demographics? Household income? Over the past few years, investment has sought properties that provide for economic stability through employment and demographic growth. This trend will continue until it is known whether healthcare reform provides to be a viable investment alternative or an epic failure in a time of the state’s and nation’s budgetary complications. Remember, older and wealthier populations still utilize the majority of healthcare services and are more likely to see a physician out of want, rather than need, which will continue to guide investment.
When analyzing how a medical office property will/can perform, it is essential to seek guidance from a qualified professional team dedicated to the industry. Our associates maintain years of exceptional, professional service to the Texas medical communities and with an expansive proprietary database, widely recognized as the best in the business, we hope you will seek out our firm for your medical office building needs.
This post was written by Robert S. “Bob” Lowery, Managing Partner of MREA | Medical Real Estate Advisors.