Ninety-nine percent of real estate service platforms consider office and medical office one in the same. They are not. There are numerous differences between medical office space and standard office space. The most obvious are rental rates, expenses, tenant mix, construction costs, tenant improvement allowance, and building features such as elevators and parking. In addition, the proximity and the financial condition of an adjoining hospital should be examined. These examples do not even begin to touch upon the intricacies within the healthcare system itself, which is of unique consideration when purchasing a medical office building.
Medical office buildings (MOBs) are deemed “specialty use” real estate. From our perspective, many lenders will consider financing MOBs, but most lack the experience in transactions or simple dealings. Thus, identifying capable players within this asset class is critical. Whether traditional debt, fully amortized structures or even shorter term, higher leverage deals, the MOB is becoming a greater diversification tool for lenders and investors alike.
While government involvement has had a tremendous impact on the past, present and future of the healthcare industry, demographic changes that include an aging population and a increasingly informed and health conscious society is guaranteed to increase demand for years to come. Consolidation will remain a continuing trend for practice groups that lack association with stronger, more diverse physician networks and/or hospital systems. This will have a negative impact on buildings with small, not very well connected and/or aging physician groups.
As for funding, financial sponsorship remains essential to MOB transactions, especially off-campus assets. Here, owner-occupied doctor groups or hospitals themselves receive favorable underwriting treatment. The commitment to their investments and their businesses will be of tremendous importance. Of greater impact is sponsorship that features a commercial real estate firm or private equity company who joint ventures with tenants. Some of the most aggressive lending structures are dedicated to this type of partnership.
Lenders prefer on-campus MOBs, however locating and underwriting these investments can become complicated due to bond financing or land lease issues. Thus, finding the medical office property within the tight radius of the hospital might just be as easy to work, if not easier.
In terms of the lender’s perception of the development and ownership of real estate, a lot has changed after a strong run in the middle of the last decade. Healthcare is no longer deemed recession-proof and, without government support (loose term), it instead operates like the majority of for-profit businesses which became severely impacted by the credit crisis of 2008/09.
While this distinct type of investment is certainly not immune to the juggling act that is supply and demand in a highly levered world, as the economy rehabilitates, the medical office building is becoming one of the most aggressively sought after asset types within the healthcare real estate sector. Call 713-701-7900 to request assistance with one of our several MOB opportunities.