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The Marketplaces Industry Is Poised for a Dealmaking Boom in 2024

December 8, 2023

Marketplaces Industry professionals expect a robust year for dealmaking in 2024 — if interest rates will just cooperate. “When liquidity eases, our sector will be on fire,” said Karly Iacono, senior vice president of the Investment Properties Group for CBRE Capital Markets. “We’re artificially constrained by interest rates. Both debt and equity are looking favorably on retail.”

Fundamentals were the strongest they’ve been in years as 7,500 Marketplaces Industry professionals converged at ICSC NEW YORK this week, leading to flush times for owners of top properties, who are seeing sustained income growth and climbing rents. “There’s a great balance of supply and demand, and the range of users is as broad as I’ve ever seen,” said Brixmor president and CEO Jim Taylor.

RELATED: Incoming ICSC Jim Taylor: A Career Built on Investing in People and Properties

Retailers are spending money on physical stores instead of chasing online sales like they have in past years, said Kimco Realty president and chief investment officer Ross Cooper. “Occupancy is at an all-time high,” he noted.

Still, high interest rates are keeping the transaction market at a relative standstill and are stalling what new construction is planned. “It’s great if you’re an operator, but the challenge is when you’re trying to buy, sell or be a broker,” Iacona said. The gap between seller and buyer pricing expectations is wide but tightening, according to Madison Marquette head of retail research Meghann Martindale. “Debt is expensive for everyone. It’s affecting volume.”

But demand is getting stronger from institutional buyers like offshore funds and private equity, said Walker & Dunlop executive vice president and capital markets head Susan Mello. Retail property, particularly freestanding fast-food restaurants, is gaining favor among commercial mortgage-backed securities investors. Life insurance companies are interested in grocery-anchored retail and some power centers, too, she added.

Two examples of institutional capital powering up for 2024:

  • DLC this week formed a $62.5 million investment vehicle with a $50 million infusion of capital from private equity firm Temerity Strategic Partners. That capital will combine with per-deal debt and equity financing to buy as much as $2 billion worth of grocery-anchored properties in the next three years. Separately, DLC acquired four open-air shopping centers across the U.S. for $100 million from ShopCore Properties just last week, bringing DLC’s portfolio to more than 17 million square feet. “We know from every cycle we’ve weathered that the best time to buy is at the bottom, when the market is coming through a period of significant disruption,” said DLC CEO Adam Ifshin. “This is the time to be aggressive.”
  • Also last week, Northpond Partners partnered with a southeastern U.S. pension fund to form Northpond Retail Partners, a $200 million evergreen investment vehicle that will acquire unanchored neighborhood retail centers, focusing initially on the Southeast and certain Sunbelt markets.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today


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