In today’s Four on Friday, we caught up with our own Bob Simons to chat about this year’s RECon convention, which was held from May 17-20 in Las Vegas. Simons gives us an inside look at Hartman Simons’ annual party, his overall impression of the show and his predictions for the retail market for the remainder of the year.
First things first: how was Hartman Simon’s annual RECon party?
Simons: This year’s Hartman Simons party was our best party ever. We were very fortunate to have more than 1,000 wonderful friends and guests from the retail real estate industry, outstanding music, a wonderful party atmosphere, and a terrific outdoor venue overlooking the Las Vegas Strip and the Fountains at Bellagio. Additionally, we were lucky to have a beautiful and relatively cool evening.
The Hartman Simons party has become a great way to kick-off the RECon conference. Most of the conference attendees arrive sometime over the weekend, and the party gets a lot of our friends in the industry together on Sunday evening before the opening of the leasing mall on Monday morning.
What was your overall impression of this year’s show, and how did it compare to the last few?
Simons: The RECon conference was very strong this year. The retail real estate markets have continued to improve coming out of the recession, and there is a tremendous amount of capital (both domestic and foreign, institutional and private) chasing opportunities. CMBS lenders are back in full force and actively looking for retail financing opportunities. Retailers are back doing new deals and looking at new opportunities. This kind of bullish market activity always creates a better RECon environment.
Was there anything particularly surprising about this year’s show?
Simons: In addition to the abundance of capital pursuing retail real estate opportunities, I was somewhat surprised at how quickly many of these funds are able to raise discretionary capital and how quickly retail real estate has rebounded during the past 24 to 36 months.
Any predictions for how the retail real estate market will fare for the remainder of the year?
Simons: All indications are that the markets will continue to remain strong for the remainder of 2015. Many of the REITS and institutional buyers have the money to pursue acquisitions, but with many of the “core-plus” retail assets having already traded in this current cycle, there is a shortage of product available on the market. The current demand for “core-plus” retail assets far exceeds the available supply, and, as a result, cap rates will continue to remain very low for these types of assets. I do worry about the potential impact of inflation, whenever that may hit us, and the potential impact that will have on consumer spending and retail sales.