Real estate indicators by HFF Managing Director Claudia Steeb in HFF's Pittsburgh office.
The International Council of Shopping Centers's (ICSC) annual RECon conference, which is known as the global retail real estate convention, was held in Las Vegas from May 20 through 23 and started with everyone wondering about attendance, tone and overall expectations of retail. The HFF Retail Team wasted no time preparing for the conference by starting with its traditional kickoff meeting on Sunday morning, using this opportunity to review trends, strategies, best of the best practices and overall market themes for discussions during the conference. Our focus: Put the client’s interest first!
Also continuing with tradition, HFF hosted our annual ICSC cocktail and networking reception, which is a great opportunity to connect with clients, friends and guests to discuss current market conditions as well as conference expectations. While the general mood and theme centered around “it seems to be better than last year,” everyone was still trying to determine what that comment really meant.
The answer to the pending uncertainty regarding attendance at ICSC RECon quickly became evident by the approximately 40,000 registered attendees, up from 36,000 registered attendees in 2017. In addition, the 1,256 exhibitors this year (also up from 2017) included 150 new exhibitors at the conference.
Daytime meetings in addition to evening dinners, cocktail parties and other events provided the opportunity to continue lively discussions regarding the future of retail, retailers, trends, etc. All in all, more than 80 HFF attendees scheduled dozens of meetings, meals and events throughout the three-day conference to connect with buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers and retailers to discuss and understand the current retail market conditions, which will enable all of us to provide excellent guidance to our clients throughout the year. The ability to walk through the halls, listen and just be seen are invaluable opportunities for all commercial real estate professionals and retail specialists to get a handle on the current topics and concepts.
This year, as always, themes and takeaways varied at the conference. Everyone seems to want the same product; however, a few topics resonated throughout the three days at many of the events.
Are we at a turning point in the investor mindset for the buy, sell and lending sides of retail? Time will tell. Retail continues to be a challenging property type, whether buying, selling, lending or borrowing, with change and uncertainty impacting strong and weak retail properties. In the meantime, we at HFF continue to focus on listening to our clients and providing them with the best guidance.
Claudia Steeb is a managing director in HFF’s Pittsburgh office. She has more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate finance and sales. She is primarily responsible for originating debt and equity transactions throughout the eastern United States and focuses on retail, office and self-storage properties and portfolio transactions. During the course of her career with HFF, she has completed in excess of $14 billion in commercial real estate transactions.
Ms. Steeb joined the firm in June 1995. Prior to HFF, she was an originator with Lane, Noland Smith & Co. (now Grandbridge Mortgage), after working for five years at U.S. Steel Corporation in the Realty Development and Audit divisions.