While hospitals and health-care facilities have been inundated by an influx of COVID-19 patients, many medical offices that offer non-emergency services have seen the opposite occur.
The property type’s solid fundamentals prior to the virus, however, promise a relatively rapid rebound when the economy is up and running again, according to Marcus & Millichap’s April special report on medical office buildings.
With many shelter-in-place orders in effect, communities across the U.S. are avoiding unnecessary travel and exposure, including those patients seeking elective surgeries or nonessential surgical and dental procedures. As patients decide to reschedule their appointments until further notice, many medical offices aren’t generating revenue and have had to partially, or fully, close.
The post-COVID-19 MOB market
The COVID-19 pandemic has already left its mark on different facets of commercial real estate like office leasing, construction and retail. While the medical office building market was not spared, its strong market fundamentals prior to the emergence of the new coronavirus offer signs of a healthy market after the pandemic ends.
The national vacancy rate for medical office buildings was 90 basis points below the trailing 10-year-average of 9.7 percent, according to the report. The U.S. market also saw 6 million square feet of medical office space absorbed in 2019. Following demand, the below-average availability of medical offices has led to a steady stream of new properties, with deliveries hitting 10 million square feet. The statistics have attracted the attention of private investors looking for assets between $1 million and $10 million.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and the economy recovers, the medical office building market is expected to bounce back. The combination of an aging population, expanded medical insurance coverage and new treatment options equate to a growing demand for health care and the medical offices that come with it. Once the economy begins to return to normal, the backlog of work due to closed offices and rescheduled or canceled appointments will likely bring a sudden influx of work for medical-office staff.
And once the market returns to normalcy, the report noted that well-located assets with the infrastructure to handle modern medical needs will be in high demand. Specifically, medical office building demand may grow in non-urban markets as younger Millennials begin to move away from urban centers.