Blog May 15, 2020

Getting started with commercial real estate reforecasting

By Lori Clark

Performing a complete reforecast for your commercial real estate business is not a common task. It typically takes place only in the event of sudden economic shifts, like the one triggered by COVID-19. When your commercial real estate firm went through the budgeting process in Fall 2019, you probably didn’t account for the impact of a global pandemic on your business. For many properties, it’s time to throw your best laid plans out the window and create a new forecast, but where do you start? What are the main areas to consider?

Here are some tips to keep in mind when diving into commercial real estate reforecasting:

A new basis for assumptions

The whole point of budgeting is to make an educated assumption as to where your business is going to land at the end of the calendar year based on lease contracts, actual and historical data. But what historical data can serve as a reference for something as unpredictable as COVID-19? You will have to use your actuals from March and April and incorporate timelines from your property reopening plans. MRI Budgeting and Forecasting software can distribute variances from what actually happened through March/April over the rest of year for the whole workbook or, as is more applicable now, differently from account to account.

Finding the variables of new importance

You’ll need to identify areas of your commercial business that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which are likely to vary based upon property types, locations, and tenant mix. Certain categories of maintenance, such as cleaning, might actually go up in terms of keeping the property running. Rent will play a bigger role, especially if tenants have trouble paying or need to negotiate deferred payment agreements. If you won’t be able to rely on certain revenue streams, then everything from landscaping costs to capital projects may need to be reevaluated.

Commercial real estate budgeting software from MRI offers an efficient way to draft a new budget and start pulling levers like these to test for different outcomes.

Budgeting and forecasting for what lies ahead

You might be inclined to keep some or all of your leasing assumptions in the new forecast, but many properties will need to start over. Will more deals trend toward shorter lease terms or smaller footprints? The future of commercial office space could look very different than it does today if corporations decide to reevaluate their needs. Effective space management tools and forecasting based on new assumptions can help your business reassess the different best and worst case scenarios in a market that looks completely different than your previous assumptions. A short-term plan will impact the long-term strategy for your business, and technology can provide the agility to respond to change while driving the business forward.

Commercial real estate organizations need to make reforecasting a priority for the business. Even with continued uncertainty in the economic environment, evaluating the impact of different scenarios on your organization will influence strategic decisions for the business. The ability to leverage technology to operate with agility has never been more essential, and MRI’s Budgeting and Forecasting software can help you pivot efficiently and stay focused on running your business.

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