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Tag Archive: 2021

  1. Reflecting and Projecting, BDR’s Outlook on 2022

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    Macroeconomics (think interest rates and national productivity) greatly impact the commercial real estate markets we serve. Three major macro topics of 2021 were inflation, interest rates and labor participation. The most recent data released by the federal government indicates year-over-year inflation is at 6.2%, which is a rise from the previous quarter’s 5.4% and a multi-decade high. From higher price tags at the gas pumps to greater expense at the grocery store, inflation causes the dollars we have in our possession to have lower purchasing power.

    The current rate of inflation has initiated discussion about interest rate increases to combat inflationary concerns. Historically, the federal government has utilized one of its key monetary policy levers, interest rate control, in high inflationary periods. The Federal Chairman, Jerome Powell, and his team anticipates three interest rate hikes in 2022 and another three in 2023. BDR projects interest rates to rise 75 to 125 basis points in 2022. On average, BDR has seen commercial real estate interest rates hover around 3.5% (3.25% – 3.75%) in 2021. If BDR’s projected 2022 increase is accurate (utilizing 1% interest rate increase), a $1MM loan will be $6,322.68 more per year when amortized over 20 years.

    In 2021, BDR saw a significant increase in demand for investment commercial real estate. Investors are looking to diversify. Low interest rates is one key reason. Other contributing factors include high inflation, speculation the stock market is due for a correction and investors desire to move into tertiary/rural markets. Black Diamond Realty’s thoughts behind these contributing factors include:

    • Low Interest Rates: The low cost of borrowing funds allows purchasers to pay more which helps meet seller valuation expectations.
    • High Inflation: Commercial real estate has historically been an excellent hedge against high inflationary environments. Income producing assets (investment properties) are in highest demand. In some markets, rising rents can keep up with, or ideally exceed, the rate of inflation. Some commercial leases have automatic CPI adjustments. In other growing markets, demand outpaces supply which allows rents to be pushed beyond inflation.
    • Speculation of a Forthcoming Stock Market Correction: Markets react in unique and complex ways to variables. History tells us the average bull run lasts ~8 years. Excluding the ~6 month pandemic-initiated recession, the stock market has been on a bull run since 2009. History tells us a correction could be coming. Some believe it. Others do not. Nobody knows when but the fear surrounding this variable encourages investors to make diversification decisions.
    • Increased Demand for Tertiary Market Investments: The pandemic has created a shift in mindset, beliefs and practices that has hurt many metro markets but has also created positive momentum for some tertiary markets that boast high quality of life. Eds, meds and government are seen as recession-resistant sectors. Morgantown, WV and Bridgeport, WV are excellent examples of cities that are thriving in the midst of the pandemic. Demand for these areas has increased as remote working concepts have gained popularity and individuals are transitioning out of densely populated areas.

    The factors above have resulted in compressed cap rates and corresponding higher valuations. It is a great time for a seller to exit an asset while a difficult time for purchasers to find deals. Black Diamond Realty has experienced a significant increase in off-market deal activity and we anticipate this trend to continue.

    North central WV and southwestern PA are enjoying many economic highlights as our nation moves further beyond the Covid pandemic. Some of the north central WV highlights are captured below.

    • WVU Medicine continues to expand with the forthcoming opening of its 10-story Children’s Hospital on WVU’s main campus.
    • WestRidge Development continues to expand its footprint as new uses are introduced to the Morgantown, WV market. Most notably, Bass Pro Shop and Menards opened its door in 2021. Many more uses and buildings are in the works.
    • Morgantown Industrial Park is expanding to create additional, large pads in Phase II of the development which are anticipated to have more direct access to I-79. A 47-acre sale sparked Phase II’s development.
    • David and Rick Biafora are investing significantly into the revitalization of Middletown Mall, now called Middletown Commons. The total projected investment is ~$40-50 million which should have a significant positive effect on South Fairmont and White Hall’s local economy.
    • Mitsubishi hires 400-500 additional workers at North Central West Virginia Airport location in Bridgeport, WV.
    • Charles Point continues to expand which will soon include 50-60 acres of retail including anchor retailer, Menards.
    • Bridgeport introduced a state-of-the-art, 156,000 square foot multi-purpose facility to its community.  The Bridge Sports Complex brings tremendous recreational and quality of life opportunities to Harrison County and beyond.
    • Ascend WV is receiving positive national highlight reel exposure and has helped reverse a decades old trend of individuals migrating out of WV. According to WAJR, “Between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, West Virginia had a net migration of 2,343. More people moved into the state than out of it.”
    • West Virginia’s Grant and Tucker Counties won big in securing Virgin’s Hyperloop. This multi-state, competitive process was successfully secured on an 800 acre site in central WV.
    • New River Gorge National Park System was introduced as West Virginia’s first federal national park.

    BDR worked hard to achieve its clients’ goals in 2021. The BDR team closed 87 deals in 2021 with 61% leases versus 39% sales. BDR added a new colleague, Caleb Wooldridge, to our growing team. Caleb joins BDR as a recent WVU graduate who majored in Economics and interned with David as an undergraduate. We are excited to watch Caleb flourish in the years ahead.

    In his fourth year, Jeff Stenger continues his climb by surpassing production year after year. Jeff’s empathetic, hard-working and detailed-oriented demeanor adds tremendous value to the clients he serves.

    Chris Waters has been dubbed the medical marijuana and industrial guru in BDR’s office. Last year was a breakout year for Chris and 2022 looks to continue that growth.

    In her first full year with the team, Kim Licciardi set a BDR record for Year 1 production. Kim’s underwriting knowledge, business acumen and confidence have quickly propelled her onto a path as a top producer.

    BDR’s sales team would not be where it is today without the skillset, support and moral fabric that Janelle Zeoli and Andrea Cooper provide daily. These two women are invaluable to the BDR team and continue to support our growth and development.

    As we close the 2021 chapter, we are pleased to announce BDR is aggressively and actively working toward opening a second office in Martinsburg, WV. We will be recruiting and hiring key team members in the market with a specific focus on fostering client relationships and fortifying vendor contacts. We are optimistic our presentation, process and people will be well received in this new market. There will be more to come in a future announcement.

    Our team promises to continue to strive to raise the standard while exceeding expectations in this new year and beyond. Thank you for your trust and confidence and we look forward to making 2022 a great year, together.


  2. Morgantown Area Partnership Business Briefing (August 2021)

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    Morgantown Area Partnership Business Briefing (August 2021) from InnerAction Media on Vimeo.

  3. BDR Reward Trip 2021: Key Largo, Florida

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    The Black Diamond Team Heads To The Keys

    Reward Trip 2021 – Key Largo, Florida


    Black Diamond Realty has created a family-like, teamwork-oriented culture in which our team is vested in each other’s success. Our process is detailed and diligent but it surrounds core values and beliefs that are summarized by the acronym, HIT. “ H ” stands for honesty, hard work and humility. “ I ” stands for integrity, intelligence and innovation. “ T ” stands for teamwork, tenacity and technology. Maintaining a consistent focus on honoring our HIT value system, BDR’s team works tirelessly to achieve our clients’ goals. Recharging the battery is paramount to providing a high level of service.

    Each year, Black Diamond Realty provides an incentive trip intended to reward team members who meet individual and company goals. 2021’s destination was Key Largo, Florida. The team soaked up some much needed sun at the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort. The five days included lots of sun,  amazing food, beverages, entertainment and a jet ski tour through the local mangroves. Our team returned to Morgantown recharged and excited for another successful year.

    Thank you to all our clients, customers and reliable referral sources for trusting us with your projects. Check out some of our favorite moments below.


  4. Reflecting on 2020 and Projecting on 2021

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    The page has turned on one of the most complicated, volatile and disheartening years in recent history. Families worked hard to maintain their values and moral fabric. Remote learning, hand sanitizer and Zoom calls became societal norms. Businesses diligently pursued creative means to keep their team members employed. Accessorizing with a mask is now commonplace and yet so many unknowns remain. Will businesses survive the continued stress of the pandemic? How will the new president affect the commercial real estate world?

    Closer to home, Mylan recently closed its doors and other businesses could not survive the pandemic. Will we see more businesses closing their doors in our community? The Black Diamond team does not have all the answers but we can provide perspective on what we witnessed in 2020 and what we anticipate in 2021. Take it at face value, considering our regional sample size.

    In February 2020 (pre-pandemic), we were able to enjoy our annual company reward trip to Aruba. Our work family added a key team member, Kim Licciardi, this summer. We took proactive steps to begin the journey of upgrading our process via new CRM (customer relationship management) system. To top it off, we reached many of our 2020 company goals. In 2020, we served a key role in consummating 64 sale and lease transactions. Of the 64 deals, 23 were sales which represents 36% of our business. We continue to gain positive traction in securing and successfully selling investment (income producing) assets.

    We were also successful in other sectors with sale and lease volume in descending order: Office – Investment – Land – Retail – Industrial. 2020 was a challenging but productive year. Certainly 2021 will bring additional challenges, but many positive market opportunities exist. Below is a list of our top 5 commercial real estate predictions for 2021.

    1. Interest in purchasing assets will remain high. Low interest rates, combined with stock market fears created by an 11 year bull run and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will continue to encourage folks to invest capital into commercial real estate. For some, parking money into an income producing commercial real estate asset is less risky than riding the wave of a stock market that has been on a bull run since the financial crisis of 2009.
    2. More businesses will close their doors permanently. We have not seen the end of the COVID fallout. Many entrepreneurs continue to struggle as government mandated shutdowns have created unprecedented challenges for business owners. Cash will be king in some scenarios as companies look to divest quickly to avoid bankruptcy and negative credit effects.
    3. Growth in government and high tech jobs in the region. Under a new presidential administration, increased government and continued focus on high tech will likely be in play. This will lead to opportunity in many CRE sectors, most notably office, throughout the region.
    4. Flexible lease terms will be more prevalent. COVID-19 has created many challenges including top line and bottom line challenges for many tenants. This will lead to a willingness of landlords to be more flexible with lease terms and conditions in an effort to secure tenancy.
    5. Industrial sector demand will shift. Oil & gas is anticipated to face heightened scrutiny and additional challenges in 2021. Low commodity pricing, combined with anticipated stringent environmental policy (aimed at creating clean energy), will be challenging for some O&G companies while creating opportunity for others. A shift in market demand will predominantly be seen via a focus on distribution warehouse space and industrial space utilized for logistical centers. Some heavy and light manufacturing opportunities will also present themselves in 2021 as our country attempts to bring jobs home. The traditional, average O&G facility, 10,000sf industrial building with ~1,000sf of office on a 2 acre yard, will face lower demand.

    A new year provides the opportunity, even if only mentally, for a fresh start, a renewed sense of optimism. Knowing there are only certain things in life we can control, our team is choosing to move forward with a positive, growth mindset. We hope you will enter 2021 in the same way. Make it a great 2021!

    Click HERE to view our 2020 Q4 Closed Transactions.


    Article written by David Lorenze, Principal.