COVID-19 in Context: A Message from Executive VP Ernie Katai

April 1, 2020

COVID-19 in Context: A Message from Executive VP Ernie Katai

April 1, 2020

We’ve faced a lot over the last few weeks, both individually and as a business. Many of us still feel a sense of uncertainty, especially as COVID-19 cases increase across the country.

While we can’t predict when the situation will improve, we’re here to bring as much clarity as we can to address some of that uncertainty. To that end, here’s what Berkadia’s watching to make sense of it all:

Action from The Hill

Congress finalizing relief efforts for individuals and small businesses will help to prevent greater economic uncertainty.

On Friday, President Trump signed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history into legislation. The $2 trillion will be used to provide checks to Americans, loans and grants to businesses, funding to state governments and aid to hospitals and healthcare workers.

As it relates to our business, there are also some measures within the bill that could benefit commercial real estate. The package includes an estimated $170 billion tax break for real estate investors. A change in depreciation rules allows investors to write-off expenses for recent renovations.

Separately, our partners at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD have suspended foreclosures and evictions of homeowners behind on their mortgages for 60 days. We’re keeping an eye on how the final rules of engagement will work and if banks and other lenders follow suit.

Impacts on America’s Businesses

While no one is escaping COVID-19 impacts, some businesses are hit harder than others. We’re looking at our specialty property clients—like hotels, student housing and office space—to determine how they can ride out the storm, as schools and non-essential businesses temporarily shut down.

It’s important to remember that this crisis is temporary. Federal officials believe that increasing spending in the short-term will leave us in a better fiscal situation for the years ahead.

In the meantime, we’re seeing commercial real estate get creative in a fight to keep doors open, while also helping those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Last week, the American Hotel & Lodging Association launched Hotels for Hope, which connected hotel properties with health workers and first responders in need of temporary housing near healthcare facilities.

Evolving Work Environments

In a normal work week, I’m constantly traveling, so I’m used to no desk and not being in the office. I’m typically taking calls from airports, making a daily home in Berkadia offices throughout the country or running around cities during the day for meetings. Now, working from home, my days are quite different.

Only weeks ago, my entire production team and I were gathered in Nashville at our National Sales Meeting – nearly 400 Berkadians in a room, discussing how we can leverage our technology tools to give better insights to our clients. Now we’re leaning on those tools more than ever as we transition to a new work environment that relies on connectivity and collaboration now more than ever.

What’s Next

As I mentioned at the outset, we can’t predict when this situation will improve and when our lives will return to “normal,” but what I can say is that we will get through this together and come out stronger because of it. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay in touch.

– Ernie Katai