What History Can Tell Us About Commercial Vacancies

August 13, 2020

The widespread vacancy problems that surfaced during the Great Recession may inform the real estate industry and government response to emerging property issues in the COVID-19 pandemic, experts said Tuesday during the first installment of a four-part webinar series, “Stabilizing and Revitalizing Neighborhoods in the COVID-19 Era.” The webinar series is being presented by the National Association of REALTORS® in partnership with the Center for Community Progress.

Danielle Lewinski, vice president and director of Michigan Initiatives for the Center for Community Progress, discussed property vacancy, blight, and abandonment, as well as ways real estate professionals can provide market expertise to local governments to aid in the redevelopment of neighborhoods. “Any community plan must have options for residential and business development, and it must be more resilient to environmental changes,” Lewinski said. “If a plan falls short, REALTORS® are in an excellent position to advise local governments.”

The national unemployment rate in May was higher than at any point during the Great Recession, leading to loss of business and household income and creating a cascading chain of events that can lead to vacant and abandoned properties, Lewinski said. An abundance of such properties can harm individual and community wellness. To address this problem, Lewinski proposed that community leaders, in consultation with real estate experts, consider three key questions:

  1. Where are the problem properties?
  2. What are the market conditions?
  3. What is the future land use vision?

A replay of the webinar will soon be available for registrants on the webinar series’ Overview of Sessions page. In the replay, you’ll also hear from Veronica Cardello of the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®, who discussed a successful collaboration between the association and community leaders that resulted in the transformation of two local areas with vacant property issues.