At last week's Real Estate Women's Forum, we sat down with Goulston & Storrs Partner Hara Perkins, who chaired the Developers Roundtable at the conference, to get her thoughts on key commercial real estate trends and challenges to expect in the year ahead.

Hara Perkins

Q: How are real estate capital markets expected to perform in 2019?

A: “Access to capital on both the debt and equity sides is likely to look in 2019 like it did in 2018. Banks are well-capitalized and diversified. Experts with whom we’ve spoken are predicting that banks will weather the next downturn fairly well. Most of our clients expect the next downturn to resemble a more moderate market correction than a financial crisis. Traditional banks have been comparatively conservative on CRE lending this cycle in terms of overall allocation, loan-to-value and debt category. This translates for some of the major banks to about half of total allocation for funds, warehouse lines and debt funds, about half for individual transactions and a smaller percentage for construction loans.”

Q: What is one of the biggest trends in CRE that you are seeing today?

A: “Placemaking has been one of the most important themes arising from recent conversations with our clients. In the words of one client, ‘CRE isn’t really about CRE anymore: it’s about mixed-use, placemaking and creating communities,’ whether through a freestanding multifamily asset with common spaces and amenities or a hybrid live-work property. The real estate industry has evolved to better align with shifting consumer preferences. This has led to a fast-growing re-imagination of the meaning of real estate as a service rather than an asset, in a phenomenon the market is calling ‘real estate as a service.’ Differentiators—not just amenities and branding but sustainability and networking—are increasingly important across all market segments.”

Q: What is the one of the biggest challenges facing the real estate industry today?

A: “Unlocking capacity for workforce and affordable housing is not just a puzzle facing the country’s largest cities. Most U.S. markets are looking at unprecedented demand levels without enough inventory—or even enough in the pipeline—to meet those demands. Some historically affordable markets are no longer affordable. Policy initiatives designed to manage gentrification and help increase the availability of affordable housing units are being taken up by several states with some of the country’s most glaring shortages. We expect affordable housing to continue being an important question moving forward.”

Hara Perkins is a Partner at Goulston & Storrs PC and serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Multifamily Group. Hara has helped structure significant, neighborhood-transforming real estate transactions in New York City in recent years, including Essex Crossing and Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island Campus.

Hara can be reached at or +1 212 878 5129.