In a new analysis, Moody’s Analytics made a point about metro downtowns that is generally good advice whenever looking at data. That is, don’t be satisfied with the simple and obvious story until you’ve checked further, because situations are usually more complicated than easy answers.
Part of that is understanding that two sets of data may not be proxies for one another, even though it seems like they should be. Cell phone data and the figures of CRE markets in central business districts might seem via basic logic to be similar to one another. If the people, who probably carry cell phones, are there, then so must the real estate aspect, because otherwise you have a bunch of people who must be walking around in circles, doing nothing. Conversely, if the real estate data is strong, you know people are there—whether living in apartments, going to work, or at restaurants, shops, and entertainment.
“Potentially surprising, the relationship between the two respective datapoints is weak at best,” they wrote. “Metros with strong downtown multifamily and/or office performance have not necessarily ‘recovered’ as far as the cell phone data is concerned. The reverse scenario is also true. Further, while the national level aggregate occupancy data shows multifamily and office trending in their typical cyclical manner (albeit at much different magnitudes), the relationship is not as clear at the metro level. Some metros have had astounding multifamily performance…
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