We are on the verges of uncharted territory for the U.S. commercial property market. The headline figures for deal activity in February don’t look so bad; however, the speed of life is faster than what is charted in backward-looking figures. There is rampant fear out in the marketplace, not over what happened in transaction activity last month, but over the storm that is brewing in front of us.

Commercial real estate transactions can take weeks to close, so deal activity at any one period is effectively a retrospective indicator showing how optimistic investors were in weeks past. By contrast, the news around COVID-19 has been changing by the hour over the last two weeks. Making sense of what will happen next involves a little bit of speculation as well as reasonable judgement over the forces at play in the market.