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2020 Year-in-Review: CRE’s 10 Most Important Stories

COVID-19 was the most important trend influencing the market. But it had vastly divergent impacts on different segments of the industry.

The story of 2020 was COVID-19. The worst pandemic in a century disrupted every aspect of our lives for much of the year and we will continue to feel its effects for years to come, even after the immediate danger of the virus has passed.

In commercial real estate, the virus accelerated trends that were years in the making, such as the demise of parts of the retail real estate sector and the further entrenchment of logistics real estate and data centers, as more parts of our lives moved online and we got more used to ordering just about everything online and expecting it to arrive as quickly as possible.

The year has also generated the industry’s next great distressed cycle, although the contours of that process remain fuzzy. In part, that is because unlike in the last major economic disruption, capital markets and financial institutions have held up. In fact, most players continued to provide capital to the commercial real estate sector for the deals that went through (although deal volume this year, unsurprisingly, contracted sharply from 2019).

As 2020 draws to a close, the arrivals of several effective vaccines mean the end of the pandemic is within sight. Big questions for 2021 are how quickly people will be able to get vaccinated and how rapidly some version of normal life can resume.

In the following gallery we highlight the top stories and topics that dominated our coverage in the past 12 months.

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