Category Archives: Market Trends & Indicators

Market trends, leading or lagging indicators. As it relates to industrial property.

Commercial Property Insurance

As with any insurance market, the commercial property insurance market is constantly evolving, with new trends and challenges emerging that can impact both insurers and policyholders alike. Across the country, there have been several regulatory changes in recent years that have added costs and increased compliance requirements for insurers in this space. Specifically in California, there has been an increase in non-renewal notices as many insurance companies withdraw from the marketplace, most notably in Los Angeles County but also throughout the entire state.

Premium Change for Commercial Property, Q1 2017 – Q4 2023 from  The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

California has become one of the most difficult places to write insurance, so many carriers are exiting the market, reducing capacity, or only looking to insure best-in-class buildings.

Risk. Concern has grown over the incidence of natural disasters including wildfires, flooding, landslides, and earthquakes. This has caused premiums to further increase and caused reinsurance costs to be passed down to policy holders.

Insurers also consider a property’s likelihood for litigation and heightened number of claims. Multi-family is considered high risk because the human factor by nature yields an increased frequency of claims. The same can be said of retail shopping centers where there is increased foot traffic. In essence, the more people, the more claims. Industrial buildings and office properties, on the other hand, are considered moderate to lower risk, unless they have a very high vacancy rate which can make them susceptible to theft.

Building Age: In Los Angeles where the building stock is aging, the preferred market prioritizes either structures built within the last 30 years or those with records reflecting regular maintenance and upgrades. Insurance companies don’t inspect properties every year, which can have unfavorable outcomes for buildings that go several years without review. For example, many carriers are shying away from Los Angeles’ Downtown and Garment District because of the high incidence of claims coming from older warehouse and manufacturing buildings that haven’t been kept up. A lot of these older buildings are being placed on the Excess and Surplus Market (E&S) when the risk is too high to insure, which results in higher rates, and in some cases, limited coverage.

Here are some strategies:

  • Maintain accurate records. Well-kept documentation is the best tool an owner can have to prove the maintenance and renovation of their property. Remember: to secure a carrier in the preferred insurance market, the building does not have to be new, but the systems must be up to date. A 100-year-old building can get placement if inspections and records reflect optimal maintenance.
  • Check your online presence. These days, Google is the number one underwriting tool for insurance companies other than classic in-person visitation. If you haven’t already, Google your building to see what an agent will see online, then take action to improve your property’s virtual presence. This might mean removing encampments, replacing a roof, and cleaning away graffiti.
  • Practice preventative maintenance. If you don’t have a regular and consistent maintenance plan in place, it could lead to higher rates. Keep in mind that many industrial buildings were constructed 40 years ago or more, which puts them at the tipping point when it comes to insurance. Carriers are looking very stringently at buildings that have not been well maintained, but making regular improvements can improve your odds of good coverage.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance covers the physical building of your business and all of its business assets including inventory, products, equipment, furniture, personal property). This commercial property insurance coverage provides protection for types of damage from fire, theft, natural disasters, and vandalism. It is necessary if you own or lease your property. 

You can insure your property on a replacement cost or actual cash value basis. Replacement cost reimburses you the actual amount to replace the lost or damaged item. Actual cash value is the replacement cost minus depreciation—which may not be enough to replace the damaged property. 

Commercial crime insurance and equipment breakdown coverage are insurance policies that can be grouped under commercial property coverage. 

Casualty Insurance

Casualty insurance is a group of liability policies to protect your business from any liability claim you may face. It usually includes these types of commercial insurance coverage:

  • General liability insurance: General liability coverage protects your business from liability if a third party suffers bodily injury or any other accidents on your property. Damage to their property and advertising injury are also covered under this insurance policy.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Workers’ compensation insurance helps protect your employees from on-the-job injuries. If an employee is accidentally injured at work, it will cover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages.
  • Errors and omissions insurance: If you make a professional error in the course of your work, it can cause serious issues. A client may sue you for damages, which is where a professional liability policy can help protect you and your business. 
  • Cyber liability insurance: Cyber liability protects your customer’s data. If it’s compromised, this insurance covers notifying your customers, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection. 
  • Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI): EPLI protects a business if an owner or manager is accused by employees of sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, etc. It can help cover the cost of a legal defense and possible settlements. 
  • Directors and officers liability insurance: D&O Insurance protects directors and officers and their personal assets from losses if they’re sued for actual OR alleged wrongful acts while they manage a company or organization. It covers legal fees and other costs associated with claims.
  • Commercial umbrella insurance: An umbrella policy helps you cover claims if they exceed the limits of an underlying policy. It can be more cost-effective to purchase this insurance instead of upping the limits of other policies.
  • Commercial auto insurance: Commercial auto protects your business and employees if accidents occur that damages another vehicle or property.

Commercial property and casualty insurance are often sold together as a package deal, similar to a business owners policy. We recommend speaking with an agent to determine what types of casualty coverage you need to include in your insurance package based on your business type.

Distressed Real Estate By Commercial Property Type

In below graphic, note how strong the industrial category is compared to the other commercial real estate property types. Office and retail are the two most vulnerable.

Moving forward with the slow decline in rents and values, industrial real estate is well positioned to weather economic challenges.

Potential distressed properties have delinquent payments, low occupancy and thus high vacancy, maturing debt / loans, or other looming troubles. These factors could cause the properties to default on their loan obligations and trigger a foreclosure sale.

Data Center Development – City of Vernon & Los Angeles

A San Francisco developer has filed plans to build a 261,000-square-foot data center in the Los Angeles County industrial hub – the City of Vernon.

Prime Data Centers, a wholesale data center developer and operator, has proposed a three-story building on 4.5 acres at 4701 S. Santa Fe Ave., five miles south of Downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported.

The first known data center in the industrial city will replace a 224,600-square-foot garment manufacturing facility built in 1946 and last renovated in 2001, according to Dgtl Infra Real Estate. The property was most recently listed for $30 million.

The new data center is expected to deliver up to 33 megawatts of power to its tenants. The company is also creating a 49.5 megavolt amp substation that will service the new site. Completion is expected in the fourth quarter of next year.

One of Los Angeles’ key strengths is its diverse long-haul fiber and subsea cable connectivity, according to Dgtl Infra. L.A. gives long-haul fiber routes linking Phoenix and Las Vegas access to the West Coast, while serving as a key access point for long-haul fiber routes between Mexico and Canada.

To this end, Prime Data Centers’ Vernon facility will be carrier-neutral and up to five miles away from major interconnection hubs at One Wilshire, 600 W. Seventh St., 530 W. Sixth St., 900 N. Alameda and 818 W. Seventh St. in Downtown Los Angeles, DTLA.

“Los Angeles is a thriving global connectivity market, and our new hyperscale Vernon data center will be right in the middle of it all,” Nicholas Laag, chief executive and founder of Prime Data Centers, said in a statement.

Map of Data Centers in Los Angeles and Southern California.
Map of Data Centers in Downtown Los Angeles.

About Data Centers

The growing reliance on cloud computing and data storage has led to an increased demand for data centers. The two fastest growing segments of the data center space are hyperscalers and edge data centers. Hyperscalers are typically defined as business-critical facilities that are significantly larger than typical data centers and are designed to support robust and scalable applications. These assets are typically owned by companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Meta. A growth forecast from Data Bridge Market Research indicated that the hyperscale data center market will grow at a CAGR of roughly 29.32% between 2023 and 2035.

Edge data centers are located closer to the users and their devices that collect and transmit data, or wherever data is being generated. Generally, these centers work as the go-between between the cloud or centralized regional data centers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices and their associated cellular tower sites. There is an expectation for IoT devices to grow 16% in 2023 to have an estimated 16.7 billion active end points. This would show a CAGR of 26.1% between 2023 and 2030.

These data center facilities are the hub of the new economy and play a fundamental role in our society and digital economy. Their reliability and growth are critical for the continued development of our economy into Web 3.0.

The rapid growth of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fueling demand for data center capacity, already driven higher by the cascade of digital innovations over the past decade such as content streaming, cloud computing, machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), ecommerce and more. While other commercial real estate sectors are experiencing a decline in construction pipelines, data center development has reached an all-time high and will continue to grow to meet demand. 

Contact us to locate potential sites for development.

Industrial Demand and Dwindling Pandemic Savings


Here is a great summary from the WSJ: Americans built up about $2.1 trillion in excess savings during the pandemic and its immediate aftermath, a cushion for household budgets and a boost for consumer spending. Since August 2021, they’ve drawn down about $1.9 trillion of that. “This implies that there is less than $190 billion of excess savings remaining in the aggregate economy. Should the recent pace of drawdowns persist—for example, at average rates from the past three, six or 12 months—aggregate excess savings would likely be depleted in the third quarter of 2023,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco economists Hamza Abdelrahman and Luiz Oliveira write in a blog post.

The dwindling pandemic savings during 2023 makes me wonder if that is correlated with the dwindling industrial demand that started at the beginning in 2023 and continues here in Los Angeles. Tenant demand for warehouses has fallen sharply this year. Buyer demand has been dampened by the interest rate increases. If the pandemic savings do run out this year then I wonder if consumer spending will follow. If that is the case and consumer spending accounts for about ⅔ of GDP then a slowdown could materialize.

High Land Value As a Percentage of Total Property Value in Los Angeles

In the WSJ article, The U.S. Is Running Out of Land, a professor of finance who studies land values cites that “Land now accounts for 47% of U.S. home values…That is up from 38% in 2012 and less than 20% in the early 1960s.”

So that intrigued me and I pulled a sample of 1,315 industrial zoned parcels from Downtown Los Angeles to the City of Vernon. See below graphic. Dividing the Los Angeles County Assessor Land Value amount by the Total Assessment results in 71% of these industrial properties’ value is the land component. The Total Assessment includes improvements such as warehouse and manufacturing buildings constructed on the land.

That is a strikingly high percentage for land value but should not be surprising given the rapid increase in prices per square foot for land sales in the last decade. In the top section of the graphic, which is the DTLA Arts District, land values have ranged from $300-450/SF in recent years. In the bottom section, City of Vernon land was not long ago $50-100/SF and is now approaching $200/SF.

The Central Los Angeles Industrial Market has been an Infill Market for many years which has resulted in rapid increases in land values. If you own land in this area feel free to contact us.