Reit Magazine - March/April 2021 - 9

of us who are full-time
NYU real estate faculty,
and then there are more
than 100 adjunct faculty
who teach but have fulltime jobs in the industry.
This is an ideal scenario
for me.

What is Schack doing in
terms of diversity, equity,
and inclusion (DEI)
programming?

Dustin Jones
While Cornell University was shut down for inperson meetings during the pandemic in 2020,
Dustin Jones said a bittersweet, virtual goodbye
to his six years with students and his position as
director of its Baker Program in Real Estate-but
a joyful hello to a new life and job at New York
University's Schack Institute of Real Estate as
academic director of U.S. graduate programs.
Has your diverse career
background in law, real
estate, and academia
been helpful as you've
begun your new role
at NYU?

Yes, having had that
industry experience as

well as administrative
experience, I bring both
of those backgrounds
to the table. What drew
me to NYU and Schack
is the fact that so many
of the faculty are from
industry. There are 12

We are looking at creating an affordable
housing certificate.
Some of the communities that have been
most impacted by the
pandemic have been
communities of color,
particularly in New York
City where affordability
has been an issue for a
long time. I've also been
talking with the director
of the NYU Urban Lab,
which Schack operates,
about ways to engage
historically Black colleges and universities
(HBCUs) regarding
urban development,
inner-city development,

and ways to improve
communities and economic development.

What are some methods
REITs should be looking
at to increase diversity in
the industry?

With respect to their
investment strategy,
REITs should clearly
catalyze teams that look
at communities of color
where they can invest.
Oftentimes those communities are overlooked
as investment opportunities. The REITs that
focus on urban areas
and on inner city development recognize the
value proposition there.
Folks that are in
positions of power,
authority, and influence
within their organizations need to have the
conversations about
increasing diversity
and need to make it
a priority. If there's a
metric that we look at
every year, then we can
improve it.

REITs that focus
on urban areas
and on inner city
development
recognize the
value proposition
there.
What changes are you
seeing within real estate
industry careers?

Some of the most lucrative or the most popular
areas involve technology to change the way
we live, work, and play.
Over the past 10 years,
every conference it
seemed that I went to
included discussions
about disruption. The
pandemic is probably
the most disruptive
thing that has happened
to commercial real
estate in at least a few
generations. It's accelerating the technology
and innovation changes
that were already starting to happen.

TRACKING CREDIT RATING CHANGES

Nicole Funari
Vice President, Research
Nareit

Assessments made by credit rating agencies on
the creditworthiness of debt issuers are a useful
measure of market views on risk. While investors
may tend to associate real estate with secured
debt, REITs have significant amounts of unsecured
debt. Nearly 71% of REIT debt is unsecured versus
secured, according to fourth quarter results from the
Nareit T-Tracker®.
For the pandemic period, Feb.1, 2020, through Feb.
28, 2021, more than 14% of REITs (by market capitalization) in the S&P 1500 received negative credit
watches and outlooks, but actual downgrades did
not materialize for most REITs. REITs outperformed
most other GICS sectors with only 6.4% of the REIT
market cap downgraded versus the 12.7% industry

average. REITs were the second best performing
GICS sector by this measure.
Credit rating agencies issue two types of statements about all major investment sectors, including
REITs: negative (or positive) credit watches and
outlooks, which warn that deteriorating (improving)
conditions may lead to a downgrade (upgrade) in the
future, and actual downgrades (upgrades) if those
risks have been realized. Since the beginning of the
pandemic, S&P Global Ratings has issued negative
credit watches or outlooks and downgrades that far
outpace positive assessments for most sectors in
the S&P 1500.

reit.com/news/blog/market-commentary
Nareit: Real estate working for you |

9


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Reit Magazine - March/April 2021

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