REIT Executives Share Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Crisis

REIT magazine: September/October 2020

Byron Boston, President, CEO, and Co-CIO, Dynex Capital, Inc. (NYSE: DX)

"We have a philosophy of managing our business for the long term. We are respectful of the ‘unknowns’ that are always present in the environment that are complex, and we continue to believe that surprises are highly probable. The COVID crisis highlighted the durability of our strategy of leading with risk management and following with dynamic capital allocation. It emphasized and reconfirmed the importance of our long-term macroeconomic view and the disciplined processes that we use to assess the environment.

Expecting the unexpected allowed our team at Dynex to see the potential for COVID to rapidly disrupt the economic landscape. This led us to operate with higher liquidity and an asset mix that gave us flexibility to maneuver the rapidly changing market landscape. These fundamental building blocks will serve us well as we navigate the next black swan event. Management experience was a major differentiating factor for Dynex during the COVID crisis and will continue to distinguish high performing mREITs in the future.”

David Lukes, President and CEO, SITE Centers Corp. (NYSE: SITC)

"The shocking changes to our business resulting from the COVID crisis reminded me of driving with a GPS, only to miss a turn mid-trip. ‘Recalculating’ the car says, while we wait to see what turn we should take next. For SITE Centers, our quarterly map is usually clear and repetitive. Our team knows the order of each task and importance of each business function. The past few months have been a lesson in priorities. What we thought was most important quickly became irrelevant and was replaced with more critical actions.

I’m grateful for our team’s agility during these past few months, but I’m most proud of our new appreciation and lessons in reallocating staff and reconsidering our work. The next time a black swan event occurs, we’ll be ready to adapt quickly and accept new roles as departments now have the experience and battle-tested resilience to change priorities.”

Ella Neyland, President and CFO, Steadfast Apartment REIT

"The last few months have created a new definition for ‘unprecedented.’ You may not be able to predict, but you can certainly try to prepare for these ‘unprecedented’ times. Much of the framework we utilized to deal with this crisis is embedded within the Steadfast culture and values that are centered around continuing to execute our core objectives, even in an adverse environment.

We have always been conservative with proformas, judicious in our use of leverage, and focused on having available cash and/or line of credit reserves. We have well-formulated disaster preparedness plans that helped ensure we continued to safely serve our residents and associates, and our investments in technology proved extraordinarily beneficial.

Most importantly, we now know the incredible ability of our teams and our communities to come together and work toward a common goal.”

Read more from September/October issue of REIT magazine, available now in an interactive PDF.