Insights into Real Estate Market Trends and Forecasts with John Chang from Marcus & Millichap


In this captivating episode of Passive Investing from Left Field, host, Jim Pfeifer, sits down with John Chang, National Director of Research Services at Marcus & Millichap. John shares his wealth of knowledge on the current state of the real estate market, offering valuable insights for passive investors looking to make informed decisions in 2024 and beyond.

A Passion for Real Estate from an Early Age

John’s journey in real estate began at the age of four, when he accompanied his father to view his first rental property. This early exposure ignited a lifelong fascination with the industry, leading John to pursue a career in real estate research. With his analytical mind and keen eye for market trends, John has become a respected authority in the field, regularly quoted in mainstream business media.

2024: A Year of Reset and Opportunity

As investors look ahead to 2024, John characterizes it as a “reset and staging year.” While he doesn’t anticipate any particular asset class to “blow the doors off,” he sees ample opportunity for those willing to roll up their sleeves and add value. Whether through property upgrades, skilled management, or leveraging industry relationships, investors who possess the knowledge and expertise to create value will find compelling opportunities that pay dividends over the next 5-10 years.

Navigating the Market as a Passive Investor

For Limited Partner investors, John emphasizes the importance of thoroughly vetting the General Partner and their team. In an environment where the tide is no longer lifting all boats, it’s crucial to understand the General Partner’s relationships, skills, and knowledge. Investors should examine how the General Partner has financed properties in the past, whether they were caught off guard by adjustable rate mortgages, and if they were prepared for market shifts.

While many strong operators may have been impacted by recent challenges, John advises Limited Partner Investors to dig deeper and assess how the General Partner responded to these setbacks. Did they have a plan in place to weather the storm, or were they caught completely unprepared? By understanding the General Partner’s track record and approach to risk management, Limited Partner Investors can make more informed decisions about where to allocate their capital.

Opportunities Across Asset Classes

John provides a comprehensive overview of the potential risks and rewards across various real estate asset classes:

    1. Multifamily: Despite a wave of new supply coming online in 2024, the long-term outlook remains positive due to favorable demographics and the affordability challenges in the single-family home market.
    2. Self-Storage: While this sector has performed well in recent years, investors should be cautious of the upcoming wave of new construction.
    3. Retail: Contrary to the “retail apocalypse” narrative, this asset class has stabilized and is poised for growth, with limited new supply and strong consumer spending.
    4. Industrial: Although some markets may face short-term challenges due to new supply, the long-term fundamentals remain strong, particularly in infill locations.
    5. Office: Suburban office properties are expected to outperform, while older, large-scale urban office towers may struggle. Investors should be prepared for a longer-term play in this sector.
    6. Medical Office: With the potential for long-term leases and attractive yields, medical office buildings offer a compelling investment opportunity.
    7. Senior Housing: Demographic trends support long-term demand, but investors must have a deep understanding of this complex asset class.
    8. Hospitality: Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, the hospitality sector has largely recovered and is expected to perform well, barring a significant recession.

The Interest Rate Puzzle

One of the most pressing questions on investors’ minds is when interest rates will return to “normal.” John explains that the definition of normal varies depending on an investor’s experience and tenure in the industry. For those who entered the market post-financial crisis, normal may mean 2-4% for the 10-year Treasury. However, for seasoned investors who have weathered multiple cycles, the current rate environment is more in line with historical norms.

John believes that interest rates are likely to remain in the 4% range (plus or minus 50 basis points) for the 10-year Treasury over the next few years, barring any major economic setbacks. He advises investors to focus on creating value through strategic property improvements and effective management, rather than relying solely on low interest rates to drive returns.

Preparing for the Unexpected

When asked about potential overlooked factors that could impact the real estate industry, John emphasizes the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. While most economists predict a soft landing for the economy, there is still a 25% chance of a recession or a resurgence of inflation. Investors should evaluate the recession resistance of each asset and property type, considering the demand drivers and potential risks.

John also highlights the need to monitor geopolitical events, such as the recent attacks on cargo ships near the Suez Canal, which could disrupt supply chains and drive up shipping costs. While these “black swan” events are difficult to predict, investors should remain vigilant and adapt their strategies as necessary.

Continued Learning and Networking

For those eager to learn more from John Chang and connect with like-minded investors, he will be presenting at the upcoming Best Ever Conference. His three-hour workshop on using information to build investment strategies promises to be a valuable resource for attendees. John will also participate in the conference’s popular debate session and deliver a closing keynote on the final day.

As the real estate landscape continues to evolve, passive investors who prioritize education, due diligence, and strategic partnerships will be best positioned to navigate the shifting tides. By staying informed, adaptable, and focused on creating value, investors can uncover compelling opportunities and build long-term wealth in the years ahead.

To stay up-to-date on the latest research and insights from John Chang and the Marcus & Millichap team, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn, where he regularly posts videos, market analysis, and announcements of new research releases. With his passion for real estate and commitment to empowering investors, John Chang is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to thrive in this dynamic industry.

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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