The coronavirus pandemic may have prompted a nationwide shutdown of businesses and schools. Yet the pandemic has hardly shut down Public Storage’s quest to build its portfolio.

The Glendale, CA-based self-storage REIT has purchased or agreed to purchase 54 facilities in 18 states since the end of September. In all, Public Storage is paying $686.9 million for 4.9 million net rentable square feet. The acquisitions include a 36-property, 13-state portfolio that the REIT picked up in an off-market deal. A dozen of the 54 properties are under construction.

Public Storage’s 2020 acquisition pace has ramped up dramatically. During the nine months ended Sept. 30 — before the 54 facilities were scooped up — the REIT had purchased 19 self-storage facilities with nearly 1.4 million net rentable square feet for $282.4 million. With the 54 new acquisitions, this year’s 73 purchases completed or under contract put the REIT’s acquisition total at nearly $970 million.

The acquisition market has opened up

Joe Russell, president and CEO of Public Storage, said the company continues to hunt for on-the-market and off-market acquisitions in the U.S. and other countries. “The acquisition market clearly has opened up,” he said during the REIT’s Nov. 5 call with Wall Street analysts.

Russell said low interest rates and the resilience of the self-storage sector have set up Public Storage for a “very active 2020” on the acquisition front. However, he added, Public Storage hasn’t simply flipped a switch and decided, “Let’s just go buy whatever we can get our hands on.” Rather, he said, the REIT relies on “very disciplined analytics” to guide its acquisition decisions.

As of Sept. 30, the company’s U.S. portfolio exceeded 2,500 facilities, with the REIT planning to develop 12 facilities and expand 26 facilities at a cost of $563.2 million.

Other highlights of Public Storage’s third-quarter earnings:

  • Same-store revenue decreased 2.7% to $611.5 million.
  • Same-store NOI dropped 3.7% to $435.8 million.
  • Same-store operating expenses dipped 0.1% to $175.7 million.
  • Same-store occupancy stood at 95.5%.
  • Move-out volume declined 13.1% compared with the same period last year.
John Egan