August 15, 2012

The Wednesday Wrap: Aug. 15, 2012

Each Wednesday, The Wrap presents a compilation of recent noteworthy commercial real estate stories from a variety of publications. Below are five stories that caught our eyes in recent days.

“July Retail Sales Rose 0.8%, Well Beyond Expectations” by Reuters.

U.S. retail sales rose in July by the largest amount in five months, according to the Commerce Department.

Sales grew 0.8 percent in July when compared to the previous month. June marked three straight months of declines, the longest stretch of decreased sales since the fall of 2008.

A separate Labor Department report said overall wholesale prices also increased, though modestly, in July. A sharp rise in food prices stemmed from the dramatic increase in the price of corn due to severely dry weather in the Midwest.

“The Heat Is On for Grocery-Anchored Retail” by Mark Heschmeyer of CoStar.

Heat waves and the subsequent drought across much of America’s farmland will likely deal another blow to grocery store-anchored shopping centers, already feeling the pain from the sale of food by nontraditional grocers, such as supercenters and warehouse club stores.

This year’s drought already is affecting retail sales, but will show an even bigger impact next year, according to Garrick Brown, director of research for Terranomics. Food makers will see soaring prices in corn, which is used in the production of everything from soda to beef.

“A strong rise in food prices could be catastrophic next year for a number of grocery chains,” Brown told Heschmeyer. “A squeeze in grocery pricing will only further benefit the discounters, wholesalers/warehouse clubs and the large, non-unionized chains.”

“Investors Look to Secondary and Tertiary Markets for Multifamily” by Bendix Anderson for National Real Estate Investor.

A recent acquisition of an apartment building outside Savannah, Ga., could be an example of things to come, as multifamily investors begin to look to secondary and tertiary markets, Anderson says.

Panther Properties just bought the Effingham Parc Apartments, a Class-A property about 13 miles northwest of Savannah. The property is in a suburban area, but one that is only a short distance away from a city with a major port and one of the country’s fastest-growing employment centers.

As the site has a vacancy rate of only 4 percent, Panther is planning on pushing rents at the apartment complex. The firm also says it will look at investing in other secondary and tertiary markets across the Southeast.

“Déjà Vu All Over Again? CRE Whipsaws Up and Down In Face of Economic Uncertainty” by Randyl Drummer of CoStar.

Less than three months out from the U.S. presidential election, national investor surveys and recent leading indicators show confused sentiment and uncertainty on how the election could affect the commercial real estate market.

 There is some good news, Drummer notes. Construction spending — fueled by demand for industrial facilities, hotels and retail projects — is expected to rise by 4.4 percent this year for nonresidential projects, according to the American Institute of Architects. The growth is expected to continue into 2013 as well.

But the looming election and possible changes in federal tax and spending policies are causing uncertainty that is reflected in investors’ expectations across all sectors, Drummer notes.

VIDEO: “Valuations Expected to Climb in Second Half” from

Paul Whyte, managing director with Credit Suisse, gives his predictions for REIT investment in the second half of the year. He examines valuations, the trend of “flight to quality,” which sectors are showing greatest demand and what challenges the commercial real estate industry could face during the ongoing recovery.

To view Whyte's remarks, click here.

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