Each Wednesday, The Wrap presents a compilation of recent noteworthy commercial real estate stories from a variety of publications. Here are five stories that caught our eyes in recent days:
• “Less Building Now, Higher Office Rents Later” – By Eliot Brown of The Wall Street Journal. A paucity of new office development – only 56 million square feet of construction began last year, the lowest in at least 50 years – is paving the way for a much-anticipated rise in office rents, Brown reports.
Gateway markets like San Francisco and New York – where demand is likely to jump quickly if the economic recovery picks up – would be the most likely areas to see rents increase, whereas cities harder hit by vacancies, such as Las Vegas and Atlanta, would probably take longer to experience rent growth.
• “Retail Sales Rebound as Consumers Step Up Spending” – By Christopher S. Rugaber of The Associated Press. Retail sales increased by 0.4 percent in January when compared with the month before, a positive sign after a sluggish holiday season, Rugaber reports.
“The positive data suggest that hiring gains have boosted confidence and are encouraging more people to spend,” he writes.
Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics told Rugaber, “The good news is that the strong January gain establishes that the consumer trend is not folding.”
• “National Industrial Vacancy Continues Steady Decline” – By Jacqueline Hlavenka of GlobeSt.com. The national industrial real estate market experienced a noticeable uptick in its fundamentals last year, this article reports. The vacancy rate dropped from 10.8 percent to 10.1 percent over the course of 2011, and 417 million square feet of industrial leasing was completed last year, a 20 percent increase from 2010.
Speaking about about the vacancy rate decline, Jim Dieter of Cushman & Wakefield told Hlavenka, “It’s pretty dramatic. That doesn’t sound like much, but the [size of the market] is around 12 billion square feet. When you have a drop in vacancy rates of almost 1 percent, you can see that’s pretty dramatic.”
• “MBA Attendees Expect Continued Growth in 2012” – By David Bodamer of National Real Estate Investor. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is projecting commercial and multifamily mortgage originations to reach $230 billion – which would be an increase of 17 percent from last year’s total. By 2015, the figure should climb to $290 billion.
“We’re in a period of stability,” Tom Fish, executive managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Americas Real Estate Investment Banking division, told Bodamer. “Everyone is talking about increasing volume. Barring a major dislocation in capital markets, it should be a strong year.”
• “Construction Lenders Advise Caution on Apartment Construction Front” – By Liz Burlingame of ReBusinessOnline.com. The multifamily sector has been perhaps the only segment of commercial real estate to perform well during the Great Recession, but lenders warned during a recent panel discussion that the industry could be on the verge of becoming overbuilt, at least in certain markets.
Speaking at the MBA’s commercial/multifamily finance conference in Atlanta, Marc McAndrew of PNC Real Estate said Seattle, Houston and Dallas are markets in danger of having an oversupply problem.
According to Burlingame, fellow panelist Ken Broussard of KeyBank, “said the bank has internally discussed the possibility of too much apartment development and whether it may cause a bubble in the sector.”
“All of our regions are seeing a lot of requests for new construction and financing in multifamily,” Broussard added.