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

• Online savvy helps commercial real estate professionals do better business offline by Kristian K. Lee for RE Journals. 

Key excerpt:

“There are still some in the commercial real estate world who hope digital and social tools are just a fad. But [Dave] Cattell says they are essential to doing business today. ‘It is critically important for those in our industry to learn to navigate in a changing business environment.’ And if you decide to sit out, someone is happy to take your place. ‘Your competitors are promoting themselves, so you have to keep up to be relevant,’ says [Matt] Chapdelaine.’”

 

• Economy Watch: There are Fewer Apartment Applicant Deadbeats than Before by Dees Stribling of Multi-Housing News.

Key excerpt: 

“One reason is lower homeownership rates. Lower homeownership means that more people want to rent, or must rent, which in turn leads to lower rental vacancy rates in most markets. CoreLogic posted that lower vacancies make for a more a competitive rental market, thus attracting more residents with better credit quality. The U.S. population is growing, but homeownership rates aren’t growing with it.”

 

• Retail center of the future is already here, RECon panel says by SCT Newswire staff.

Key excerpt:

“Malls will have to evolve into destination ‘third places’ akin to Apple stores and Starbucks shops if they expect to thrive, said Bob Debbas, CEO of CrowdT, a crowdfunded online apparel seller. ‘They will have cooking classes, more fashion stores, more experiential eating places, and features such as indoor skiing, like in Dubai [United Arab Emirates],’ Debbas said. ‘They may have 3-D printers that can make any product that consumers want and have facial-recognition technology that will identify and steer consumer behavior.’”

 

• NAR Forecasts Modest Growth for U.S. Commercial Markets in 2015 by Michael Gerrity of World Property Journal.

Key excerpt:

“Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says commercial rents have risen at a moderate pace across the board for several quarters now and vacancy rates have been on a gradual decline. ‘The commercial real estate sector is on the path to recovery, but subpar economic growth, lack of financing available to small investors and the industry trend towards squeezing more employees into existing spaces will keep demand from meaningful acceleration,’ he said. ‘The exception is multifamily housing, which remains the best performer with vacancy rates under 4 percent in several markets in the Northeast and in California.’”

 

Retailers In Expansion Mode, Ground-Up Development Still Challenging by Elaine Misonzhnik of NREI. 

Key excerpt:

“Retail center owners are seeing increased activity from restaurant chains and grocery concepts, as well as some discretionary sellers, including Nike, Forever 21’s Red concept and a number of e-commerce companies that are looking at opening brick-and-mortar stores. For example, executives with Los Angeles-based development firm Caruso Affiliated noted that online women’s apparel seller Revolve Clothing opened its first pop-up store at one of their centers during the 2014 holiday season. The firm recently signed agreements for long-term pop-ups with two other e-commerce operators.”