SOURCE: National Association of Realtors

National Association of Realtors

February 23, 2010 10:00 ET

No Meaningful Recovery in Commercial Real Estate Before 2011

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 23, 2010) - Although the economy has been growing lately, fallout from the recent recession continued to negatively impact commercial real estate sectors in the fourth quarter, but there is hope for some improvement next year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said commercial real estate almost always lags the economy. "Because of the lingering impact from the deep recession over the past two years, vacancy rates will trend higher and many commercial property owners will need to make rent concessions," he said.

"With the job market expected to turn for the better later this year, we'll see rising demand for office and warehouse space, but that isn't likely before 2011," Yun said. "At the same time, improved consumer confidence would help sustain the retail sector and encourage more people to enter the rental market."

Yun notes that commercial vacancy rates remain high in most market areas and are depressing rents.

The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, in its SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, an attitudinal survey of more than 700 local market experts,(1) suggests a flattening level of business activity in upcoming quarters with 55 percent of members expecting the market to improve in the second quarter.

The SIOR index rose 0.2 percentage point to 35.5 in the fourth quarter, compared with a level of 100 that represents a balanced marketplace. This is the first gain following 11 consecutive quarterly declines. Although some indicators show that a decline in commercial property values is beginning to flatten, 86 percent of respondents report prices are below replacement costs.

Nearly nine in 10 survey participants said new commercial development is virtually nonexistent in their market areas, and rent concessions are reported almost everywhere.

An independent survey earlier this month showed a couple dozen banks are willing to expand commercial credit this year, which is critical. The lending expansion is aided by the Federal Reserve's Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility, which is encouraging issuance of commercial mortgage-backed bonds. In addition, regulators are prodding lenders to extend terms for many existing commercial loans.

"We have a long way to go for satisfactory levels of commercial credit, but these are important first steps," Yun said. "Given that about $1.4 trillion in commercial debt will come due over the next three years, more extensive action is needed and the Fed needs to more actively help resuscitate commercial mortgage-backed securities. The credit improvement will mean more commercial property sales in 2010, even some at deeply discounted prices."

Looking at the overall market, commercial vacancy rates generally will stay at elevated levels, according to NAR's latest "COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK."(2) The NAR forecast for four major commercial sectors analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic data were provided by CBRE Econometric Advisors.

Office Market

With a lot of sublease space currently on the market, vacancy rates in the office sector are forecast to rise from 16.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 17.6 percent in the fourth quarter of this year; the longer term outlook is for vacancies to average 17.4 percent in 2011.

Annual office rent is projected to decline 7.2 percent in 2010, following a drop of 12.7 percent last year. In 57 markets tracked, net absorption of office space, which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, should be a negative 27.3 million square feet in 2010.

Industrial Market

There is proportionately less industrial sublease space on the market than in the office sector, but obsolescence remains a factor. Industrial vacancy rates will probably rise from 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 14.9 percent in the closing quarter of 2010; they could average 14.5 percent next year.

Annual industrial rent is likely to fall 9.6 percent this year, after declining 10.9 percent in 2009. Net absorption of industrial space in 58 markets tracked is seen at a negative 93.5 million square feet in 2010.

Retail Market

Retail vacancy rates are expected to edge up from 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 12.7 percent in the same period of this year, and may hold at that level in 2011.

Average retail rent is forecast to decline 2.4 percent in 2010, following a drop of 4.0 percent in 2009. Net absorption of retail space in 53 tracked markets should be a negative 3.4 million square feet this year.

Multifamily Market

The apartment rental market -- multifamily housing -- is poised to gain from a rise in household formation. Multifamily vacancy rates are likely to decline from 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and possibly edge down to 6.1 percent next year.

Average rent is projected to decline 3.4 percent this year, following a decline 3.6 percent in 2009. Multifamily net absorption is expected to be 115,000 units in 59 tracked metro areas this year.

The "COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK" is published by the NAR Research Division for the commercial community. NAR's Commercial Division, formed in 1990, provides targeted products and services to meet the needs of the commercial market and constituency within NAR.

The NAR commercial components include commercial members; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; commercial real estate boards and structures; and the NAR commercial affiliate organizations -- CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.

More than 81,000 NAR and institute affiliate members offer commercial brokerage services.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

(1) The SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, conducted by SIOR and analyzed by NAR Research, is a diffusion index based on market conditions as viewed by local SIOR experts. For more information contact Richard Hollander, SIOR, at 202/449-8200.

(2) Publication of additional analysis, including metropolitan data, will be posted under Economists' Commentary in the Research area of Realtor.org in coming weeks.

The next commercial real estate forecast and quarterly market report will be released on May 26.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data, charts and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. All REALTORS® are members of NAR.

Contact Information

  • For Further Information Contact:
    Walter Molony
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