Commercial Real Estate Markets Strong Despite “Bad News”

Two nationally renowned experts in economic forecasting recently spoke in Atlanta at an annual meeting of the CCIM Institute, a group of recognized experts in commercial and investment real estate from across the nation. The event was attended by members of the group from over thirty states.Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, spoke on the local and national economies. Dhawan, who often appears on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and the Bloomberg Report, sees the southeastern states doing much better than the rest of the country. Unfortunately, he says, the economies of California, Arizona, and Nevada are already in a recession and make up 20 percent of the national economy. However, Dhawan sees the current problems as mostly a “crisis of confidence of the American public.”His predictions for job growth for the state of Georgia indicate only around 28,000 new jobs in 2008, but a healthy uptick in 2009 with an additional 70,100 new jobs. The following year should see over 98,000 additional jobs. While much of his predictions are flat for 2008, he predicts a bounce back in the real estate markets in 2009.The second speaker was Stephen Phyrr, senior managing director of Kennedy Wilson and Executive Director of The American Real Estate Society of Austin, Texas. Phyrr has spent much of his career studying the effects of the cyclical economy on the real estate market.While there are certainly some negative signs, Phyrr sees a positive overall forecast for the economy and real estate in general. His conclusions are summed up in six points:1. Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives going forward. The lack of confidence of the American public reflects the media’s emphasis on the “bad news” and creates a biased picture of the real estate environment.2. The financial markets have overreacted to the real credit crunch of 2007, making financing difficult for investors throughout 2008.3. Real estate will fare relatively well over the next three to five years compared to other asset classes.4. Investors will go back to the fundamentals of improving property values by improving property management, and not by using financing as a vehicle to make sense of an investment.5. There will be plenty of financing for real estate, and lenders will look for diversified types of real estate to finance.6. Multi-family property investments will be a beneficiary of the housing finance and homebuilding crisis of 2007.Additionally, Phyrr discussed the importance of understanding real estate cycles. Real estate undergoes up and down cycles. Boom cycles have averaged 10 to 11 years and bust cycles have averaged five to six years over the past 30 years. Our last real estate boom topped out in 2001 and real estate values have been on a decline since then. So, based on the cycle timing and some other positive attributes, we are near or at the bottom of the down cycle and look forward to an upward trend in real estate values.o

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