A recent article from NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) discusses what 2011 looks like for commercial real estate markets.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said commercial real estate sectors appear to be stabilizing. “The basic fundamental of rising commercial leasing demand, resulting from a steadily improving economy, means overall vacancy rates have already peaked or will soon top out,” he said. “The outlook for the office and industrial markets has moderated with modestly declining vacancy rates expected as 2011 progresses, while the retail sector should hold fairly steady. Still, high vacancy rates imply falling rents.”
Yun anticipates a rise in household formation from an improving economy, which will increase demand for housing, both ownership and rental. “Multifamily housing is the one commercial sector that has held on relatively well in the past year, and can expect the best performance in 2011,” he added.
“Apartment rents could rise by 1 to 2 percent in 2011, after having fallen in 2009 and no growth in 2010,” Yun said. “This rent rise therefore could start to force up broader consumer prices as well.” He noted that the housing shelter cost of primary rent, and owner’s rental equivalence, is the biggest component in the Consumer Price Index, accounting for 32 percent of its total weight.
The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, in its SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, an attitudinal survey of more than 400 local market experts, shows vacancy rates are slowly improving, but rents continue to be soft with elevated levels of subleasing space on the market. The SIOR index, measuring the impact of 10 variables, rose 1.6 percentage points to 42.6 in the third quarter, but remains well below a level of 100 that represents a balanced marketplace. This is the fourth straight quarterly improvement following almost three years of decline.
The last time the commercial market was in equilibrium at the 100 level was in the third quarter of 2007; the index now matches where it was at the beginning of 2009. Fifty-nine percent of respondents expect improvements in the office and industrial sectors in the current quarter.
Commercial real estate development continues at stagnant levels with little investment activity, but is beginning to pick up in many parts of the country.