Commercial Activity Weak, May Not Start Recovery Until Mid-2010

by devteam August 19th, 2009 | Share

Activity in commercial real estate continued to decline in the second quarter, pushing activity to its lowest level in 15 years, an industry survey said.

The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity, which has been tracking the industry since 1990, softened by 1.3% between April and June to a score of 101.5, the lowest level since the first months of 1994. That’s nearly 14% below levels seen last year.

Moreover, data from the first quarter was revised downwards.

The reduction in commercial real estate activity is expected at least through the first quarter of 2010,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR. “Any meaningful recovery is not likely to occur before the second half of next year.

A whole variety of factors are contributing to the decline, including slower industrial production, fewer jobs requiring office and retail space, fewer durable goods shipments, shrinking personal spending, decreasing retail and wholesale sales, and a negative return on commercial investment.  

Yun said if the recession comes to an end “within six months,” then a recovery in commercial real estate could follow. 

“The office sector requires job growth to fuel the demand for additional space, the industrial sector needs a rise in production, and the retail sector is tied to consumer spending,” he said. “We will need sustained economic growth before many employers have enough confidence to expand the job base and create new demand for space.”

Some good news for the sector came out on Monday when the Federal Reserve and Treasury released a joint statement announcing they would extend emergency credit lines, including for commercial mortgage-backed securities, by six months.

“Conditions in financial markets have improved considerably in recent months,” the statement read. “Nonetheless, the markets for asset-backed securities (ABS) backed by consumer and business loans and for commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) are still impaired and seem likely to remain so for some time.”

The two agencies said extending the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) would “promote the flow of credit to businesses and households” and “facilitate the financing of commercial properties.”

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About the Author


Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, is a PASBA member accountant located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

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