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Economic Softening Hits Leading Commercial Real Estate Index

September 28th, 2008 9:00 AM by Lehel Szucs


The softening of economic conditions in recent months should impact commercial real estate markets in the months ahead, according to a forward-looking index for the commercial real estate sectors published by the National Association of Realtors®.

The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity¹ slowed 0.9 percent to an index of 117.9 in the second quarter from a reading of 119.0 in the first quarter, and is 2.1 percent lower than the record 120.5 in the second quarter of 2007; NAR’s track of the index dates back to 1990.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said commercial real estate activity, as measured by net absorption and the completion of new commercial buildings, is projected to weaken over the next six to nine months. “The pace of decline has intensified due to job cuts and very sluggish economic activity since the beginning of the year, particularly in those industries requiring commercial building spaces,” he said. “We anticipate the weakest commercial brokerage activity in nearly three years as a result.”

Members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® indicate in their SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index, a separate attitudinal survey of approximately 600 local market experts,² that they anticipate a lower level of business activity in the upcoming quarters.

Analysis of the SIOR index implies that office and industrial market conditions are excellent for tenants and purchasers, but significantly less favorable for landlords and sellers.

NAR’s commercial leading indicator is a tool to assess market behavior in the major commercial real estate sectors. That index incorporates 13 variables that reflect future commercial real estate activity, weighted appropriately to produce a single indicator of future market performance, and is designed to provide early signals of turning points between expansions and slowdowns in commercial real estate.

The 13 series in the index are industrial production, the NAREIT (National Association of Real Estate Investment Trust) price index, NCREIF (National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries) total return, personal income minus transfer payments, jobs in financial activities, jobs in professional business service, jobs in temporary help, jobs in retail trade, jobs in wholesale trade, initial claims for unemployment insurance, manufacturers’ durable goods shipment, wholesale merchant sales, and retail sales and food service.

More than 80,000 NAR members offer commercial services, and 60,000 of those are currently members of the Realtors® Commercial Alliance, NAR’s commercial division.

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¹NAR reviewed a wide variety of indicators, examined the relationships of indicators that demonstrated a historical impact on commercial real estate, and modeled a forward-looking index based on historic trends. Although individual indicators sometimes move in opposite directions, together they offer a better indication of future market activity.

Quarterly data for 13 selected series were reviewed back through the first quarter of 1990. The modeling demonstrated a change in commercial brokerage activity that could be seen two quarters later as measured by net absorption in the industrial and office sectors, and the completion of new commercial buildings as measured by the value of building construction put-in-place of office, warehouse, retail and lodging structures. An index of 100 is defined as the level of commercial real estate market activity during the first quarter of 1990, the first period to be analyzed.

²The 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.

The next commercial real estate market report and forecast is scheduled for release on September 17, and the next commercial leading indicator index will be released November 20. Click here for details.

Posted in:General
Posted by Lehel Szucs on September 28th, 2008 9:00 AM

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