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Commercial Real Estate Expansion Foreseen

Buoyed by a steadily improving labor market and strong demand for multifamily housing, commercial real estate activity should remain on an upward trajectory, with a growing share of it is expected to be in smaller markets, according to the National Association of Realtors quarterly commercial real estate forecast.
National office vacancy rates are forecast to fall 1.5 percent to 10.4 percent over the coming year as employment gains boost demand for office space. The vacancy rate for industrial space is expected to decline 0.7 percent to 8.7 percent, and retail availability to decrease 1.0 percent to 10.5 percent. Only vacancies in the multifamily sector are expected to edge higher over the next year, from 5.9 percent to 6.1 percent, as new apartment construction comes to the market.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the commercial real estate sector is on firm ground in spite of the numerous global and domestic headwinds that continue to keep U.S. economic growth in a headlock. “Ongoing overseas weakness and the slowdown in business investment despite historically low interest rates held second quarter growth at a tepid and disappointing pace,” he said. “Only steady job creation, solid consumer spending and residential construction – albeit not enough of it – kept the economy afloat during the first half of the year.”
Adds Yun, “Strengthening local job markets has fueled sustained demand for commercial space and has pushed vacancy rates down in all commercial sectors. A growing concern from Realtors®, who mostly have clients that rely on financing to secure deals, is that underwriting standards have stiffened in light of increased regulatory scrutiny.

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