As our work takes me throughout the southeast, I continue to see optimistic signs that commercial markets are on the upswing.

Increases for everyone

Retail occupancy is improving, apartment rental rates are starting to increase and we are feeling more buzz around our office. More phone calls for opportunities.  While these steps might be small, they are in the right direction.

REIS, Inc. a commercial property research firm reported that the vacancy rates at malls in the top U.S. markets have declined to 8.8 percent in the 3rd QTR; the first drop in vacancies in nearly 4 years.  Additionally, a 2.3 % gain in holiday sales has been forecasted for this year, another sign that consumer confidence and spending are beginning to increase.  Rental property is also seeing a slight increase after declines over the past 3 years.

Trends

A few days ago I was talking with the head of a multi-family REIT and he believes the market has touched bottom and the situation is gradually improving. He said he feels “…very, very bullish” about the prospects for the apartment industry over the next three years. We are trending in the right direction. While we are hoping for more positive trends and faster.

Internally we think 2011 will be a good year for many including us.

Your thoughts?

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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email.
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