A look ahead
Steve Bergsman, who has covered commercial real estate extensively during the past 25 years in major publications like Barrons, comes out with a new book next week, which forecasts the pace of market recovery--once it begins. AFTER THE FALL: OPPORTUNITIES AND STRATEGIES FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTING IN THE COMING DECADE scrutinizes the trend lines for individual real estate sectors, looking at recent history and events, current predicaments, and then attempts to discern where these markets will be headed. Here are some of Bergsman's predictions:
- Institutional investors looking at office assets will focus on major urban centers such as New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. There will be little interest in second tier markets for a long time.
- While home prices in most cities will bottom out this year, recovery to historic appreciation levels won´t happen for at least another three years.
- Many residential and commercial developments financed with cheap money and constructed in the far reaches of the exurbs will become, at worst, ghost towns, or, at best, low-income neighborhoods.
- In-fill condominium markets in urban locations will recover much faster than condo markets targeted to the leisure or second home crowd.
- Senior housing demand and development will climb slowly but steadily through the next decade, than jump exponentially as baby boomers enter their seventh decade.
- The multifamily market should remain weak until around 2012; a lack of new construction in the intervening years will cause tighter occupancies and higher rents going forward into the middle of the next decade.
- The most optimistic expectation for the hospitality industry: nothing good until 2011.
In regard to issues like sustainability, the future for commercial buildings has actually arrived, Bergsman says. Most new office buildings today are LEED-certified and industrial and retail is following suit. What this means for investors is that LEED-certified buildings will be purchased at a slight premium in the near future. Also, at some point, older non-LEED certified buildings will have to upgrade, or fall off the list for major investors.
Bergsman's book should offer a good diversion on our way to hitting bottom. But first things first.