Toothaker

WASHINGTON, DC-To little surprise the National Association of Realtors has released a forecast of declining activity for the next six to nine months due to lack of credit and the economic slump. Virtually all of the components of the association’s forward-looking index declined, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, who called for the Federal Reserve to use the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, “to provide liquidity and support for commercial mortgage-backed securities.”

The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity fell 6% to an index of 109.2 in the fourth quarter from 116.1 in the third quarter–9.1% lower than an index of 120.1 in the fourth quarter of 2007. The index measures commercial real estate activity by net absorption and the completion of new commercial buildings.

Additional proof–although hardly needed–of the grim environment comes from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, which separately released its SIOR Commercial Real Estate Index. This survey of 644 local market experts, also expects a lower level of business activity in upcoming quarters, with 90% of respondents indicating that leasing activity in their market is down, and vacancy rates are generally higher. The SIOR index has declined for eight consecutive quarters and is 58.5 percentage points below the 100 point criteria that represents a balanced marketplace.

The industry is placing its hopes in TALF–a Treasury Department’s facility to support commercial loans–which is expected to at least loosen credit for commercial transactions, Realtors Commercial Alliance Committee chair Robert Toothaker, tells GlobeSt.com. Details about the plan are still emerging, he says, but thus far the association is pleased with the initial decision to expand the facility to include CMBS.

“We are also very pleased with the confirmation that Treasury will work with the Federal Reserve to include even more assets such as CMBS,” he says.