The South Florida retail market is changing, as is evidenced by factors such as net migration, retail rents and occupancy levels. There are also differences between how lenders and buyers are underwriting risk and value in today’s retail market versus how sellers would like the lenders and buyers to underwrite assets. Other sectors of real estate product and economic outlook are also influencing the market right now.

Net migration in Florida is still positive according to the Census Bureau, which estimates that the statewide population had increased by an annual average of about 310,740 residents between 2000 and mid-2007, to 18,251,243 residents. However, Florida has suffered heavily from the housing bust, and Florida’s population growth was only slightly ahead of the national rate last year, at just above 1%.

Vacancy rates in Broward County have risen substantially over the past year, ending 2007 just below 6%, and another slight increase is forecast throughout 2008. But South Florida is less problematic than other parts of the country, where vacancy rates in secondary markets regularly exceed 10%.

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