NEW YORK CITY-Fifty-two percent of American investors surveyedhave clear intentions to buy in the hospitality sector over thenext six months, while the percentage of investors who plan tomaintain their existing portfolios at present levels has declinedby 13%. This provides a clear indication that transaction volumewill pick up in the first half of 2011, at least in the Americas,says Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in a report on its biannual HotelInvestor Sentiment Survey.

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“After protracted dislocation and losses, transaction activityin the hotel real estate sector is regaining vigor,” says ArthurAdler, New York City-based managing director and Americas CEO forJLLH, in a release. “Now that operating fundamentals have clearlyturned the corner, buyers are becoming increasingly aggressive asthey seek to establish a foothold at historically low purchaseprices.”

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Gregory Rumpel, Miami-based EVP with JLLH, tells GlobeSt.comthat the numbers on investors’ sentiment are borne out by recentactivity. “The third quarter’s been very good for us in terms oftransaction volume, certainly in the US,” he says. “The sentimentis a leading indicator, but it’s very quickly being followed up byreal-time transactions.”

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In a recent commentary for GlobeSt.com, Daniel Lesser, leader ofthe hospitality and gaming group for CB Richard Ellis, offered someadditional color. “Despite a tepid recovery in the broader economy,investors perceive that current positive RevPAR growth, along withthe ongoing strengthening in average rates, which when coupled withrelatively low supply growth, will sustain the industry’s cyclicalrebound,” Lesser wrote. He added that although overleveraging atthe market’s peak piled a significant weight on legacy investments,“many assets are still enormously valuable. This fact is not loston sophisticated lodging investors who are eager to capitalize onthe mistakes of others.”

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Rumpel notes that the “buy” sentiment among American investorsis at a five-year high. Further, the survey notes that theirintention to “hold” is at a three-year low.

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However, Rumpel points out that on a global basis, the story issomewhat different. “If you look at this survey, it was interestingthat the buy sentiment actually declined a little bit” when otherregions are factored in, he says.

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In the euro zone and across the rest of the EMEA region, thecurrent environment has some parallels to what US investorsencountered two years ago, and it’s likely to color theirsentiments through the next survey period six months from now. “Aswith the Lehman collapse and all of those in-your-face situations,there are some real issues facing that market,” Rumpel says.“That’s going to make people in EMEA a little more reluctant. Theywant to see a quarter or two unveiling of the future before theymove their sentiment up in the ‘buy’ category. It’s going to bemore strongly on the ‘hold’ side.”

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In the Asia-Pacific region, Rumpel says, there’s been a greatrun, dominated by India and China; we just haven’t seen things slowup much." As a result, any increase in “buy” sentiment among AsiaPacific investors is “a little tempered because they haven’t seenthe same oscillation that we’ve had.”

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Closer to home, Rumpel says, “I’m confident that we’re going tosee a truly entrenched recovery that people can underwrite to. The‘buy’ sentiment will jump in the Americas” when the next survey isconducted.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.