TAMPA, FL—Things are picking up in Florida as that state shakes the remnants of the recent economic unpleasantness. Danny Rice, senior director of client services for GlobeSt.com Thought Leader Xceligent, is seeing confidence returning to the market as a whole, marked especially by a gradual shifting from short-term leases to long-term commitments.

“Even a year ago, unemployment was still a big challenge and some tenants were hesitant because they were unsure of the long-term outlook for their businesses,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “But now companies are hiring more and gaining enough confidence to consider longer-term commitments.”

In all, says Rice, “Prior to the recession you could stand in the street and get hit by a deal.” And while the market isn't quite there yet, he does report an overall “atmosphere of recovery,” and notes that “all of the brokerage firms I've been meeting with over the past two months—some 40 or 50 firms—say yes, there is definitely more activity and a more positive outlook.”

Looking at the Florida markets generally, on the leasing side, that confidence is evident not only in local businesses moving from one submarket to another but in the increasing number of businesses relocating to Florida. In Tampa and Orlando particularly, medical and professional services firms seem to be making the biggest impact, and the Orlando market is also enjoying growing industrial activity, especially “along the arterial highways.” On the sales side, there's an increase in dollars from international funds, “particularly Brazilian and Canadian capital.”

But the recovery is taking place within what the eight-year industry veteran calls a broken system. “There are missing pieces and a lack of transparency,” he says. “A lot of major firms are coming up with their own market reports, and as a result the vacancy numbers are all over the place.”

Xceligent's entry into the Florida market is therefore well-timed, he points out. The firm is currently launching its Tampa database. Its 50-member drive team is done assessing local buildings there, after collecting tenancy intel—down to parking spaces—on Tampa's stock of 36,000 buildings, and is now doing the same in Orlando in preparation of a Q4 launch for that city.

“Frankly, people are looking for alternative solutions,” he says, “and they want more transparency in the information they're researching. Developers, brokers, investors need accurate reports on vacancies, but they also need to support those statements with data on who the 50 companies are that are moving out and the 50 companies that are moving in.”

He notes that the firm's local-market advisory boards, covering the various real estate product types, are key to that accuracy. The boards are charged with reviewing the deals to verify the details of all data Xceligent puts out.

It's a unique system of checks and balances that, Rice believes, “validates our data. And that's especially critical for a market in recovery. There's proof behind our numbers. It's all a matter of building the confidence necessary to make those deals.”


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John Salustri

John Salustri has covered the commercial real estate industry for nearly 25 years. He was the founding editor of GlobeSt.com, and is a four-time recipient of the Excellence in Journalism award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.