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First-half sales prices in South Florida suggest that most categories of investment real estate have at least reached equilibrium and some may have peaked, according to a new Trammell Crow Co. report.

The brokerage’s regional office in Boca Raton cites a number of market indicators to support its cautionary overview: Transaction volume has begun to slow from the feverish pace of 1998-99. Capitalization rates are experiencing upward pressure. Bidders on an offering have fallen by as much as half.

Also: It takes longer to market a typical property. Closing without a back-up buyer is unusual. Investors are becoming more selective in their acquisitions.

In the South Florida office sector, for example, class A sales are down. The average price has dropped to $92.90 psf this year from $103.77 in 1999. Signs of price weakness are particularly evident for class B and C product.

The industrial property picture was mixed during this year’s first six months. Greater demand for bulk warehouses near Miami International Airport pushed up the average price paid here to $54.51 psf from $42.96 last year.

Elsewhere, however, industrial deal volume was well below the same period of 1999. Entertainment-oriented retail properties are attracting more investor interest, picking up the slack in sales of supermarket-anchored strip centers.

Because of the heavier emphasis on the generally most costly entertainment projects, sales prices this year for all types of retail have risen to $121.29 psf from $87.17 a year ago.

Escalating rental rates and comparatively low cap rates in 2000 have helped prices reach, and in some cases exceed, new construction costs for well-located class A office, industrial and retail assets. As a result, there has been an abundance of new development, although vacancy rates continue to fall in all three property categories.

Nevertheless, the staying power of such market vitality is doubted by numerous investors. Many are reported by Trammell Crow to be growing more conservative in underwriting South Florida ventures.

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