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PHILADELPHIA-Economist Joel L. Naroff says the Philadelphia-area real estate markets are well positioned for an economic rebound that will be gradual, which he says, is characteristic of the region. He spoke at a gathering of real estate investors sponsored by locally based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust.

“Don’t expect super growth,” he says. “Iraq overlays all (local and national) economic forecasts.” The steadiness that is characteristic of this region, he suggests, also spares the area from “collapses.”

Naroff is the head of locally based Naroff Economic Advisors and the chiefeconomist for Commerce Bank.

Once reliant on manufacturing, “we’re now a well diversified region, more so than the nation as a whole,” he explains. “This guards us from big ups and big downs.”

Although vacancy rates for the nine counties Naroff includes in his assessment of the local real estate market rose significantly between second-quarter 2001 and the same quarter this year, he notes “they remain below the peaks reached in the early 1990s.”

Employment growth here “actually exceeds the nation,” he says, adding, “it’s not great, but nobody’s going anywhere.” The unemployment rates, locally and nationally, “are well below the peaks reached in previous recessions.”

“Everything is set up for growth,” he concludes, “except for uncertainty (regarding war with Iraq).” That eventuality, he contends, would delay, but not prevent, recovery.

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