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Views on Commercial Real Estate's 2010 Outlook

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It's early January and the forecast pieces are out in force. Reuters, quoting research from CBRE, says we have to wait until 2011 before we see any growth in commercial real estate.

Time, meanwhile, calls commercial real estate a slow motion train wreck. That's an interesting characterization of what's going on. It's a better turn of phrase than the oft-used "next shoe to drop" formulation. Commercial real estate has been dropping for well more than two years now. We've felt a great deal of pain already. There is more pain to come. But there's not going to be some moment where it all clicks and everything just start collapsing. Moreover, I think it's more likely than not that some winners begin to emerge amid the carnage. There are situations when you have properties that are not distressed in the conventional sense (i.e., vacant and not generating cashflow). You have properties that are distressed because they were overvalued and overleveraged. Some astute players are going to make a lot of money on those kinds of properties and I think that starts sooner rather than later.

A piece from the Associated Press concludes that it remains a tenant's market in 2010. That seems a given. Vacancies are high. There's not a lot of demand in any sector. Tenants that want locations are going to get sweet deals.

REITWrecks posted a pair of Bloomberg videos featuring Mort Zuckerman and Barry Sternlicht. The blog adds some of additional commentary to the mix. Zuckerman thinks major markets may have bottomed. Sternlicht, meanwhile, thinks the deep involvement of the government in commercial real estate--and rules that are enabling banks from realizing losses on commercial real estate--are keeping things in a holding pattern. REITWrecks concludes the post with the witty line: We'll all be better off when the government tells the banks to just "confess that we made a mess".

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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