The South Florida region knows too well that the real estate slump has truly hit the housing industry real hard, with vacancies rising and leasing rates falling down.
While the residential markets are bearing the brunt, surprisingly, commercial properties here continue to fetch record prices and have remained buoyant because of much lower vacancy rates.
A Quick Overview Of Commercial Property Markets In South Florida
A closer view of the areas markets reveals just how poorly commercial real estate is faring, at least in terms of occupancy. In Miami, for example, residential units in the central business district increased 55% since 2000, while the office increase was 9.5%, according to local real estate industry observers. And even if developers contemplated a new office building, the construction companies were likely tied up with residential jobs until recently, notes some analysts. Overall, South Florida’s economy has been steadily improving, and those forces have combined to boost the office market there.
Why The Commercial Market Wasn’t Hit As Hard As The Residential Sectors
According to housing market analysts, unlike the residential market, where investors are most often private individuals, commercial real estate investors are more diverse and not nearly as tied to mortgage rates. Commercial property market also investors include institutional buyers such as pension funds that pay cash instead of borrowing money. Many analysts have noted that there’s still strong demand for commercial real estate, particularly among foreign investors, and many don’t see any slowing of investor interest, particularly in retail and hotels.
As home-ownership trends are tied directly to income and interest rates, observers have noted that home buying was made unusually affordable in the past few years because of low interest rates and the popularity of mortgage-financing options such as interest-only loans. This trend has led to high demand, a lot of speculation and lots of new building.
However, when interest rates began to soar, it became much harder for individuals to afford or even to qualify for housing loans. This end result has produced a glut of homes and condos in many areas. While interest rates also affect commercial mortgages as well, cheap debt has been one major factor why there has been so many bidders on the commercial buildings sold over the past few years, which have pushed prices to record levels and yields to record lows as well.
The Office Markets May Be Slow, But The Retail Sector Is Booming
Some commercial market analysts note that they are seeing some softness in the office sales market, particularly in Broward County, where they aren’t well tenanted, but are seeing high demand in the retail sector, where grocery store-anchored centers are selling quickly as soon as developers finish them. Rental rates in the west Miami-Dade industrial markets] are down currently, however, the value of commercial properties has gone up, even in weak markets like today, as more investors prefer real estate more than equity markets, and have paid premium prices to be in this real estate market.
The real estate market continues to remain a cyclical industry notes industry analysts, and it is early in the office sector’s recovery. Those investors who paid really high prices for commercial buildings, especially those who funded these using floating-rate debt or interest-only loans in the early years, are hopeful on their optimistic growth projections to deliver.
To be exact, the office recovery is uneven in most markets, as longtime struggling office markets like the one in Dallas, Texas are improving despite high vacancy rates from previous overbuilding. Other areas like Cleveland and Detroit are also slightly improving, despite limited job growth.
Vanessa Arellano Doctor
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