As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, September 2009.
A few weeks back, Newsweek's now-infamous "The Recession is Over!" balloon cover found itself taped to the kitchen whiteboard in Scotsman Guide headquarters.
As most of us know, nothing ending in an exclamation point can be trusted. So of course, the cover sell was a bit of a ploy — designed to draw folks into its tagline-supported cover article on the unwieldy depth of our potential recovery while also screaming, "Please, please, please acknowledge our recent redesign."
But we didn't even need our employees' quips, supplied via dry-erase marker around the cover image, to let us know that the post-recession or rerecession will be kinda weird. After all, following the commercial real estate finance sector offers proof enough.
Back in June, Victor Calanog's Property TypeCast column — now celebrating its first anniversary with us (not to mention an American Society of Business Publications Editors silver medal for "best contributed column") — spelled out the dynamics of our downturn: What makes this spell especially troubling is the fact that while demand is near-dead, there's little potential for addressing the problem on the supply side. In the office and retail sectors the past four years, Calanog wrote, average annual completions were about half the total of the four years prior.
And still, demand is deteriorating on many levels. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Real Estate's commercial property-price index had its largest drop on record in the second quarter — despite an actual increase in the number of sales. In his column this month, Calanog also notes how multifamily vacancies and rents continue record-setting sourness. According to Colliers International, the industrial sector has witnessed similar vacancy highs and rent lows.
So what's actually recovering? A few things, in fits and starts. We look at one potential success story — Austin, Texas, whose multifamily-inventory-growth rate led the nation this spring — in this month's Spotlight feature.