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Building expected to recover next year

A McGraw-Hill Construction forecast projects the U.S. construction industry will start to recover in 2011. The value of new construction projects starting next year is predicted to rise $445.5 billion, which would be up 8 percent from the low this year.

Although single-family housing is the sector expected to see the largest rebound in 2011, commercial buildings such as offices, stores and warehouses should see a 16 percent gain next year after dropping 17 percent this year and 43 percent in 2009. Additionally, bconstruction-starts hit a 50-year lowb this year, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal, so naturally the recovery is expected to be slow.

Learn more about the McGraw-Hill Construction forecast here. For more information about commercial real estate, the changing workplace, marketplace and occupancy trends and more, join us on Facebook (Morris Southeast Group) and follow us on Twitter @KenMorrisBroker.

Image: ell brown on Flickr

Another index offers positive outlook

The Integra Realty Resources Commercial Property Index has indicated bsigns of improvementb in this yearbs third quarter, according to REIT.com.

The index shows multifamily properties gaining value during the third quarter, while projecting all other sectors, with the exception of retail, will remain the same or even show gains in the coming six months.

This just adds to the differing sources on price stats, but Integrabs COO thinks the index offers positive news for commercial real estate as well as the state of the economy as a whole.

He additionally points out that as businesses earn more money, these office tenants will need to plan ahead for growth.

Read more about the index here. To keep up with our updates on commercial real estate trends and the changing workplace, subscribe to receive our posts in your inbox by entering your email address in the box on the right-hand side of the page.

Image: xiquinhosilva on Flickr

Technology becomes obsolete more and more quickly

Obviously, old technology is a thing of the past. But does it seem to be fading away more quickly now than ever before? When it comes to technology, therebs always something better just around the corner, as Businessweek expounds on in this article.

Even seemingly new things like dash-mounted GPS systems, MP3 players and PDAs could be replaced extremely quickly by smartphones, which offer all these technologies and more in one simple device. So how do you know which technology to invest in and which will be obsolete much sooner than we ever imagined? Thatbs the challenge facing chief technology officers and others in business who make the technology-purchasing decisions for a company, big or small.

Let us know what your business is doing in light of this issue by leaving a comment. Do you try to keep up with the latest innovations, or do you keep on trudging by with the older versions? What influences these decisions?

Image: dusk-photography via Flickr

Sources differ on CRE price stats

Moodybs Investors Service and Green Street Advisors are offering commercial real estate price statistics that differ completely.

Moodybs indicated Tuesday that CRE prices nationwide decreased 3.3 percent in August, which still offers a bleak outlook since these prices for offices, apartments and shopping centers are down 45 percent from the peak in 2007.

But Green Street Advisors recently reported property values have increased by almost 30 percent since the lows of 2009.

Why the conflicting data? Both companies depend on price indexes they developed from within, according to the Dow Jones Newswires. Moodybs looks at sales of $2.5 million and up that have already closed, whereas Green Street Advisors looks at 47 REITs with assets of about $400 billion.

To learn more about the differing data, read this Dow Jones article posted by The Wall Street Journal, then be sure to let us know your thoughts. How do you think the price index should be measured?

Photo: citta-vita on flickr

Small business owners plan to hire

As webve mentioned before, high unemployment rates have really affected commercial real estate because with fewer jobs, fewer people have the need to go into the office. Fortunately, a little more than a quarter of small business owners plan to hire during the next six months, according the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor Survey. Ten percent of these will be hired as full-time workers.

Naturally, these small businesses cite finding new customers as their main goal, along with keeping up the customer service for their current clientele. How? By deepening relationships and offering greater value, especially through social media platforms.

Click here to read more about the survey results. For more information about commercial real estate trends, marketplace and occupancy trends, the changing workplace, innovations and technology and more, join us on Facebook (Morris Southeast Group) and Twitter @KenMorrisBroker.

Image: openforum.com

Tablet computers in the business world

Small businesses have been experimenting with—and embracing—Applebs iPad, which is drastically reducing the amount of paper they use. This seriously affects the business world, as American companies spent around $8 billion on paper in 2007, according to this Businessweek article—and that number doesnbt include the additional cost of ink and toner.

Business owners also think other features of the iPad—its larger screen size, ease of use and ability to be on all the time—could help with their business processes as well. But that all depends on if there will be an app for that.

Businessweek reports,

“In the long term, it [the success of the iPad as a small business tool] is going to be very dependent on the availability of apps,” says Dan Shey, an analyst with ABI Research, which forecasts trends in communications and emerging technology. “Some of these devices are going to be designed so they are specific to a worker’s task, almost like an appliance,” he adds.

Are you using an iPad for work? What do you think about how technology is changing the workplace?

Image: apple.com

REITs outperform other stocks

On average, Real Estate Investment Trusts did well in the third quarter—even better than the rest of the stock market for companies that own office buildings, apartment buildings and shopping malls—posting 12.5 percent gains, according to this Wall Street Journal article.

And some REITs did better than that. Douglas Emmett Inc., an office and apartment landlord in California, earned a 23.14 percent return measured by the Dow Jones All Equity REIT Index. Why are these REITs doing well as most of the commercial real estate industry struggles? They have a leg up acquiring property with easier access to capital. And now, especially in cities in need of development, companies that own commercial real estate are popular stocks for investors who prefer REITs.

Read the whole WSJ article, bREITs Draw Rebound Bets,b to learn more. What do you think about the REITsb stronger performances? Leave a comment to let us know.

Image: theproficientinvestor.com

Office market recovering?

Therebs a glimmer of hope for the office market, as new research from Reis Inc. shows office rents are starting to stabilize. In the past three months, average rents decreased by only a cent, which is the smallest decline since 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Nevertheless, signs do point to a very slow recovery. As unemployment has risen over the last couple of years, so has the available work space in office buildings. We also reported in August that office tenants are learning to get by with less space, a trend businesses are likely to continue. So even when companies start hiring again, they wonbt need additional space immediately.

Also slowing the recovery, a lot of commercial real estate debt will be due by the end of 2014. For more information, read the whole article from The WSJ. Then let us know what you think. Is a slow recovery on the way?

Graphic: Bloomberg for The Wall Street Journal

Artificial Intelligence for mobile devices

Webve talked a lot on this blog about smartphones, innovations and how technology is changing the workplace, but never about something quite thisb& well, futuristic-sounding. After all, bArtificial intelligence is going mobile,b Businessweek has declared in this article.

AI is expected to hit smartphones and tablets as these become increasingly prevalent and as faster wireless networks make AI apps more possible. As Businessweek reports,

“We are trying to reach that Star Trek dream,” says Mazin Gilbert, executive director of technical research at AT&T Labs. “We spent decades investing in this technology. If you can put AI with mobility, it reallybsignificantlybexpands the number of applications and services” you can provide, he says.

AI is already used in a few fields, such as banking to identify unusual transactions to detect fraud. But going mobile will be a whole new playing field. Just imagine how it will change the business world. What do you think? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Image: dailygalaxy.com

Lack of financing hasnbt stopped all construction

Even despite a dearth of financing for new construction, some developers remain optimistic.

Letbs not underestimate the lack of financing. As Anthony Westreich, chief executive of landlord Monday Properties, told The Wall Street Journal,

“It’s a bit of a cart-and-horse situation. You have tenants saying, ‘I don’t want to commit to a lease in your building until I know the financing is there,’ and lenders saying, ‘I don’t want to commit to financing your building until I know the tenants are there.’ “

Nevertheless, the halting of new construction could mean demand for newer buildings may be greater than the supply in the next few years. In addition, a few construction projects are moving forward, just not nearly as many as during the boom, as developers seek financing beyond the banks. Extell Development Co., for example, still hasnbt gotten a bank construction loan, but is moving forward on a building in Manhattan with a little help from partners in the Middle East.

To learn more, check out bHigh Hopes as Builders Bet on Skyscrapersb from The WSJ. What do you think of this situation? Webd love to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: Monday Properties via The Wall Street Journal

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