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By Larry Anweiler, ABD, Full-Time Faculty, Kaplan
University Published March 2015
past few years we have all heard that the market is in recovery. Proponents of this
position continually point at the financial markets and in particular the Dow
Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) as the supporting proof of their claim. However
if we look below the surface we find several indicators that do not support the
promising picture being offered to the public. A better indication may be
commercial real estate vacancy as these indicators better explain the current
recovery or lack of recovery dependent on your viewpoint.
people do not realize is that the DJIA is a composite of 30 of America’s
largest corporations. Some companies included in the index include Caterpillar
Inc., Coca-Cola, McDonald’s Corp, and Microsoft. These companies no longer
restrict their business within U.S borders, but have extensive operations worldwide
including extensive manufacturing operations overseas. Additionally, today
these companies report the majority of their income from sales outside the
country. This could explain the reason for the jobless recovery as these
companies move their manufacturing facilities outside the United States to take
advantage of less expensive work forces and shipping charges. Also important to
note is that these corporations do not employ the majority of America’s work
force. Most Americans are employed by small and midsized companies doing
business within the United States.
of the real estate market starting in 2007 resulted in restricted capital
investment in America’s small business and medium sized companies that were
weakest financially. This loss of active business enterprises caused
unemployment opportunities to decrease, and Commercial Real Estate (CRE)
vacancies to increase in local and national markets, as small business owners
shuttered their doors due to restricted capital resources and lower customer
traditional CRE market 5–7% vacancy in considered to be a healthy market. This
allows enough inventory for new businesses to find suitable space and does not
allow landlords to push up rents drastically. Vacancy rates below 5% usually
indicate increased rents but also spurs investment in new CRE building as
returns increase for owners. Vacancy rates above 10% indicate excess CRE
inventory and force owners who wish to maintain full properties to reduce
rents. Value of buildings in these markets declines, which restrict capital
investment in new projects, as investors are unwilling to invest in projects
that may remain empty.
business owners are slow in replacing current vacant space. This may be due to
a lack of available capital for new business formation, or a persistent concern
over new government demands on employers and higher tax liabilities. As
reported by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group, Inc. in a report dated April 8,
2014, CRE vacancy rates among all categories remained above the 10% level for
all major CRE groups. In this report, office vacancy for the first quarter of
2014 was reported at 14.8%; industrial came in at 11.1%; and retail vacancies
were reported at 11.9% nationally.
vacancy rates will prove to be a better indication as to the overall health of
the U.S. economy. It will give more insight into true employment opportunities
as new business forms and will also indicate new business owner’s willingness
to invest within current market conditions. CRE vacancy rates should also prove
to be a sound leading indicator for those wishing to invest in CRE development
or new business formation.
Larry Anweiler is a full-time
faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
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