Survey: Most Don’t Expect Industry to Bounce Back Until ’10

When will it end? That is the question on everyone’s lips, but answers have been slow to emerge. However, it seems investors, brokers and owners anticipate another year of slumping sales before recovery is at hand, according to a new survey from online real estate market LoopNet. LoopNet oversaw the survey of more than 1,500 LoopNet members–including commercial real estate investors, brokers and owners–conducted from May 7 through May 21. Key findings include the fact that only one-third of respondents expect commercial real estate sales transaction activity to recover this year. About 42 percent of respondents, meanwhile, see a recovery in 2010, while, “A significant contingency, about one-quarter, don’t think the recovery will come until 2011 or later,” Mike Manning, LoopNet’s vice president of marketing, told CPN. Nearly half–46 percent–of respondents named access to capital as the most significant obstacle to transaction volume picking back up, Manning said. “That continues to be a significant driver in stalling transactions,” he noted. Economic uncertainty, which in turn significantly influences asset pricing, was the second most cited obstacle, at 29 percent of respondents, he added. Close to a quarter–23 percent–of respondents explicitly cited differences in pricing expectations between buyers and sellers as the most important obstacle.On the pricing side, two-thirds of respondents expect that price declines of 10 percent or more from today’s prices will be required to restart the market, with 37 percent of respondents predicting 10 to 20 percent declines and 30 percent predicting declines north of 30 percent, Manning said. “As a group, owners are more optimistic–both in terms of recovery timing and expected price declines–than are investors and brokers,” Manning said. “The glass is half-full. It is encouraging to see that many people believe the market will recover by 2010.” For the present, Manning noted that, while transaction volumes have faded, deals have not dried up completely. And looking ahead, LoopNet believes demand-side activity from interested buyers may start to increase at least six months before transaction volumes start to re-accelerate, according to company information.