INDUSTRY NEWS & NOTES
COSTAR REPORT INDICATES
STABLE OFFICE MARkETS
Fundamentals in U.S. office markets appear to have stabilized and are headed toward recovery, according to a mid-year report by CoStar Group, a real estate research firm
based in Bethesda, Md. The group’s State of the U.S. Office
Market: Mid-Year 2010 Review & Forecast, confirmed that
office vacancy rates are no longer rising, and positive net
absorption (the net change in occupied space over a given
period of time) is occurring in many markets.
Of the 20 largest office markets, CoStar says eight
posted positive net absorption so far this year, three had
little or no change and nine posted negative net absorption. Leading the way in the absorption of office space was
metropolitan Washington, D.C. (which includes Northern
Virginia) with 2 million square feet of net absorption.
Two economic trends are helping office markets
rebound, CoStar said. First, there’s little new inventory in
the pipeline, with construction starts at historically low
levels. Second, despite high unemployment levels, there
has been some growth in the office sector with professional and business service firms and the government
Visit www.costar.com to view the report.
Small businesses See
Slow Gains in Credit
Current economic conditions for small businesses are a
little less dire than they were in 2009, according to officials and business leaders who gathered at the Federal
Reserve for a one-day conference in July.
According to the Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officer
Opinion Survey, bank lending standards for small businesses lessened in the first quarter of 2010. But despite
these recent survey results, weak demand from businesses and the strict credit rules that made lending
standards tight among the local banks in 2008 and 1009
are continuing. Similar results were found in a survey by
the National Federation of Independent Business. Loans
outstanding to small businesses have declined to less
than $670 billion in the first quarter of 2010, from about
$710 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
The July conference was the culmination of a fact-finding mission by the Federal Reserve to identify how to
improve credit for small firms. Leading up to the conference, officials hosted more than 40 meetings around the
country with small businesses, bankers and community
leaders to identify obstacles to obtaining credit.
HOUSE PASSES FLOOD
INSURANCE REFORM BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a flood
insurance reform bill that would reauthorize the National
Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to Sept. 30, 2015. The
authority was allowed to expire twice in the past two
years while Congress approved eight short-term extensions, resulting in multi-week delays, if not cancellation,
of thousands of real estate transactions. The new reform
bill authorizes a much longer term commitment, which
will eliminate the delays of the previous stop-gap measures. At press time the bill was heading to the Senate.