Commercial real estate headed for slowdown

NAR: Declines in office jobs, industrial production takes toll

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Although fundamentals are sound, activity in commercial real estate markets is expected to ease in the months ahead, according to a forward-looking index for the commercial real estate sectors published by the National Association of Realtors. The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity edged down 0.7 percent to an index of 119 in the first quarter from a downwardly revised reading of 119.9 in the fourth quarter, and is 0.8 percent below the first quarter of 2007 when it stood at 120. This is the third consecutive quarterly dip since reaching a record of 120.5 in the second quarter of 2007. Before that, the index showed generally positive expansion from the middle of 2003; NAR's track of the index dates back to 1990. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects somewhat diminished business opportunities for commercial real estate practitioners in the months ahead. "The moderate erosion in the index suggests that commercial activity, as measured by net ab...