Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Charlotte's commercial real estate market is improving, newcomers are continuing to bring innovation and investors are starting to lend more, possibly in smaller markets such as Charlotte, a group of speakers told a crowd of about 300 real estate professionals Tuesday.
The relatively rosy outlook was shared by professionals at a commercial real estate market forecast held at Carmel Country Club and sponsored by the North Carolina chapter of CCIM. CCIM stands for Certified Commercial Investment Member, a designation awarded to individuals in the commercial and investment real estate industry.
Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner spoke about some of his concerns, including a worry about economic struggles occurring in Europe and China. Charlotte's economic growth has been driven in part by an increase in manufacturing, specifically exports, Vitner said. Europe and China buy much of the area's exports.
Vitner also said the retail industry remains weak because there has not been much growth in workers' incomes. He noted that many of the jobs that are being created, including those in home health care and retail trade, tend to be lower paying or offer part-time hours.
On a brighter note, Mike Ortlip, senior vice president at Grandbridge Capital, said more capital is flowing into the market. Insurance companies, in particular, are investing, he said. More of this money is expected to flow into secondary markets, such as Charlotte, he said.
The market for commercial real estate financing today, he said, is "pretty solid and it's getting better."
Veteran developer Johnny Harris, president of Lincoln Harris, was the Charlotte region's most enthusiastic cheerleader, highlighting the area's attributes with a slideshow titled: The Charlotte Region: Alive and Well.
"Things are getting better," Harris said. "It's over," he said of the economic doldrums that have plagued the real estate markets.
Among the proof: A rising number of building permits for non-residential construction in recent months, the continued migration of newcomers to the Charlotte area, and the strength of the Charlotte Douglas International airport, he said.
"The airport is the engine (for economic growth)," he said.
Perhaps the area's biggest challenge, he said, was the need to groom future leadership.
Charlotte's largest corporations once provided local leadership, he said. Now, he said, "the corporations are so large they don't let leaders take time in the community."
He urged attendees to stop to help others with their business endeavors and to provide support and leadership during rough times. He also made a nod to his own stumbles.
"I've had skinned knees. I've had a bank turn me down for a loan," he said. "You're going to get through this. (Charlotte) is the best place in the world."
Posted by Kerry Singe at 5:19 PM