New Real Estate Forecast Is Ready

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Great Lakes Edition of the 2004 Real Estate Forecast will be available starting Wednesday from Grubb & Ellis/Paramount, a local commercial real estate firm.

    This year marks the sixth consecutive year that Grubb & Ellis/Paramount has released an annual forecast, which covers eight markets including West Michigan. In it, projections are made for the office, retail, industrial and investment markets in each region, and an overview of the entire Great Lakes region also is provided.

    “The core of our business is in tracking the market, understanding its changes and predicting its growth. The 2004 Real Estate Forecast reveals what to anticipate in the months ahead, as a result of our research,” said Duke Suwyn, president and CEO of Grubb & Ellis/Paramount.

    Suwyn said the guide was useful for business and industry leaders, developers, investors, and bank and corporate real estate executives.

    The 44-page forecast is free, but copies must be reserved by calling the firm at (616) 774-3500 or by e-mailing starting Wednesday.

    As far as national real estate trends are concerned, the Grubb & Ellis research department in New York reported that the nation’s office market was showing some signs of life. Net absorption has been positive for the past two quarters across the country and the vacancy rate has stabilized at roughly 17.6 percent.

    The report projects that leasing activity should pick up later this year, but a recovery will be inhibited on the supply side due to bloated inventories on the demand side. Tenants are likely to have leverage in negotiations through 2005, as they have had the past few years.

    “A sluggish recovery and rising interest rates may reduce investor appetites for office properties,” wrote Robert Bach, Grubb & Ellis national director of market analysis.

    On the industrial side, the report said the market is stirring, but would take a more robust economy to fuel a recovery. Net absorption has been low, but positive, for the past five quarters and the vacancy rate fell slightly to drop below 10 percent nationally.

    “Economic indicators important to the industrial market are beginning to flash green,” wrote Bach last fall, “which should tilt the market toward a stronger performance in the second half of this year and into 2004.”

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