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VOL. 126 | NO. 21 | Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Summit to Provide Insights for CRE Market

By Sarah Baker

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Commercial real estate professionals will soon have the opportunity to gain insight on local and national issues that have an effect on Memphis business.

The eighth annual Commercial Property Forecast Summit, presented by the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council, will provide reviews and forecasts of four local commercial real estate sectors.

The summit will be held Feb. 9 at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre, 1801 Exeter Road.

A continental breakfast will take place at 8 a.m., and the program will start at 8:30 a.m.

The summit’s keynote presenter is Mark Dotzour, chief economist and director of research for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Dotzour – a renowned expert in how global and national trends impact residential and commercial real estate – spoke at last year’s forecast summit, detailing the travails of the commercial market during the past two years and the pitfalls that remain before the market gets back on track.

“Last year, he did a great job talking and was very entertaining,” said Ron Riley, president of the MAAR Commercial Council. “What will be interesting this year is for him to pick up where he left off, kind of a continuation to see where he thinks the economy is headed from his perspective.”

The combination of a national expert and well-respected local presenters will provide the audience with a complete view of the market, said Nick Clark of Clark & Clark and 2011 summit chairman.

“The summit is the premier commercial real estate event of the year,” Clark said. “In our industry, timely perspective is essential to doing business.”

Other speakers (and their topics) include: Jason Polley, managing leasing director at StoneCrest Investments LLC (retail); Brad Murchison, senior associate with CB Richard Ellis Memphis (industrial); John Mercer, Highwoods Properties Inc.’s director of leasing (office); and Steve Woodyard of Woodyard Realty Corp. (multifamily).

Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, will offer a local economic development update.

The outlook for 2011 must be kept in perspective, said Mercer, who will be outlining last year’s office sector highlights from transactions to vacancy levels to rental rates to construction.

“What side of the table are you on – are you the landlord or are you the tenant?” Mercer said.

“Each lease is like each hand of poker – it’s going to change. You might be dealt a lousy hand but you might have a bunch of chips in front of you, so you let that hand go and wait for the next one.”

The fourth quarter of 2010 saw a negative 63,000 square feet absorption in the East Memphis market, but Mercer said it’s important to note there’s much more to the numbers than meets the eye.

“It’s going to be competitive, each deal should stand alone on its own merit,” Mercer said.

“I think a mistake can be made when you make these big generalizations. Highwoods may look at a deal differently than Boyle or someone else, where one landlord may need that deal to make the building cash flow, whereas another landlord, that’s well-balanced.”

Advance registration is required for attendance.

The cost is $40 for MAAR Commercial Council members and $60 for the general public. For more information, visit www.maar.org/commercialsummit.

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