What's Been Going On?

It's been entirely too long since we put up a roundup post. We've got a slew of retail and retail real estate links to share today. Some of these are a tad old--but still worth reading if you haven't seen them yet.

In particular, there have been a bunch of posts and stories recently talking about why now is--or is not--a great time to invest in real estate.

On Monday, we got Property Sales Get `Cash for Clunkers' Boost in Tax Uncertainty from Bloomberg. It talks about how tax uncertainty may prompt some owners of real estate to sell now--before any tax hikes come--rather than wait and get penalized later.

This was the exact opposite message of a story from November 9 on that proclaimed quite confidently, "Now is The Best Time to Purchase Commercial Real Estate In Decades."

In a similar vein, CoStar asked Have Commercial Real Estate Prices Bottomed Out? That, too, would make a case for why now might be a good time to buy commercial real estate.

This notion was further backed by a prediction from Jones Lang LaSalle that commercial property deal volume might grow by 40 percent in 2011. Research compiled by Retail Traffic, NREI and Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services also shows that investors are more bullish heading into next year.

Perhaps all of this points to why Commercial Real Estate Needs Better Data and Metrics--a point argued by's John Reeder.

The lesson--as always--is that it's dangerous business making blanket statements about the outlook for commercial real estate. A lot of what makes a particular deal work has to do with local conditions, not some macro outlook for the sector. I think Ron Altoon touched on some important themes in a recent interview I did with him.

The mindset that you can evaluate a deal simply by doing some balance sheet calculations misses that sometimes what can hurt you is what you can't see behind a building's walls. And the investors that win in the long run are the ones that not just make the right financial bets, but the ones that are also talented managers of real estate. Financial engineering isn't enough. Civil engineering is important too--as is architecture, construction, property management, leasing, etc.

There were also a bunch of stories over at Bloomberg Business Week as part of a special report entitled The Comeback of Commercial Real Estate. It's the most comprehensive attempt I've seen by that publication to cover our sector--perhaps a sign of the publication's continued evolution under new leadership. Perhaps the most interesting piece in the lot is Commercial Real Estate's Uneven Rebound, but many of the features are worth a look. In addition, the slideshow of America's Biggest Commercial Landlords was compiled in part from our own list of the Top 100 Managers of retail real estate as well as research from our sister publication NREI.

Aside from the flurry of reports about the investment outlook, there were other good pieces looking at retail and real estate.

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