Spring came when not only the trees started to bloom, but the real estate market as well. It appears the green shoots people in our industry saw a year ago have started to show some flowers in many locations. But, like the changing seasons, it happens at different times and speeds across various parts of North America.
The credit markets have thawed most of the way, but it may be getting more expensive to borrow as the “risk free rate” has been given a negative outlook by the rating agencies. Tenant demand is up in the places that were down the most but there is a long way back up the mountain to where it had been. The discussions at local chapter meetings are now about what is going well, not wrong, in the local market. There seems to be a general sense of optimism in the real estate markets this spring and I am happy to see it.
For NAIOP Corporate, things are also looking up. Membership drops are down and new memberships are up, both data points we all like to see. Sponsorships, while still difficult, are making a comeback as well. The Forums program continues to be a great success.
The question I hear most from people when they ask a question about NAIOP is, “How do I get on a Forum?” The Forums are education and networking, in the same room. At NAIOP, like in most of your businesses, it is the relationships that you build that ultimately pay off in the end.
As we continue to see strength, now is a great time to reinvest in the association. Many programs are being added back and the reception is very good from the chapters. A strong association should accompany a strong industry.
While the activity level and good cheer return, we must continue to be vigilant in protecting the interests of property developers and owners on the legislative and regulatory front. The threat of a carried-interest tax increase is back on the table in President Obama’s budget and has its proponents in the House and Senate. Property taxes have risen to excruciating levels and show no sign of letting up. Infrastructure spending and financing, which is critical for goods movement or employee and customer movement, is running dry of funds. Now is no time to let down our guard. As I’ve said many, many times — a good advocacy voice is critical to success in this area.
As we move further into the year, and what I expect to be deeper into economic and industry recovery, I urge you to extend your involvement in NAIOP. Attend a chapter meeting and plan to join your association colleagues in Scottsdale this October for the annual Development conference. You won’t find a better collection of industry knowledge, leaders and business connections than at the conference, and I look forward to seeing you there.