US Sunbelt Economies ''Set to Improve''

Locations in the US sunbelt are expected to outperform other US destinations in terms of economic growth and their real estate markets over the next six to 12 months...

Locations in the US sunbelt - which covers Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa and West Palm Beach - are expected to outperform other US destinations in terms of economic growth and their real estate markets over the next six to 12 months. Jones Lang LaSalle highlighted the region in a new report, with senior vice-president of research at the firm John Sikaitis stating the majority of these places are "undergoing a resurgence and poised for dramatic changes in 2012 and beyond".

Those looking for real estate investment opportunities in the US would be advised to consider office properties, as the organisation revealed the sunbelt markets have seen vacancy rates decline significantly, while rent and concession levels are getting closer to bottoming out. Stronger employment figures, a positive shift in migration and stabilisation in the housing sector have all contributed to a more upbeat outlook for this asset class in 2012. Mr Sikaitis described the sunbelt office markets as "more sustainable and diverse" than they were before the economic troubles began in 2007, and as a result they have "the potential to surpass the rest of the country".

However, he did caution that investors should not expect an immediate turnaround. "Even with these positive shifts, most of these geographies are two to three years away from returning to pre-2007 levels; so, while we are upbeat about the recovery for these markets, we remain realistic and guarded in the fact that we are not yet back to 2006 territory and likely will not be until the 2014-15 timeframe," Mr Sikaitis concluded.

It isn't only the sunbelt locations that have seen their office sectors improve over the course of 2011, with a CB Richard Ellis report published earlier this month noting almost two-thirds of the US's office markets experienced an annual decline in vacancy rates by the end of last year. San Francisco and Seattle were cited as being particularly robust, due to their strong links to technology businesses, which have continued to do well throughout the economic downturn.

- Monday 19 March 2012

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