S&P/GRA Indices Show CRE Slippage

Standard & Poor's released the February results for its S&P/GRA Commercial Real Estate Indices, showing the rate of increase to be down slightly. The indices measure the change in commercial real estate prices by property sector and geographic region in the U.S.

The indices comprise 10 commercial real estate indices - a national composite, five geographic regions and four national property sectors.

The national composite reported an annual price appreciation of 5.5% vs. February of 2007, down from the 7% reported in January's data. This remains significantly lower than this cycle's peak of 14.5%, reported in June 2006. The five regions reported mixed results. Two of the regions reported positive monthly returns while three regions reported negative returns.

The national composite was also negative, down 1% in February vs. January. After reporting the highest return in the January/December period, the Northeast reported the largest price decline in the February/January period, down 2.4%.

The region that performed the best during the February/January period was the Mid Atlantic South at 1.1%. Over the past 12 months, the Pacific West has the highest return of 9.4%, at least double the return of any other region over the one-year period.

In the property sector, retail reported the biggest gain for the one-month period and warehouses continued to report the highest 12-month return. Retail was the only sector to have a positive return in the February/January period, at 0.8%. Office reported the largest monthly decline at 1.9%, and has the lowest return over the past 12 months at 3.8%.

"Overall, the results for commercial real estate was mixed for the month. The national index was slightly negative, returning -1%. The sectors and regions of the market that performed the best for the month are ones that have been relative laggards over the past 12 months," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's.

"In the property sector retail was the star performer during the February/January period, up 0.8%, while the region that performed the best was the Mid-Atlantic South, up 1.1%. Over the past 12 months, warehouse and the Pacific West have been the strongest performers, with annual growth rates of 8.6% and 9.4%, respectively."

Mr. Blitzer added that S&P will keep tabs on the apartment sector for the next few months, as the company has observed what could prove to be a turnaround in this sector.

"Their annual growth rate is currently registering 6.7%, off of a recent low of -3.5%, reported in June of 2007," he said.

The S&P/GRA Commercial Real Estate Indices are published on the second to last Tuesday of each month and are calculated to reflect underlying real estate and capital market fundamentals by measuring the change in commercial real estate prices by property sector and geographic region.

The indices are maintained and published under agreements between S&P and GRA/Charles Schwab Investment Management.

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