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Quoted rents were up by almost 4%, reflecting the strong conditions in this market for the last several years. Employment growth has been particularly robust in this market since 2003. Office employment was increased by 3% in both 2004 and 2005 and by 4% in 2003. In fact, the level of office employment continued to grow right throughout the national recession of 2000/2001.

This sustained employment growth in D.C. over the past five years has encouraged developers to continue providing new space even as the national recession and the slow growth that followed discouraged commercial construction in other metro areas, including New York City.

As a result, the Washington, D.C. market has a bountiful flow of new construction. In 2005, about 7 million sq ft was supplied in the entire metro area. Consequently, even though nearly 12 million sq ft was absorbed, the overall vacancy rate declined by only a little over one percentage point.

Looking ahead, it is expected that around 11 million sq ft of new office space will be delivered to this market over the next two years. Employment growth is likely to remain strong in the D.C. metro area, but the current employment forecast for this market is for growth that can absorb 10 million sq ft to 12 million sq ft. Therefore, the supply/demand balance will not tip in either direction.

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Boston, Philadelphia and the Northern New Jersey markets all improved in 2005. However, the vacancy rate in each of these three markets is at or above the national average. Even though Boston has an impressive array of high-tech companies, overall employment growth has been modest. Several major companies headquartered in this city have been acquired by firms located outside the region, putting a damper on employment growth.

Sections of the Philadelphia and Northern New Jersey markets enjoy strong employment growth and demand for office space. For example, the sub-markets along Philadelphia’s Main Line – west of Center City – have continued to perform well. In Northern New Jersey, the development along the Hudson River continues to attract the attention of major tenants.

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New home sales on the urban periphery create demand for shopping centers to serve the new households at the same time that urban centers appear to be getting stronger across the globe. In the past decade, housing growth in and around central business districts has generated demand for shop space of all types. Independents and small chain outlets are well suited to these markets, but traditional big-box retailers are modifying their standard store dimensions and features to establish beachheads. Their strategies include smaller footprints, multiple stories, structured parking, carefully targeted merchandise, designs that are sensitive to the existing streetscape, and participation in mixed-use projects, which can affect investor demand depending on how the projects are laid out.

Besides expanding across the globe and into densely developed neighborhoods, major retailers are courting ethnic households. Perth property valuation companies this growth strategy includes establishing outlets in trade areas with a high percentage of ethnic shoppers and tailoring merchandise selection and services to meet their tastes. In downtown Los Angeles, for example, Hispanic shoppers throng the sidewalks, allowing landlords to charge some of the highest front-foot rents in the world.

In the late 1990s, common wisdom suggested that online retail sales would rather quickly decimate store sales. Analysts made and lost reputations besting each other on how quickly merchandise showrooms and fulfilment centres would replace shopping centres. This, along with perpetual competition among retailers, drove shopping centres to the bottom of investors’ buy lists.

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For most of the post-World War II period, the demand for office space and the development of that space was synonymous with Atlanta. Since 2000, this pattern has changed as the industrial base of the Southeast has been driven out of the US. During the last four years, Atlanta’s office market has tended to lag behind overall national performance.

The vacancy rate in this market is still close to 14%. Over the next two years, conditions should continue to improve, with the demand for space falling in the range of 6 million sq ft to 7.5 million sq ft, and supply of new space equalling about 4 million sq ft.The focus in this region of the country has shifted to Florida, in particular the South and Central Florida markets.Employment growth has been strong in these markets for a variety of reasons. The Latin American economies have improved, and this section of the US has close commercial ties with Latin America. In addition, the stream of people and companies from the northern sections of the US is creating a major need for business services that require office space.

Orlando, in Central Florida, has evolved into a diverse economy with an impressive mix of industries. While known as a venue for entertainment services, a variety of manufacturing, distribution and high-tech companies have relocated into the region.Until 2005, employment growth in both Dallas and Houston had lagged behind the national average since 2000. This is in sharp contrast to their performance in the 1990s.

During that decade, the Southwest regional markets in Texas and Arizona prospered. Employment growth in Dallas, Houston and Phoenix were nearly double the national average for some years. The surging investment in the high-tech telecom industry located in Dallas and the concentration of the energy business into Houston contributed to the rapid growth in these two Texan metropolises. Phoenix benefited from a massive influx of people and businesses from California and other parts of the US.

Few barriers inhibit property development in these metropolitan areas property valuations services and this ease of development nearly always casts an actual or potential shadow over these property markets. Excessive office development in all three markets during the late 1990s has somewhat chastened lenders and even developers in the Texas markets. Steady employment growth in Phoenix has prompted developers to keep up the pace of office development; consequently, while the respective economies are doing much better, improvements in the office property markets are not proceeding quickly.

Low business and living costs, robust energy markets, stronger high-tech capital spending and strong population growth have finally revived these regional economies.

By the end of 2007, office employment growth is expected to lead to the absorption of nearly 8 million sq ft in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area, but new supply of space will approach 5 million sq ft. The balance is more favorable in Houston, where only about 2 million sq ft of new space will be added, while demand will be close to 7 million sq ft. In Phoenix, though, in excess of 8 million sq ft of office space will be added over the next two years and demand will equal about 7 million sq ft.

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The retail property market is at the top of its game in terms of both leasing and investment. Consumers have carried not only the retail market, but the entire economy through the recession of 2001 and the jobless recovery of 2002 and 2003.Atlanta tops the list of retail markets that are likely to generate the strongest investment returns over the next five years, thanks to a rapidly growing household base. With the exception of Washington, DC, eight of the remaining markets in the top 10 list are in the West or Southwest (including Texas), indicating the importance of dynamic population growth to retailers.

Retail sales in Canada grew modestly in 2003 providing support for the retail property sector. Enclosed malls continued their strong performance in major cities; in secondary provincial markets, they have to work harder to retain tenants, particularly in communities with new power center developments. Street- front retail is experiencing a resurgence in shopper popularity and tenant demand, pushing up rental rates on premier fashion streets, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. Demand for retail investment product remains strong among retail-focused institutional funds for the higher-valued property and among private investors for the moderate-valued assets. Capitalization rates range from 8.0 percent in primary markets to 11.5 percent in secondary ones, with yields lower on high-end fashion streets.

Mexico’s retail construction volume remained strong in 2003, a pattern encouraged by relatively tight occupancy levels, which hovered around 5 percent or less during the last half of the year. Base rents remained steady. Trends include escalating land prices with a growing number of land leases and partnering arrangements. Large, older and often empty boxes have become attractive to call centers. In South America, a lackluster economy and high interest rates, particularly in Brazil, will subdue development in 2004. But large US retailers continue to target South America for expansion in the right locations. The influx of retail giants like Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Home Depot and Starbucks will persist. In addition, fast food chains, clothiers and convenience stores are maintaining a steady stream of activity in the region.

Low interest rates and sustained household consumption growth have maintained strong demand for retail space during 2003 and consequently rental levels have moderately increased in some European markets. Although consumer expenditure growth has slowed significantly, the retail sector has continued to out-perform both office and industrial sectors.

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Central and Eastern European markets remain very attractive. Similarly Spain and Portugal where rents are lower than other European countries, or Italy and Greece where retail warehouses are still limited and shopping centres are still relatively recent. The Czech Republic and Poland offer good opportunities in 2004 due to the benefits of entering the EU which include the elimination of some barriers to entry and currency risk. In addition, the Moscow market continues to develop and, with incomes constantly growing, opportunities to develop shopping centers are likely to increase.

Two projections have been made for 2004. Firstly, overall market strength as a retail center has been measured and secondly, retail rental projections have been evaluated.

The top fifteen centers in relation to overall retail strength in 2004 are: Dublin, London, Milan, Prague, Leeds, Amsterdam, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Paris, Madrid, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle. of property valuation services A number of smaller or non-traditional cities are included in this list due to their rental growth potential for next year and the health of their current market. These projections ignore the physical size of the retail economy but rather focus on the strength and potential of the retail economy for 2004. Many of Europe’s top retail cities are projected to show no rental growth in 2004.

Property valuers provide such crucial services top ten projected rental growth cities for 2004 are as follows: Dublin (10 percent), Milan, Paris, Lisbon, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Madrid, Birmingham and Cardiff. Other centres that have flat or zero growth projections for 2004 include: London, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Prague.

This period of low or flat rental growth for 2004 illustrates an industry-wide stabilization period in reaction to global and more local economic conditions and influences. However, the European retail market as a property asset continues to perform very well in the current uncertain times, both in terms of investment and future growth potential.

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The retail sector has proved the most resilient in terms of performance across Asia in 2003, and as a consequence no rental decline is forecast in any Asian cities.In Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, where more than 50 percent of the population lives outside urbanized areas, new retail formats such as discount retailing or hypermarkets have been increasingly developed and have attracted investment interest.Australia has recently passed the peak of a fairly strong growth cycle in retail spending driven by low interest rates, higher wealth (off the back of rapidly rising house prices), and low unemployment. While the outlook for the economy remains positive over the next three years, some moderation of retail spending is likely, particularly amongst the household goods and discretionary spending categories.

Australia has a fairly mature shopping center sector which has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years. Consequently, a wide variation in the performance of individual centers at a local level is evident.Rents remain high in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore where there is a finite amount of retail space available. Mumbai and New Delhi offer value for money as rates are still comparatively low and there is a large, increasingly affluent resident consumer population.Knight Frank’s top ten strongest retail markets for 2004 in Asia Pacific include: Kuala Lumpur, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Delhi, Bangkok, Shanghai and Sydney.


Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane offer excellent opportunities as retail locations in 2004 even though rental growth is projected to be lower than in other cities. The top performers with respect to rental growth in 2004 are Hong Kong (10 percent), Mumbai (10 percent), Kuala Lumpur (8 percent) and Delhi (7 percent). Brisbane, Perth, Tokyo and Singapore are expected to see growth of 5 percent.Rental growth of 4 percent is expected in some of Australia’s most established retail markets such as Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.No rental growth has been identified in Bangkok. Although the overall economy is improving (led by domestic demand), there will be a sizeable influx of new prime space into the market next year. This will dampen rental growth prospects.

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South African retailing is the strongest in the sub-Saharan continent and continues to offer excellent potential to retailers interested in an African presence. South Africa also tends to be the traditional first port of call for foreign retailers entering the market.The construction of five shopping centers within one year in Gaborone, providing approximately 85,000 sq m of new retail space, is likely to prove excessive for a small city. Concerns of traffic congestion and fears over security in the CBD have also led retailers to move to suburban shopping centres in Nairobi.

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Kampala, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Blantyre are all expected to experience retail rental growth rates of between 2 percent to 10 percent in 2004. These markets are generally safer and better established with respect to retail and also presently carry lower investment risk market value of the property.

Lusaka and Harare will see no rental growth for the next year. Demand for retail space and the current lack of supply in some African markets maintains relatively low vacancy rates across the main African shopping centers although little speculative development has occurred as the risks involved in investment are considered to be high. Africa generally offers higher yields to the investor who accepts certain risks which are associated with investing in non-traditional markets.

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Unlike the commercial market, the residential sector is in the national consciousness in many countries around the world. There are as many forecasts as there are people minded to express them and over- reporting leads to a good supply of information and opinion which ironically leaves investors often none the wiser. In many countries, the importance of residential stock has been exacerbated by shortages in supply and rising prices which support the ongoing emergence of residential property as a mainstream investment asset class for both private and institutional investors. The fortunes of the residential sector are now inextricably viewed as a barometric measure of economic prosperity in many territories.

With the exception of some of the troubled economies of Asia and the emerging markets of Africa, nearly all residential markets have seen significant price enhancement over the past one to two years. In the US and the UK, forecasts of collapse have proved unfounded and the market continues to move steadily forward. Inevitably, a combination of factors has conspired to produce generally strong performance.

Real estate market values multi-housing (apartment) investment market is most sophisticated in the United States due both to the cultural landscape and the ample supply of large-scale apartment properties that are attractive to institutional investors. But there is a growing appetite among investors in other parts of the world for apartment assets.

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Low interest rates have fostered an unprecedented growth in residential borrowing in many markets. Supply shortages, compounded by land-use planning inefficiencies, have created premium pricing in many key markets and sectors. The growing perception that residential assets may provide a solid, annuity-style product to fund retirement in an increasingly uncertain investment environment is also relevant in many locations with multiple property ownership rising sharply.

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The multiplier effects of the residential market are both obvious and important. Equity withdrawal from appreciated assets is running at record levels in many western markets and this has underpinned a strong consumer economy. Indeed, a strong housing sector has arguably kept a number of economies out of recession and lessened the economic and social impact in those locations which have moved into economic contraction.