Looking Forward to 2017!

With the New Year upon us, I wanted to share with you two professional resolutions I will be pursuing in 2017.

Resolution #1 – Be an excellent noticer. In real estate, a great observer notices details while touring a property, taking a stroll downtown, and driving through a neighborhood that most don’t. They are able to identify trends in sales and leasing data, make interesting observations about government hearings and actions, and pick up clues and hints from public notices and news items. Piecing together these specific, and often seemingly unrelated, bits of information can yield meaningful insights about the market. How to get there? Spend time with observant people. Practice the habit of paying attention. Be present and fully engaged with the people and environment around you.

Resolution #2 – Intentionally seek out wisdom from experts and those with different perspectives. Why? Because no matter how great I get at noticing, I’ll always be limited to what I can see with my own two eyes. Let’s say the market is a mountain and that I can only see my little part of it. I could study my area endlessly, draw a detailed map with every trail and every tree marked, and know the terrain better than anyone else in the world, but I’ll never be able see the whole mountain. If I want to see the full picture, I’m definitely going to need some help from someone with a different vantage point. If you find a wise guide willing to give of their knowledge and time, be curious, ask questions, listen earnestly, and show them gratitude.

Not wanting to miss this chance to get a head start on my New Year’s resolutions, I sought out the wisdom and perspective of a few local folks with expertise and experience in commercial real estate to find out what they are keeping an eye on for next year. No one has a crystal ball, but it’s always beneficial to be aware of what is on the minds of industry experts. I asked both of them, “What trends and developments are you watching that could have a significant impact on the local commercial real estate market in 2017?” Their responses are included below and offer several items to contemplate in the upcoming year.

Norman Moon, First Vice President, Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer – “Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind will be results of the 2016 year elections and the impact that new policy directions could have on taxation and environmental policy changes, which could have an impact on new development projects. Change always bring uncertainty, and with large scale and long term investments like office buildings, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities, uncertainty can cloud decision making, which is never good for the market. However, we have a number of positives in our economy, and Lynchburg has traditionally weathered things well due to its diverse economic base. I think that continuing to ensure we have economic diversity, both in the size and types of industry that we have, is critical. Locally, I think many involved in commercial real estate are keeping an eye on larger private employers who are located in the Lynchburg market; with so many of these companies being controlled in other states, or even other countries, maintaining or increasing staffing within the Lynchburg area will have a major impact on the market. The construction of the Odd Fellows Road interchange will have a positive impact and will provide long overdue connectivity to a key area of our city.”

Luke Towles, Market President, Wells Fargo – “When I think about a key area of focus for 2017, I will be interested in seeing how Consumer Confidence progresses. Over the course of the last few years, confidence has solidified because the overall job market has improved and housing has stabilized. Ultimately, the consumer is the primary driver of the direction of our overall economy. Certainly, there are many factors at play, such as: Am I secure in my current job? Is the value of my home stable? Do I have adequate savings, money for my children to go to college, retirement? Am I confident in the current direction of the economy?

Locally, confident consumers will build new homes, eat out more frequently and visit other retail establishments more often. Evidence of this confidence will lead to continued investment in the revitalization of downtown Lynchburg, commitments from anchor tenants in the region’s commercial developments and additional residential and commercial development. A confident consumer bolsters the value of commercial real estate for the Lynchburg region.”

by Billy Hansen