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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion Real Estate Forecast Audience Told to Expect a Good Year in Local Real Estate Market

By Brendan O'Hallarn

An audience of 600 with ties to the Hampton Roads real estate market heard about a good 2015, and the forecast of a better 2016, during Old Dominion University's 2016 Hampton Roads Market Review & Forecast.

The annual event, hosted for the past 21 years by the Strome College of Business' E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate, gives detailed snapshots about different sectors of the real estate market, produced by local leaders in commercial, residential, industrial and other market divisions.

Greeting the crowd Wednesday in the Constant Center's Big Blue Room, Dean Jeff Tanner of the Strome College of Business said he had looked forward to the event since arriving at Old Dominion University last May.

"This is a great example of engaging with the community, something that we in the Strome College aspire to do, adding expertise and value to the local business community," Tanner said.

New E.V. Williams Center director Andy Hansz, professor of finance at Old Dominion, presented a "sentiment survey" of the local real estate market, something he has started doing twice per year since arriving at the University in 2015.

The findings of the winter 2016 sentiment survey align with the findings of other presenters at the event - after a few tough years, the local real estate market is rebounding strongly.

The sentiment survey also included questions asked about sea level rise and its effect on stakeholders' confidence in the local real estate market. Hansz said more than half of respondents were either somewhat or very concerned about rising sea levels as an issue that can negatively affect the local real estate industry. "That is definitely something worth keeping an eye on," Hansz said.

Overall, the local real estate forecast suggests each sector of the local marketplace will grow more rapidly than the local economy as a whole, which was predicted in January by Old Dominion's Economic Forecasting Team to grow at 1.59 percent in 2016.

Van Rose, president of Rose & Womble Realty, who has presented the residential market report every year since the Market Review & Forecast began, used the Field of Dreams analogy "if you build it, they will come" to describe the market for new homes. Rose noted the time new homes remain on the market has dropped significantly in the past two years.

"Any time you move below five months of a home being on the market, the market moves from a buyer's market to a seller's market," Rose said. Currently, new homes are on the market for less than two months as a median wait time before being sold. Rose added similar reductions in inventory are poised to make prices rise on the home resale market.

Other sectors of the real estate economy are poised to have a good year, particularly the multi-family home market (condos and apartments). Wendy Drucker, managing director of Drucker & Falk Real Estate, called it the "darling" of the local real estate market.

The 2016 event featured two new presentations:

Chip Filer, associate professor of economics and a member of the Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Project, led a discussion of macroeconomic trends that are affecting the Hampton Roads economy. And Jeremy Starkey, president of commercial real estate financing with Monarch Bank, led a session on financing, which is far more complex since controls on lending were put in place following the worldwide real estate collapse of 2007-08.

Other presenters included John Profilet, vice president with S.L. Nusbaum, about the office market; Bill Throne, first vice president for industrial properties with Cushman & Wakefield/THALHIMER, addressing the industrial market; Michael Gurley, senior vice president and director of leasing with S.L. Nusbaum, on the retail market; and Scott Adams, regional president for the mid-south region with CBRE, addressing the investment market.

For more information about the 2016 Hampton Roads Market Review & Forecast, or to order a copy of the report, contact the E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate.