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Bisnow 2nd Annual Real Estate Summit, Ritz Carlton, Charlotte NC, August 3, 2012

Charlotte’s top real estate figures discussed the state and direction of the real estate market today at the Ritz Carlton Uptown. Representatives from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Reznick, Grandbridge, Goldman Sachs, Grubb Properties, Childress Klein, Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, and Federal Capital Partners all took the stage to offer their insight. Andrea Howard with Grubb Properties remains optimistic about multifamily for the next decade. She indicated we continue to experience negative net completions when you factor in obsolescence and tear downs; transaction volume also remains strong. Just last week Circle South End traded to Post Properties for the highest price per unit for garden product in Charlotte history: $205,000 per unit, $74,000,000 total transaction value, sub 5% cap rate. Demographics (especially relating to the echo boomers), domestic population in-migration, historic undersupply, job security, and declining homeownership are all factors contributing to the increased demand for rental housing – even in a period of little job growth. Jim Merrifield pointed out that single family starts in Mecklenburg County are down from 12,000 permits per year to 2,600 but improving. He also noted sale prices among new homes are 60% of the pre-recession average.

Tony Perez with Bank of America cited the bundling of work and policies providing flexible work options as contributing factors to decreased expenses and changing space needs at BoA. He and Bob Bertges, Wells Fargo Corporate Properties Group, both emphasized Charlotte will remain a core market for new growth at both companies. Bertges also highlighted the strength of Wells Fargo, which now has more people here in Charlotte than Wachovia did, despite fears the Wells Fargo acquisition of Wachovia would decrease banking jobs in Charlotte. As employment continues to improve the office market will also continue to stabilize. Space availability has made Charlotte attractive to relocations like recently announced Chiquita. As fundamentals improve, retail will also continue to stabilize and has already shown considerable gains after a few years of no new product. David Haggart, Childress Klein, indicates excess supply driven by overbuilding and tenant vacancies is being absorbed. All panelists echo a common theme – Charlotte will remain a growth market because of the favorable fundamentals and exceptional quality of life. The future looks bright for Charlotte and the Carolinas.

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