Tough commercial month for one Florida market

Only three Sarasota, Fla., commercial buildings sold for more than $1 million in October.

It took one month – from September to October – for commercial real estate activity in Sarasota, Fla., to take a turn for the worse, according to the Herald-Tribune.

While the area had 14 commercial properties selling for more than $1 million in September, only three commercial buildings were acquired for more than $1 million in October – a Starbucks and gas station in Brandenton, Fla., and a car wash in Sarasota.

Those three sales totaled $4.7 million, while the 14 million-dollar properties sold in September totaled more than $88 million.

One agent with Re/Max Alliance Group, Stan Rutstein, told the Herald-Tribune that the dip is more than just a month-to-month issue and it actually signals that the market has seen major changes from the previous year.

"In 2012, the deals were really rolling," Rutstein said. "A goodly portion were creative users who saw opportunities and understood value pricing. They saw that the economy was regenerating and sweepers were going up and down the road, sweeping up real estate."

He said now, fewer banked-owned properties are available for purchase.

"Either banks don't have it or they are being cautious and don't want to get rid of it," Rutstein said. "And owners don't want to sell because prices have not been moving up enough."
Rutstein also noted that sellers are willing to wait in order to get a better deal.

Office market is weak
Rutstein said the markets for warehouse space, apartments and assist-living centers have been solid.

One of the biggest problems for the commercial sector has been the dying office market.

"We're in a different world now," Rutstein said. "It's all about cell phones, and Bluetooth and there isn't as much need for office space."

Many companies are allowing employees to work remotely, which has helped erase some of the need for larger office space. And with cloud computing and other technological advancements that allow for smaller storage space, many tenants have been able to downsize, which has helped save them money.

Still, not all commercial agents in the Sarasota area are seeing eye-to-eye.

Owner of his own Sarasota brokerage firm, Ian Black said he has not seen any chance in the market.

"I think there are more deals than ever, and I'm hoping the end of the year will be healthy," Black said.

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