The local outlook on the beat-up commercial real estate sector may have improved slightly, according to a new survey devised by the University of St. Thomas.
The index, based on a poll of 50 commercial real estate leaders in the area, registered 54.1, up slightly from 53.5 last spring when the index was first released. Both readings are above the neutral 50 mark, and the inch upwards indicates the industry is slightly more optimistic than before about the market in 2012.
Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs for the University of St. Thomas, called the improvement "a good sign."
"I see it as an indication of turning the corner ... but it's a big slow corner," Tousley said.
Expectations about rents and occupancy actually fell, he said. The overall index inched up largely on optimism about land prices and more available financing, he said.
"While we expect the markets to continue to be sluggish in the near term, our panel still sees reasons for optimism in 2012 and 2013," the report said.