The U.S. real estate market appears to be improving, at least in terms of industry optimism. According to a survey released this week by law firm Akerman Senterfitt, sentiment is growing among senior real estate executives.
At the third annual Akerman U.S. Real Estate Summit, more than three-quarters of surveyed executives - 82 percent - expressed greater confidence and an improved outlook for the market in 2012. That figure is up 6 percent from last year's survey, suggesting recent gains in home builder confidence and housing demand are hinting at a stronger recovery this year. In fact, 50 percent of respondents cited recent improvements in the wider U.S. economy as driving their hike in optimism. "The outlook for the commercial real estate industry in 2012 is bright, but the recent recovery is still tenuous, and could be dampened by a range of factors, including the continued uncertainty in Europe, persistent restraints on debt and equity financing and the threats to the health of the U.S. economy due to rising energy costs," said Richard Bezold, group chair of Akerman's national real estate practice. However, uncertainty remains, not just in the real estate market but elsewhere as well. Regulatory hostility toward the debt collection
industry is one example of how economic policy is limited market growth. In regards to real estate, which relies heavily on recovery specialists to recoup mortgage dues, current or looming polices by the Obama administration and global economic uncertainty were cited as the chief reasons for a lack of confidence. The availability of credit is another source of trouble, with 43 percent of respondents citing it as the most pressing issue facing the real estate market, although that figure is down 10 percent from the 2011 survey. "The belief that uncertainty of government policy is the number one concern for the industry has doubled to 25 percent this year," Akerman reported in a press release. Other analysts have cited rising consumer credit
as a looming crisis on par with the housing bubble. The New York Federal Reserve recently reported that the total volume of student debt now outweighs that of credit cards. However, the disparate nature of student and mortgage debt limit the degree to which the two challenges can be compared.