Moody's: Commercial Real Estate Prices up in January

Moody's sees gain in commercial real estate prices for 3rd straight month; still far off peak.

Commercial real estate prices rose for the third month in a row in January, according to a report issued Monday by Moody's Investors Services.

The 1 percent increase in January brought a price recovery of 6.3 percent from their low in October 2009, Moody's said. Prices then had already fallen 43.7 percent.

While there has been an increase in each of the last three months, that "does not necessarily indicate a sustainable trend, particularly in these difficult times," said Moody's Managing Director Nick Levidy.

Higher transaction volumes are needed to give a clearer picture, he said. But volume fell in January after an uptick in December. In January, there were 376 sales, 8 percent below a year ago. By dollar volume, January sales totaled $4.9 billion, a 9 percent increase over the year before.

Moody's measures commercial real estate prices in office, retail, apartment and industrial segments. In 2009, prices across all four property types fell 26 percent to 39 percent from their peaks before the recession in the Eastern region.

In the Southern region, all four types had fallen 25 percent or more.

Compared with San Francisco and Washington, D.C., New York properties showed the worst performance last year, with prices down 32.7 percent for the year.

Moody's measures commercial property prices based on the repeat sales of the same properties across the U.S. at different points in time.