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Panelists: Upstate can weather real estate market downturns

Real Estate - Commercial
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Panelists (from right) David Feild of Colliers International, J. Earle Furman of NAI Earle Furman and Ben Hines of Spencer/Hines Properties talk about the future of commercial real estate in the Upstate during GSA Business Report's Power Event Series. (Photo/Kathy Allen)

It’s easy to see the growth in the Upstate, with cranes dotting the skyline, signaling new construction. However it hasn’t always been that way and real estate experts say the growth in the Upstate will inevitably meet a downturn, but the region is in a position to weather market swings, like the one seen during the recession in 2007.

“About 10 years ago, in 2007, everything we touched practically turned to gold. It was a great market,” said Ben Hines, president and co-owner of Spencer/Hines Properties. “Then the market tanked. It was tough for a lot of us, including me, but thankfully things got better.”

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant will be the keynote for the next Power Event Series event. Click the logo for more details and to register to attend.Speaking during a GSA Business Report Power Event panel discussion about the real estate market, Hines also said the quality of life in the Upstate helped the market to “turn around tremendously.”

“We’re very fortunate we’ve got such a great workforce and great leadership on the government level that trains our workforce and puts a lot of wheels are in motion to continue to attract businesses,” Hines said.

David Feild, Greenville market president for Colliers International, said the Upstate is seeing capital investment now that wouldn’t have been here 10 years ago. He also said that over last five years there has been more sophisticated development deals and more sophisticated acquisition deals. “And that’s consistent across the retail, industrial and office markets.”

“South Carolina, specifically the Upstate, has a lot to offer. It’s a right-to-work state; we have the I-85 corridor, and Charlotte and Atlanta nearby - all of the things that make this area great for so many industries,” Field said during the power event. “More growth is coming. It’s how we deal with it that’s important.

“In every cycle you start with a recession and you go into recovery, then you overbuild, then you fall back into a recession. Will the market go boom? Yes! It’s just when,” Feild said.

Hines said he analyzed how the real estate market fared in the Upstate, Charlotte and Atlanta during the recession. He said Atlanta experience negative absorption, or supply being greater than demand, for three years – 2008, 2009 and 2010. Charlotte had had negative absorption for two years and the Upstate experienced it for one year.

“I think we’ve got a great steady growth curve, and that was evident during the Great Recession, which didn’t hit us but one year,” he said.

According to J. Earle Furman Jr., chairman of NAI Earle Furman, growth is inevitable and with that growth will come some growing pains. He said “many of our roads are not meant for traffic – they’re farm to market roads as soon as you get out of the city.”

“Woodruff Road certainly isn’t a farm to market road but it’s a disaster most of the time, to the point where many of us avoid it at all costs; I-85 is even worse. You never know how long it will take you to get to Spartanburg,” he said. “We’re going to be facing this from now on. The quality of life here is so good that it is going to attract people, and this is going to be a way of life for all of us.”

As for what’s next for the Upstate, Furman said to watch the projections on population growth in Boiling Springs and Spartanburg County. He said that area is growing “like we’ve never seen before.”

Hines expects Greenville to continue to grow at a steady pace and that “great opportunity exists in Spartanburg.”

“If I have any concern over the next five years, it’s rising interest rates and how that will affect the commercial real estate market,” he said.

Field said the most important thing to do over the next five to 10 years is something the region is already doing – growing with moderation.

Reach Teresa Cutlip at 864-720-1223.

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