Houston & Peach

Rebound of WR commercial real estate could be slow going

The commercial real estate market in the Warner Robins area should show improvement over the next few years, but it might take a decade or longer for it to rebound to pre-recession standing, a real estate veteran told the Robins Regional Business Forum on Friday.

That’s due, at least in some part, to how prosperous that market was, speaker Jack Upshaw told the gathering at the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce.“Two and a half years ago, things were sold before you got the foundation in. It’s not that way now,” Upshaw said.

“I think it will maintain what we’ve got, which is not great, but we’re not hurting like other folks are. The next couple of years, it’s going to get better. It’ll take five years before it gets good. It’ll take 10 or 15 years, if it ever gets back to like it was.”

Upshaw said he knew of some banks that had 15 to 20 construction loans out at the same time. Some of those, he said, have not sold.

One impact of the flailing economy has been a reduction in prices, both in rentals and sales. Properties that had rented for as much as $22 per square foot are now renting for closer to $12 per square foot, he said.

The areas that are seeing growth are mostly south and west of Warner Robins. Upshaw noted that one property there had been listed at $1.2 million for one acre but is now at $700,000.

“You’re going to see prices go down,” he said. “I’ve been in real estate for 40 years, and I’ve never seen prices like that.”

Upshaw, who operates a real estate business in Warner Robins, is a designated CCIM, or certified commercial investment member, which qualifies him as an expert in the analysis of commercial and investment real estate.

He’s also a “conservative Republican” who believes the timetable for the economy’s recovery will “depend a great deal” on next month’s election.

He blamed the government-sponsored mortgage corporations Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, as well as politicians, for the economy’s woes and suggested the country start over with a clean slate of lawmakers.

“We’ve got problems, and until (President Barack Obama) does something positive, it’s not going to get better. ... I’m for getting rid of everyone. I’m not voting for anybody, but I’m voting against a bunch of people.”

Upshaw offered some real estate investment pointers at the program, including using real estate agents and “wrap-around mortgages,” in which the seller basically finances the sale.

He cautioned, however, that commercial real estate is “not an exact science.”“They ought to call it a practice,” Upshaw said. “Just like a doctor, we’re practicing.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.