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JMBM Focus: JMBM 2009 California Real Estate and Land Use Survey Results

Developers and investors remain cautious, prepare for the future

JMBM’s 2009 California Real Estate & Land Use Survey confirms that real estate developers and investors remain unconvinced that the end of the real estate downturn is imminent. 69% of those surveyed indicated they were cautious, while 22% were bearish about the real estate market.

Still, the extensive comments made by survey participants to the question, "Where do you see opportunities in the current downturn?" illustrate that the majority have strategies for surviving the recession and are positioning their companies for future growth. While specific projects vary widely, nearly all respondents are seeking to maximize the performance of their current portfolios and looking for opportunistic acquisitions that fit into their long range plans.

Good time to entitle and re-entitle properties
65% of survey respondents indicated that now is a good time to entitle or re-entitle projects. "The reasons for this include the belief that municipalities need the additional income that development can provide, and that zoning authorities are likely to be more lenient during tough economic times,” said Benjamin M. Reznik, chairman of JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy Department.

Good time for smart investments in distressed properties
In response to the question How do distressed assets play a role in your strategy for 2009?, 70% of survey participants indicated they were seeking to acquire distressed assets even while 54% of them believed that the value of these assets could fall further. As one respondent wrote, "Acquisitions made before the recovery should show significant returns."

Good time to position projects for future financing
Acquiring debt was at the top of the list of challenges currently faced by survey respondents. “The real estate markets will remain under pressure until financing is available,” Reznik said. “But our survey indicates that developers and investors are preparing to take advantage of opportunities as soon as the pipeline reopens."

Of the 79 executives responding to the survey, 51% identified themselves as developers and 32% as investors. To review the statistical results of the survey, click here.

We would like to thank our clients and friends who participated in the survey.