CRE V Michigan

Better times coming to Michigan?

No state has been hit harder by the Great Recession than Michigan. Commercial real estate professionals working in the state, then, are still searching for signs of hope during the nation's slow economic recovery. Fortunately, against all odds, they are finding these signs.

No state has been hit harder by the Great Recession than Michigan. Commercial real estate professionals working in the state, then, are still searching for signs of hope during the nation's slow economic recovery.

Fortunately, against all odds, they are finding these signs.

Just ask Mike Mikesell, director of brokerage and manager of the Grand Rapids, Mich., office of Signature Associates.

"Today, everyone is working through the problems in the state and making the adjustments that have to be made," he said. "It's much like with the residential market. There were properties there that were overvalued. Those properties are being flushed through the system. They're being sold at lower prices, released at new market rates. The same thing is happening to commercial. Properties that were overvalued are now being flushed through the system. It's painful in a lot of ways, but it is necessary for recovery."

Good news sometimes comes in unexpected forms. That's why it was such a pleasant surprise to discover, via the Wall Street Journal late last year, that Grand Rapids enjoyed the second highest level of housing-price increases in the country last year, right behind Bismark, N.D.

"That, I think, is reflective of some of the positive events taking place in Western Michigan," said John Cameron, a real estate specialist in the Grand Rapids office of law firm Dickinson Wright.

But Cameron is realistic. He knows that the state still has a long way to go before its recovery is truly felt by its residents and businesspeople.

"We've seen a little bit of improvement. We can always see more. We are still in Michigan, after all," Cameron said.

And that's the crux of life in Western Michigan today. Yes, more commercial real estate deals are taking place. Retail is starting to slowly lumber back into life. Multi-family is strong. Office remains sluggish, but not quite as sluggish as it has been in the past. And industrial is showing signs of life, too.

But this is still Michigan. There's still work to be done here.

At least, though, there are signs of hope. And in today's still sluggish economy, that's something worth holding onto.