The news about the commercial real estate sector was upbeat Tuesday when the Greater Des Moines chapters of the Institute of Real Estate Management and the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute had their annual get-together.

 

Whether the report was on the year behind or the year ahead, the views were positive.

 

As Tom Gayman of Realty Marketing Group put it, "It's an exciting time."

 

Gayman was talking specifically about industrial properties. His tone mirrored reports on office, retail and multifamily properties.

 

Overall, about 1 million square feet of industrial space was leased last year in the metro area, and another 500,000 square feet is scheduled to hit the market in the next year to 18 months. An interesting note about industrial properties was that sport and recreation users are leasing space in warehouses, he said.

 

There is no lack of tenants from distribution and warehousing companies, and investors are becoming more interested in funding buildings in secondary markets such as Greater Des Moines, Gayman said.

 

Owners of office buildings have experienced three straight years in which tenants have taken empty space off the market. The total office vacancy rate stood at 13.5 percent at the end of the year, said Heath Bullock of Jones Lang LaSalle.

 

"Des Moines is in a recovery stage," Bullock said.

 

Chris Stafford of NAI Optimum said that when he presented a report on retail in 2009, the market was in turmoil and companies "were evaporating overnight."

 

"What a difference five years makes," he said.

 

A tad more than 5 percent of Greater Des Moines' retail space is vacant. That's a good number when compared with a national vacancy rate of 10.5 percent and figures for other Midwest cities ranging up to 9 percent.

 

Land prices for new retail are going up, as are rents for those spaces. Several projects landed on Stafford's top 10 list, with the announcement that Nordstrom Rack would build a 35,000-square-foot store near a Dick's Sporting Goods in at the Plaza at Jordan Creek in West Des Moines, a property that is being developed by Hurd Real Estate Services Inc. and Signature Real Estate Services Inc.

 

Multifamily housing has been the hot property class, with national prices up 12 percent on sales of nearly $140 billion last year, according to a report from Linda Gibbs and Tim Sharpe of CBRE|Hubbell Commercial.

 

Investors are looking for virtually any property that is available. The problem is that not a lot of properties are for sale.

 

In Polk, Warren and Dallas counties last year, there were 102 commercial real estate sales totaling $272 million, up from 87 sales totaling $222 million in 2012. Twenty-eight of those sales were of multifamily properties, up 23 percent from 2012, Sharpe said.

 

Gibbs said investors from around the globe are turning an eye toward Greater Des Moines.

 

"There is a lot of capital looking for a home," she said.