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Utah commercial real estate outlook strong, analyst says

Published: Monday, Nov. 4 2013 6:55 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s commercial real estate market should be among the strongest in the country going forward, a national analyst said.

On Tuesday, the Salt Lake office of CBRE — one of the world’s largest commercial real estate firms — will hold its first Market Outlook Event in the Grand Ballroom of the Little America Hotel, 500 S. Main.

Among topics to be covered for the expected audience of about 250 will be capital markets, brokerage trends and forecasts, along with economic development.

According to keynote speaker Raymond Torto, executive managing director of CBRE Global Research and Consulting, the local commercial market has quite a promising future based on current research.

“Salt Lake has done very well and grown better than (the rest of) the nation, and is ranked fifth in the nation in terms of job growth,” Torto said.

The state’s burgeoning technology sector has been the major impetus for the significant growth, he added.

“Things are quite good there,” said the Boston-based economist. “I expect it to continue to be good over the next three or four years.”

Torto said the growth in the tech sector has impacted the demand for commercial real estate along the Wasatch Front, particularly in the “Silicon Slopes” area along the shared border of Salt Lake and Utah counties.

“Overall, Salt Lake is a very positive economic market,” he said.

That optimism was echoed by Mark Bouchard, Salt Lake-based CBRE senior managing director.

“We are better off (economically) than a lot of states in the U.S.,” he said. “We expect that growth to continue due to the fundamentals that we possess as a state.”

Bouchard said Utah’s low unemployment, strong economy and relatively well-educated workforce provide a firm foundation for continued growth in the area’s commercial real estate market as more companies make the decision to choose the Wasatch Front as a place to expand or locate operations.

“Part of the growth is our diverse economy,” Bouchard explained. “When slowdowns do occur, when recessions do occur, those states that are the most diversified seem to weather it a little bit better than those who have one or two sectors to drive their entire economy.”

Besides technology, Utah has strong sectors including industrial, health sciences and real estate to bolster its economy, he said.

“(That diversity) is manifesting itself now where we are performing a little bit better than some of the other economies around the country simply because we are so diversified,” Bouchard said.

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

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