Realtors say cautious optimism abounds in final days of 2011

While commercial real estate sales figures have remained relatively flat through 2011, local real estate professionals said this week that they expect that vital segment of the market to steadily improve over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, both in Sussex County and around the nation.

According to the Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR), the county – known for decades, they said, for its business-friendly environment – has already seen many companies have beginning relocating to Southern Delaware and taking advantage of the area’s low tax rates and favorable economic conditions.

One of the most notable businesses planning a move to Sussex County in the near future is Perdue Agribusiness, which expects to begin using a new facility in Seaford next year, they said.

“While commercial real estate in Southern Delaware is not as vibrant as it once was, we think the signs are there for a strong comeback in the near term,” said Sandy Greene, 2011 president of the SCAOR. “We are definitely encouraged by some of the activity we’re seeing, though we realize we still have a long way to go to bring that segment of the market back to where it needs to be.”

An upward trend in Sussex County would seem to mirror expectations across the United States, where analysts are eyeing a year of positive growth, with the commercial real estate market following the uptick in the general economy.

“With modest economic growth and job creation, the fundamentals for commercial real estate should gradually improve in the coming year,” reported Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

In other positive news from the real estate market, the Commerce Department announced on Monday, Nov. 28, that new single-family home sales in the United States rose in October and that the supply of homes on the market fell to its lowest level since April of 2010. Sales edged up 1.3 percent nationwide, which was the fastest pace in five months.

Greene said local data is indicative of these national numbers. During the first three quarters of 2011, sales of single-family homes totaled more than $500 million in Sussex County, and more than 2,000 single-family homes were sold through the end of September in Delaware’s southernmost county.

“While we’re optimistic for a brighter future for commercial real estate in Sussex County, there’s no mistaking that we’re already seeing these improving numbers in the residential markets here in our area,” said Greene. “These improvements have been gradually occurring for several quarters in a row now, and we are looking forward to them continuing for many more quarters to come.”

To read more about issues related to Sussex County’s real estate industry, visit SCAOR’s Web site at