If you're a collector of colorful real estate descriptions, you might want to check out the recently released CB Richard Ellis report on the commercial real estate investment market in the Triangle in 2009.
After describing the heady days in the middle of the previous decade as a time when "investors shopped for trophy assets with the ease of a trip to the mall," the report goes on to describe the market for buying and selling office buildings in 2009 thusly:
"It's as if a bus drove off a cliff and witnesses are still waiting for the explosion."
And to think people accuse real estate folks of being pollyannish.
CBRE's report says 2009 "will be remembered among the history of real estate melt-downs as a period of economic malaise, frozen credit markets, and stifled capital flows that led to the lowest transaction volume in Raleigh-Durham since 1996."
Not mentioned is all the practice putting performed by brokers with lots of time to kill.
Just $408 million in commercial property changed hands in the Triangle in 2009, down from $2.8 billion in 2007 when ridiculously cheap credit led to all that trophy property hunting.
Most of the commercial real estate activity over the last year involved the buying and selling of apartment buildings.
Apartment sales accounted for 61 percent of all properties sold. The reason? It was the only segment of the market with any liquidity thanks to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the report notes.
If you're looking for a bright spot amidst all this gloom it is this: Sales activity in the fourth quarter amounted to almost half of the total for 2009, meaning the worst may be behind us.
But as the CB Richard Ellis report notes, a lot of investors with capital appear to be waiting for the referee to blow his whistle signaling that it's time to buy.
Or maybe there waiting for that bus explosion.