Annual Real Estate Market Review & Forecast at ODU

An upbeat outlook despite recent roller coaster in residential and commercial sectors

by Leona Baker

2023 real estate reviewIf anybody can be quasi-recession proof, it’s probably Hampton Roads,” Van Rose, principal owner of Rose & Womble Realty, told the crowd of invitees at the annual Hampton Roads Real Estate Market Review & Forecast held in March at the Chartway Arena and hosted by Old Dominion University’s E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate.

His comments were among a series of “look on the bright side” messages from regional industry experts speaking to a gathering of their peers—all of whom are no-doubt keenly aware of the rollercoaster ride that has been the real estate market over the last couple of years.

“I think the entire residential market is in great shape, if we find stability,” Rose reassured. While he characterized 2022 as starting off strong (after high sales volumes in 2021) before sticker shock and rising interest rates spooked residential buyers, other speakers looked at how these ups and downs have manifested in the multifamily, office, industrial and retail markets in Coastal Virginia.

Paul Van, CEO and chief investment officer for Croatan Investments, said that while apartments hit the end of a long growth cycle last year, driving down asset values by 25% regionally (slightly better than the national average), there are investment opportunities to be found.

Nicole Campbell, assistant vice president of office leasing and sales for Divaris Real Estate, predicted a “great office glow up” in which older buildings will soon be refurbished to attract employees, including those who may still prefer working remotely.

“Punching above our weight” was a phrase used by Gregg Christoffersen, senior vice president of brokerage and industrial lead for JLL, to describe the industrial market, which he said was moving from a “built-to-suit market” to a “true speculative demand, speculative construction, industrial market.”

In the retail sector, Jeff Fritz, vice president of Colliers, acknowledged major challenges brought on by online shopping, the pandemic and corporate bankruptcies, while also pointing to the resiliency of retailers and spaces, including an uptick in grocery, discount chains and fitness businesses.

Bob McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at ODU, led the proceedings, which included the presentation of the first Robert M. Stanton Legacy Award. The award was named for the respected commercial real estate developer who, among many accomplishments, was instrumental in shaping downtown Norfolk. Stanton, who died in 2022, became the first recipient of the award.

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