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The Associated Press October 21, 2010, 4:30PM ET

Moody's: Commercial property conditions improve

Conditions in the commercial real estate market improved nationwide in the third quarter with all seven property types moving out of weak rankings, a study released by Moody's Investors Services on Thursday showed.

In the third quarter, full-service hotels posted an 8.8 percent year-over-year increase in revenue per available room, or revpar, a key gauge of hotel performance. Revpar for limited-service hotels rose 5.1 percent from the previous year, the first increase since 2008.

The vacancy rate for apartments fell to 6 percent from 6.5 percent, while the vacancy rate of downtown offices edged up only marginally. Demand for suburban offices was negative, but improved over the previous quarter, the study said.

Demand for retail properties increased in the third quarter, while the supply of industrial properties remained low.

Moody's said the best five commercial property markets are Honolulu, New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Nashville, Tenn. The worst are Detroit, Hartford, Conn., Trenton, N.J., Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The economic downturn triggered rising defaults on commercial real estate projects. Spending cuts by businesses and consumers led to higher vacancy rates and lower rents. Many commercial property owners couldn't refinance their short-term loans on buildings because the value of their properties dropped.

Nationwide, commercial real estate prices remain about 45 percent below their peak in October 2007, or the same level as 2002.

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