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by David Bodamer
RetailTrafficMag.com

Real estate research firm Reis Inc.’s preliminary data for the fourth quarter of 2010 shows that fundamentals continue to stabilize at neighborhood and community centers and regional malls.

Vacancies at malls declined and at shopping centers remained flat from the third quarter. For shopping centers, it is the second straight quarter where vacancies have been stable and the second straight quarter of improvement for malls.

Neighborhood and shopping centers appear to be “meandering around a bit after the temporary reprieve from deterioration in fundamentals for retail properties last quarter,” according to Reis economist Ryan Severino.

Vacancy levels remain at 10.9 percent, just a shade lower than the all-time high of 11 percent hit in 1991. Reis expects that the broader economic challenges mean that the vacancy rate could continue to tick upward in 2011, despite the recent stability. In addition, asking and effective rents declined by 0.1 percent, which Severino described as “a slight resumption of the downward trend in rents that began in mid‐2008 and persisted until last quarter.”

The vacancy rate for neighborhood and community centers remained flat or declined in 45 of the primary 80 metropolitan areas Reis monitors and effective rents remained flat or increased in 35 out of 80 markets.

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