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NAR: Commercial real estate slowing down

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Residential housing is not the only chunk of the real estate sector that is suffering, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Although commercial real estate activity is still looking positive, the group says it sees a slower commercial market over the next six to nine months. “Along with the impact of the credit crunch, a weakening in leasing and building sales activity should come as no surprise because commercial real estate follows changes in overall economic activity,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR.

The Commercial Leading Indicator for Brokerage Activity fell 0.7 percent to an index of 119 in the first quarter from a downwardly revised reading of 119.9 in the fourth quarter, the NAR said in a statement. The index is 0.8 percent below the first quarter of 2007 when it stood at 120. The index incorporates 13 variables that reflect future commercial real estate activity.

This is the third consecutive quarterly dip since reaching a record of 120.5 in the second quarter of 2007. And though the commercial numbers may be slightly lower, they are far from the dramatic declines seen in new residential construction and sales of existing homes.

Falling employment in some sectors has led for less need for commercial space, the group said. “The job market is weak, but not recessionary,” Yun added. “There are large regional variations, with job growth in the South, while overall professional business service jobs are in the process of a long-term expansion.”

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Wolseley donated supplies for Virginia tornado relief

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wolseley North America’s divisions, Ferguson and Stock Building Supply, provided extensive aid to storm victims in the state of Virginia following tornadoes and severe storms earlier this month.

Packages to the city of Suffolk, several neighborhoods of which were damaged by a tornado, included gloves, ply board, tarps, hammers, shovels, nails and numerous other supplies.

“Upon hearing about the tornado, we first checked to ensure that all of our associates in the area were OK, and then we immediately focused our attention on the community and how we could help,” said Ray Ferrara, manager of emergency operations for Wolseley’s North American Division.

The tornado that hit Suffolk, Va., caused more than $18 million in damage, according to the company. The tornado cut a 25-mile path through residential areas, and more than 200 people were injured during the tornado, “which also damaged scores of businesses and downed dozens of trees and power lines.”

Stock currently operates 302 locations in 34 states, while Ferguson operates more than 1,400 service centers in all 50 states.

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Lumber Liquidators in Nascar sponsorship

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lumber Liquidators, the Toano, Va.-based hardwood flooring retail chain, has announced its first Nascar Sprint Cup sponsorship, to debut at the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

The retailer will sponsor Travis Kvapil and his Yates Racing Team — car number 28 — at the event, set for Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

“Nascar fans are great supporters and customers of Lumber Liquidators, and we are always interested in opportunities with the Sprint Cup Series,” said Tom Sullivan, CEO of Lumber Liquidators, in a statement. Sullivan added that Lumber Liquidators has had a “successful history” sponsoring Nascar’s Craftsman Truck Series.

According to Nascar, Kvapil currently is ranked 18th in Nascar driver point standings.

Lumber Liquidators operates more than 130 specialty stores in the United States, selling solid and engineered flooring materials.

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