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12 | REVIVAL OF FORTUNE WORDS | John Howell


The Return of the Cranes T


his happens every year. Some years, more birds arrive than in others, but every year for the


last 10 million years the spring sees this demonstration of survival and hope for the future. Sadly, life has not been so predictable


in the world of international property. In many parts of our world, the cranes failed to arrive in the spring of 2007 and, except for a few stragglers - many of which have since died and been removed - they haven’t been seen since. Six long years without cranes means


six long years without any serious building work. Six long years of depression for the industry and disaster for the local economies where the cranes used to thrive. Well, the good news is that the cranes are back. We are receiving reports from all over the property world that they are not only back but they look to be in robust good health and they are working hard.


As in nature, so in the world of


international property: the big players when it comes to cranes have been Spain, the US and South-East Asia. According to Phil Bishop of Cranes


Today magazine (www.cranestoday. com for the curious), in 2005/6 there were about half a dozen crane rental companies in Spain with fl eets of over 300 cranes. That was a lot of cranes. “Spain was the world’s second biggest market for cranes. Spain’s leading manufacturer, Jaso, produced 700 cranes per year. Another major manufacturer, Comansa, could build 550-600 per year and was moving to a larger factory.” Last year, Jaso built many fewer units.


FEATURE


www.opp-connect.com |MAY 2013


75,000 cranes have returned to Spain. Over 500,000 to the US. The return of the migrating cranes is a cause for celebration and festivals: a new spring has arrived; better times lie ahead. We breathe a sigh of relief. They are back. Once again we are humbled by the awesome power of survival.


Cranes | The most obvious sign of the survival of the property development industry Much the same pattern applied in


the US. Things began to turn in 2011.


Visitor numbers to ConExpo in Las Vegas, the massive three-yearly event for the construction industry, were up substantially and exhibitors reported an uptick in orders for cranes of all types. Those orders have now been delivered and these new machines - as well as the old ones brought out of retirement - are now hard at work. So the reports fl ood in: not just from the US and Spain but from all around the world. The fi rst sightings. To be sure, at this stage just a few - not the hundreds seen in 2006, 2007 & 2008 - but enough


to serve as proof that the market has, at last, turned around. After all, you don’t build until you are about to run out of stock and unless you can see strong and sustainable demand for what you are building. At least, you don’t today!


Miami Perhaps the most dramatic turn around has been in Miami. Two or three years’ ago large swathes


Cranes | 10 million years of survival for our feathered friends


of Miami were part-completed building sites. Even Brickell Avenue had rows of unfi nished or empty condos. Inventory levels of unsold properties ran into months, not weeks and everyday page after page of foreclosures were listed by the local courts. People brave enough to buy were, in some cases, getting deals at 30c on the dollar. Today, inventory is low and deals- in-progress high. There are no more bargain basement deals. Indeed, the problem is often that there is not enough good stock on the market. Hence the return of the cranes! Of course, and paradoxically, inventory levels are likely to rise a little as the market improves and sellers feel able to sell (because their home is now worth more than their mortgage) and comfortable about putting their property on the market. Part of the excitement in Miami


is because of the massive new developments being proposed. In downtown Miami, in Dade County and in South Beach, huge new projects, funded to the tune of billions of dollars, will transform the city and, at the same time, push it dramatically up-market. The work has started and should be completed by 2025. Lots of lovely cranes!


Brett Firestone of Firestone


“All over the property world they are not only back but they look to be in robust, good health”


Realty (brett@fl oridacapitalrealty. com) specialises in Miami. He is so enthusiastic about the current market that he has made his father qualify as a Realtor(tm) to help out! “Money is pouring into Miami to back these new projects. Lots from South America, lots from the US, some from Europe. These are serious projects backed by serious companies, including a lot of Chinese money. It is hard to get your head round the scale of what is going on. It’s like the whole city is growing up. These cranes will be around for a long time.”


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