Savannah, Georgia, is home to one of the busiest ports in the country, and the pace is accelerating. In fact, today’s volumes of traffic and cargo going through the Port of Savannah are already hitting levels that experts did not expect to see until 2025, prompting the Georgia Port Authority to grant the port $205 million for capital improvement projects that will increase container capacity by 20 percent – permitting the facility to move more than 6 million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) annually. Those measures might be hard to visualize for a lay-person, but they translate to jobs, economic growth, and a whole lot of cargo coming through the area. And that, of course, is great for the Savannah real estate market and the entire state of Georgia – all the way to the capital city of Atlanta.
GPA chief communications officer Robert Morris explained that Savannah’s industrial market growth rate was the highest in the nation in 2020. Additionally, the growth enabled the Atlanta, Georgia, industrial market to “absorb over 20 million square feet in 2020, third-most in the nation,” according to commercial real estate firm CBRE. Absorption rates in real estate refer to the rate at which available homes are sold in a specific market or market sector during a given time period, and the rate is obtained by dividing the number of properties sold during that time period by the total number of properties available. Not only is the absorption rate useful for determining how quickly a market is growing, but lenders, bankers, and investors use it to evaluate the health of commercial markets as well. Savannah’s high absorption rate indicates a demand for housing and a clear need for more of it.
With the new funding for the port expansion, the housing demand will do nothing but grow. The expansion will be a great opportunity for employees looking to purchase homes in the area to possibly acquire properties in more rural areas near the outer edge of the metro area. It also represents great opportunities for real estate investors able to acquire and develop vacant land or with the foresight to acquire properties in those markets likely to emerge around Savannah and the expanded port areas in the coming year.
Commercial investors are already moving in, with Invesco Real Estate investing in a local industrial facility (for an undisclosed amount) after outbidding a “deep pool” of buyers. “The Savannah market is seeing similar buyer demand as seen in larger, primary markets. This competition on this deal proved that out,” a managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) told Commercial Property Executive at the time. You can be sure that residential acquisitions are next, so investors hoping to get in early should be looking in the Savannah market for local contacts who still have access to contractors, permitting, and deals.