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Thursday property news wrap

From South Africa:

'Industry regulation is essential' All estate agents and managing agents must be registered as debt collectors in order to legally demand and collect any rent or levy payments in arrears, shows a recent finding by the Debt Collectors Council, says Property24.

The reason for this development is because there have been a number of cases reported to the Debt Collectors Council where agencies were charging fees for letters of demand and other collection charges in excess of the prescribed debt collection fees.

"Industry regulation is essential. Credit providers and credit bureaus are regulated through the National Credit Act (NCA), and debt collectors are regulated through the Debt Collectors Act," says Michelle Dickens, managing director of Tenant Profile Network.

From the US:

Report: Banks Slow to Absorb Commercial Property Losses A U.S. Federal Reserve report found that banks in the country are slow to take losses on their commercial real estate loans that have been hit by slumping property values and rental payments, the Wall Street Journal said.

Citing a Sept 29 presentation made by Fed analyst K.C. Conway to banking regulators, the paper said the report's remarks suggested that regulators were preparing for a rerun of housing-related losses that plagued many banks after the residential property bubble burst.

Conway is a senior real estate analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Real estate market down,but not out Figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show what local real estate agents have been saying all along - the housing market in the Pittsburgh area is down, but not out.

A part of the 2008 American Community Survey - an annual sample meant to provide a demographic snapshot between decennial census surveys - the new figures show that homes in the Pittsburgh region continued to gain in value in 2008, even as the market slowed, as indicated by a growing number of vacant properties in Beaver and Lawrence counties.

Over the past couple of years, area real estate agents have reported that the Pittsburgh region had weathered the storm that battered other regions fairly well.

Worst yet to come for commercial real estate Behind San Jose's skyline lurks an office glut. The overall vacancy rate for the Bay Area is about 20 percent. "What we're seeing now is distressed cases where tenants have too much space, we're getting sub-leasing, those are opportunities for new companies to come in at a lower rate and also landlords having empty buildings are negotiating a little bit better, they're giving free rent or other concessions,"