...Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, a $75-million Justice Building in Durham, N.C., and an $80-million Bibb County Courthouse in Macon, Ga.

A Housing Rebound? McGraw-Hill’s forecast for an overall improvement in the Southeast’s 2010 prospects mostly hinges upon a substantial rebound in the single-family housing market. The company anticipates this housing sector to grow 19% for a $20.1-billion regional total. A 7% decrease in the multifamily market will result in just $2.5 billion in new condominium and apartment contracts.

Altogether, this will result in a 16% increase in the overall residential sector, for $22.6 billion in new contracts—or about one quarter of 2005’s peak.

“We anticipate a (residential) recovery in 2010 for the Southeast, but it is expected to be weaker than what is anticipated at the national level,” Coskren says. Nationally, McGraw-Hill Construction predicts a 30% jump in single-family and a 14% rise in multifamily contracts.

For the Southeast’s residential market, the company is still betting that positive factors will outweigh the negatives.

“Foreclosures remain a significant problem in Florida, and lagging job improvement will keep a lid on housing sales,” Coskren says. “However, the extension of the tax credit, low mortgage rates, improving consumer confidence and diminishing inventory will buttress housing (in 2010) and allow for a gain.”

Nowhere is the still-iffy future of the housing market more evident than in Florida. Here, Coskren sees plenty of remaining risks that could dampen future prospects.

“Lofty foreclosure levels remain a threat to Florida’s housing market, and a weak employment market is adding to the risk,” she says. “However, signs are emerging that the housing market to some degree is healing. Available homes for sale continue to diminish rapidly. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that in September 2009 the number of homes listed in Miami dropped nearly 39% from year-ago levels.

“While the risks remain that housing construction could once again decline, the positives we believe will provide enough momentum going forward in 2010. However, the recovery in Florida is forecasted to lag the nation overall.”

Nonresidential: Flat or Down? The Southeast’s nonresidential market, though projected to remain steady with 2009, is expected to mostly see declines.

“Declining markets unfortunately were the far more prevalent story (in 2009),” Coskren says. “Commercial construction in particular has been in a freefall. Across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, commercial construction, in current dollar terms, will be down by nearly half for 2009.”

Coskren cites the declines in employment and consumer confidence—as well as the ongoing credit crisis and...