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Reis: Office Vacancy Rate increased in Q2 to 16.8%

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Reis reported that the office vacancy rate was at 16.8% in Q2, up from 16.7% in Q1 2019. This is up from 16.6% in Q2 2018, and down from the cycle peak of 17.6%.

From Reis Chief Economist Victor Calanog:

The office vacancy rate rose slightly over the quarter to 16.8% from 16.7% in the first quarter and 16.6% a year ago. This represents a 50 basis point increase over the sector’s recent low of 16.3% in Q1 2017.

Average asking and effective rents both increased 0.6% in the quarter. At .79 per square foot (asking) and .43 per square foot (effective), both measures of rent have increased 2.2% from the second quarter of 2018. These rates are in line with previous quarters.

As of July 1 we have entered the 121st month in what is now a record-breaking run of economic growth – the longest period of economic expansion in recorded US history. However, despite a healthy job market and strong overall economy, the office market has moved – and continues to move – at a sluggish pace. With vacancies hovering at just 80 basis points below the sector’s cyclical peak of 17.6% in 2010, there is very little to prompt developers to build. Companies are investing in their own owner-occupied space – but few single- and multi-tenant market rate rentals are receiving financing without proof of robust pre-leasing. The office sector is contending with longer-term trends like mechanization and offshoring that are prompting employers to rethink their need for office space.

With relatively flat national numbers, the widening gap between the stronger markets and weaker ones is particularly noteworthy. The underlying data shows that tech firms are fueling much of the growth in the stronger office markets, particularly in west coast metros, parts of Texas and parts of the east coast.

Office Vacancy Rate Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the office vacancy rate starting in 1980 (prior to 1999 the data is annual).

Reis reported the vacancy rate was at 16.8% in Q2.  The office vacancy rate had been mostly moving sideways at an elevated level, but has increased over the last two years.

Office vacancy data courtesy of Reis.
Calculated Risk

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