Market fundamentals in commercial real estate continue to improve but at a slower pace, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said fundamentals are still on an uptrend. “Growth in commercial real estate sectors continues at a moderate pace from a very slow pace of absorption, despite job additions to the economy. Companies appear hesitant to add new space,” he said.
“Office demand is expected to see only slow and gradual improvement. Demand for retail space is benefiting from improved household wealth, while industrial real estate is stable with increasing international trade, which requires warehouse space. Of course, the apartment market fundamentals are the strongest, as nearly all of the new household formation in the past 10 years has come from renters, and not homeowners,” Yun said.
National vacancy rates in the coming year are forecast to decline 0.2 percentage point in the office market, which has the highest level of empty space, 0.1 point in industrial, and 0.3 point for retail real estate. With rising apartment construction, the average multifamily vacancy rate will edge up 0.1 percent, but this sector continues to experience the tightest availability and strongest rent growth of all the commercial sectors.
NAR’s latest Commercial Real Estate Outlook1 offers overall projections for four major commercial sectors and analyzes quarterly data in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily markets. Historic data for metro areas were provided by REIS, Inc., a source of commercial real estate performance information.
Vacancy rates in the office sector should decline from an expected 15.8 percent in the first quarter of this year to 15.6 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates presently (in the first quarter) are New York City, with a vacancy rate of 9.5 percent; Washington, D.C., at 10.2 percent; Little Rock, Ark., 11.6 percent; Birmingham, Ala., 12.7 percent; and San Francisco and Nashville, Tenn., at 12.8 percent each.
Office rents are projected to increase 2.3 percent in 2014 and 3.2 percent next year. Net absorption of office space in the U.S., which includes the leasing of new space coming on the market as well as space in existing properties, is likely to total 44.6 million square feet this year and 50.0 million in 2015.
Industrial vacancy rates are anticipated to fall from 9.0 percent in the first quarter to 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Orange County, Calif., with a vacancy rate of 3.7 percent; Los Angeles, 3.8 percent; Miami, 5.8 percent; Seattle at 5.9 percent; and San Riverside/Bernardino, Calif., at 6.1 percent.
Annual industrial rents should rise 2.4 percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2015. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is seen at 106.1 million square feet in 2014 and 110.6 million next year.
Retail vacancy rates are expected to decline from 10.2 percent in the first quarter of this year to 9.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015.
Presently, markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates include San Francisco, at 3.1 percent; Fairfield County, Conn., 3.8 percent; Long Island, N.Y., 4.8 percent; San Jose, Calif., 5.2 percent; and Northern New Jersey and Orange County, Calif., at 5.3 percent each.
Average retail rents are forecast to rise 2.0 percent in 2014 and 2.3 percent next year. Net absorption of retail space is likely to total 14.6 million square feet this year and 20.9 million in 2015.
The apartment rental market – multifamily housing – should see vacancy rates edge up from 4.0 percent in the first quarter to 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2015, with additional supply helping to meet growing demand. Generally, vacancy rates below 5 percent are considered a landlord’s market, with demand justifying higher rent.
Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are New Haven, Conn., at 2.1 percent; Minneapolis and New York City, 2.3 percent; and Oakland-East Bay, Calif., and San Diego, at 2.5 percent each.
Average apartment rents are projected to rise 4.3 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2015. Multifamily net absorption is expected to total 204,900 units in 2014 and 112,500 next year.
The Commercial Real Estate Outlook is published by the NAR Research Division. NAR’s Commercial Division, formed in 1990, provides targeted products and services to meet the needs of the commercial market and constituency within NAR.
The NAR commercial community includes commercial members; commercial real estate boards; commercial committees, subcommittees and forums; and the NAR commercial affiliate organizations – CCIM Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Realtors® Land Institute, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®, and Counselors of Real Estate.
Approximately 83,000 NAR and institute affiliate members specialize in commercial brokerage and related services, and an additional 283,000 members offer commercial real estate services as a secondary business.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.