Thursday, April 05, 2012

Reis: Office Vacancy Rate declines slightly in Q1 to 17.2%

by Bill McBride on 4/05/2012 12:22:00 AM

From Reuters: Sluggish job growth crimps US office market rebound

The national vacancy rate slipped to 17.2 percent in the first quarter, a slight improvement from 17.3 percent in the 2011 fourth quarter, according to preliminary figures from Reis. A year earlier the vacancy rate was 17.6 percent. ... The national vacancy rate has risen to levels not seen since 1993 and remains well above the cyclical low of 12.5 percent posted in 2007 ...

The average U.S. office asking rent rate rose to $28.10 per square foot in the first quarter, up 0.5 percent from the 2011 fourth quarter. ...

Overall, the national office market has posted five quarters of improvement, leading Reis to believe the market is in the midst of a slow recovery. ... "The lack of new supply has been the saving grace for the office sector," Severino said. "The levels of demand that we're seeing right now, while they're positive, they're not really significant. It pales in comparison with cycles past."
Office Vacancy Rate Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the office vacancy rate starting in 1991.

Reis is reporting the vacancy rate declined to 17.2% in Q1, down from 17.3% in Q4. The vacancy rate was at a cycle high of 17.6% in Q3 and Q4 2010. It appears the office vacancy rate peaked in 2010 and is declining very slowly.

As Reis noted, there are very few new office buildings being built in the US, and new construction will probably stay low for several years.