Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Reis: Office Vacancy Rate declined in Q1 to 16.6%

by Bill McBride on 4/01/2015 08:59:00 AM

Reis released their Q1 2015 Office Vacancy survey this morning. Reis reported that the office vacancy rate declined in Q1 to 16.6% from 16.7% in Q4 2014. This is down from 16.9% in Q1 2014, and down from the cycle peak of 17.6%.

From Reis:

The national vacancy rate declined by 10 basis points during the quarter to 16.6%, its lowest level since the third quarter of 2009. Although the vacancy decline was just 10 basis points, this is the third consecutive quarter with a vacancy decline, another sign of more consistent improvement from the office market.
With net absorption continuing to outpace construction by a wide enough margin, vacancy rate declines are now becoming more consistent, emblematic of a strengthening office market. As office leases that were signed at the bottom of the market expire over the next couple of years, many tenants will find their current space insufficient and will sign larger leases.
Asking and effective rents grew by 0.9% and 1.0%, respectively, during the first quarter, marking the eighteenth consecutive quarter of asking and effective rent growth. Superficially, this is a slight decrease from last quarter when both metrics increased by 1.1%. However, this is still strong performance from a market still grappling with a high vacancy rate.
[W]e continue to expect that the national vacancy rate will fall by roughly 50 basis points in 2015 while effective rents grow by approximately 3.6%. That would be a solid showing for an office market that is still in recovery mode.
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 16.6% in Q1.

Net absorption is picking up, but there will not be a significant pickup in new construction until the vacancy rate falls much further.

Office vacancy data courtesy of Reis.