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Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Reis: Office Vacancy Rate Unchanged in Q3, Mall Vacancy Rate Unchanged

by Calculated Risk on 10/05/2022 03:44:00 PM

From Moody’s Analytics Senior Economist Lu Chen: Office continues its bumpy ride, and Retail remains flat

Office vacancy has been persistently stuck at over 18% since early 2021, a consequence of excess inventories and strains on companies’ expansion plans. Net absorption rose in June and July, in line with the return to office sentiment, but that trend was short-lived as economic uncertainties pressured the sector’s fundamentals. The 3rd quarter ended with an increase in office demand, but the 1.75 million square feet (sqft) total net absorption was less than a third of the total construction delivery of around 6 million sqft. Office vacancy moved slightly upwards last quarter, but due to rounding remained at an elevated 18.4%, near its pandemic peak. Asking rent exceeded $35/sqft ($35.04), which is equivalent of 0.4% growth compared to last quarter. Effective rent kept pace, but that’s only half its rate in Q2.
emphasis added
Reis reported the office vacancy rate was at 18.4% in Q3 2022, unchanged from 18.4% in Q2, and up from 18.2% in Q3 2021. 

Q2 2021 at 18.5% was the highest vacancy rate for offices since the early '90s (following the S&L crisis) 

NOTE: This says nothing about how many people are in the offices (related to the increase in work-from-home), just whether or not the office space is leased.

Office Vacancy RateClick on graph for larger image.

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

The office vacancy rate was elevated prior to the pandemic and moved up during the pandemic.

Reis also reported that office effective rents increased 0.4% in Q3; rents are about at the same level as before the pandemic.

And from Reis on Retail:
Our data shows the national vacancy for neighborhood and community shopping center has stayed flat at 10.3% since a year ago, while asking/effective rent kept virtually unchanged in the 3rd quarter. Trend data on regional and super regional malls tells a similar story. Vacancy ticked up 10 basis-point to 11.1% and effective rent was up 0.1% this quarter. Despite some signs of stabilization, regional mall properties continue to be the most at-risk retail subtype according to our commercial mortgage delinquency data, and they are driving overall delinquency behavior among retail assets.
Reis reported that the vacancy rate for regional malls was 11.1% in Q3 2022, up from 11.0% in Q1 2021, and down from 11.3% in Q3 2021. The regional mall vacancy rate peaked at 11.5% in Q2 2021.

For Neighborhood and Community malls (strip malls), the vacancy rate was 10.3% in Q3, unchanged from 10.3% in Q2, and down from 10.4% in Q3 2021. For strip malls, the vacancy rate peaked during the pandemic at 10.6% in both Q1 and Q2 2021.

Mall Vacancy RateThis graph shows the strip mall vacancy rate starting in 1980 (prior to 2000 the data is annual). The regional mall data starts in 2000. Back in the '80s, there was overbuilding in the mall sector even as the vacancy rate was rising. This was due to the very loose commercial lending that led to the S&L crisis.

In the mid-'00s, mall investment picked up as mall builders followed the "roof tops" of the residential boom (more loose lending). This led to the vacancy rate moving higher even before the recession started. Then there was a sharp increase in the vacancy rate during the recession and financial crisis.

In the last several years, even prior to the pandemic, the regional mall vacancy rates increased significantly from an already elevated level.

Effective rents have been mostly unchanged for regional malls over the last 4+ years, and flat for strip malls for 3+ years.