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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Commercial real estate leasing patterns are showing steady but modest growth, according to the National Association of Realtors quarterly commercial real estate forecast.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, projects only modest changes in the coming year. “Jobs are the key driver for commercial real estate, and the accumulation of 7 million net new jobs from the low point a few years ago is steadily showing up as demand for leasing and purchases of properties,” he said. “But the difficulty of accessing loans remains a hindrance to a faster recovery.”
The gross domestic product rose from 2.5 percent in the second quarter to 2.9 percent in the third quarter. NAR’s recent Commercial Real Estate Quarterly Market Survey shows leasing activity rose 2 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter, and higher sales levels than a year ago.
Yun said there have been some shifts in commercial purchases. “Investors have been looking for better yields, and have found good potential in smaller commercial properties, notably in secondary and tertiary markets,” he said. “Sales of commercial properties costing less than $2.5 million in the third quarter were 11 percent above a year ago, while prices for smaller properties were 4 percent above the third quarter of 2012.”
Commercial investment in properties costing more than $2.5 million1 rose 26 percent from a year ago, while prices for large properties were 9 percent above the third quarter of 2012.
National vacancy rates over the coming year are forecast to decline 0.2 percentage point in the office market, 0.6 point in industrial, and 0.5 point for retail real estate. The average multifamily vacancy rate will edge up 0.1 percent, but that sector continues to see the tightest availability and biggest rent increases.
NAR’s latest Commercial Real Estate Outlook 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 are expected to decline from a projected 15.6 percent in the fourth quarter to 15.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates presently (in the fourth quarter) are New York City, with a vacancy rate of 9.8 percent; Washington, D.C., at 9.9 percent; Little Rock, Ark., 12.0 percent; and Nashville, Tenn., 12.9 percent.
Office rents should increase 2.4 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2014. 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 seen at 32.2 million square feet this year and 46.1 million in 2014.
Industrial vacancy rates are likely to fall from 9.2 percent in the fourth quarter of this year to 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014
The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Orange County, with a vacancy rate of 3.9 percent; Los Angeles, 4.0 percent; Miami, 6.0 percent; and Seattle at 6.3 percent.
Annual industrial rents are expected to rise 2.3 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2014. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is anticipated at 97.0 million square feet in 2013 and 104.9 million next year.
Retail vacancy rates are forecast to decline from 10.4 percent in the fourth quarter of this year to 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Presently, markets with the lowest retail vacancy rates include Fairfield County, Conn., at 3.9 percent; San Francisco, 4.0 percent; Long Island, N.Y., 5.2 percent; and Northern New Jersey at 5.3 percent.
Average retail rents should increase 1.4 percent in 2013 and 2.2 percent next year. Net absorption of retail space is projected at 11.0 million square feet in 2013 and 18.1 million next year.
The apartment rental market — multifamily housing — is likely to see vacancy rates edge up 0.1 percentage point from 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter to 4.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, with new construction helping to meet higher demand. As a rule, 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 1.9 percent; Syracuse, N.Y., 2.0 percent; Minneapolis and San Diego, at 2.1 percent each; and New York City, 2.2 percent.
Average apartment rents are forecast to rise 4.0 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2014. Multifamily net absorption is projected to total 239,400 units in 2013 and 211,300 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 78,000 NAR and institute affiliate members specialize in commercial brokerage and related services, and an additional 232,000 members offer commercial real estate services as a secondary business.