WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 02/25/13 -- Major commercial real estate sectors continue to improve, albeit slowly, with gradual economic improvement and job creation driving absorption of space, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said rental housing demand has been exceptionally strong. "Rent increases have been higher in multifamily housing where supply is not matching strong demand, thereby allowing landlords to raise rents at faster rates," he said. "Overall commercial real estate leasing activity continued to grow in most markets during the closing months of 2012, which is modestly lowering vacancy rates in all of the commercial sectors early this year."
National vacancy rates over the coming year are expected to decline 0.4 percentage point in the office market, 0.4 point in industrial, 0.3 point for retail and 0.1 point in multifamily, with that sector experiencing the tightest availability.
"Business spending is expected to rise faster in 2013 because of record high corporate profits. Low interest rates also are permitting companies to improve their balance sheets," Yun said.
NAR's latest Commercial Real Estate Outlook(1) offers 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.,(2) a source of commercial real estate performance information.
Vacancy rates in the office sector are forecast to fall from a projected 16.0 percent in the first quarter to 15.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014.
The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates presently (in the first quarter) are Washington, D.C., with a vacancy rate of 9.4 percent; New York City, at 9.6 percent; and Little Rock, Ark., 12.1 percent.
Office rents should increase 2.6 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent next year, following a 2.0 percent gain in 2012. 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 expected to total 34.0 million square feet this year and 42.3 million in 2014.
Industrial vacancy rates are likely to decline from 9.6 percent in the first quarter of this year to 9.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014.
The areas with the lowest industrial vacancy rates currently are Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., each with a vacancy rate of 3.6 percent; Miami, 5.6 percent; and Seattle at 6.0 percent.
Annual industrial rents are projected to rise 2.3 percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2014, after increasing 1.7 percent last year. Net absorption of industrial space nationally is likely to total 121.8 million square feet in 2013 and 103.5 million next year.
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