According to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast, all of the major commercial real estate sectors are seeing improved fundamentals, but multifamily housing is becoming a landlord’s market commanding bigger rent increases. These trends also are confirmed in NAR’s recent quarterly Commercial Real Estate Market Survey.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said vacancy rates are improving in all of the major commercial real estate sectors. “Sustained job creation is benefiting commercial real estate sectors by increasing demand for space,” he said. “Vacancy rates are steadily falling. Leasing is on the rise and rents are showing signs of strengthening, especially in the apartment market where rents are rising the fastest.”
NAR forecasts commercial vacancy rates over the next year to decline 0.4 percentage point in the office sector, 0.8 point in industrial real estate, 0.9 point in the retail sector and 0.2 percentage point in the multifamily rental market.
“Household formation appears to be rising from pent-up demand,” Yun said. “The tight apartment market should encourage more apartment construction. Otherwise, rent increases could further accelerate in the near-to-intermediate term.”
Construction activity is still low, with 95 percent of experts reporting it is below normal, and 83 percent said it is a buyers’ market for development acquisitions; prices are below construction costs in 78 percent of markets.
The apartment rental market is likely to see vacancy rates drop from 4.7 percent in the first quarter to 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013; multifamily vacancy rates below 5 percent generally are considered a landlord’s market with demand justifying higher rents.
Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates currently are New York City, 1.8 percent; Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., each at 2.5 percent; and San Jose, Calif., at 2.7 percent.
After rising 2.2 percent last year, average apartment rent is expected to increase 3.8 percent in 2012 and another 4.0 percent next year. Multifamily net absorption is forecast at 209,900 units this year and 223,600 in 2013.
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