The overall availability rate for U.S. office space was unchanged as of the end of the third quarter of 2018, remaining at 18.1 percent, according to the latest Savills Studley Report: National Office Sector from commercial services firm Savills Studley. San Francisco remains the tightest market in the country, with an availability rate of 9 percent, followed by Boston/Suffolk County, 9.7 percent; New York City, 11.6 percent; and Austin, 12.8 percent.
According to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield, flexibile office space could triple in size in the coming years, representing 5 to 10 percent of office inventory in many markets. Investors also believe coworking is well positioned to weather an economic downturn.
While America’s South continues on a steady course with a growing population and an increasing number of jobs, officials are acting on some challenges, which include traffic, housing affordability, education needs, and the rising cost of construction.
Hong Kong Central remained the most expensive office market in the world, according to CBRE’s annual Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs report. Hong Kong Central’s overall prime occupancy costs of US$307 per square foot (US$3,305 per sq m) per year topped the “most expensive” list, followed by London’s West End, Beijing’s Finance Street, and Hong Kong’s Kowloon.
At a ULI Triangle event in April, representatives of North Carolina’s Capitol Broadcasting Company shared the firm’s plans to redevelop a historic cotton mill, ultimately shifting the fortunes of the town of Rocky Mount.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into plans to help incubate and retain life-science startups in New York City, panelists said at a ULI New York event in May. Locating in Manhattan offers the benefit of a variety of possible partners, including universities, hospitals, and other technology firms, as well as the presence of investors and potential employees, they said.
A sea change is taking place in the way companies use office space design, amenities, and location to attract the most talented employees to their firms. Speaking at a ULI Boston event in May, panelists said that while lease flexibility is key to attracting desirable tenants, so is the user experience of the building itself.
While investment volumes in commercial real estate in Hong Kong were up strongly last year, flagship office buildings and prime development sites are beyond the reach of all but a handful of players. For most investors, more interesting opportunities lie in other, less-visible parts of the market. Rather than waiting for (and possibly missing) the next correction, investors who are willing to roll up their sleeves may find opportunities away from the spotlight.
Companies may be starting to see that squeezing more employees into less space is starting to be counterproductive, but panelists at ULI’s 2018 Spring Meeting agreed that expansive offices were largely a thing of the past, especially with wireless communications and cloud-based applications increasingly allowing employees to get much of their work done off site.
While commercial real estate investors generally take a positive view on coworking, maintaining a balance of traditional and coworking space in a building is critical when it comes to creating long-term capital value. According to a CBRE survey, investors say that a coworking occupancy of a third of the space or less, with a qualified operator, supports a healthy capital value.