In February, the national VODI grew 29%, increasing by 13 points to 58.
By Les Shaver | March 25, 2021 at 07:03 AM | Originally Published on GlobeSt.com
One year after the COVID lockdowns began, demand for office space is finally approaching pre-pandemic levels.
The national VTS Office Demand Index (VODI), which tracks tenant tours, both in-person and virtual, of office properties across the nation, posted significant gains in January and February and is now 38% lower than it was just before the pandemic. By comparison, it was 85% below pre-pandemic levels last May.
In February, the national VODI grew 29%, increasing by 13 points to 58. “While we saw some growth in demand in the back half of 2020, the exponential increase in the first two months of 2021, combination with the announcement from the Biden Administration that all Americans will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1, 2021, is providing confidence that a meaningful recovery is on the horizon.” VTS CEO Nick Romito said in a prepared statement.
February also marked the first month since October 2020 where demand grew in all of the office markets tracked by VODI. Previously hard-hit markets New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C. led the growth.
In New York, demand for office space jumped 120% in 2021 and is down 40% from pre-pandemic levels. The VODI has steadily risen from 35 in December to 77 in February after hitting a low of 7 in May 2020.
Last year, some observers, like Michael P. Feldman, CEO of Choice New York Cos., predicted that the office situation would improve in the city.
“At some point, we’re going to have our arms wrapped around this thing,” Feldman said at the time. “And most things will go back normal. To me, it is going to look more like the old normal than most people think.”
While Seattle experienced seasonal declines in Q4 2020, demand is now up 182.6% in 2021. It rose 22 and 20 VODI points in January and February, respectively, to 65. The city’s leasing demand is now only down 24% from pre-crisis levels one year ago.
Two California markets, San Francisco (down 5%) and Los Angeles (down 18%), have almost regained their losses since the beginning of the pandemic. San Francisco’s VODI picked up 38 VODI points from 15 in November to 53 in February, jumping 253% over the last three months. In mid-2020, there was almost no demand in the city.
“While it is encouraging that San Francisco has made up almost everything lost since the pandemic started, it is important to remember that demand in San Francisco was depressed leading into the pandemic, VTS Chief Strategy Officer Ryan Masiello said in prepared remarks.
San Diego office space in March 2021 was half of what it was pre-pandemic. This market is experiencing fits and starts with relative stability now in 2022 – now at 87% of normal.
Not every hard-hit market is experiencing rapid recovery, though. While Boston and Chicago gained 3 and 8 index points in February, respectively, they are coming out of a period of flat or negative growth. VTS thinks growth could be “latent as opposed to absent in these cities.”
VTS isn’t the only source seeing strength in the office market. Investor KBS says that there will always be demand for office space, but with the vaccine rollout and an end in sight for the pandemic, it is bullish on office activity this year.
“Office buildings are not going away any time soon,” Giovanni Cordoves, Western regional president, tells GlobeSt.com. “As long as workers have a need for community and employers strive for ingenuity and collaboration, there will be a demand for office space. Additionally, as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available and people feel safe and comfortable, well-amenitized office properties will once again be in high demand.”
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For the first time in years, retailers are opening more stores than they are closing, with 3,199 store opening announcements already this year.
By Kelsi Maree Borland | March 22, 2021 at 06:41 AM | Originally Posted on Globest.com
This year, more retail stores will open than close, according to a report from Coresight Research published on CNBC. Retailers have collectively announced the openings of 3,199 but only 2,548 store closures. It is the first time in years that store openings have surpassed store closures.
This is a significant turnaround from 2020, when 8,953 stores shuttered, while only 3,298 opened, largely due to the pandemic. However, 2021 store openings are on track to surpass activity in 2019 and 2018, when 4,548 and 3,747 stores opened doors, respectively, according to research from Coresight Research.
Much of this is no doubt due to the expected surge in consumer spending as stimulus checks hits bank accounts. Also, as the COVID vaccines continue to roll out, stores are likely to see more foot traffic.
CNBC also points out that the surge is store openings could be the result of renewed expansion plans from a year ago. Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Five Below and TJ Maxx are all moving forward on expansion plans that were halted during the pandemic. Meanwhile, other retailers are experiencing organic growth. Athletic brand Fabletics has announced plans to open 24 stores across the US this year.
Another key factor are the low retail rents in most major markets. After the mass store closures last year, retail rental rates have fallen dramatically across the country and particularly in core markets like New York City, where retail rents fell as much as 25%, according to research from REBNY. Eight retail corridors have reported the lowest retail rents in a decade. Of the 17 total retail submarkets, 11 have seen a rise in the availability rate from 6% to 67% year-over-year. Landlords have also increased concessions to attract retailers and fill spaces.
Stores are also experimenting with new formats as part of these expansion plans. This includes signing short-term leases or using smaller storefronts. Burlington Coat Factory, for example, is opening 75 net new stores this year, and a third will be 25,000-sqaure-feet, a significant decrease from the company’s standard 50,000- to 80,000-square-foot format.
Other retailers are exploring pop-up strategies. Gucci and North Face partnered last month to launch a pop-up retail shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The collaboration signed a 4,000-square-foot lease at 134 N 6th Street, a property owned by L3 Capital. The pop-up was one of five across the country, which included an immersive environment. At the time, Ariel Schuster, a broker with Newmark that worked on the transaction, said the deal signaled a recovery of the luxury retail market and role that pop-ups could play in revitalizing the sector.
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Results for the third quarter appear positive, though other metrics for apartments activity were mixed.
By Rayna Katz | October 02, 2020 at 07:18 AM
Apartment leasing appears to be on the rebound.
The indicator showed signs of improvement in the third quarter, according to a new report from RealPage, and other recent data also showed healthy activity in the space, possibly pointing up the beginnings of recovery for the second half of 2020.
Greg Willett, chief economist at the real estate technology and analytics firm expressed cautious optimism. “While the US economy has a long way to go before it’s fully healed, there’s enough job production to allow new household formation to return in some areas, so apartment demand is back,” he said in prepared remarks.
Occupied apartments climbed by nearly 147,000 units, outpacing absorption in the second quarter by more than four times. Even more promising, demand in Q3 increased by 8% year-over-year.
This research comes on the heels of AppFolio data that also found improvement in apartment leasing after the first six weeks of the pandemic, following a sharp decline during the early days of COVID-19’s arrival in the US.
“At the outset of the pandemic, as people adjusted to stay-at-home orders and physical distancing mandates across a number of states, our early data suggested a significant decrease in lead volume,” said Stacy Holden, industry principal and director. “However, after about six weeks, leasing activity largely rebounded to expected levels. People still want to move to places that meet their needs.”
Societal trends, such as the surge in both working from-home and remote learning, also drove leasing up. “With many people having had the ability to work remotely this year, the need to live close to the office may have diminished for some,” she explained.
Still other metrics for recent apartment activity paint a mixed picture.
US effective asking rents as of the third quarter are off 1.2 percent from the rates seen a year earlier, according to RealPage. More recently, the ApartmentList reported that rents have dropped in nearly half of the nation’s top 100 markets.
Originally posted on GlobeSt.com
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