The latest happenings in the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) world during February 2024.

1. Office Sector Troubles

The office sector has been grappling with challenges like a heavyweight boxer in the ring. Leasing activity? Down. Office availability? Up. Delinquencies? Also up. But guess what? Construction is stubbornly hanging in there, like that one friend who never cancels plans. As a result, the office vacancy rate hit a new record high last month at 13.8%. That’s a lot of empty square footage—more than twice as much unoccupied space compared to a year ago. Looking ahead, the forecast predicts even more available office spaces. Leasing activity, which usually gives us a pulse on demand, has dropped about 50 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels. Ouch!

2. Multifamily Sector Rebound

On the brighter side, the multifamily sector is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Net absorption (that’s the fancy term for how much space people are actually using) has skyrocketed by 120% compared to last year. Why? Well, those pesky mortgage rates, hovering around 7%, are pushing folks toward apartment buildings. But here’s the twist: despite this stronger demand, the vacancy rate climbed even higher in February, reaching 7.7%. It’s like musical chairs—new housing supply keeps popping up, absorbing that demand and preventing vacancy rates from falling.

3. Retail Sectors Holding Steady

Meanwhile, the neighborhood retail sector is strutting its stuff, sunglasses on, confidently weathering the CRE storm. And the multifamily sector? It’s got its groove back after a tough year. So, while the office sector grapples with uncertainty, these other sectors are doing their best dance moves.

4. Interest Rates: The Plot Twist

Brace yourselves! Lower interest rates are expected later this year. Picture it: reduced costs, increased demand, and a CRE market that’s ready to cha-cha its way to economic activity. So, keep an eye on those rates—they might just be the secret sauce to a more favorable CRE environment.

 

Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash