Central PA’s Office Real Estate Market Hangs on to Low Vacancy, Slows Down on Net Absorption
New office space continues to enter the Central Pennsylvania commercial real estate market. One new building was delivered in the first quarter of 2017, and four more are soon to come. Some of the biggest trends worth noting are the recent record-setting low vacancy rate and high rental rate. This proves the demand for office space, despite the decrease in net absorption.
To fully understand the underlying trends and how they stand to impact the commercial real estate marketing and beyond, let’s dig into the numbers. Here’s a look at what took place in 2017’s first quarter in the Central Pennsylvania office real estate market.
Select Year-to-Date Deliveries:
Only six projects from the Greater Philadelphia market made it to CoStar’s Select-Year-to-Date Deliveries list for this quarter. Central Pennsylvania had the second largest office building delivered to the market in Q1, which is located at 4732 Old Gettysburg Road, Building 5, Mechanicsburg. This building delivered three floors and 60,000 square feet of Class A office space. It is not yet occupied.
Top Under-Construction Properties:
In total, four office buildings are under construction in Central Pennsylvania, with a total of 166,000 square feet of new space, of that 92% is preleased. The largest of these projects is located on Buckwalter Road in Lititz, Pennsylvania. It is set to deliver next quarter with 93,000 square feet of Class B office space that is 100% preleased to Listrak.
Absorption and Demand:
Compared to 2016, net absorption has significantly slowed down. Though still in the positive, this quarter’s net absorption of 40,028 square feet is a long way off from the more than 300,000 square-foot net absorption we saw in the second and third quarter of 2016. Though only one building was delivered this quarter, there are four more under construction. It will be worth watching how this additional square footage impacts the market’s ability to absorb the new space over the coming quarters.
Vacancy & Rental Rate:
Vacant square footage continues to creep up to just about where it was one year ago at this time. It has increased then decreased with each passing quarter, and this quarter continues to follow that trend. Even with a nearly 20,000 square-foot increase in vacancy, the vacancy rate stays strong at 6%. This is where it has been since the second quarter of 2016 and is the lowest percentage we have seen since prior to 2013. As for the quoted rental rate, this continues to rise. At $17.49 per square foot, this is the highest the price has been in at least four years.
Though net absorption has slowed down over the past few quarters, it remains in the positive. The huge increase in absorption that we saw in first quarter 2015, rising from -90,797 square feet to 430,923 square feet, was the result of a burst of new construction, but at that time, the vacancy rate was also higher at 7.4%.
On the up side, the low vacancy rate and high quoted rental rate proves the healthy demand for office space in Central Pennsylvania. In the coming quarters, it will be important to watch how the new buildings entering the market impact this balance. Although four new office building may seem like a large addition of space, 92% is preleased. The question then remains as to whether the businesses filling this space are new and/or expanding, or if they are existing businesses that are moving from another space, then leaving vacancies.
Based upon the data for Central PA’s office real estate market in Q1 2017, what trend do you find to be most interesting or important? Share your insight by commenting below!