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Q3 2015 San Fernando Valley Office and Industrial Market Report

Industrial Vacancy Rates in Los Angeles North Hit a 10-Year Low in the Third Quarter  

Industrial vacancies in the Los Angeles North market hit a 10-year low in the third quarter, declining to 2 percent from 2.4 percent in the prior quarter and 2.6 percent in the year-ago period.

Supply is even tighter when you consider that eight of the region’s 13 submarkets are op­erating with vacancy rates below 2 percent. Among them are Canoga Park, Burbank, Glen­dale, San Fernando/Sylmar/Pacoima/Arleta, Sun Valley and Van Nuys, communities with some of the largest concentrations of indus­trial space.

The severe space constraint is now beginning to affect leasing activity. Just 562,378 square feet of industrial space was leased in the quar­ter, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009, and a 67 percent decline compared to the prior quarter’s 1,693,395 square feet of leasing.

Perhaps surprisingly, absorption held up in the third quarter with 716,800 square feet of industrial space absorbed. However, since space is not recorded as absorbed until the tenant moves in, current absorption levels re­flect leasing activity over the past several quar­ters, and it’s likely that we will see a substan­tial drop-off in absorption in coming months due to the constrained supply of inventory.

Average lease rates are now $0.71 per square foot, 22 percent above the lows reached dur­ing the recession. Landlords may push rates on a case-by-case basis, but the severe inven­tory shortage is likely to limit average increas­es for the region as we go forward.

Sales activity continues to be brisk although the number of buildings sold in the third quar­ter fell off compared to the prior two quarters of 2015. A total of 36 buildings traded in Q3 at a median price of $141 per square foot. That compares with 95 building sales at a median price of $133 per square foot in Q2 and 56 building sales at a median price of $141 per square foot in the first quarter of the year. The median price of industrial buildings sold in the current quarter reflects a 28 percent year-over-year increase.

Vacancies Continue to Decline and Lease Rates Rise as a Very Active Sales Sector Pushes Building Prices

Los Angeles North office vacancies dipped to 13.8 percent, a decline of 10 basis points (bps) in Q3 versus the prior quarter and 70 bps below levels in the year-ago period. The last time vacancy levels reached 13.8 percent occurred in Q4 2008 as the impact of the recession was just hitting the Los Angeles North office market. Ultimately, vacancy levels rose to 19.1 percent before beginning the current pattern of descent in 2010.

As space fills, landlords have become more willing to push rents, although the pattern of lease rate increases can best be described as cautiously assertive. In Q3 asking lease rates averaged $2.31 per square foot, $0.02 per square foot more than the average in Q2 and $0.05 per square foot above the year-ago period.

Lease rates in the region continue to remain well below pre-recession highs of $2.50 to $2.70 per square foot, an indication of the slower pace of job market recovery and the way office space is filling. Los Angeles County continues to underperform California and the country at large in employment and earnings recovery.

The spotty nature of the market’s performance can best be seen in absorption levels, which in the third quarter were a meager 61,800 square feet. That compares with absorption of 176,977 square feet in the prior quarter and 290,027 square feet in the year ago period. On a year-over-year basis, absorption was 342,892 square feet compared with 725,000 square feet in the same nine-month period in 2014.

While there has been a steady stream of leasing in size ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet, the market also saw large blocks of space given back in some submarkets in the current quarter, among them, Burbank, North Hollywood and Warner Center, and to a lesser extent, Sherman Oaks and Encino. Except for Burbank, those submarkets all registered negative absorption levels in the quarter. That said, the pace of leasing activity in the last two quarters should push absorption levels up in Q4.

The sales sector continues to be the brightest star in the market with year to date median prices for office buildings rising to $223 per square foot, the highest levels since 2010, and the number of sale transactions on pace to exceed that of any recent year.

Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura, Inc., a member of the Lee & Associates Group of Companies, is a full service commercial brokerage company with offices in Sherman Oaks, Calabasas, Ventura and Antelope Valley. LA North is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Additional in­formation is available at www.lee-associates.com.


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