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CBRE report highlights ongoing strong conditions for industrial real estate market

Data recently released by CBRE in the February edition of its “Americas Industrial & Logistics Trends Report” points to ongoing industrial real estate expansion throughout most parts of the Americas.

By ·
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By ·

Data recently released by CBRE in the February edition of its “Americas Industrial & Logistics Trends Report” points to ongoing industrial real estate expansion throughout most parts of the Americas.

The report’s myriad data points, which are based on feedback from more than 950 CBRE brokerage and investment professionals, highlight the current state of the industrial real estate market, which continue to hit, or approach, all-time highs for certain benchmarks, including:

  • The net rent index rising 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter and 6.4 percent annually to $6.14 per square foot, which is the highest level since CBRE first starting tracking this metric in 1980;
  • User demand in the Americas industrial and logistics market slowed slightly in the fourth quarter, down from record highs earlier in the year;
  • U.S. net absorption fell annually and sequentially, with the vacancy rate down ten basis points to 4.9 percent and availability flat at 8.2 percent. CBRE said that for each quarter since Q3 2010 leasing demand, as measured by net absorption, has outpaced new construction while the gap between them has narrowed considerably

In an interview, David Egan, CBRE head of industrial and logistics research in the Americas, explained that while net absorption is down, it is really a byproduct of a tight market as there are so many users looking for space.

“Things are very tight with so little vacancy available,” he said. “Demand really has not gone away, but the ability to meet demand has become an issue in some markets. It is something we need to keep an eye on, because when users leave a market it is an indication of a problem, so this lower number indicates all users are still looking for space, it is just that vacancy rates are so low that they are unable to find a deal or just postponing a decision. This is what happened in some cases around the election, but the number of deals our brokers are working on has not really changed.”

What’s more, he explained that 2017 marks the ninth year of an expansion cycle even with these building constraints.  

The gain in the net rent index continues and ongoing trend of rent growth, with CBRE noting that rents have gone up by 1-to-1.5 percent per quarter and this increase is in line with what was expected. And even though over all activity has gone down a bit, Egan said the deals that we done “were so incredibly competitive” even with an over all supply and demand imbalance with landlords able to raise rent significantly.

“I was a bit surprised with the net absorption number, as my expectation was that the fourth quarter was going to be huge, with heavy user demand,” he said. “Even with a bit of a pull back, the full year was very strong. There were some other forces at play, too, with the third quarter being massive as deals made in the third quarter may have spilled into the fourth quarter, which could have evened things out. But as far as rental growth and declines in vacancy, things came in at more or less what we were expecting.”

From a U.S. tenant and user perspective, CBRE observed that e-commerce, 3PL, and food &beverage tenants are still dominating user demand in most markets. And it also found that due to very low U.S. unemployment rates, occupiers are concerned about the availability and cost of labor, which is a major factor in location decisions. Another factor cited by CBRE was that there have been 27 consecutive quarters of positive net absorption, which has raised occupancy to 95.1 percent for its highest level going back to when CBRE Econometric Advisors first started tracking it in 2002.

“The dynamics on the ground are the same as they have been for a while,” he said. “E-commerce is really a big factor, and while a huge driver it still represents less than half of total deal flow at around 30 percent. E-commerce players have a preference for big box and high-cube facilities, but there definitely has been an increased preference for smaller, closer in last-mile-type facilities closer to the last touch of a package, which means being closer to the customer and also means a smaller building. We are seeing greater activity in that area. Big box is still the majority of demand, but it is not the massive majority like it was a couple of years ago. It is interesting to see how diverse the demand has become in terms of the specs and location of buildings. It is definitely not a big box, big market cycle anymore. It is a more diverse and widespread cycle.”   

From an investment perspective, CBRE said that U.S. industrial investment in Q4 came in at $17.3 billion, which marked the highest quarter of 2016, with the full-year total at $59.2 billion for its second highest tally since 2007 although it was 24 percent the record set in 2015. 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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