The fundamentals of the US commercial property market are showing signs of improvement, with vacancy rates expected to drop over the coming year. According to the National Association of Realtors's (NAR's) quarterly commercial real estate forecast, a strengthening across all sectors of the market is anticipated. Two-thirds of the professionals questioned stated they believe there will be an improvement during the first quarter of 2012, while rental increases are also on the cards. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun commented: "Sustained job creation is benefiting commercial real estate sectors by increasing the demand for space. Vacancy rates are steadily falling."
A decline in the empty space available in the office, industrial, retail and multifamily housing sectors is predicted between the first three months of this year and the same period in 2013, with vacancy rates in the retail industry likely to fall the most - dropping from 11.9 per cent at present to 11 per cent in a year's time. Meanwhile, it is the multifamily housing market that has lowest vacancy rate, currently standing at 4.7 per cent. The NAR noted this makes it a "landlord's market, with demand justifying higher rents". Mr Yun observed that apartments are likely to be a lucrative real estate investment going forward. "Leasing is on the rise and rents are showing signs of strengthening, especially in the apartment market where rents are rising the fastest," he asserted.
The NAR is anticipating rental increases of 3.8 per cent in the multifamily housing market over the course of 2012, with the cost of living in such accommodation likely to climb by a further four per cent in 2013. However, office, retail and industrial properties will see much more modest jumps in rent, with no sector expected to see an appreciation of more than two per cent this year. According to the NAR Commercial Real Estate Quarterly Survey for the final three months of 2011, leasing rates in the US were up by two per cent, while rental charges fell by four per cent, compared to the previous quarter. Respondents to the study cited financing as the biggest challenge facing the market in 2012, followed by the economy.