February 5, 2019 2019 PPC Markets
Concord/Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek
The commercial real estate market in the East Bay is healthy and ripe for investment. In 2018, the East Bay opened 18.2 million square feet of office space — the most of any market in the nation. With all of the area demand for office space, vacancy has dropped slightly to 4.7% and the unemployment rate is at 3.1%. Keeping consistent with demand trends, research shows commercial real estate prices have risen sharply over the past five years, and in turn, rent prices continue to rise. The biggest driving force for the East Bay commercial real estate market is retail space. In 2018, the Walnut Creek retail market continued to boom with the opening of several new retail and dining spaces.
One of the Denver/Boulder market’s key drivers is the region’s significant tech presence. The metro area has seen an influx of major tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Marketo, and Slack, that have started developing offices in the area. Employment in the metro area went up 2.5% in 2018. Commercial real estate vacancy has risen to 5.9% in the Denver/Boulder area and rental rates have gone up 1.2%, slowed slightly by elevated vacancy. Even with increased vacancy, there has been a huge uptick in metro construction. At the midpoint of 2018, there was 6.5 million square feet under construction, with nearly 675,000 square feet of retail, far surpassing 2017.
The Oakland office market is one of the tightest in commercial real estate, with a 5.3% vacancy rate, just edging out San Francisco. Oakland benefits from the presence of the tech industry and tenant overflow from the Silicon Valley. With such a tight market, prices have risen about 16% over the past two years. Prices are expected to keep rising, with 1.5 million square feet of office space under construction in 2018 and plans underway to break ground on a new building that would rival San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower. On the industrial side, things have slowed down slightly in the past year. Industrial vacancy has risen to 4.2% and there is 5.3 million square feet under construction, a number that is expected to drop.
Commercial real estate in San Francisco has become very competitive, with all of major economic indicators pointing towards sustained, if not accelerating, levels of growth. Tech has become a major driver of the San Francisco market, as the city is home to the headquarters of tech giants Uber, Salesforce, and Yelp. Demand in the area is rising, because tech, start-up, and publicly traded companies alike grow so rapidly. There is only 6.8% office vacancy in the market, with 2.8 million square feet under construction in 2018. Much of the development is taking place in the SOMA neighborhood, where many of tech companies are located. Unemployment in San Francisco has dropped to 2.3%, the lowest rate among of PPC’s markets.
San Leandro’s commercial real estate market has been on the upswing over the past few years. One of the biggest commercial real estate transactions in the area was the 2018 purchase of Westgate Shopping Center by Blackstone Real Estate for $87 million. The complex is a big aspect of the San Leandro economy, having been both a center for retail and a hub for startups and creative businesses as well. Meanwhile, a 2018 study showed there was 27.8 million square feet of occupied and unoccupied industrial space in San Leandro, with a low 3.7% vacancy rate. Over the past three years, lease rates and building sales in the area have increased 25% to 30%.
Seattle is home to corporate giants Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft, and their presence is one of the driving forces in its commercial real estate market. With major companies like these in the metro area, the demand for Class A office space has risen dramatically over the past few years. Seattle has become the strongest real estate market in the nation and the third-best place to invest, mostly supported by the major companies headquartered in the Seattle metro area. Vacancy in industrial, office, and retail spaces have reached historic lows at 4.2%, 7.5%, and 9.1%, respectively. As a result of declining vacancy rates, rental rates are rising as high as $70/square foot.