Slow Rebound in Office Space Demand Expected in 2024

The NAIOP Research Foundation has published the NAIOP Office Space Demand Forecast for Q4 2023.

Key Takeaways:

  • The office market continues to face stiff headwinds as office utilization has remained relatively flat over the last year, as evidenced by mobile phone location data and building-access records.
  • The U.S. economy has defied many economists’ forecasts for a recession in 2023, but office-using employment growth has stalled. Nonetheless, with a recession now appearing less likely, employment growth should continue next year, and firms may be more willing to commit to leasing space than they have been in 2023.
  • As office leases expire, tenants are trading space for quality, leasing smaller spaces in newer buildings with modern amenities to draw workers to the office.
  • By contrast, the largest increases in vacancies since 2020 have been concentrated in a small proportion of the most functionally obsolete office buildings, which tend to be poorly located and poorly amenitized. Few of these buildings appear likely to remain in use as offices, barring significant renovation.
  • New construction has slowed, but given the lag between starting construction and delivering new office space, projects begun in earlier years continue to reach the market, with 17.1 million square feet delivered over the last two quarters. Combined with negative 12.3 million square feet of net absorption over the last two quarters, these completions have contributed to a rising national average vacancy rate, which reached 18.4% in the third quarter, the highest rate since 1992.

Given these trends, net office space absorption in 2024 is expected to be 5.7 million square feet. Moving forward, the forecast projects that net absorption will total approximately 4.5 million square feet during the first three quarters of 2025.

View Report
Share this post: