“The risks are manageable, and the outlook is strong.”
This was the key takeaway from Cushman & Wakefield’s CRE 2022 Outlook. Cushman & Wakefield Head of Economic Analysis and Forecasting Rebecca Rockey discussed the company’s predictions for America.
While some predictions will come as no surprise, others are not so straightforward. All things considered, 2022 looks good for CRE in America.
Cushman & Wakefield predict a turning point for office next year, and there are encouraging signs that recovery has already begun as people gradually revert to normal behavior. One sign is that leasing is trending higher. Businesses are signing longer-term leases, and sublease space is trending down. Vacancy is also trending down in an increasing number of markets, expected to peak by year-end in the U.S.
Offices will continue to calibrate for remote work, challenging buildings to consider the optimal way to attract and maintain tenants.
Regional absorption is also on track to turn positive in H2 2022.
2021 was a booming year for industrial, with demand surpassing 500 million square feet for the first time ever. According to Rockey, this rate of growth is not sustainable and was largely driven by confined demand from 2020. Demand is said to remain 100 million square feet higher than historic norms, exceeding 400 million square feet for the next few years.
Despite the major pickup on the supply side, Rockey thinks vacancy will remain sub-four percent for the next two years in the aggregate. This will only further fuel rent growth. Values are expected to climb by close to double-digit range, and investors will be left to decide how much they’re willing to pay.
Retail was another sector that experienced a record year in 2021. Demand surpassed 37 million square feet in 2021 — the sector’s best year since 2017. In combination with the constrained supply side that was largely oriented toward mixed-use in specific high-growth markets, vacancy peaked at much lower level. Vacancy continues to trend downward toward six percent and Cushman & Wakefield predict an even further dip as we head into 2023.
“This is a different territory for retail,” Rockey said. “We’re seeing this narrative unfold… Recovery will pick up steam in gateway cities where international tourism, return to office and accelerating business travel will start to push the fundamentals in a more significant manor.”
Like industrial, last year’s significant growth rate is not sustainable long term, but Cushman & Wakefield say demographic forces will continue to push the sector over the next few years.
Rockey expects higher rates still on household formation, 1.3 million square feet this year, and 1.2 million square feet in 2023. This year’s rate of demand is translating into one that is over twice the long-term average.
Though supply is ramping up, it’ll remain a low vacancy environment for the next couple of years. Of course, this factors into rent pressure, resulting in strong overall rent growth. This will remain an asset class that investors will remain focused on, but the recoveries and expansions in retail and office will also start to push investors and rotate them back into those sectors, Rocky said.
Alternatives: Self Storage, Data Centers, Student Housing, Life Sciences, Senior Housing, SF Rental Homes
Just 10 percent of all sales were alternative pre-pandemic. Now it’s 15 percent and climbing, with demographics driving niche categories, like life sciences, which were among the first to post positive absorption within the broader office of R&D space markets.