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Vacancy rates in US offices and apartment up marginally in Q2

Washington

US OFFICE and apartment vacancy rates rose marginally in the second quarter from a year earlier, as property owners had yet to feel the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, said real estate research firm Reis.

The US office vacancy rate rose to 17.1 per cent in the second quarter from 16.8 per cent the year before, while the US apartment vacancy rate inched up to 4.8 per cent from 4.6 per cent.

Reis said the forced work-from-home option driven by the pandemic has prompted many office planners to re-consider future needs, which will affect the office market for years.

"Demand for apartments could hold steady in most metros. as the housing sales market will likely bear the brunt of the downturn that the pandemic has incurred," said the report.

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In May, US home sales dropped to their lowest level in nearly a decade, strengthening expectations for a sharp contraction in housing market activity in the second quarter.

Reis said that in the apartment market, the national average asking rent and effective rent rose 1.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively from a year ago.

The research firm said vacancies will continue to rise, and forecast rent declines for the next two quarters, especially if the Paycheck Protection Program, a government initiative to help small businesses apply for forgivable loans and unemployment insurance, is not renewed.

The research firm said the US retail vacancy rate was flat at 10.2 per cent in the second quarter, and even though retailers have re-opened in the last month, many may not survive a second wave of the virus.

New construction of office spaces declined to 306,600 square metres from 947,600 sq m a year earlier. REUTERS

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