COVID Forcing Office Landlords Nationwide to Grant More Concessions to Secure Tenants
Free Rent, Tenant-Improvement Allowances On The Rise
According to a new report by CBRE, office building owners provided more free rent and larger tenant-improvement allowances in the second quarter to secure new office leases and renewals amid a general slowdown in leasing activity due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The impact of these concessions is evident in the second quarter's 6.6 percent, year-over-year decline in net effective office rent in the 15 largest U.S. markets, according to CBRE. Net effective rent takes into account financial concessions (periods of time that a tenant does not have to pay rent, contributions toward the construction of a tenants space, etc.) that will be subtracted from a lease's contracted base rent. In comparison, base rent - before concessions - declined by only 1.1 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the average length of free-rent periods provided to induce a new lease signing or renewal in the second quarter amounted to 10 months. That's a 13.7 percent increase from the first-quarter average.
Another measure of concessions - tenant-improvement allowances - increased by 5.1 percent in the second quarter from the first to $75.57 per square foot. Landlords provide tenants these allowances to build out their new space to their individual needs. That percentage gain might have been greater if not for declines in construction pricing.
"Overall, U.S. office-leasing activity declined by roughly 43 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, so it is to be expected that building owners would need to occasionally use some sweeteners to nail down a new lease in this tough environment," said Whitley Collins, CBRE Global President of Occupier Advisory & Transaction Services. "This means that office tenants can find some advantageous terms in many markets, at least until the U.S. economic recovery gains more momentum".