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Commercial Real Estate Sectors Continue to Improve Across the Board as Millennials Make Their Mark

Property fundamentals are getting better while investor interest is rising, says JLL Cross Sector Outlook

CHICAGO, Nov. 6, 2013— Growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employment and the continuing recovery in the U.S. housing market are already impacting commercial real estate as total sector volumes in the first three quarters of 2013 have hit $208.82 billion, an increase of 30 percent over the levels at the same time period in 2012.  The growth in those areas is fueling greater occupancy and rent increases while boosting investor demand. Meanwhile, as Millennials (adults below 34 years old) become a larger component of the workforce, that generation will dramatically impact the operations of the whole range of commercial real estate.

Those are some of the insights and conclusions contained in the new Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Cross Sector Outlook, presented today at the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting in Chicago. The report takes a comprehensive look at how the housing recovery influences all types of commercial real estate; the ways in which the Millennial generation will affect office workplace strategy, retail stores, hotels and apartments; institutional investment patterns; and the indirect impact of growing industries on local real estate.

“The U.S. housing market has experienced significant and welcome improvement in recent years, and the release of pent-up demand should continue to accelerate as Millennials form new households in an improving job market,” said Jay Koster, President of Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) Americas Capital Markets business. “This will, in turn, have a significant impact on commercial real estate, as local economies improve because of the resulting increase in jobs in the construction, real estate, lending, retail and manufacturing industries.  Given these dynamics, we would also expect to see continued investor interest in the apartment sector.”

At the same time, the rise of the Millennial generation and its interest in technology and collaboration will have a major influence on the future of commercial real estate. “Millennials have given rise to a ‘sharing economy’ in the United States, and this has changed and will continue to change how stores market to shoppers, how office space and lifestyle hotels are featured, how online purchases are shipped, and  how new apartment communities are designed and laid out,” said Marisha Clinton, Director of Research for JLL Capital Markets.

As for investors, overall investment sales volume has increased in 2013, jumping 30 percent in the first three quarters when compared to the same period last year. However, the presence of institutions has softened somewhat over the past two years as the amount of core product available for purchase in primary markets has decreased. Accordingly, with the price of those assets rising, many non-institutional U.S. investors are buying core assets in secondary markets. A sizeable chunk of international investors continue to target Los Angeles and Manhattan, but they too are broadening their reach to buy properties in secondary markets such as Houston and Seattle, where the energy and technology sectors, respectively, are thriving.

Broadly speaking, property operating fundamentals are improving, largely because of the rise in STEM employment and limited new development. A summary of each individual sector follows:

Retail vacancy rates should continue to inch down over the next year, as construction remains limited. The lack of new supply also will extend the ongoing recovery in rents. Investor interest in the slowly recovering sector is perking up, as investment sales increased to $33.8 billion in the first three quarters of this year, a rise of 14 percent from the first three quarters of 2012.
• With small and mid-sized companies continuing to lease space, the industrial sector will experience additional rent recovery in the months and year ahead, and the overall national vacancy rate will settle at 7.9 percent at year’s end. The sector also stands to benefit from the growing e-commerce industry and the deepening logistical requirements in the East. Investment sales reached $26.2 billion in the first nine months of 2013, marking a 34 percent increase from the same period one year earlier.
• In the office sector, secondary markets in particular are benefitting from the job growth in the technology and energy markets. Markets with diversified economies should see increased tenant demand, and tightening conditions in CBDs should raise rents, particularly for large tenants. During the third quarter, positive net absorption was achieved nationally for the 14th consecutive quarter; approximately 9.6 million square feet was absorbed. Investment sales in the sector are robust and jumped 32 percent, to $62.9 billion, in the first three quarters when compared to the first three quarters of 2012.
• Overall, the hotel sector continues to boast strong operating fundamentals and growth in revenue per available room (revPAR), and the national occupancy rate in 2013 is set to come just one percentage point shy of the 2006 peak. Going forward, expect further improvement in resort and select-service hotels, the latter of which has garnered more interest from off-shore buyers. Hotel investment sales are soaring, adding up to $14.6 billion in the first nine months of 2013, a dramatic increase from the first three quarters of last year.
• The multifamily sector has dramatically reduced its vacancies since the Great Recession, and both occupancy rates and rents have climbed well above their 10-year averages. The sector’s performance has been driven in large part by growth in STEM employment, which should continue to remain strong. Apartment investment sales totaled $71.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2013, up 29 percent from the same period in 2012.

Looking ahead to 2014, investment sales should continue to demonstrate positive momentum. Despite near-term headwinds related to domestic spending concerns, overall investment sales volume should increase approximately 15 percent in 2014 from its 2013 total. Furthermore, as the search for yield continues and the recovery broadens, expect to see growing interest from investors in core and value-add assets in secondary markets.

Additionally, the overall lending environment should remain healthy next year. While interest rates may increase modestly, which would signal an improving economy, the overall cost of capital will remain low from a historical perspective, and investors will have access to competitive product from the various lending categories.

Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets is a full-service global provider of capital solutions for real estate investors and occupiers. The firm’s in-depth local market and global investor knowledge delivers the best-in-class solutions for clients — whether a sale, financing, repositioning, advisory or recapitalization execution. In 2012 alone, Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets completed $63 billion in investment sale and debt and equity transactions globally. The firm’s dealmakers completed $60 billion in global investment sales and buy-side transactions, equating to nearly $240 million of investment trades completed every working day around the globe. The firm’s Capital Markets team comprises more than 1,300 specialists, operating all over the globe.

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About Jones Lang LaSalle
Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual revenue of $3.9 billion, Jones Lang LaSalle operates in 70 countries from more than 1,000 locations worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services to a property portfolio of 2.6 billion square feet and completed $63 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2012. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $46.7 billion of real estate assets under management. For further information, visit