Washington D.C., Office Market
January 16, 2010
By Jon Ross

To take measure of the recession’s effect on office transactions in the Washington market, simply watch the city’s tenant base. In a town where the market-wide vacancy rate is 10.8 percent, lessees are being very careful about any real estate moves they make. Tenants who are active are obtaining short-term deals, hoping a brighter day is in the immediate future.

Getting decisions made takes considerably more time than in years past,” says Wendy Feldman Block of Studley’s Washington office. “Although some people feel that tenants are showing less hesitancy recently than they were 6 months ago, it’s very painful getting decisions made.”

Hesitancy among landlords also is contributing to the city’s transactional slump. These owners are in financial trouble, but tenants are requiring massive tenant improvement packages and free rent before leases are signed. This culture leaves landlords in a bind; they want to get space leased up, but they also have to make money. If tenants were more prevalent, finding other interested parties wouldn’t be a problem, but the tenant pool has become smaller and smaller. ...

...“It will take a sizeable pre-lease commitment to get a new building built, and it will require larger tenants,” she says. “The lack of funding available to start new projects, we see that continuing for the foreseeable future.”

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