Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast Commercial Real Estate Survey Sees Surge in Developer Optimism

The latest Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast Commercial Real Estate Survey signals continued optimism among developers – a slight increase in confidence across commercial real estate submarkets since the survey was last conducted in June 2013. The biannual survey projects a three-year-ahead outlook for the state's commercial real estate industry and forecasts potential opportunities and challenges affecting office, industrial and multifamily sectors.

The November 2013 results show a positive outlook across all markets for the first time since the Survey’s inception in 2007. Clear economic improvement is generating new opportunities for profitable investment in office and industrial space across the state. According to surveyed industry leaders, developers in all areas (with the exception of the Bay Area’s industrial markets) expect to accelerate development activity, tightening the commercial real estate supply.

The increased optimism in many sectors can be tied to job growth in California, especially along the coast, where jobs are being generated at a rate faster than the national average. The current expansion of employment is expected to continue into 2016.

Office Development Sentiment Positive With Southern California in Spotlight

Sentiment in the office space market remains highest in Southern California, likely due to the increased rate of job growth in the region and a tightening of office space supply. Indeed, 70 percent of those surveyed in Southern California indicated that they would start one or more projects within the next 12 months.

In the Bay Area the survey revealed renewed optimism regarding both office rental and occupancy rates through 2016. Fifty-two percent of The Bay Area Panel indicated they would begin one or more new projects in the coming year. This comes on the heels of many new Bay Area projects already under construction, and is indicative of a return to healthy office construction in the region.

Industrial Sector Experiencing Increased Demand

There is also a strong outlook in the industrial markets for manufacturing and warehousing facilities that support California manufacturing, exports to Asia and Mexico, and consumer goods imported from Asia. With the emergence of the Eurozone and Japan from their recessions and the economic growth in China, there is an increased volume of trade though Southern California ports in particular, which may create an increased demand for warehouse space.

Multifamily Sector Remains Robust

Prospects for returns on multifamily housing investments in San Francisco and Silicon Valley during the coming three years look promising. All surveyed panelists in those markets, where occupancy rates are above 97 percent and rental rates are among the highest in the nation, indicated that they would begin projects within the next 12 months. About 65 percent of those surveyed in Los Angeles, where occupancy and rental rates are similar to those in Northern California, could begin new developments in the coming year. Though construction permits for multifamily units have been rising significantly through November 2013 (the survey date) with an increase of 19.6 percent in Los Angeles, a 18.2 percent rise in San Francisco and an uptick of 44.2 percent in San Jose, there may not be enough multifamily housing in late 2016 to affect the rise in rental and occupancy rates.

About the Survey

The Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey and Index Research Project polled a panel of California real estate professionals in the development and investment markets, on various aspects of the commercial real estate market. The survey is designed to capture incipient activity by commercial real estate developers. To achieve this goal, the panel looks at the markets three years in the future, and building conditions over the three-year period. The survey was initiated by Allen Matkins and the UCLA Anderson Forecast in 2006, furtherance of their interest in improving the quality of current information and forecasts of commercial real estate.

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