Office Market dynamics: on balance still a Tenant’s Market

According to a recent report by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), focusing on Johannesburg, the commercial market is “beginning to favour landlords in the prime office accommodation as they are beginning to achieve asking gross rentals and reduced vacancies albeit limited speculative completions”.

The graph below shows the ratio of unlet new office space to total new space. The general trend has been one reflecting a lowering ratio, however in the case of Durban and Johannesburg, the ratio has increased. In Durban's case it is more a function of new space being absorbed into the mainstream market, whereas in Joburg's case the amount of new space on the market (just over 358,000m²) has increased to its highest level since Q3 2009. With the ratio of unlet new space at just under 60% - whilst not that high by historical perspective - could still negatively impinge on the overall vacancy rate going forward.

According to JLL nevertheless, investors are still conservative in committing to new speculative developments due to uncertainty, suggesting that speculative developments represent about 36% of the pipeline in the next 2 years. With all the committed construction activity in the Johannesburg area, office stock is expected to reach over 8,6 million m² in 2012 and 8.8 million m² in 2013.

JLL indicates that Sandton and Bryanston continue to be nodes of choice for office accommodation where heightened activity was noted during Q1 2012. Large deals in the market during in this period are the take up of over 16,000m² by the law firm CLA Cliff Dekker in Sandton and the 3,000m² office lease by Huawei Technologies SA in Bryanston.

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