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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Econowatch

By JENNIFER NETHERBY Staff Reporter The office real estate market in the greater San Fernando Valley cooled a bit in the first quarter of 1999 despite getting a boost from the Conejo Valley, according to Grubb & Ellis Co. Still, brokers don’t seem worried. “There’s a lot of transactions pending, leasing is very strong,” said Tom Festa, vice president of Grubb & Ellis. “I think what we’ll see is the second quarter will be very strong in leasing activity.” The Valley office vacancy rate increased to 10.1 percent for the first quarter compared with 9.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 1998. Festa attributed the jump to a short-term lull between lease transactions, and not a sign of a downturn. A large increase in lease signings at the end of 1998 also contributed to the apparent slowdown, Festa said. The east San Fernando Valley saw the biggest increase in vacancies, jumping from 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter to 9.1 percent in the latest quarter. The Conejo Valley, which includes Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks, saw vacancy rates decrease from 11.1 percent in the previous quarter to 10 percent in the latest quarter. The 10.1 vacancy rate for the Valley as a whole is still an improvement from first-quarter 1998, when vacancies stood at 12.3 percent. The West Valley saw the biggest drop in vacancy rates over the year, decreasing from 14 percent for first-quarter 1998 to 9.9 percent for 1999. One sign the economy isn’t slowing is a Valley-wide increase in rents, said Festa. “There’s a lot of transactions pending, leasing activity is strong,” Festa said. “Most markets have shifted from a tenant market to a landlord market.”

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