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Office occupancy increases for second quarter in a row

Jan Verhaegh • 01/07/2021
Office vacancy rates remain unchanged at 8.2%.

The latest figures show that the occupation of office space by tenants and buyers (for own use) in the first half of 2021 amounted to 402,000 m². As a result, the occupancy of office space rose for the second quarter in a row.

The year 2020 started with a relatively high office take-up due to the conclusion of a number of very large transactions. During the year, uncertainty about cyclical factors such as economic growth expectations and structural factors such as divergent forecasts surrounding the adoption of working from home dampened transaction dynamics. Office-based organizations took a wait-and-see attitude, partly as a result of the persistently tight supply situation in the office market.

In the first half of 2021, almost a quarter of the total take-up volume was taken up by companies in the Tech and ICT sector. This is despite the fact that working from home can be well organized in this sector.

Commissioning of offices in the 5 big cities (G5)

About 44% of the occupancy of office space in the first half of this year took place in the 5 largest cities (G5) in the Netherlands. The G5's market share is therefore at exactly the same level as in 2020. This is below the level of the 10-year average that is above 50%. This is caused by the structural shortage of high-quality offices in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.
 
Amsterdam accounted for a significant share of Dutch office take-up at 21% as a result of the addition of new high-quality office buildings. The vacancy rate increased by 1 percentage point and is now at 5.5% at the level of frictional vacancy, but still well below the Dutch average of 8.2%. The vacancy figures in the other G5 cities also barely move. The Hague remains the tightest office market within the G5 at 4.3%, followed by Utrecht (5.1%), Eindhoven (7.8%) and Rotterdam (8.9%).

Preview of office opening 2021

More than a year after the virus outbreak, much is still uncertain. What is becoming apparent is that office-based organizations anticipate growth of their own organization in the light of a growing economy. The commissioning of offices throughout the Netherlands is expected to exceed the level of 2020 (1 million m2) by the end of 2021. This expectation is based on the identified search query postponed from 2020 and the expected demand from office users in 2021 with an expiring lease contract but who have not yet started a housing project in the G5. Based on the combined search that currently covers 475,000 m2, the expected take-up by the end of 2021 is expected to settle within the range of the five-year average (1.1 million m2). In the medium to longer term (2025), Cushman & Wakefield expects a full recovery of uptake to pre-COVID levels. The euphoria about working from home has been pushed into the background by successive lockdowns and from SMEs to multinationals, people are thinking about the optimal use of the office in the post-COVID era.

Jan Verhaegh, Head of Office Consultancy: “Office users are now mainly focusing on the best accommodation strategy for their situation. The period of working from home and the extent to which this will be a permanent aspect, in combination with a new function of the office, is being mapped out, but has certainly not yet been fully crystallized. We see that for most organizations the office will certainly continue to exist as a central place, but that the exact implications of the past year and a half on the new role and function of the office are not yet completely clear.”

Jos Hesselink, Research Lead Netherlands: “Despite the long period of fundamental uncertainty as a result of the COVID pandemic, transactions were made during the entire corona crisis. In absolute numbers, the dynamics in the first half of this year are only 9% lower than in the first half of 2020. Fewer square meters have been taken into use, but this is also due to the scarce availability of offices. The office vacancy rate has been stable since October 2020 and has reached 8.2% of the stock as of mid-2021, the lowest level since 2002.”

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