Although the logistics real estate market saw a volatile second quarter, the sector proved resilient in the final results, according to Prologis’ U.S. Industrial Business Indicator for July.
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The company reported that its proprietary survey of logistics real estate customer activity—the survey began in 2007—“recorded historic volatility in the second quarter,” dropping to an all-time low of below 30 in April before rebounding to 57.9 in July.
The report attributes the substantial improvement in leasing activity to customers having “had more clarity and time to digest how the pandemic might affect their business.”
Net absorption in the second quarter totaled 37 million square feet, which Prologis said was higher than expected. Absorption was so strong, in fact, that the company bumped its forecast of total 2020 net absorption up to 160 million square feet, from 100 million in the first quarter.
The projected volume of expected deliveries climbed from 225 million to 250 million square feet. The increase pushed the forecast for average year-end vacancy to 5.0 percent. Despite 73 million square feet of completions, the national average vacancy rose only 10 basis points to 4.8 percent, which Prologis noted was “still a historically low level.”
Market rents fell quarter-over-quarter by about 1.4 percent, which essentially negated the first quarter’s rent growth. “An increase in rent concessions, particularly in smaller box infill spaces, drove lower net effective rents, while headline rates were stable,” the report said. cancelled
A mixed development picture
While speculative development starts fell by 30 percent (year-over-year) in the second quarter, a handful of markets remained active, including Houston, Dallas and Pennsylvania. Capital appetite for the asset class remains high and continues to gravitate toward build-to-core strategies in lower-barrier markets.
Development accelerated on the build-to-suit side, “with e-commerce driving growth for large box space,” along with “stubbornly high speculative starts by merchant developers in a handful of markets,” according to Prologis.
The report concluded by suggesting that, “Still-low vacancies in most markets, together with structural trends that could drive a brisk recovery, mean the window for customers to act on favorable conditions could be short, even as uncertainty remains high.”
Read the full report on Prologis’ website.