Bengals, Broncos and… Office Markets?

by | 17 December 2015

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Big Mac Index to measure currency valuation and the Pizza Principle to index the cost of a subway ride in New York. Well, we’ve got a thing for pitting CRE markets against each other in the context of football. For Super Bowl 49, we ran a piece about the “CRE Bowl,” and in September, Dan Finelli singled out the top ten NFL teams by office market. As the playoffs for the 2015 NFL season approach, I thought it would be interesting to look at the eight current divisional leaders in the AFC and NFC and measure the performance of the major CBDs that host them. What trends stick out, and what may point to teams poised to make it all the way?

Looking at the three key office market indicators of vacancy, asking rent and absorption for the CBDs of the AFC – Boston (New England Patriots), Cincinnati (Bengals), Indianapolis (Colts), Denver (Broncos) and the NFC – Washington, D.C. (Redskins), Green Bay (Packers), Charlotte (Carolina Panthers) and Phoenix (Arizona Cardinals), a few data points jump out.

  • The lowest CBD vacancy rates are found in Charlotte (7.4%), Indianapolis (9.2%) and Boston (9.3%).
  • The largest quarter-on-quarter CBD vacancy decreases occurred in Boston (-0.87 percentage points), Charlotte (-0.31 percentage points) and Washington, D.C. (-0.27 percentage points).
  • The highest CBD asking rents are seen in Washington, D.C. ($56.44), Boston ($52.81) and Denver ($35.56).
  • The largest quarter-on-quarter CBD asking rent increases happened in Green Bay (6.5%), Charlotte (5.1%) and Phoenix (1.1%).
  • The highest CBD absorption totals were in Boston (660,070 square feet), Washington, D.C. (312,582 million square feet) and Denver (152,524 square feet).
  • The largest quarterly increases in absorption took place in Denver (212.8%), Charlotte (27.3%) and Boston (14.2%).

We see that of the top performers in each metric—Boston, Charlotte and Washington, D.C.—clearly stand out. Maybe it’s no coincidence that the strongest performing markets in the group include two of the teams with the best records. Based on the strength of the Q3 office market indicators I’m going with a Patriots-Panthers CRE Bowl with a slight edge to the Patriots, although in commercial real estate—as in football— you can never count out New York if they manage to squeak back into the playoff picture. Particularly if they reach a Super Bowl going up against New England. One thing that these numbers can’t reconcile is how this hottest office market in the country (San Francisco) has one of the league’s weakest teams (49ers), so it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s the top teams lifting the office markets rather than the reverse? We’ll check back in time for Super Bowl 50/CRE Bowl 2.