Deciphering Downtown Manhattan’s multiple office market reports

TRD’s analysis of Q1 reports from top firms paints a portrait of a market in flux

Colliers CEO Jay Hennick, JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich and Cushman & Wakefield CEO Brett White. (Getty, JLL, Colliers, Cushman & Wakefield)

The following is a preview of one of the hundreds of data sets that will be available on TRD Pro, the one-stop real estate terminal that provides you with all the data and market information you need.

As the pace of vaccinations slows and debates over remote work continue, there remains much uncertainty around Downtown Manhattan’s office market.

To understand where things are at right now, TRD Pro dissected first quarter office market reports from the city’s top commercial brokerages, which paint a portrait of a market in flux. Firms uniformly agreed that Downtown Manhattan’s market is recovering, but disagreed as to the extent of the damage caused by the pandemic.

The neighborhood’s net absorption numbers, for instance, range from Cushman & Wakefield’s -878,040 square feet to CBRE’s -3,200,000. Meanwhile, the first quarter inventory figures go from Cushman’s 88.7 million square feet to Colliers’ 107 million square feet. TRD included an aggregate figure for key office market metrics by averaging the numbers across reports to provide a more streamlined view.

Frank Wallach, who heads the team that worked on Colliers’ report, attributes those differences to the fact that brokerages don’t agree on how big the Manhattan office market is and therefore have different baselines. Reports from Cushman, JLL and Newmark estimate the size of Manhattan’s total office inventory between 400 million to just over 460 million square feet. Colliers, meanwhile, tracks it at 537 million square feet.

Wallach said that brokerages also often differ in what types of buildings they include in their reports. He said that Colliers’ report has a larger total square footage because it covers all building classes (Class A, B and C) and includes owner-occupied properties. “We included every building unless the city runs it,” he said.

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Other metrics included in our look at the Downtown Manhattan office market include average asking rent per square foot (aggregate $60), total vacancy rate (aggregate 13.9 percent) and total leasing activity (aggregate 416,669 square feet).