Intelligent Investment

Tenant Requirements Grow But Occupiers Remain Cautious in May

CBRE Pulse of U.S. Office Demand

22 Jun 2022 5 Minute Read

Looking for a PDF of this content?

  • U.S. office occupiers continued to delay long-term lease commitments amid heightened uncertainty. However, tenant requirements continued to grow.
  • Four of the 12 markets in CBRE’s Pulse of U.S. Office Demand saw an increase in their May leasing index: Chicago (+6 points), Manhattan (+5 points), Seattle (+4 points), and Washington, D.C. (+3 points).
  • Tenant requirements climbed to a pandemic-era high, with the U.S. TIM index rising 6 points to 95 in May. More tenant requirements could lead to improved leasing later this year.
  • Boston continued to lead the Pulse markets in office demand recovery, with a leasing index of 201.
  • The U.S. Sublease Availability Index increased by 2 points in May to 201, and the U.S. Leasing Activity Index fell by 7 points to 81.

What is the CBRE Pulse Report?

To gauge the pace of recovery, CBRE has created three indices for the 12 largest U.S. office markets—Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Using CBRE data, these indices measure office market activity each month and provide early indications of when and where momentum in office demand may be shifting.

These metrics—space requirements of active tenants in the market (TIM), leasing activity and sublease availability—provide a clear picture of office demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 1: Indexed Average Performance of Sublease Availability, TIM and Leasing Activity for the Top 12 U.S. Markets

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

May Demand Recovery by Market

Boston continued to set the pace for office demand recovery in May. Chicago (+6 points), Manhattan (+5 points), Seattle (+4 points), and Washington, D.C. (+3 points) saw an increase in leasing activity, while tenant requirements grew in Houston and Dallas. Occupiers remained cautious in Philadelphia and Atlanta, where sublease availabilities increased and leasing slowed.

Figure 2: May Office Market Recovery Scale, Top U.S. Markets

Image of time line

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Tenants in the Market Index

Figure 3: Indexed Square Footage of Tenant Requirements Compared with 2018/2019 Average

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Figure 4: May 2022 TIM Index–Top 12 U.S. Markets

Image of data table

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

TIM Index methodology note: CBRE tracks the total square footage of requirements from active tenants in the market, with minimum requirements of 10,000 sq. ft. The TIM Index compares the total monthly TIM requirements to a pre-pandemic baseline, which is the average of TIM requirements recorded by CBRE in 2018 and 2019. The index level for the baseline is 100. In most cases, when tenant requirements are given as a range, the index uses the minimum square footage., However, Seattle records TIM using the average requirement within the tenants' size range, while Philadelphia uses the maximum square footage.

Leasing Activity Index

Figure 5: Indexed Monthly Leasing by Market Compared with 2018/2019 Average

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Figure 6: May 2022 Leasing Activity Index – Top 12 U.S. Markets

Image of data table

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Leasing Index methodology note: Leasing activity includes all new leases, expansions and renewals of 10,000 sq. ft. or more that close each month. The Leasing Activity Index uses a rolling three-month average of leasing activity. Most markets the weighted 20% for the current month, 50% for the previous month and 30% for two months prior. For New York and Boston, where more accurate leasing data is available by the end of each month, the weights are 50% for the current month, 30% for the previous month and 20% for two months prior. The monthly rolling average is compared with a pre-pandemic baseline, which is the average monthly leasing activity between 2018 and 2019. The index level for the baseline is 100.

Sublease Availability Index

Figure 7: Indexed Sublease Availability by Market Compared with 2018/2019 Average

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Figure 8: May 2022 Sublease Availability Index – Top 12 U.S. Markets

Image of data table

Source: CBRE Research, May 2022.

Sublease Index methodology note: Sublease availability measures the total square footage of sublease space available for occupancy. The Sublease Availability Index compares monthly sublease availability totals with a pre-pandemic baseline, which is the average amount of sublease space available in 2018 and 2019. The index level for the baseline is 100.

Note: In contrast to the Leasing and TIM Indices, a higher score on the Sublease Index is considered undesirable as it reflects an increase in available sublease space.

Related Insights