Press Release

Tech Industry Expands Share of US Office-Leasing Activity, Drives Office Market Rent Gains in Most Tech Hubs

November 8, 2021

The tech industry led a rebound in U.S. office-leasing activity in 2021, fueled by increased hiring and demand for tech products and services, according to CBRE’s annual Tech-30 report. Tech companies claimed a 22 percent share of U.S. office-leasing activity in the second and third quarters combined, up from 17 percent for all of 2020.

Raleigh-Durham stood out in the report for both its high-tech software/service job growth rate and office market rent growth rate. Over the last two years, from 2019-2020, the market added 3,521 new tech jobs, ranking 10th amongst the Tech-30 markets. This growth has continued to fuel demand, in turn boosting office market rental rates by 5.6 percent over the same period of time.

“The tech industry continues to be an economic driver in Raleigh-Durham. Throughout the pandemic, these companies have continued to grow and show interest in our market,” said Executive Vice President Jason High. “Overall, companies are still evaluating their office needs as they move back to in-person work settings. Despite hybrid work schedules being a hot topic, we believe the Raleigh-Durham office market is poised for growth and will continue to be resilient in the years to come.”

Raleigh-Durham’s RTP/I-40 Corridor submarket has been particularly active over the last two years. The submarket posted the most net absorption amongst the Top Tech submarkets from Q3 2019 – Q2 2021. In addition, the RTP/I-40 Corridor submarket had 5.6 percent rent growth during that same period of time.

CBRE’s Tech-30 report, now in its 10th year, measures the industry’s impact on office demand and rents in the 30 leading tech markets in the U.S. and Canada, as well as certain tech-heavy submarkets. This year, tech companies’ office leasing activity increased by 122 percent on average in the second and third quarters, compared to the first. In addition, more than two thirds of the top 30 North American tech markets registered office-rent growth from the second quarter of 2019.

Over this two-year period, four markets posted double-digit percentage gains in office rents: Seattle, Charlotte, Vancouver and Austin. Separately, six markets posted gains in net absorption – the net amount of office space newly occupied or vacated - since mid-2019. Those are Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis and Phoenix.

The gains in tech’s office leasing underscore the industry’s resilience during the pandemic. U.S. tech employment now exceeds its pre-covid level by 3.3 percent, surpassed only by the life sciences industry (6.9 percent). The tech industry expanded by 219,000 jobs in the U.S. since May 2020. The top Tech-30 markets for tech-job growth in 2019 to 2020 are Toronto (a gain of 26 percent), Seattle (22 percent), Vancouver (21 percent), New York (18 percent) and Austin (16 percent).

Sublease Situation

Yet the tech industry still poses a challenge for office markets in one regard: sublease space. Office space listed for sublease by tech companies in the Tech-30 markets nearly doubled from last year’s first quarter to this year’s third, now totaling 134 million sq. ft. Tech companies currently account for 23 percent of all office space listed for sublease in those markets, up from 14 percent in 2019. Still, indicators of leasing activity show that the U.S. total of sublease space likely peaked last quarter.

Submarkets Shining

Among the most resilient office markets in this downturn are leading tech submarkets, which often are located near universities. CBRE has found that office lease rates in leading tech submarkets carry a 23 percent premium, on average, to rates for their cities as a whole. Those with the largest premiums are East Cambridge in Boston (114 percent), Palo Alto in Silicon Valley (66 percent) and Santa Monica in Southern California (63 percent). Tech submarkets also tend to generate some of the strongest rent gains and office-space absorption in their cities.

Top Tech-30 Submarkets

Submarket

Two-Year Rent Growth*

Submarket

Two-Year Rent Growth*

Oakland/East End (Pittsburgh)

34.6%

Northeast (Charlotte)

12.2%

Lake Union (Seattle)

24.1%

Broadway Corridor (Vancouver)

12.0%

Downtown West (Toronto)

17.4%

Far North Dallas (DFW)

10.2%

Tempe (Phoenix)

13.6%

Downtown (Denver)

10.0%

University City (Philadelphia)

12.8%

Sorrento Mesa (San Diego)

9.1%

  • Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2019

CBRE’s report also identifies markets well positioned for resiliency and continued growth based on tech job growth and momentum, office market performance and demand recovery. Those are Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Montreal, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Toronto and Vancouver.

To read the Tech-30 report, click here.

About CBRE|Raleigh

CBRE|Raleigh is a CBRE office serving the Triangle region and is a joint venture between local principals and CBRE Group, Inc. The firm assists real estate owners, investors and occupiers by offering strategic advice and execution for property leasing and sales; property, facilities and project management; corporate services; debt and equity financing; investment management; valuation and appraisal; research and investment strategy; and consulting. In 2020, the Raleigh office completed $2.4 billion of sales and leasing transactions. Please visit our website at www.cbre.us/raleigh.
About CBRE Group, Inc.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Dallas, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2021 revenue). The company has more than 105,000 employees (excluding Turner & Townsend employees) serving clients in more than 100 countries. CBRE serves a diverse range of clients with an integrated suite of services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.