Market Pulse: San Francisco, July 2019

Welcome to the first edition of NAI Northern California’s newest feature. We checked the pulse of the San Francisco commercial real estate market to discover the ups and downs of the office, industrial, retail, and multifamily markets.  Each market has four dimensions: current inventory, 12-month net absorption, under construction, and vacancy rate.

Check out our July 2019 San Francisco Market Pulse infographic. If a dimension is on the rise, the pulse goes above the baseline; if it’s on the decline or negative, the pulse will dip below the baseline.

This month the San Francisco office market’s inventory is up to 175 million sq. ft., with 12-month net absorption down at 2 million sq. ft. of office space. Approximately 6.9 million sq. ft. are under construction with an upward trend. The vacancy rate is rising, at 6.3 percent.

For more detailed updates or to find out how San Francisco’s submarkets are doing, contact one of our advisors; whether you’re interested in office, industrial, retail, or multifamily properties, we can help.

Foreign Investment Rising for Net Lease Assets

Foreign investment in commercial real estate is on the rise due to the search for yield and portfolio diversification, according to the World Property Journal. Globally, investment in net lease properties (office, retail, and industrial) averaged $3 billion per year from 2011 to 2014 and is up to more than $8 billion per year from 2015 to 2019. In the United States, foreign investments for Q1 2019 represented 15.1% of net lease transactions, totaling $1.9 billion, up 6.6% compared to Q1 last year when they only represented 12.9% of the market. In 2018, foreign investors held 30.1% more net lease properties than in 2017, an $8.8 billion increase.

Most of these investors are from Canada, South Korea, and China. Canadians invested $5.55 billion, with a focus on industrial properties; South Koreans invested $3.28 billion, overwhelmingly preferring office space; and Chinese investments of $3.22 billion also focused on industrial assets.

So far this year, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Columbus, and Los Angeles have received the most foreign capital, but commercial real estate investments in high-growth secondary and tertiary markets like Phoenix, Seattle, Baltimore, and Atlanta are also becoming popular.

Source: World Property Journal

San Jose and Oakland challenge SF in private equity real estate market

California’s largest cities for real estate investment, San Francisco and Los Angeles, are now being challenged by San Jose and Oakland. California holds almost 20% of the private equity real estate (PERE) in the country and 12% of global PERE assets under management, according to a study by accounting and advisory firm EisnerAmper and Preqin. PERE properties include office buildings (high-rise, urban, suburban and garden offices); industrial properties (warehouse, research and development, flexible office/industrial space); retail properties, shopping centers (neighborhood, community, and power centers); and multifamily apartments (garden and high-rise). Less common but still an option are senior or student housing, hotels, self-storage, medical offices, single-family housing to own or rent, undeveloped land, and manufacturing space (via Investopedia). 

So how do the Bay Area cities compare?

San Francisco’s strength is in its office market, with $3.2 billion PERE deals in 2018 (a $1 billion increase over 2017) and another $1 billion already invested this year as the Bay Area’s largest tech companies continue to expand. The overall PERE total for last year was $4 billion,down from $4.8 billion in 2017; according to an article in the San Francisco Business times, “the drop-off in the quantity of large mixed-use transactions compared with recent years is at the heart of the decrease.” San Francisco is also running out of space, which limits growth.

While San Francisco is still the largest market for office transactions in the Bay Area, San Jose is leading in growth. Their office transactions in 2017 and 2018 both reached $1 billion, with a record in 2018 at $1.2 billion. In Q1 of 2019 alone, these transactions reached $500 million, putting San Jose on track to quadruple its PERE deals this year. The overall PERE total for 2018 was another record of $2.7 billion, almost 60% more than 2017 and a sharp contrast to San Francisco. 

Oakland may be emerging as a competitor, with more reasonable housing options for tenants; the tech company Square announced at the end of last year their intent to move 2,000 employees into an Oakland office. Even as a smaller city, it is on track to reach a total of $1 billion in PERE deals this year, with $560 million in Q1 2019 already; $493 million of that was just two office space deals by Starwood Capital Group. The city also has more Opportunity Zones than either of the other two cities.

With San Francisco as the “benchmark,” San Jose as the “growth leader,” and Oakland as the “up and comer” (according to the SF Business Times), all three cities are going strong.

Source: SF Business Times

 

The San Francisco office pipeline is overflowing

The SF office pipeline is overflowing. The city only has enough cap space to approve about 2.1 million square feet of office space, but over 8.1 million square feet are currently proposed. So what happens to the developers who want to add that extra 6 million?

The Planning Commission can only approve 950,000 square feet of office development per year, with any unused approvals rolling over into the next year. When there’s not enough cap space to go around, the commissioners get to develop their own policies to decide which projects will go forward and which will have to wait until next year. One such policy approves projects in phases, so a given project might be able to start work on half of its square footage this year and resubmit the second half for approval next year; the idea is that this helps projects get started moving forward more quickly. However, it also means that they take longer to complete. From The San Francisco Business Times: “Doing so means ‘uncertainty, and it means a longer approval process,’ said Ryan Patterson, a partner at Zacks, Freedman & Patterson. ‘Time is money. So longer approval processes mean more expense. And that means even higher office rents.’”

Some developers have been able to carve out exemptions by getting voters to approve them; the Shipyard project in Hunter’s Point got its 5 million square feet of office space approved this way. The current system doesn’t seem likely to go away, though, leaving commissioners with a lot of power and developers with a lot of waiting.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

Jonathan Kelly joins NAI Northern California as Senior Investment Advisor in San Francisco

Specialist in residential real estate and technology industries joins the team in San Francisco

NAI Northern California is pleased to announce that Jonathan Kelly has joined as Senior Investment Advisor in San Francisco to focus on multifamily investment properties. Jonathan uses his entrepreneurial mindset to develop creative products and solutions for his clients, and spends his free time analyzing market conditions and evaluating potential properties.

 

NAI Northern California’s Tim Warren named East Bay/Oakland Top Sales Broker by CoStar Power Broker Awards

Tim Warren recognized with CoStar Power Broker Award as a Top Sales Broker for the East Bay/Oakland

The CoStar Power Broker Award winners for 2018 were recently announced, and one of NAI Northern California’s top producers, Tim Warren, was named a Top Sales Broker for his work in the East Bay/Oakland market.

As a commercial real estate services company, NAI Northern California was also recognized as a Top Sales Firm in both San Francisco and the East Bay/Oakland markets.

Check out all the CoStar Power Broker Award winners here.

 

City passes plan for new SoMa homes

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a sweeping, years-in-the-making plan to transform Central SoMa, potentially bringing thousands of new homes and tens of thousands of jobs to the area, and ending nearly a decade of wrangling over the ambitious package of zoning changes.

The city defines Central SoMa as the area south of Market Street, north of Townsend, and squeezed between Second and Sixth.

It’s a space that includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), swaths of low-income housing, nearly 30 landmark buildings, the Flower Mart, and, soon, a stretch of the Central Subway along Fourth Street.

The Central SoMa Plan changes zoning and height limits throughout the neighborhood to encourage more growth, more density, and more diversity of use in future development and redevelopment.

The final passage came as no surprise, after lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of the Central SoMa Plan the first time it came before the board in November.

But the ramifications of the proposal—which took eight years and ran over 1,600 pages in its final form—are so potentially profound as to generate an air of drama about the final vote all on their own.

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF

 

 

San Francisco startup to build 270-unit ground up development in SoMa as part of co-living push

Starcity, a co-living development startup that is known for building “dorm living for adults,” is planning to erect a 270-unit building dubbed “Minna” in SoMa as part of its latest development push.

It also is eyeing a downtown San Jose property three blocks from Caltrain for more than 750 units.

Starcity’s model of private rooms paired with shared spaces can boost the number of units or rooms in an apartment project threefold, the company said in a statement Wednesday morning. Along with ground-up developments, the company converts and renovates defunct or underused commercial spaces into communal living spaces geared toward a middle-income demographic squeezed by high housing prices.

The San Francisco-based housing developer said Wednesday that 50 percent of the units will be affordable in the project at Minna & 5th Streets. Starcity currently has four San Francisco properties it owns and operates, with nine more in the pipeline.

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

How will S.F.’s tallest buildings fare in the next big earthquake? Report expresses concerns

San Francisco’s tall buildings may be at risk of damage during the next big earthquake, a study released by research nonprofit Applied Technology Council (ATC) last week warns.

The 36-page report outlines vulnerability concerns over outdated building standards and provides a strategy for proactive safety checks.

The study’s release comes just days after cracks were found in two steel beams of San Francisco’s newly minted $2.2 billion Transbay Transit Center, and as Millennium Tower next door continues to sink and tilt. Last year, the late Mayor Ed Lee commissioned the report, which was prepared by a group of engineers.

The report probed the city’s 156 tallest buildings — either constructed or permitted for construction — that are at least 240 feet high, primarily located in San Francisco’s Financial District. About 60 percent of these buildings house business and office space, while the rest are zoned residential.

 

Read more on San Francisco Business Times

 

 

SF considers barring offices from Union Square ground floor

Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s plan would reserve shopping district spaces for retail.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Aaron Peskin made a bid to squeeze big-ticket office space out of the Union Square shopping district, introducing new legislation that would reserve ground floor space in Union Square for retail establishments.

“Office space is in high demand and frankly out competes retail and threatens those spaces currently occupied by retailers,” said Peskin, citing the plight not just of shopping hubs around Union Square but also the likes of “tailors, design professionals, and life sciences.”

 

 

Read more on Curbed SF