Rental rates for U.S. industrial property hit their highest levels ever in the third quarter, rising to an average price of $5.40 per square foot, according to data from real estate and logistics services company JLL Inc.
Average rents in the quarter inched up from $5.39 per square foot in the second quarter, JLL said. On an annualized basis, industrial rents rose 5.3 percent from the same period a year ago.
The northern California and New Jersey markets are currently experiencing double-digit rent growth, JLL said.
The nationwide vacancy rate of 5.2 percent remained unchanged from the second quarter, JLL said. That is at or near historic lows.
The "North Bay" market in the San Francisco Bay area posted the strongest year-on-year growth in the quarter, with a total asking rent rising more than 33 percent to $8.96 per square foot. The market, which encompasses Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties, has been devastated by wildfires over the past several weeks. The Greater Long Island market came in second with a total asking price of $13 a square foot, a 17.8-percent increase year over year. Long Island asking rents were the second-highest in the nation during the quarter, trailing only the "San Francisco mid-Peninsula" market, which had average asking rents of $16.24 per square foot. Asking rates generally reflect current pricing trends, JLL said.
The multi-year bull market in industrial property has been fueled by the dramatic demand for space from e-commerce companies and retailers needing greater capacity to execute omnichannel fulfillment services. About one-fourth of total leasing demand in the third quarter came from e-commerce companies expanding their presence in markets where they already were. In 2016, that figure was 14.7 percent, JLL said.
By contrast, traditional retailers reported virtually no growth in their physical footprints in the quarter. Traditional retailers contributed to only 0.8 percent of total U.S. expansionary lease activity in the quarter, JLL said.
Ultra-tight capacity is affecting new construction along with existing properties, JLL said. Most new projects are being priced higher than the prevailing asking rents in a given market, it added.FOREIGN DEMAND SOARS
Demand for U.S. industrial property extends beyond America's borders. Annual cross-border investment in the U.S. has increased by 67 percent, on average, since 2010, according to data published yesterday by real estate and logistics firm CBRE Inc. Year to date, the cross-border share of the total investment stands at 14.5 percent, compared to 1.9 percent in 2010. Foreign investors have acquired nearly $61 billion in U.S. industrial real estate since then. Of those, nearly half came from the Asia-Pacific region, with another $17 billion coming from Canada, according to CBRE data.
Greater Los Angeles has attracted the most foreign capital—$1.4 billion—since 2010, CBRE said. Markets such as San Francisco/Oakland, Seattle, and Phoenix, also saw strong foreign interest. Each market has benefitted from strong demographics and well-established logistics hubs, CBRE said.
"Investor perceptions of industrial assets have changed considerably. Over the past decade, industrial real estate has evolved into an attractive property sector, with logistics facilities becoming more sophisticated and market fundamentals strengthening due to new consumer buying preferences," said Jack Fraker, CBRE's managing director, Global Industrial & Logistics, Capital Markets, in a statement.
Fraker added that many foreign institutional investors view the U.S. as a safe country for investment, with opportunities to scale quickly and establish strong logistics platforms.