Rising Interest Rates
The commercial real estate industry will continue to experience an uptick in interest rates, which will make property purchases more expensive. As a result of the higher interest rates, combined with a high volume of buildings trading hands in 2016 & 2017, we can expect to see a decrease of building investment sales and purchases. The rush of corporations moving to downtown Chicago has driven vacancy rates down in recent years. However, we are starting to see the trend towards increased vacancy due to several large new developments coming online.
Chicago’s reputation as a place to relocate to is growing with the impressive list of large corporations that have already moved downtown and the many more that are in the process of relocating to the city. We are expecting River North and River West to remain in the spotlight. Since there are so many big name businesses located there, many companies want to be in the same area, despite the inflated prices in the hot areas. In 2018, more and more businesses will turn their attention to the budding neighborhoods along the Chicago River, such as Goose Island and the Clybourn Corridor, thanks to several large developments planned by R2 Companies, Riverside Investment & Development and Sterling Bay.
The famously popular trend of an open office with bench-style seating will continue to grow in 2018. However, companies already using this layout have begun to realize its shortcomings. While this office design does increase collaboration, it fails to offer workers a space to concentrate or enjoy privacy which lowers productivity and workplace satisfaction. Employees need offices to concentrate and breakout rooms for privacy to focus on their work.
More and more companies are offering an option to work remotely or with flex hours, as this lowers the number of staff in the office. When fewer employees work in a physical office, the business can reduce square footage and positively impact their bottom line. However, similar to the open-office design, employers are discovering that this rising trend of remote workers and flex hours reduces productivity, lowers collaboration and erodes company culture. Eventually, corporations are reaching the conclusion that having their employees present in a well-designed office space is the most ideal option.
There are a few predictions we can expect to see in 2018: as interest rates rise, the number of investment purchases will fall; a more tenant-friendly market will emerge due to rising vacancy rates; and office trends will continue to change and adapt as companies find the formula with the best results. At a glance, 2018 has a healthy outlook for Chicago’s commercial real estate market, and as always, it should have its fair share of surprises.