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Seattle rents for offices soaring much faster than elsewhere

Mike Rosenberg, The Seattle Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

SEATTLE -- It's not just housing prices: Seattle is not the bargain it used to be for companies, either.

Historically, the city was a cheaper place to rent office space than a lot of other cities with advanced economies. That held true through last decade's economic upswing, and during the recession.

But the city's recent boom driven by Amazon and other tech companies has propelled Seattle up the ranks of the nation's most expensive places to rent an office, passing Chicago and Los Angeles just in the last three years.

During that span, Seattle office rents have surged 31 percent, or about 21/2 times faster than the national average, according to an analysis by Cushman & Wakefield for The Seattle Times.

And finding office space is getting harder, despite all those cranes putting up new office high-rises.

The vacancy rate has dipped to 5.7 percent, down from a high of over 20 percent during the recession and the previous recent low of 8.8 percent a decade ago.

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Seattle now has a smaller share of offices sitting empty than San Francisco or Manhattan, the two most expensive commercial real-estate markets in the country.

In fact, Central Seattle has the lowest vacancy rate among the 10 biggest downtown office markets in the country, according to Colliers International.

It's easy to see why: Demand from companies has grown much more quickly than construction has kept up with.

Consider Amazon, which already occupies far more Class A office space in Seattle than any company has in any other big U.S. city.


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