In Another Good Sign For Office, Tours Jump 20% In March
Tours of U.S. office spaces spiked in March, rising 20% over February numbers and 8.2% compared to March 2021, according to the latest VTS Office Demand Index.
VTS tracks the number of unique in-person and virtual tours that prospective tenants take of office properties, which tend to be precursors of lease signings. The company's national index now stands at 66, up 11 points over the month before. Before the pandemic, in March 2020, the index stood at 102.
Nearly all of the markets forming the index recorded monthly increases in tours in March. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., all saw demand rise. Boston and Washington experienced monthly gains of 38% and 30%, respectively, giving Boston the largest percent increase of any market, while Washington had demand levels not seen since July 2021.
Tours in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City office markets all rose between 20% and 25%. Demand for space in Chicago rose only 5% for the month.
“What remains to be seen is if the near-term momentum is sustainable,” VTS Chief Strategy Officer Ryan Masiello said in a statement. “If it is, demand for office space could easily reach two-year highs over the next few months.”
VTS' findings are in line with other metrics gauging the office market, which indicate that workers are coming back — although not yet at pre-pandemic levels — as a sense of normalcy returns following waves of coronavirus variants.
The latest Kastle Systems Back to Work Barometer found that American office workers are back to the office at the highest rate since the beginning of pandemic-related shutdowns in March 2020. Kastle tracks access activity data from KastlePresence app, keycard and fob usage in the office buildings.
As the pandemic recedes further, demand is expected to continue rising somewhat, though workers' taste for working from home isn't likely to go away, either. Permanent remote positions doubled from 9% to 18% of the U.S. job market during Q4 2021 and could reach as high as 25% by the end of 2022, according to a study from job site The Ladders.