London office rents forecast to rise during 2020

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, has released its London office rent forecast for 2020. According to Carter Jonas, rents for prime located, new, mid-rise, Grade A space above 5,000 sq ft are likely to rise across most of the London office sub-markets.

Supply and demand will conspire to push rents for new Grade A space up in many parts of London by, typically, £1.50 – £2.50 per sq ft per annum by Q4 2020.

The predicted rent increases are being underpinned by continued low vacancy and more resilient than anticipated demand as business confidence increases in the wake of the December General Election.

Compiled by Carter Jonas’ research team, the 2020 rent forecast makes several key predictions for the year ahead:

Highest Rent Increase Most Likely In Mayfair

Mayfair is likely to see some of the highest rent increases with a forecast rise of 4.3% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020. Mayfair also continues to hold the prize for the highest rental costs of any of the London office sub-markets – predicted to rise typically to, £120.00 per sq ft per annum for prime space by Q4 2020.

Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Wood Wharf and Stratford are also expected to see rent increases, albeit at lower levels than those forecast in core City and West End districts, reflecting less concentrated supply and demand pressures. By contrast, Hammersmith rents are forecast to remain flat for the year ahead.

Limited Supply and Growing Demand

The pipeline supply of completed office developments reaching the market continues to be below trend. This is a consequence of the 2016 Brexit vote, which resulted in many developers halting their development proposals in the wake of the ensuing economic and political uncertainty.

Michael Pain, Head of Tenant Representation Team, Carter Jonas said: “Low vacancy will underpin rental growth for new Grade A space across many parts of London during 2020 as the completion of new office developments fails to keep pace with stronger than anticipated demand. Occupier demand is likely to gather pace throughout the year in the wake of rising business confidence following the 2019 General Election.”

Continued “Flight to Quality”

A key driver of demand for new Grade A space during 2020 will be the continued “flight to quality”, as employers increasingly use the quality of the work environment to underpin recruitment, retention and productivity strategies in a tight, competitive, labour market.

Increasing Trend Towards Pre-Completion Leasing Contracts

The trend towards tenants entering pre-completion leasing contracts on office space that is under construction is likely to increase during 2020 – especially for space above 30,000 sq ft – as competition intensifies among occupiers to secure the best available space.

Commenting on the 2020 London office market forecast Dan Francis, Head of Research, Carter Jonas, said: “In the wake of the December election, and a striking majority for the Conservative Party, we are seeing increased business confidence in the capital. Following three years of economic uncertainty, when developers reined back their exposure to speculative development, London office rent increases are being driven by historically low vacancy with demand outstripping supply for new Grade A space.

“However, the “Boris Bounce” that we are beginning to witness in the market is fragile and much depends on the government managing to set out a clear and coherent position as we attempt to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year.”