April 5, 2017 / 3:39 AM / 2 years ago

U.S. office vacancy rate flat in first quarter: Reis

FILE PHOTO: Construction cranes are pictured in the skyline of Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - U.S. office vacancy rate was flat at 15.8 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc REIS.O.

Asking rent rose 1.8 percent in the first quarter from the same period a year earlier, marking the slowest annual rate of office rent growth since 2011. Effective rent rose by 0.4 percent.

If the new U.S. administration simplifies or lowers tax rates, job growth could increase and spur higher growth in the office market, said Barbara Denham, senior economist at Reis.

“Overall occupancy expanded in the first quarter, but growth continued to disappoint as net absorption was the lowest since 2014,” Denham said in a statement.

Net absorption, which is measured in terms of available office space sold in the market during a certain time period, plummeted more than 65 percent to 4.92 million square feet.

Construction activity slowed, with 7.94 million square feet of new office construction completed during the quarter, compared with 9.09 million square feet in the fourth quarter.

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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