Take-up at record low in 2015 ahead of strong start in 2016
Brussels offices Q4 2015
• Impact from the recent terrorist alert in Belgium and Brussels is expected to be short-lived and the economic recovery should remain on track in Belgium. GDP growth is forecasted to rise in the coming months, as is the business confidence. In the meantime, the unemployment rate is expected to decrease at a faster rate in Brussels, though remaining at a high level.
• Take-up is at a record low in 2015, with only 304,000 sq m recorded over the year. This represents a 30% dive compared to 2014 and 25% below the average of the last five years. However, the start of 2016 is expected to boom with more than 150,000 sq m of take-up in the pipeline.
• Considering the lack of qualitative and recent office spaces available (less than 100,000 sq m), occupiers are constrained to (re-)locating in grade B and grade C buildings. Only 60,000 sq m of take-up is recorded in grade A buildings.
• The lack of qualitative and recent office schemes in the Central districts, combined with important delays regarding decisions of major tenants (European Commission, European Parliament, Brussels Region, Federal State), contribute to important changes in the geographical distribution of the take-up. The Central districts represent less than 45% of the total, while the Airport amounts for 15% of the take-up and its office stock represents 8% of the total (Figure 1).
• The vacancy rate is still on a continuous and slight decrease, below 10% at the end of the year. This should nevertheless increase in 2016 as the pipeline (both committed and speculative) is high.
• Prime rents show a strong stability, around EUR 275/sq m/year in the Leopold district. So do the weighted average rents, at EUR 144/sq m/year at the end of 2015.