Washington's commercial property sales market began showing some signs of slowing, as Q1 2022 sales numbers were the lowest since earlier in 2021. However, compared with the first quarter of 2019, transactions and sales volumes exceeded prior years.
Q1 2022 had a strong performance, but signs of a slowdown in sales are emerging.
King County made up the bulk of activity for the quarter with 44% of the transactions and 77% of the sales volume, with nine properties selling more than $100 million.
King, Spokane, and Thurston County sales volumes more than double over the same period in 2021.
As interest rates begin rising from historic lows in April 2022, the impact they will have on sales is just beginning to materialize.
Higher interest rates — coupled with inflation, a stock-market correction in tech, the war in Ukraine, and other economic headwinds — likely mean the market is in for a bumpy ride the rest of the year.
Coming off a record-breaking year in 2021 and going into the traditionally slower first quarter of the year for investment sales, it is not surprising that Q1 2022 figures saw some market momentum ease as numbers across the board are back to similar numbers from the same period in 2021.
Looking back, sales activity in 2021 saw a rebound to pre-pandemic activity levels that created momentum all the way through the year. Based on CBA data, 2021 ended with a record for sales transactions (2,530), coming just shy of a record in sales volume ($21.97 billion). A true V-shaped economic recovery in our state, job growth/recovery, and incredible stock performance during the pandemic, particularly in the tech sector, created strong leasing demand outpacing development. This allowed rental rates to continue rising across most submarkets and asset classes. Ultimately, land and asset values increased significantly, in addition to investor demand, particularly in Puget Sound, which has become a top-tier market for institutional investors.
For the quarter, King County made up 77% of the sales volume and 44% of the sales velocity. King County's sales volume was up 118% from the same period last year, but the number of sales was only up 8%. Comparing same quarter sales volume overall, Thurston County led all counties with a 303% increase, followed by Spokane (151%), King (118%), Kitsap (76%), Pierce (37%), and Snohomish showing the only decline at -50%. By sales velocity figures, Kitsap led with a 75% increase, followed by Spokane (31%), Thurston (29%), King (8%), Pierce (3%), and Snohomish (-28%). By asset class, Office led the way in sales volume with the same period increase of 229%. Multifamily was next at 129%, with the rest being Retail (99%), Land (35%), and Industrial/Flex (-25%). Top to bottom in sales velocity by asset class was Retail (71%), Multifamily (26%), Office (8%), Industrial/Flex (-36%), and Land (-44%). Notable sales were up compared to Q1 2021,10 vs. 4,
with five from 2022 being Multifamily.
Overall, figures are generally up from the same period last year but have fallen a long way from the activity peaks in Q3 and Q4 2021. It will be interesting to see how 2022 continues to play out. As of this writing, interest rates began rising during early Q2 2022, as the fed raised the federal funds rate by 50 basis points. The U.S. economy has been witnessing inflation rates not seen in over 40 years, which is pushing borrowing costs higher. It remains to be seen, but history suggests that in eras of rising interest rates, a slowing economy, and higher inflation, sales volumes will slow and there will be upward pressure on cap rates. But only time will tell, as we are in an unprecedented time.
CBA researches Office, Retail, industrial, and land sales, $250,000 or more, in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Spokane, Kitsap, and Thurston counties. Multi-family sales of $250,000+, and 5-units or more are researched in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. All the raw data provided in our reports are pulled directly from the CBAcma database.
For questions about the reports or to learn how CBA members can request and use this data, please contact Binh Truong, Director of Market and Sales Data, via email or 425-952-2727.