WASHINGTON, DC-By Jones Lang LaSalle’s reckoning, office investment sales for the DC area are going to clock in between $5.4 billion to $5.6 billion. Whatever it turns out to be–and there are several deals racing for an end of the year close–the final number is bound to be lower than 2011′s $6.1 billion. JLL’s best estimate is a 11.5% drop year over year.
The reasons, of course, are painfully obvious to anyone active in the market. The uncertainty leading up to the presidential election and now, the question of the fiscal cliff, has paralyzed decision-making in the nation’s capitol. “Sequestration is looming over the market and we haven’t seen significant job growth,” JLL’s Jim Molloy tells GlobeSt.com. “Investors don’t know what is coming around the turn.”
Other reasons for the downturn JLL says, include an uptick in refinancings and, somewhat surprisingly at this point, buyer/seller expectations that are still too far apart. Surprising or not, however, it still exits. JLL points to the 25 Massachusetts Ave., NW, in which the ownership group elected to refinance the asset after initially placing the building on the market for sale.
For the moment the growth driver for the area is Downtown DC–specifically core assets in Downtown DC, Molloy says. Indeed MetLife’s acquisition of the Constitution Center for $734 million, or $524 per square foot accounted for 13.6% of the annual sales volume. At a 5.7% cap rate, it also helped push the average cap rate to near-record lows, JLL said.
Other notable transactions in Q4 included the sale of Reston Town Center at $385 million or $475 per square foot, and Union Center Plaza II at $107 million, or $358 per square foot.
For all the angst surrounding DC’s future, pricing has held up fairly well. For that we can thank low interest rates and a lack of investment alternatives. Sales in 2012 averaged a 5.8% cap rate, relative to a long-term average of 6.8%, JLL found.