San Francisco’s office market is starting to recover—but the pandemic plummeted the sector into a deep hole. According to the fourth quarter report from Avison Young, the office vacancy rate has surpassed the former peak in the financial crisis, reaching 19.1% at the end of the year, compared to 15.5% in 2009. The historical average is only 10.1%.

The vacancy rate is a reflection of meek office leasing activity. While there was some recovery of leasing demand last year, which increased more than 40% over the stalled market in 2020, leasing remains 41% below the pre-COVID era. The report notes that there is “no modern precedent” for this type of slowdown in leasing activity. Overall, office absorption in 2021 was -4.8 million square feet, representing 5.5% of the current inventory—which also surpasses the absorption during the Financial Crisis, when absorption represented -2.3%. It is important to note that absorption has recovered 14.3% from 2020.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

More from this author


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.