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SAN FRANCISCO-The locally based National Real Estate Index is reporting this week that the CBD office sector took the biggest hit in terms of sales prices when comparing the final three months of 2000 with the first three months of 2001. The only sector to post a gain in average sales price per sf was the class A apartment sector, which according to the report was up 0.23% to from the fourth quarter to $104.77.

The Index considers a quarterly change “flat” if it is less than 1%. The average sales price in the CBD office sector was down 1.1% from the fourth quarter to $214.82 per sf. Retail experienced the second largest decline, falling 0.92% to $121.10 per sf. Next in line was the suburban office sector, off 0.82% from the fourth quarter to $181.51 per sf, followed by the warehouse market, off 0.07% to $45.05 per sf.

Despite the drop in most markets, year-over-year the average price remains well ahead of the pace. The apartment market is winning that race, remaining up 6.66% from the first quarter of 2000, followed by suburban office (+6.64%), CBD office (+5.24%), Warehouse (+2.73%) and retail (+0.34%).

As far as leasing rates go, the NREI reports that first quarter 2001 rents for CBD and suburban office properties have increased more than 6% compared to 12 months ago, the biggest annual gains of the six property sectors analyzed. Conversely, during the last three months, these two property types suffered the biggest declines in average rents.

Average suburban office rents are off 0.89% from the fourth quarter to $27.89 per sf, while the CBD is off 0.52% to $35.49 per sf. Warehouse rents are off 0.41% to $5.78 per sf and retail is off 0.38% to $17.74. Meanwhile, Apartment rents continue to climb, up 0.46% from the fourth quarter through the last, and up 5.45% from the first quarter of 2000.

As far as in investment activity goes, the office sector did the best in the first quarter. All told, of the 1,366 closed property transactions ($13 billion in value) analyzed by the Index during the first quarter, nearly 50% of the action was in the two office sectors. CBD office properties accounted for 35% ($4.5 billion), while suburban office ate up another 14.1% ($1.8 billion).

Rounding out the list, retail took 13.5% of the pie and apartments about 11%. Followed by straight industrial space, which accounted for 10.5% of the action, and flex/R&D, which took 8.7%. The hospitality sector brought up the rear with 6.7% of the market.

The order remains almost the same when looking at year-over-year numbers. The Index analyzed 6,167 closed transactions totaling $79.6 billion during the 12 months ending in the first quarter, and the suburban and CBD office markets combined to account for nearly 54% of the action, but the two traded the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.

Suburban office garnered 28.2% of the pie, while the CBD took 25.7%. The rest is as follows: apartments, 14.6%; retail, 10.1%; flex/R&D, 6.8%; industrial, 6.7%; hospitality, 5.9%; and other 1.7%.

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