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ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Orange County’s office market will continue to soften over the next few months but then begin to improve, leaving its vacancy factor lower in mid-2003 than it is today, according to a new report by the research and consulting firm Delta Associates.

The county’s office vacancy factor currently stands at 12.2%, including space available for sublet, the report says. But developers are beginning to cut back on the number of new projects, and demand should be strong enough to push the vacancy factor down to about 11.6.% by the second quarter of 2003, the study says.

“There will be some continued short-term weakness due to the slowing economy, but the longer-term outlook is still fairly good,” Tong Saetia, a Delta Associates VP and research director for its Western Region, tells GlobeSt.com. “Demand should catch up to the supply and be at equilibrium.”

Indeed, Saetia forecasts that about 5.7 million sf of new or renovated office space will come online in Orange County between now and the second quarter of 2003. That’s almost identical to the 5.6 million sf of demand that the researcher says will be created in the same timeframe.

Delta Associates is the research arm of Chicago-based property-management giant Transwestern Commercial Services. Transwestern manages more than 100 million sf of commercial space across the US, including more than 20 million sf in California.

In a similar two-year forecast for Los Angeles County, Delta Associates says that LA’s office vacancy rate will stand at between 11% and 12% in mid-2003, including the amount available for sublet. Today, it’s 12.2% when space available for sublet is factored in.

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