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GREATER BOSTON-While things aren’t getting much better in the area’s office market, they aren’t getting much worse. At least that is what is demonstrated by the third quarter statistics that were recently released by Cushman & Wakefield, the NY-based real estate services firm.

In the city’s central business district, overall vacancy rates were at 13.4%, which is 2.3% over the rates for the same period last year but just one percentage point above the vacancy rates for the second quarter of the year. The total office vacancy rate nationally for the third quarter of the year was 14.4%.

Rental rates for the city have remained fairly stable with the report indicating that rents were averaging $39.46 for the third quarter, only slightly down from the previous quarter’s $40.04. This remains significantly lower than the city’s average rent in the third quarter of 2001, when rents in the city were averaging $50.31.

In Cambridge, the story changes slightly. Overall vacancy rates for the city are at 20.4% for the third quarter of the year, up from the previous quarter’s 17.6% but significantly higher than last year’s vacancy rate of 13.7%. What is interesting is that this city had positive absorption this quarter of 191, 458 sf while Boston had negative absorption of 789,447 sf.

But Cambridge is actually two markets in one. Its thriving biotech market, centered in Kendall Square and East Cambridge saw positive absorption of 344,924 sf while the Alewife/Fresh Pond neighborhood had negative absorption of 207,698 sf.

Average rental rates in Cambridge remained fairly stable at $40.59 for this quarter as compared with $41.07 for last quarter. Those figures, though, are still well below last year’s average of $47.79 in the third quarter.

In the Greater Boston suburbs, overall vacancy rates have also remained relatively stable at 24.7% for this quarter as compared with 23.4% for last quarter. In the third quarter of last year, vacancy rates were at 16.5%. Rental rates reflect the stability with average rents for this quarter at $25.51 as compared with $25.85 for last quarter. Average rents for the third quarter of last year were at $28.10. The area saw absorption this quarter at negative 828,506 sf as compared with negative absorption of 1.1 million sf in the previous quarter.

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