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ANAHEIM, CA-The industrial market in Orange County got off to “a great start” in the first quarter, according to a report issued yesterday by Voit Commercial Brokerage.

The report cited a decrease in availability rate to 9.22%, a drop in the amount of new space under construction and net absorption of 389,311 sf, up from 145,784 sf in the previous quarter and 107,862 sf in first quarter 2002, as positive signs in the industrial market. The first-quarter report, authored by Voit vice president and research chief Jerry Holdner, says the availability rate was down from 9.44% in the previous quarter and 9.73% in Q1 2002. The county’s industrial base consists of 281 million sf in 8,000 buildings.

The amount of new space under construction totaled just above 750,000 sf in the first quarter, which is 73% less than the amount of space that was under construction a year ago. The statistics “indicate strength in the industrial market,” according to the report, which notes that the available space has decreased for the last three quarters. Asking triple net lease rates are still declining, however, dipping to 54 cents in the first quarter, down 6.9% from 58 cents a year ago and 56 cents in the fourth quarter.

The industrial market continues to reflect a contrast in leasing versus sales, according to Tony Gleason, a vice president with the industrial division in Voit’s Irvine office, who says sales remain the stronger segment of the market. Declining rental rates make leasing more competitive versus ownership than it was a year or two ago, Gleason tells GlobeSt.com, but he says low interest rates and the desire to own still make buying more appealing than renting to many industrial users. Also, he adds, many buyers see the real estate as an appealing alternative to the stock market and other investments.

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