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DALLAS-Though the Dallas-Fort Worth area hasn’t been immune to the recession, office figures trended toward the positive side, showing absorption of 454,169 square feet for Q4, according to figures from CB Richard Ellis’ Dallas office. This puts the total net absorption for 2009 at well above 1.3 million square feet, out of a net rentable area of 197 million square feet.

The analysis, which tracks move-ins, also showed a vacancy rate nudging toward 23%, with the Stemmons Freeway submarket north of downtown Dallas ending up with a vacancy rate north of 30%. But Blair Oden, managing director of institutional services with CB Richard Ellis’ Dallas office tells GlobeSt.com that the increase in vacancy was smaller during Q4 than from previous quarters. “There are a couple more buildings in the construction pipeline, and as those are delivered, the vacancy rate is expected to increase,” he adds.

Also slowing, he continues, are the asking rents. Though they continued their decline for the fifth consecutive quarter, dropping by approximately $.04 per square foot area-wide, Oden says the amount of decline, quarter-to-quarter, is small.

Though absorption is positive and vacancies and rents are slowing their upward and downward treks respectively, Oden acknowledges the area isn’t out of the woods quite yet. The first quarter of 2010 could see negative absorption because of move-outs of some key tenants. Some of the submarkets could feel more pain than others, especially during the first half of 2010, as tenants shift space. Furthermore, the amount of distressed product coming online could also have an impact on vacancy and rents.

But the good news is that 2010 should not mirror 2009′s issues. Oden anticipates that leasing figures will stay flat during the next year, though the economy is starting to stabilize. Another good piece of news is that construction has all but ground to a halt.

“It’s down to one of the lowest levels seen since 2004, and I don’t anticipate many additions to the pipeline in 2010,” Oden points out. “The lack of construction should bode well for the vacancy rate, as we hopefully won’t have to worry about speculative construction adding vacant space to the inventory.”

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