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An Overview of the Medical Office Market

Rents continued to rise in the U.S. medical office sector, reaching new highs as of the second quarter of 2018, according to a recent report from CBRE.

The average asking rent for medical offices reached the highest level on record in the second quarter of 2018, rising 1.4 percent year-over-year to $22.90 per sq. ft., according to a late December report from CBRE. The firm pointed to tight market conditions and the completion of new, high-quality space as reasons for the continued rent increases.

“Rents increased in two-thirds of the markets tracked by CBRE and grew fastest in some of the markets with the lowest vacancy rates, including Nashville, Manhattan, Louisville, Seattle, and Indianapolis,” Andrea Cross, Americas head of office research, CBRE, said in a statement. 

Another factor is that health systems are increasingly using lower-cost outpatient centers. These facilities enable health systems to provide services closer to where patients live. According to CBRE, the total number of outpatient centers grew by more than 50 percent to approximately 41,000 from 2005 to 2016. In addition, outpatient center employment has more than doubled since 2003, and grew 3.5 percent year-over-year in October 2018, compared with 2 percent annual growth in overall healthcare employment. 

“Healthcare systems are increasingly catering to patients as consumers—rather than simply users—of healthcare services,” Mark Lamp, executive managing director, healthcare, CBRE, said in a statement. “They are creating outpatient facilities that provide a more ‘hotel-like’ experience—and at a lower cost than the more expensive hospital services—with technology-enabled check-in, abundant natural light and incorporated outdoor spaces, and patient care concierges trained to support guests with any needs.”  

On the development front, CBRE's report concluded that medical office development strongly correlates with population growth, with Phoenix, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Atlanta among the top markets for total completions from the third quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2018, along with Minneapolis/St. Paul, a leading healthcare cluster. Houston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta, Chicago, the Inland Empire, Kansas City and Boston rank among the top markets for square footage under construction.   

The following gallery takes a look at the fundamentals in the top 30 markets ranked by vacancy rates as of the second quarter of 2018, but also includes stats on net absorption, asking rents and the amount of space under construction in each market. 

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