Melbourne dominates 100,000sqm national sublease fall

Sublease availability in Australia’s five biggest cities has fallen by more than 100,000sqm in the year to date, largely on the back of an 81,300sqm reduction in Melbourne.

As outlined in CBRE Research’s latest Sublease Barometer, 242,700sqm of supply was available for sublease across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide at the end of April.

That marks a 29.6% reduction on the end-of-2021 figure of 344,600sqm, is the lowest national figure since June 2020 and down from a peak of 428,600sqm in January 2021.  

Melbourne was the biggest mover, with a 42% year-to-date reduction from 192,600sqm to 111,300sqm, the city’s sublease availability having peaked at 200,000sqm in January 2022.

CBRE’s Mark Curtain noted strong occupier demand for quality, fitted space was driving sublease transactions.

“With many tenants pursuing pre-fitted space solutions to avoid the cost and inconvenience associated with office fit-out, the national sublease market has enjoyed strong deal activity,” said Mr Curtain, Head of Investor Leasing – Pacific.

“Melbourne has been a standout performer, with total availability dropping by 42% in 2022.”

There were also significant reductions in Perth (a fall of 10,600sqm) and Brisbane (8,600sqm) while Sydney recorded minor contraction and Adelaide’s market was unchanged.

Of the 242,700sqm of available supply, 210,100sqm is in Melbourne or Sydney.

MarketDecember 2021April 2022YTD change
Sydney100,200sqm98,800sqm-1.4%
Melbourne192,600sqm111,300sqm-42.2%
Brisbane26,500sqm17,900sqm-32.6%
Perth20,400sqm9,800sqm-52.0%
Adelaide4,900sqm4,900sqm0.0%
Australia344,600sqm242,700sqm-29.6%

Sublease availability in Melbourne is now at its lowest figure since October 2020.

The city’s largest reductions in supply to date in 2022 came in the Information, Media and Technology (32,700sqm), Financial and Insurance (20,600sqm), and Education and Training (19,000sqm) sectors.

“The significant fall in sublease availability within Melbourne is attributed not only to improved deal activity but also to stock withdrawals,” said Ashley Buller, CBRE Head of Office Leasing, Victoria.

“Many of Melbourne’s largest deals in the past 12 months have taken place in sublease space with near new, high-quality fit-outs on highly tenant-favourable deals.

“We expect the majority of the remaining high-quality sublease space will be leased by year end and the Southern Cross precinct to continue to secure the greatest number of sublease transactions during this time.”

FURTHER COMMENTARY

NATIONAL

Nick Baring, CBRE Research Senior Analyst

“Most markets are now seeing reductions in sublease availability, after additions stabilised throughout 2021.

“This is likely to continue throughout the remainder of the year as CBDs experience business continuity.

“There’s definitely been a further increase in occupier preference for fitted space due to rising refurbishment and construction costs.

“That’s flowed through major markets like Sydney and Melbourne, where fitted sublease tenancies are becoming increasingly popular, translating to transactions.”

SYDNEY

Tim Courtnall, CBRE State Director, Office Leasing – New South Wales

MarketDecember 2021April 2022YTD change
Sydney100,200sqm98,800sqm-1.4%

“Sydney’s sublease availability reduced over the first quarter due to a number of vacancies going under offer.

“Although direct and sublease transaction volumes across the market were low in Q1, we do anticipate further take up of sublease opportunities in Q2 and Q3 in line with an increase in expected transactions.

“In saying this, we do expect subleases with older fit-outs in secondary locations will be difficult to lease.

“Active tenants in the market considering relocating are motivated by flight to quality and will be focused on subleases with high quality fit-outs in prime locations, which will continue to contribute to downward pressure on the sublease vacancy figure.”

BRISBANE

Chris Butters, CBRE State Director, Office Leasing – Queensland

MarketDecember 2021April 2022YTD change
Brisbane26,500sqm17,900sqm-32.6%

“Sublease availability in Brisbane has reduced dramatically since the inception of 2022 with major corporates typically in expansion mode as the broader economy continues to grow.

“Quality sublease options that do become available remain appealing to prospective tenants, particularly those with contemporary workplaces in Prime grade assets.

“As we look forward to the remainder of 2022, we see the sublease market becoming increasingly irrelevant as market options dissipate.”

PERTH

Andrew Denny, CBRE Senior Director, Office Leasing – Western Australia

MarketDecember 2021April 2022YTD change
Perth20,400sqm9,800sqm-52.0%

“Sublease availability is now at the lowest level in the last 10 years, and is close to an irrelevant part of the market, representing just 0.6% of total stock.

“Demand for quality existing fitted space remains strong, and thus any new space to the market will likely be keenly sought after.”

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