The office space market in Sofia is gradually stabilizing, according to data from the consulting company MBL. By the end of 2021, the existing modern office space in the city reaches 2.410 million square meters. The total volume of newly delivered office space, including renovated Class B spaces, reaches 192,000 sq.m. This is a threefold increase compared to 66,000 sq.m. in 2020, thus reaching the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 (180,000 sq.m.). The volume of office buildings under active construction amounts to about 210,000 sq.m. These are the lowest levels of construction activity in the segment since 2016.
The vacant Class A and B office areas as of Q4 2021 are 390,000 square meters, 42.5% of which are located on Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd., 13.5% in Lozenets and Hladilnika, and 11.8% in Mladost and Business Park areas. As a result, the total vacancy rate amounts to a record high of 16.2% as of year-end. The volume of existing or under-construction areas of class A and B, which are actively offered on the market, is 495 000 sq.m., 40% of them being along Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.
The net absorption on an annual basis reaches 42,000 sq.m. Although this volume is far from pre-pandemic levels, the data show a twofold increase compared to 2020. New leaseacquisitions for the year stands at 120,000 sq.m., which is also an increase of 40% compared to 2020.
Rental rates for Class A office spaces remain stable – from 12 to 14 euros/sq.m, and for Blass B – between 8 and 11 euros/sq.m. Pressure is expected on rental levels in suburban areas and where the availability of vacant spaces is high, such as the buildings on Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.
According to MBL, the office space market is gradually returning to its traditional activity and this is evident from the rising net utilization compared to 2020 and the new leases for additional office space from current tenants, which reach pre-pandemic levels. The largest transaction on the market last year was the acquisition of Park Lane Office Center by SAP. Investment activity in the office segment is higher than in 2020, with a total transaction volume of around 95,000,000 euro, 80% of which were from existing tenants – large IT companies that bought the offices they operate from. This year, investments are expected to be driven mainly by the office segment and the hospitality segment.
The industrial market remains active. The industrial property market in Sofia expanded mostly by the completion of built-to-suite and owner-occupied projects. The modern logistics and production areas in Sofia reach 1,573,000 sq.m. The data are from the Industrial Q3 2021 by the consulting company Cushman & Wakefield Forton. Outside the city boundaries, the activity remains concentrated in the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone to the west and Elin Pelin to the east. Retail chains, trade, courier and logistics companies continue to be the drivers of the segment, with many of them developing their own projects. Over 440,000 sq.m. are currently under construction.
Rental rates in the logistics segment in Sofia increased slightly and reached 4.3-4.5 euros per square meter for medium-sized areas, and premises over 10,000 square meters – 3.8-4.0 euros per sq.m.