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Disruption 2020 - Q3 Office Update

Author: Aaron Jodka

By Aaron Jodka | October 2020

The second full quarter of pandemic-related data shows a continuation from the second quarter — weakening market conditions overall. Leasing velocity remains limited, and investment sales volumes have been reduced significantly. These statistics for Q3 are accurate as of the time of this post. Our quarterly Viewpoint will be published shortly, but in the meantime, here are 10 of the biggest takeaways from across Greater Boston. Stay tuned for summaries on the industrial and lab markets.


  • Absorption continued to post near-record losses in Q3, down 1.3 million SF.

  • Aggregate sublease space, at 2.7 million SF, is in line with record highs set in the post-September 11/tech bust period.

  • Vacancies increased 1.8 percentage points to 12.6%, back to 2013 levels.

  • Asking rents, however, were flat in aggregate. Class B showed very minor declines of less than 1%. Effective rents are down.


  • Vacancies barely budged across Cambridge, up to 4.5%, and asking rents stayed flat.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and GCP Applied Technologies’ sale-leaseback led leasing in the third quarter.

  • Despite a global pandemic, lab vacancies in East Cambridge got even lower, to 0.3% vacancy.


  • Suburban vacancies increased this quarter to 17.2%.

  • Lab remains the bright spot, posting year-to-date absorption gains, and 75 Hayden leased up in the third quarter ahead of its Q4 delivery. Office is negative on the year.

  • The 128 South submarket led the suburbs in absorption in Q3. The sale of Reebok’s former headquarters, along with two build-to-suits, supported absorption. All other suburban submarket absorption was negative.

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