Real Estate Board of New York to release key office occupancy data

The Real Estate Board of New York plans to release its first quarterly analysis of location data — a measure of Manhattan office building physical occupancy — later in May. It won’t come a minute sooner.

New REBNY SurveyWhat we first reported on may bring some clarity to commercial real estate’s No. 1 talking point.

It used data from on mobile phone movement in and out of 250 office buildings, a cross-section of Manhattan inventory.

A preliminary report in February found that returns in 2022 were higher than claimed in the endlessly-cited Kastle back-to-work barometer, but didn’t cover early 2023 or provide more detail.

Now, everyone’s looking forward to a more “granular” quarterly tally.

Kastel continues to pop up in media coverage of “half-empty” offices despite its flaws.

It has yet to report 50% average occupancy in the city since it began reporting weekly in 2021 — a clear undercount given its observations of landlords’ very high occupancy and increasingly congested sidewalks, subways and restaurants.

as we have done reported more than onceKastle’s sample, based on key swipes, only covers the middle and lower rungs of the office market — a mix of A-minus and B-class buildings with fewer workers at desks.

Pundits are so keen to portray the office market in its worst light that Kastel’s survey excludes the city’s biggest landlords, among them SL Green, Vornado, Brookfield, Boston Properties, Related Companies, Tishman Spear and Rudin is included. Nor does it include headquarters towers owned by users such as Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase.

NYC skyline
The survey uses data from on mobile phone movement in and out of 250 office buildings, a cross-section of Manhattan inventory.

Most such Class-A holdings are home to major financial and law firms with the highest average office use.

Some prominent owners use Kastel’s security system that provides the data — but not on their most important buildings like Durst’s Van Bryant Park and Empire State Realty Trust’s Empire State Building.

A more credible survey by the Partnership for New York City, which uses data from tenant CEOs, found that 52% of workers own offices. but here it is most recent report It was for January.

The partnership has updated the data every three or four months but the organization’s president, Katherine Wilde, said “things are in flux and employers are growing weary of surveys.”

She said she would “test the appetite” for future reports and that they would not be good “without wider participation”.

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