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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Demand for O.C. Office Space Pushed Rents to Record in 2000

January 03, 2001|DARYL STRICKLAND

Even though prices of Orange County offices keep rising, companies can't seem to get enough room as they rented just about any space they could find last year. And it appears that their appetite will continue this year.

A survey released Tuesday by Voit Commercial Brokerage showed that overall office rents in Orange County hit $2.23 per square foot by the end of the year, setting a record.

The price, which has been rising 5% to 10% per year since 1996, jumped nearly 8% from the year-earlier figure of $2.07, said Jerry Holdner Jr., the Voit analyst who completed the report.

What some brokers found surprising is that vacancies declined to 9.2% from 9.7% the previous year even though the amount of new space rose 7.7% and prices continued to rise. But high demand from companies expanding or entering the market took almost everything available: more than 3.5 million square feet overall.

"A year ago, real estate people were thinking we were going to have overbuilding and a higher vacancy rate at the end of the year," said Louis Tomaselli, a Voit broker. "But it's really just the opposite."

Tomaselli expects another strong year. "There still seems to be high demand for more space," he said.

Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670 and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com.

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