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SoCal Q3 2018 Office Market Report: OC Sales Shoot Up by 130%, LA Holds Steady

Executive summary:

The 31 transactions closed in Q3 across the Los Angeles and Orange County office markets added up to $2 billion in sales volume, marking an overall 15% decrease year-over-year. Compared to Q2, Orange County office sales volume has shot up by 130 percentage points, while Los Angeles values have dipped by 2%.

In terms of average price per square foot, Orange County hit a five-year record, growing by 60% compared to Q2 and breaking through its previous high at $297. Once more, Los Angeles has seen a slight decrease, but for six consecutive quarters prices have maintained a healthy range between $310 and $420.

EQ Office has been the largest seller during the third quarter of 2018. The Blackstone managed company has sold off three major office properties from its California portfolio, earning an estimated $847 million on the deals involving the Santa Monica Business Park, 425 West Broadway in Los Angeles and the Newport Beach and Irvine portfolio.

Los Angeles Office Sales Still Unable To Break Through the $1.2B Threshold

There have been 18 major office deals, less than the 24 registered in Q2, but an equal number year-over-year. Roughly 4.1 million square feet of office space changed hands, marking a 29% increase compared to last year’s Q3. The average price per square foot has witnessed a 23% decrease compared to last year’s third quarter, currently resting at $322, slightly below the $335 value reached in Q2 and the five-year average of $338. We can expect an uptick in some of these numbers for the closing months of the year, as big players are gathering steam for their end-of-year transactions.

Sales volume has reached $1.23 billion in the third quarter on the Los Angeles office market, marking a 2.5% decrease compared to the value reached in Q2 and a 2.3% dip year-over-year. Sales volume statistics throughout this year indicate a clear slowdown of the market when compared to the five-year average of $1.73 billion. This deceleration is even more noticeable when compared to the highest five-year mark this value has hit―roughly $2.3 billion in 2016.


The largest office deal was closed in July, when the Santa Monica Business Park was acquired by a joint venture between Boston Properties and the Canada Pension Investment Board for $628 million. The 1.17 million-square-foot complex―previously owned by EQ Office―includes 18 properties, consisting of 1.12 million square feet of office space and 55,500 square feet of retail space.

Wells Fargo Building, Beverly Hills (Yardi Matrix)

The partnership also secured a $300 million loan for this transaction, which included the purchase of a ground lease, giving Boston Properties and its Canadian partner the right to acquire the 47-acres of land the complex is built on after a decade. The Massachusetts real estate investment trust currently holds 55% interest in the Santa Monica Business Park and with this latest buy controls roughly 24% of Santa Monica’s Class A office market.

The second largest office sale of Q3 was signed in August, when StarPoint Properties―a local real estate investment and operating company―forked over $193 million for the Wells Fargo Bank Building, a 317,000-square foot office space in Beverly Hills.

The 12-story property is located at 433 Camden Drive, in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle, within walking distance of upscale restaurants, hotels and luxury retailers. Built in 1972, the building was named after its anchor tenant, Wells Fargo, which currently shares the space with Walker Corporate Law Group, Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants and Barrister Executive Suites. Financing was secured by Natixis, through a $95 million loan. StarPoint Properties announced an upcoming renovation, which would include creating an open-air lobby on the fourth floor.

OC Average Price per Square Foot Reaches 5-Year Record at $311

In Orange County, roughly 2.3 million square feet of office space was traded for a total of $770 million, a 130% increase in sales volume since last quarter. This was second best sales volume since 2014. However, the current Q3 value is 13% below the $882 million it had reached last year during the same quarter. There were 13 deals closed between July and September, almost double the number in Q2 when seven deals added up to a $335 million sales volume.


The average price per square foot has experienced a 5% year-over-year growth, reaching $311 in Q3. While modest, this was enough to deliver the best value for this metric in the past five years. The last time the market has hovered close to the present record was during last year’s third quarter, when it came just short of the $300 mark, at $297 per square foot.

EQ Office has unloaded several of its assets in Southern California, one of them being a seven-property portfolio consisting of 365,577 square feet of office space in Newport Beach and Irvine. Angelo Gordon and Lincoln Property Company dished out $200 million on the properties located at  Redstone Plaza – 4041 MacArthur Blvd, Redstone Plaza – 1300 Dove Street, 1201 Dove Street, Inwood Park – 17300 & 17320 Red Hill Avenue, Inwood Park – 17310 Red Hill Avenue, Newport Summit – 19600 Fairchild Road and Newport Summit – 19700 Fairchild Road, making this Orange County’s largest office deal in Q3. The transaction was financed through a $128 million loan provided by PCCP. The current tenant roster for these buildings includes tech, marketing, finance, food and beverage, legal, healthcare and real estate companies.

100 Bayview, Newport Beach Yardi Matrix)

In September, Granite Properties bought 100 Bayview, a 6-story office building in Newport Beach from AEW Capital Management for $126 million. The sale was financed through a $128 million loan. The 317,153-square foot building located at 100 Bayview Circle offers access to  I-405 and SR-55 and is within walking distance from Back Bay Loop Trail. On-site amenities include bike lockers, showers and a fitness center. The property also includes roughly 4,000 square feet of retail space and has been subject to a recent cosmetic renovation, with the new owner promising to continue the effort of updating the building. With the acquisition of this property, Granite Properties is expanding its Class A office space portfolio in Southern California. Other assets include Orange City Square in Orange, 2600 Olive in Burbank and 500 and 550 @TheBrand in Glendale.


Los Angeles Market Set to Deliver 1.56MSF of New Office Space in Q4

During Q3, the Los Angeles and Orange County office markets added only 424,223 square feet of new space to their existing inventories. In Irvine, Five Point Gateway – 15131 & 15161 Alton Pkwy, a 366,223-square foot office building was completed in July as part of the larger, four-building campus near the Orange County Great Park and Irvine Transportation Center. The Romaine, a 58,000-square foot Class A office space in Hollywood’s Media District designed by architecture firm Shubin Donaldson, which includes 4,500 square feet of retail space, was delivered in August.

Five Point Gateway – 15131 & 15161 Alton Pkwy, Irvine (Yardi Matrix)

We don’t expect to see much in the way of completions for the Orange County office market until the end of this year. The only major office project in the pipeline for Q4, a 120,000-square foot office space in Irvine called The Launch was scheduled to come online in November but has had its completion date pushed back to the first quarter of 2019.

The Los Angeles office market pipeline for Q4 is expected to deliver roughly 1.56 million square feet of new office space through 10 construction projects. Most of them are located in Los Angeles, with 277,173 square feet of new office space shared between developments in El Segundo, Santa Monica and Santa Clarita.


The largest project expected to come online by the end of the year is the Hercules Campus at Playa Vista – Spruce Goose Hangar. The former 524,759-square foot hangar, along with three other buildings, is part of the Hercules West Campus, which was sold by Ratkovich Co. and Penwood Real Estate Management to Japanese investor ASO Group in 2016, for $300 million. According to city records, architecture firm RKF oversees the hangar’s adaptive reuse. The property will be home to tech giant Google, which has signed a 16-year lease. The Mountain View-based company has been building up its presence in the area since 2011. Google moved into Frank Gehry’s Binoculars Building in nearby Venice seven years ago, and three years later, it spent $120 million on 12 acres of vacant land near the Spruce Goose Hangar.


For this report, we relied on Yardi Matrix data to analyze all office transactions to close in the Los Angeles and Orange County markets during the third quarter of 2018 (July through September), and we selected only those carrying price tags equal to or larger than $5 million each. Our research, based on sales data recorded up until October 31st, 2018, includes completed office buildings that are equal to or larger than 50,000 square feet.

Regarding mixed-use assets, only properties including over 50% office space were considered. Portfolio deals were counted as single transactions, while distressed sales were excluded altogether. To ensure that the trends and comparisons presented in our report are valid, we also excluded ‘ownership stake,’ ‘ground lease,’ ‘controlling interest,’ ‘portfolio’ and ‘undisclosed’ deals from our calculation of the average price per square foot.

Although we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy, timeliness and completeness of the information included in this report, the data is provided “as is” and neither CommercialCafe nor Yardi Matrix can guarantee that the information provided herein is exhaustive.

Property images courtesy of Yardi Matrix.

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