Despite significantly lower prices than in the capital, markets for office real estate in Brno and Ostrava are struggling with rising vacancies. Other regional markets, however, now offer opportunities for developers, investors or serviced office providers, thanks to the potential of the Hub & Spoke concept. The latter centres around a strategy where companies reduce the size of the main office and then supplement it with smaller spaces in different locations. Alongside that, there is the Flex & Core office space usage concept, which combines a smaller main office with membership in one or more co-working centres. These options to curb office vacancies are mentioned in a recent survey by Colliers, a leader in providing diversified professional services in commercial real estate and investment management.
The highest achievable rent in Prague in Q4 2022 was approximately €27 per sqm per month. In Brno, it was a total of €10 less, i.e., €16.50, and in Ostrava only €14.50. Despite significantly lower prices, both these regional markets are struggling with rising office vacancies. In Brno, the current vacancy rate is 13.4 percent: almost double that of Prague. With 69,600 new sqm under construction, the number of empty offices will continue to rise. Only 6.5 percent of all space is currently pre-leased in new projects under construction. “For this market, it will be crucial to find the right pricing policy and a way to attract more tenants in the current period of space reduction, cost and operating expenditure cuts, and right-sizing. The time needed to find tenants may grow much longer; especially, if new spaces become available without pre-secured tenants,” comments Josef Stanko, Senior Analyst at Colliers.
According to him, Ostrava also faces problems. Despite the stalled market, no construction has been completed here since 2019 and the market is stuck at 217,000 sqm. “The reason for the growth in vacancies in Ostrava is mainly due to long-term, low activity on the market. The annual volume of transactions decreased by 50 percent year-on-year,” explains Josef Stanko. Although the vacancy rate currently stands at 7.1 percent, it is expected to grow. This is due to the relocation of one of the city’s largest tenants, Tietoevry, and other tenants’ optimisation of office space.
Other regional cities have a relatively decent supply of future projects, even if the current economic climate has, in many cases, delayed their delivery or postponed implementation. The modern office space market in regional cities is in the order of 30 to 100 thousand metres per city; with Olomouc, Hradec Králové, and Plzeň leading in terms of volume.
In all of these cities, thanks to the growth of the Hub & Spoke concept and co-working, new opportunities are emerging for developers, investors and established serviced office providers. A growing number of companies are looking for space in various regions to accommodate the needs of employees who are not interested in moving to big cities, but who do not wish to use home office set-ups. “We have identified several office properties, both old and new, across the Czech Republic, which are suitable for such use. However, the question remains whether current owners will pioneer new trends that support flexible workspaces. In most regional cities this solution is lacking and could put the wind back in the sails of local office estate markets,” says Josef Stanko.