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Increase in office space sales and rentals driven by ‘green’ buildings

Illustration picture shows a 'for rent' sign on an office building in Brussels city centre. (BELGA PHOTO SISKA GREMMELPREZ)
05:25 15/12/2021

By the end of 2021, 440,000 square meters of office space in Brussels will have been rented or sold, an increase of 37% compared to 2020 and 7% more than the five-year average. This is according to the annual report of real-estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), which was released on Tuesday. The figures are mainly driven by large transactions in "green" buildings.

Most transactions - 63% – took place in the Brussels city centre, of which 26% were located in the northern quarter, which is easily accessible by public transport. More than 62% were of the "Grade A" type: buildings less than five years old and equipped with the latest technologies. "There is no denying that the search for ‘green’ offices and the new hybrid working methods of companies have laid the foundation for the activity on the Brussels office market in 2021," said Erik Verbruggen, manager of the Belgian Office Leasing department at JLL.

In total, there were 264 transactions this year, compared to 312 in 2020. The average transaction was 1,600 m², 57% more than last year. There were also six transactions with an area of more than 10,000 m², including the temporary move of telecoms giant Proximus to the Boréal building. The Belgian Buildings Agency, the real-estate manager of the federal state, is also currently putting the finishing touches to the purchase of two green buildings with a total area of more than 47,000 m².

The past year was also marked by a large number of completed construction projects. "According to our estimates, approximately 365,000 m² of office space was created in Brussels and its periphery, of which 37% was speculative,” JLL said in its report. “This volume is 88% higher than the average of the past five years and 50% higher than in 2020. The available area has therefore increased by 134,000 m² in 12 months, to 1,112,000 m²."

Rents did not fall over the past year. The highest prices stabilised at 315 €/m²/year, a level that applies to real estate in the European quarter. In the north, central and Louise districts, prices were also stable at 275 €/m²/year. The average rent for office space in the periphery remained at 165 €/m²/year.

 

Written by Nick Amies