There is no doubt Covid-19 flipped our country’s market upside down t in 2020. As we look to rebound in 2021, it is pertinent to reflect on the obstacles our economy faced due to this pandemic. On January 27th, 2021, CREW Northern Virginia, CREW Washington DC; CREW Suburban Maryland; and for the first time, CREW Baltimore gathered together for the CCNC State of the Market 2021. While informative, this event was also extremely interactive. An initial poll was conducted between all 150 zoom participants, questioning their opinion on going back to the office full time. The results mocked a CBRE study that surveyed 10,000 employees in different industries across the county. The findings showing 94% of those surveyed wanted to continue to work remotely, some of the time. Thirty percent of those 94% stated they wanted to work from home fifty percent of the time, another thirty percent declaring they wanted to work mostly remote, another thirty percent affirming they desired to work fully remote.
The presentation opened with the moderator Wendy Feldman Block introducing each of the three speakers Amy Brendler, Andrea Murray, and Caroline Bour. With each woman’s impressive accolades and education proving their expertise on the subject, Amy Brendler opened the discussion with her presentation on Washington, DC. In a macroeconomic view, the District has maintained a stronghold on the unemployment market. In 2020 Washington D.C. lost about 50,000 jobs, which is comparatively the lowest unemployment rate of any gateway U.S. metro. Overall, leasing activity has taken a hit; leasing volume is down 44%, net effective rent is down 11%, and free rent is up 33% year over year. Ending on a positive note, Brendler depicts the sizable transactions and renewals mostly due to the Government agencies within the area.
Andrea Murray discussed the Suburban Maryland state of the market. Focusing primarily on the federal agencies, higher education establishments, and non-profits along the 1-270 Corridor, Murray discussed the life sciences sector propping the market up. Incredible amounts of funding in the industry have driven venture capital by more the $720 million in investment between 2016 and 2020. The life sciences industry brings a new wave of lab development down the pipeline as lab vacancies continue to drop at historic levels.
Caroline Bour concluded the presentations with her information on Northern Virginia. Similar to both D.C. and Suburban Maryland, Northern Virginia had taken a hit to its hot streak. Leasing activity is down 21%, relocations are down 15%, and lease terms have decreased by 3%. While the market continues to face some uncertainty, large tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, CACI, and Walmart Labs bring some hope. Northern Virginia continues to grow as the country's largest concentration of data centers, including Silicon Valley.
While wrapping up the informative portion of the event, a final poll questioned each participants' interest in receiving the vaccine. The results presented in 97% wanted to receive the vaccine while 3% were still skeptical. The poll results created a crucial conversation in the chat box where those who felt comfortable shared their opinion on the matter. Everyone's comments respectfully enlightened those on each other's perspectives, allowing participants to share their questions, comments, and feelings on the vaccine. Finally, the session ended with several small networking groups, allowing for participants of all four networks to meet and mingle. Overall, the event's interactive nature and its informational content shaped an incredible morning of education and networking