Mayday, Mayday Mayday. Has anyone packed a parachute? We might have known it was coming but it doesn't make it any easier when the numbers are sitting in front of you in stark black and white. It's now confirmed that Cambridge quarter two figures are the worst for nearly ten years.
Carter Jonas says office take up last quarter closed at 50,000 sq ft. The last time the city registered take up at that level was 2003.
Last year didn't help. A couple of bumper deals - namely Brookgate's Microsoft letting and Mills and Reeve taking Botanic House - really boosted levels and made the first three months of this year (which also registered a pretty much identical 50,000 sq ft) look particularly weak. The big deals have undoubtedly gone, and agents say the bulk of deals this quarter were all done in the sub 5,000 sq ft bracket.
But even taking out 2011's figures, the ten year average still manages around 350-375,000 sq ft, says CJ's partner Will Mooney.
Now you could go a bit number blind here but there are a couple of stark comparisons that are worth pulling out. Last year the total take up was 425,000 sq ft. Quarter one 2011 registered 152,000 sq ft. This year's figures are a third of this. If things stay on an even keel in Cambirdge the year end figure will be 200,000 sq ft.
Mooney seems to think if there are any gains to be made they won't be made until quarter four. Quarter three could be a slow or even non-starter because, the Olympics means that many London-based decision makers will be leaving the country. With those that control the purse strings abroad this will slow down the Cambridge market. Then the university holidays kick in and Cambridge city's town and gown will shut up shop.
That leaves three months to make up for a slack year and with Grade A supply chronically low agents could be in a tough spot. Ironically the number of requirements are up and there's even whispers of a prelet about to be signed, if these get converted then it could be slow float down to the ground. If they don't then it it all begins to look a bit scarier.
Picture by Briles Takes Pictures on Flickr