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One in five offices still vacant in Richmond

Richmond's office vacancy rate is still hovering around 20 per cent, four years after reaching a high point, according to a new report from Colliers International.

The commercial real estate firm pegged local vacancy at 19.1 per cent in its first quarter Metro Vancouver Office Market Report. That's a slight drop from Colliers' 20.5 per cent figure from the same time last year, but higher than the 18.8 per cent at the end of 2013.

Richmond isn't alone in its stock of empty office buildings. Surrey recorded a 20 per cent rate with roughly the same amount of inventory. Langley, whose market is one-quarter the size of Richmond's, boasted a rate of 22.7 per cent.

But vacancy rates elsewhere are much lower, bringing the regional average down to 8.7 per cent.

Market conditions have led landlords to "aggressively compete" for tenants, according to Colliers.

"We're seeing that many tenants in Metro Vancouver have no immediate need to make any decisions. This is causing demand to remain relatively stagnant while they wait to evaluate their options until new supply hits the market," said Maury Dubuque, managing director of Colliers International in Vancouver, in a news release.

The report noted technology companies are becoming more active in Richmond due to attractive lease rates and tenant improvement allowances. Office space along No. 3 Road, continues to be in high demand because of its downtown location and Canada Line connections.

Competing firm Avison Young put Richmond's office vacancy rate at a lower 15.4 per cent at the end of 2013—its most recent figure. It listed the region's average at 7.8 per cent.

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