Comparing year-over-year data as reported by Lee & Associates | Maryland, the occupancy rate for commercial office space in the greater Columbia submarket declined one percentage point from 13.5 percent to 12.5 percent at year-end 2022.

The decrease can be attributed to the more than 275,000 square feet of space leased in the fourth quarter, combined with the lack of new commercial office space delivered.

Lee & Associates, which is headquartered in Columbia, also published data that indicates net absorption was just more than 43,000 square feet, with an average asking rent of $25.44 per square foot; and 18 building sales comprising nearly $9.6 million executed last quarter. The average asking rent at year-end 2021 was $26.10 per square foot, which continued a recent rising trend.

“Leasing activity and average asking rents continue to rise, although the overall commercial market in Howard County experienced many ups and downs, and we believe the positive momentum achieved throughout the second half of the year will carry over into 2023,” said Bill Harrison, senior vice president, Lee & Associates | Maryland.

“An increasing number of companies are choosing the suburbs over urban locations as attracted by shorter commutes, free parking, access to open outdoor spaces and the availability of walkable amenities,” said Harrison. “Workers are returning to traditional office spaces with more frequency, although the work from home seems here to stay as many employers offer full flexibility to employees in the competition for talent.”

Significant 2022 lease transactions in Columbia included CMP Medical’s 42,703-square-foot lease at 6220 Dobbin Road; CyberPoint International’s 25,104-square-foot lease at 7142 Columbia Gateway Drive; and the 19,963-square-foot lease executed by an undisclosed company at 7055 Samuel Morse Drive.

Investment sales activity was highlighted by the 2.25 million acquisition of 14235 Park Center Drive by DCW Enterprises; the $530,000 purchase of 305 Compton Avenue by Local 1 MD VA & DC; and Super 12 Real Estate’s acquisition of 7226 Lee Deforest Drive for $676,500.