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Raise’s 2021 market analysis shows the office is far from dead

Our Take

Headlines continue to herald the end of the office, however though many companies are giving their employees the option to work remotely, our analysis of the commercial real estate market in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver tells a different story.

In 2021, leasing activity in Silicon Valley, for example, trended further upward. Last year, leasing activity totaled 13.4 msf, more than double the 5.5 msf leased in 2020, 42.5 percent higher than 2019, and 25 percent higher than 2018. 

These insights come from Raise’s latest round of year end reports analyzing the commercial real estate market. Our reports indicate companies have been planning since the summer of 2021 for early 2022 occupancy to take advantage of increased concessions. 

And companies should take note. The field of new, quality sublease space is tightening and those looking to expand or shift their office footprint should be prepared for a competitive market.

Here’s a look at more insights from our reports and what they mean for the year ahead. 

Silicon Valley

According to our research, in 2021, tech giants were responsible for a quarter of all leasing activity in Silicon Valley. 

Meta leased more than 1 million sf between two separate locations. Apple leased 698,000 sf across six buildings. Google renewed 448,000 sf in leases in seven buildings and purchased additional land for new office hub developments. And shortly after announcing plans to move Tesla’s HQ to Austin, the electric vehicle manufacturer signed a 325K-sf expansion in SV.

Though this activity signals the continued prosperity of Silicon Valley’s tech giants, it also means companies looking to level up to higher quality space will begin to have limited options.

LA West

Our analysis indicates that while growth in LA West has slowed significantly, direct asking rents are 1.7 percent higher than they were at the end of 2020. That’s likely due to notable sublease deals in high-end space in 2021 and the fact that throughout the pandemic landlords in LA West kept asking rates high while offering increased concession packages to entice leasing.

Moving forward, there may be fewer opportunities to take advantage of discounted rents.  Overall, however, concessions such as free rent are still in the tenant's favor. 

San Francisco

Leasing activity in San Francisco totalled 7.1 msf in 2021, a 21 percent increase from the 5.9 msf leased in 2020. While the three largest deals were renewals, 85 percent of all activity was for new leases.

Our analysis also indicates that 3.6 msf of San Francisco leases are expiring in 2022 and 4.0 msf of new tenants in the market are looking for space. This activity demonstrates growing confidence in the market, indicating that competition for the 7.5 msf of available sublease space will be intense. 


Market leasing activity in Metro Denver spiked in the second and third quarters of 2021, totaling approximately 2.5 msf each, an increase from just 1.5 msf in the first quarter of 2021. Throughout the year, Class A spaces dwindled, tightening the higher end of the market.

Our analysis indicates that leasing and development activity will increase throughout 2022. Though Class A vacancies are expected to decrease, Class B and C buildings will lag in recovery. Additionally, we predict that if asking rents remain stable in the office sector, concessions will likely increase through 2022.


Ready to shake up your office strategy? Contact us today to secure your space in this competitive market.