Companies Are So Desperate For Data Centers They’re Leasing Them Before They’re Even Built

In the first quarter of 2024, what amounts to about half of the existing supply of data center megawattage in the US is under construction, according to real estate services firm CBRE. And 84% of that is already leased. Typically that rate had been about 50% the last few years — already notably higher than other real estate classes. “I’m astonished and impressed by the demand for facilities yet to be fully constructed,” CBRE Data Center Research Director Gordon Dolven told Sherwood.

That advanced interest means that despite the huge amount of construction, there’s still going to be a shortage of data centers to meet demand. In other words, data center vacancy rates are staying low and rents high. Nationwide the vacancy rates are near record lows of 3.7% and average asking rent for data centers was up 19% year over year, according to CBRE. It was up 42% in Northern Virginia, where many data centers are located. These sorts of price jumps are “unprecedented” compared with other types of real estate. For comparison, rents for industrial and logistics real estate, another hot asset class used in e-commerce, is expected to go up 8% this year.