The Chicago Commercial Real Estate Market

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Chicago brokers, buyers, tenants, and landlords close more deals faster using Crexi’s commercial real estate tools suite. Across the US, investors and organizations eye Chicago’s commercial real estate market as a thriving investment option with a growing population, stable fundamentals, and promising ROI. 

Crexi’s technology empowers tenants and buyers alike, allowing interested parties to explore hundreds of Chicago properties and quickly reach out to Chicago-focused brokers. More than 92% of Crexi’s online traffic consists of actively searching principals and tenants, many among them searching for the perfect Chicago CRE investment. 

Brokers harness Crexi’s listing, lead management, and marketing tools to win deals in Chicago and the surrounding cities. Crexi’s simple, robust marketplace allows Chicago commercial brokers to directly connect with buyers and tenants who’ve already indicated an interest in the MSA.

As of this post, Crexi’s tools have supported more than $330 billion in property transactions and marketed properties totaling more than $2 trillion in value.

Crexi proudly serves Chicago, Naperville, Joliet, Aurora, and the entirety of Cook County as the fastest-growing online commercial real estate marketplace.

The State of Commercial Real Estate in Chicago

Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago is home to the second-largest central business district in the country and one of the most diversified economies in the world. 

Known by various nicknames, including Chicagoland, the Windy City, and the Second City, Chicago’s metropolitan area covers nearly 11,000 square miles. Chicago is an international hub for transportation, commerce and industry, education and technology, telecommunications, and finance and is home to hundreds of corporate headquarters.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago Board Options Exchange, and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) are three major financial institutions in the Chicago Loop central business district. Famous skyscrapers located in The Loop include the Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building along the Magnificent Mile, Marina City, and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

Some of the countless cultural venues in Chicago include Grant Park (the perfect place to view the city’s skyscrapers), Lincoln Park, Navy Pier, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the Joffrey Ballet. Chicago is also known worldwide for its eclectic music mix of blues, soul, jazz, gospel, rave, industrial, and house, as well as hot dogs, and deep-dish pizza.

Chicago has been named the Best Sports City in the country, with two championship Major League Baseball teams – the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox – along with the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, the NHL Chicago Blackhawks, and Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire.

Chicago Regional Breakdown

Chicago retains its title as the third-largest city in the US, with population growth in both the city and the suburbs increasing over the past decade. The Far NW suburbs and SW suburbs are among the fastest-growing areas of metropolitan Chicago, with places like Huntley, the Village of Pingree Grove, Joliet, and Aurora posting some of the most vital rates of population increase.

  • Chicago is home to over 2.7 million residents in the city, with almost 8.5 million people living in the metropolitan area.
  • Chicago is the most populous city in Illinois and the third-most populous metropolitan area in the US.
  • The population of metropolitan Chicago is projected to reach 10.6 million over the next 30 years.
  • The population of the Chicago metro area declined by 0.4% year-over-year but has grown by 1.75% over the past decade.
  • Metropolitan Chicago includes Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, and DuPage counties.
  • Chicago’s satellite cities include Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, Elgin, Waukegan, Kenosha, and Gary, Indiana.
  • The median household income in Chicago is $75,379, and per capita income is $40,144.
  • The median age in Chicago is 38, about the same figure in Illinois and the US.

Job Market

Chicago boasts an employed population of 4.8 million people, with job growth at 0.09% year-over-year. Employment sectors in metropolitan Chicago showing the fastest signs of growth include construction, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

  • GDP for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA is over $709 billion and has grown by nearly 42% over the past decade.
  • Employment growth in Chicago increased by 0.09% year-over-year, while median household incomes grew by over 6.5% over the past year.
  • The unemployment rate in Chicago is 7.5%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (August 2021).
  • Metropolitan Chicago’s key industry sectors include manufacturing, food industry, transportation and logistics, life sciences and healthcare, technology, and business and professional services.
  • The Chicago Loop is the second-largest central business district in the US and home to major financial exchanges, including the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (Merc).
  • The largest employers in the Chicago metro area include the City of Chicago, Cook County, the US Government, Chicago Public Schools, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, and Advocate Aurora Health.
  • Fortune 1000 companies with headquarters in metropolitan Chicago include Allstate, Caterpillar, Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s, and Walgreens.
  • Some of the major financial institutions in Chicago are CNA Financial, Morningstar, and Discover Financial Services.
  • Major colleges and universities in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs include DePaul University, Loyola University, University of Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology.
  • More than 89% of the residents of Chicago are high school graduates or higher, and over 39% hold a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.

Metropolitan Chicago is a major U.S. transportation hub and the third-largest intermodal port in the world. Transportation infrastructure in Chicago includes the Port of Chicago, seven Interstate Highways, numerous commuter and long-distance transportation systems, and two international airports.

Chicago Industrial Market

According to the most recent report from Colliers, the Chicago industrial market is white-hot, breaking records for new leasing activity and development. New leases and expansions total 15.4 million square feet, and vacancy is returning to pre-pandemic levels year-to-date.

  • Total industrial inventory: 211,737,077 SF
  • Average asking rent: $4.93 per SF per year, net
  • Vacancy rate: 6.29%
  • Absorption: 7.5 million SF (YTD)
  • New leases: 15.4 million SF (Q2 2021)
  • Most active submarkets for leasing: I-80 Joliet Corridor, I-88 Corridor, Elgin I-90 Corridor, Lake County
  • New construction: 3,553,000 SF delivered past 12 months with 30.1 million SF under construction
  • Most active areas for new construction: Markham, Matteson, Channahon, Romeoville, New Lenox

Learn more about Chicago industrial property for lease.

Chicago Office Market

Although the Chicago office market continues to face headwinds, there are pockets of positive activity. Rents in Chicago’s suburban office submarkets are holding steady, with the North submarket welcoming a strong quarter of leasing activity in Deerfield, Deer Park, and Vernon Hills.

  • Total office inventory: 244,105,809 SF
  • Average asking rents: $30.86 per SF year, full-service gross
  • Vacancy rate: 20.6%
  • Absorption: – 895,183 SF (Q3 2021)
  • New construction: 3.5 million SF of office space under construction with no new office deliveries in the current quarter
  • Largest office submarkets: West Loop, Central Loop, East Loop, North

Learn more about Chicago office property for lease. 

Chicago Retail Market

Consumers in metropolitan Chicago are shifting their spending from DIY projects at home to traveling and dining out. Retail sales in Chicago are up 11% compared to the previous year, helping to drive lease rates for retail space in Chicago up while vacancy slowly decreases.

  • Total retail inventory: 139,300,082 SF
  • Average asking rent: $16.58 to $20.70 per SF, NNN
  • Vacancy rate: 11.7%
  • Top submarkets for leasing activity: City North, City South, Far West Suburbs, Far Southwest Suburbs
  • Top retail sale transactions: Steinhafels in Downers Grove, Dick’s in Chicago Ridge, Floor & Decor in Chicago and Tinley Park, Painted Tree Marketplace in Bloomingdale.
  • Largest retail submarkets: Far West Suburbs, NW. Suburbs, SW Suburbs, Far NW. Suburbs

Learn more about Chicago retail property for lease.

Chicago Multifamily Market

The Chicago multifamily market continues to recover, with rents for both working-class Renter-by-Necessity (RBN) and Lifestyle properties on the rise. Since the beginning of the year, only seven new multifamily developments in Chicago have broken ground. Multifamily transactions in metropolitan Chicago are up 11.5% year-over-year, with investors targeting RBN assets.

  • Total housing units: 3,869,464
  • Renter occupied: 36%
  • Total multifamily units: 1,547,786
  • Average asking rent: $1,553 per month
  • Asking rent growth: 7.2% year-over-year
  • Vacancy rate: 4.9%
  • New construction: 5,600 units projected deliveries by year-end with 6,463 units under construction
  • Sales trends: $155,500 average per unit with cap rates slightly rising to 6.7%
  • Most active areas: Urban submarkets like North and South Lakefront accounting for two-thirds of all apartment transactions year-over-year
  • Popular urban multifamily neighborhoods: Lakeview, Ravenswood, Rogers Park, Hyde Park, Bucktown
  • Median household income: $75,379
  • Per capita income: $40,144

Learn more about Chicago multifamily property for sale.

How Crexi Connects Buyers and Tenants to Chicago Commercial Properties

Using Crexi’s open marketplace, buyers and tenants across the US can easily browse through available Chicago properties across asset classes. As Illinois’ most populous and fastest-growing metro population, Chicago represents a vibrant business hub with plentiful investment options, low vacancy rates, and attractive cap rates.

Searching buyers and tenants can quickly sort Chicago property for sale and lease using Crexi’s free, robust search tool. Interested parties can filter assets by class, price or rate per square foot, square footage, property subtypes, cap rates, and even neighborhoods.

After identifying their ideal commercial property investment, interested parties can directly reach out to the listing broker using Crexi’s secure messaging tool. Chicago property seekers can easily download brochures and OMs and even submit a letter of intent (LOI) all through Crexi’s secure platform.

Intelligence Connects Investors to Data and Market Knowledge 

When entering their market search, Chicago investors and renters seek to make the best investment decisions: enter Crexi Intelligence. 

The Crexi Intelligence subscription supplies investors and tenants with a massive informational database featuring thousands of third-party verified sales comps and more than 50 up-to-date MSA market reports. Using Intelligence, buyers and tenants enjoy unparalleled access to market trends and in-depth demographic insights on every property page, allowing them to make the most informed CRE decisions possible.

Intelligence is available to buyers, sellers, and tenants on a subscription basis.

How Chicago Brokers Thrive with Crexi

Crexi features nearly 828 Chicago properties for sale and over 2912 listings for lease within the city limits. Industrial and multifamily are among the best performing Chicago properties, attracting tenants and investors seeking favorable cap rates and convenient options for 1031 exchanges.

Using Crexi, Windy City brokers can easily list and manage properties across asset classes, including:

  • Industrial units
  • Multifamily units
  • Hospitality facilities
  • Land Parcels
  • Mixed-Use developments
  • Office buildings
  • Retail buildings
  • Non-traditional buildings such as data centers, medical offices, etc.

Crexi’s digital tools empower brokers to navigate their properties from the initial list to close quickly. Chicago realtors can efficiently reach out to interested leads while monitoring buyer and tenant behavior in real-time. Also, Crexi’s secure file storage allows brokers to aggregate and store any due diligence paperwork online.

However, Crexi’s broker technologies’ full potential reveals itself with Sale PRO, Lease PRO, and All PRO. 

Crexi PRO Dashboard 2020

Crexi All PRO

Crexi Sale PRO and Lease PRO accelerate and simplify Chicago brokers’ workflows with robust lead management capabilities, branded and customized lead reports, and detailed marketing analytics. PRO brokers’ listings receive automatic preferential placement at the top of Crexi’s search pages, immediately viewed by buyers and tenants looking for Chicago property.

Crexi also distributes weekly email blasts to thousands of leads nationwide, featuring relevant PRO listings generated based on each user’s search history. This machine-learning-powered customization earns Crexi marketing emails a much higher engagement level, with a click-through rate (CTR) average of 10-15%.

Crexi PRO members also enjoy unrestricted access to Intelligence’s database of 40 million sales comps and MSA market reports. 

Brokers — including those in the Chicago-Napier-Elgin MSA — use Crexi PRO to directly and efficiently connect with the more than 420,000 leads interested in Chicago and over 3 million leads nationwide added in 2020 alone. 

On average, PRO brokers win 125% more leads and close six-to-eight more deals on average than non-PRO users.

Contact support@crexi.com to learn more about All PRO.

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Shanti Ryle
Shanti Ryle

Content Marketing Manager

Shanti leads Crexi's content marketing strategies with 7+ years of content development experience, creating everything from blog posts to award-winning podcasts. Previously, she worked on content teams at Snapchat, Weedmaps, and HopSkipDrive as well as developed copy, articles, and media for freelance publications.

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