A slowdown in job creation and ongoing tight loan availability has tempered growth in some of the major commercial real estate sectors, according to the National Association of Realtors quarterly commercial real estate forecast. 

Although still positive, dampened demand is slightly moderating rent growth with the exception of the multifamily market.  “Sharply higher demand for apartments is causing rents to rise at faster rates,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says.

NAR expects vacancy rates in the apartment rental market to drop from 4.3% in the third quarter to 4.2% in the third quarter of 2013. Vacancy rates below 5% are considered a landlord’s market with demand justifying higher rents. Average apartment rent is likely to increase 4.1% in 2012 and another 4.4% next year, NAR says.

With the exception of multifamily, vacancy rates remain above historic averages. Since 1999, the typical vacancy rate sat at 14.4% for the office market, 10.1% in industrial, 8.1% for retail and 5.8% in multifamily.

The current commercial real estate cycle has been driven by shifts in demand without an oversupply of new construction.  “The difficulty small businesses have in getting commercial real estate loans for leasing or purchase is keeping a lid on demand,” Yun explaind.  “Multifamily is the only commercial sector with a notable growth in new space, with some lending provided through government loans.”

Areas with the lowest multifamily vacancy rates  are Portland, Ore., at 2%; New York City and Minneapolis, both at 2.2%; and New Haven, Conn., and San Jose, Calif., both at 2.4%.