The collapse in US commercial property prices is encouraging entrepreneurs to set up 'virtual' offices at prestigious addresses, renting space by the month, the week or even the hour.

Landlords are providing such offerings as a way to fill space during hard times, allowing tenants to rent over short periods rather than locking them in for years at depressed rates.

The growing interest comes as office rents in the US fall and vacancies rise in line with unemployment. Reis, a property research company, predicts that office vacancies will reach 15.2% in the US this quarter. Even in Manhattan, where space is notoriously hard to find, the vacancy rate is approaching 10%. With new jobs scarce, financially-pinched entrepreneurs starting new businesses want the credibility that a virtual office can bring.

Financial Times