Marketing No Comments

2020 will be ‘year of opportunity’ for north’s commercial property market

THE north’s commercial property market ended the year with a much needed boost with the sales of Sprucefield retail park in Lisburn by Intu and Crescent Link Retail in Derry by the Lotus Group.

The combined value of these deals, at £70 million, brought the total value of commercial property investments in Northern Ireland for 2019 to just over £210m.

Property investment at this level is a considerable improvement on levels seen in 2018 at £165m, though there is a long way to go to reach the five-year average at just over £300m a year.

The subdued level of investment in 2019 is not surprising given the uncertainty around Brexit over the last few years, and we would expect investment levels to bounce back strongly this year given the strong mandate the Conservative Party received in the recent general election and the relatively stable macro-economic outlook

The office sector again performed strongly in 2019 with take up of 517,000 sq ft, well ahead of the five year average. Significant deals throughout the year included the signing of leases by Deloitte for 80,000 sq ft in the Ewart Building on Bedford Street, PwC taking the remaining 46,000 sq ft in Merchant Square and the letting by Kilmona of the entirety of Chichester House on Chichester Street to Rapid 7.

The outlook for 2020 for the office sector also looks strong with stated requirements in the market in excess of 400,000 sq ft including the NI Civil Service Requirement for 161,500 sq ft and the as yet unsatisfied Citi requirement for 120,000 sq ft.

Available prime office stock is as usual fairly limited though buildings including The Sixth, Paper Exchange and The Mercantile all in prime locations could be brought on stream this year subject to suitable pre lets.

Trends in the office occupier market are set to continue with co working/serviced office providers predicted to continue their significant expansion throughout the UK.

Technology is as ever set to change the way we work though it is unlikely to affect the demand for office space in the short to medium term as office workers need to interact with each other in an easily accessible work enhancing environment.

The continuing challenges in the retail market will create opportunities both for successful retailers to relocate to better position and for investors who are prepared to look at the sector. There will be undoubtedly be a need for alternative uses for retail space in both suburban shopping centres and retail parks but also in our towns and cities given that the prime retail areas are becoming smaller.

In order for our bricks and mortar retailers to successfully continue to compete with the steady advance of the internet, our government will have to look at the level of rates charged to retailers and work out a way to balance the playing field with their internet competitors. though where this sits on the level of government priorities remains to be seen.

On balance, the outlook for 2020 is a positive one and we look forward to the challenges that the year ahead will bring.

By Declan Flynn

Source: Irish News

Marketing No Comments

London’s commercial property market bounces back in fourth quarter

Investment in London’s commercial property market rebounded in the fourth quarter as the capital’s risk profile began to improve, strengthened by Boris Johnson securing a majority in last week’s General Election.

Investment jumped 15 per cent compared to the previous quarter, rising to almost £2.8bn, according to preliminary figures.

Property experts at estate agents Knight Frank have forecast that the boom will continue next year, driven by the result of the General Election and the increased certainty surrounding Brexit going forward.

Knight Frank head of capital markets Nick Braybrook said: “Investors have been circling the market in increasing numbers over the last few months, with international capital drawn in by attractive yields and the currency discount compared to other global cities.

“London’s perceived risk profile has improved tremendously through the second half of 2019 whilst geopolitical tensions in markets from Asia to the Middle East have eroded their relative attractiveness boosting the appeal of London.”

Faisal Durrani, head of London commercial research added: “The political uncertainty certainly dampened activity for most of 2019, but a shortage of assets for sale exacerbated this.

“With the decisive Conservative majority secured in the General Election last week, confidence is expected to rapidly return into the market, something investors have been hankering for.”

Figures published by CBRE earlier this week also painted a positive picture for London’s commercial property market.

The data showed that central London office take-up soared 31 per cent between October and November, driven by a growth in the capital’s fintech sector.

Office take-up jumped to 900,000 sq ft, while the year on year increase was five per cent.

By Jessica Clark

Source: City AM

Marketing No Comments

Scotland’s commercial property market outgunning rest of UK

Scotland’s commercial property market is holding up better than the rest of the UK despite being buffeted by Brexit uncertainty, new research suggests.

Total investment volume for the first nine months of 2019 was down by 12 per cent year-on-year in Scotland, according to new figures from Colliers International, the property adviser. That compares with a fall of 26 per cent for the whole of the UK.

Property experts from the firm said the cooling economy and uncertainty over Brexit and the global outlook had caused investors to adopt a more cautious approach.

Douglas McPhail, head of Colliers International in Scotland, said that investment in Scottish property totalled some £717 million in the third quarter, marking an 18-month high and compared with £347m in Q1 and £619m in Q2.

He noted: “Although investment volumes during the first nine months of the year are down by 12 per cent compared to the same period in 2018, it is very likely that activity will break through the £2 billion mark for the sixth year running.”

Middle East

McPhail added that the proportion of international money flowing into Scottish property saw an upturn in the third quarter, with particularly strong interest from Middle Eastern (£182m) and US (£160m) investors.

Scotland’s relative outperformance comes despite a greater reliance on overseas investors, who account for around 55 per cent of Scottish investment and 43 per cent of UK investment.

Patrick Ford, director of Capital Markets at Colliers International in Glasgow, said: “By city, Glasgow was the star performer, attracting £278m of capital, closely followed by Edinburgh at £226m.

“The largest deal of the quarter was Hines Global Income Trust’s purchase of the ‘true Glasgow West End’, a 607-bed operational student asset, traded for £72m. This was followed by Ashby Capital’s acquisition of Abbotsinch Retail Park in Paisley for £67m. Completing the top three deals is Arbah Capital’s purchase of Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Building – a leisure and retail mixed-use asset – for £55m.”

These deals mean that Glasgow’s strong office market is expected to bypass the five-year average of 700,000 square feet by the end of 2019.

Ford added: “Demand for space remains healthy and a lack of stock will continue to exert upward pressure on rents. In Edinburgh, the office market is characterised by lack of existing stock. A number of significant requirements cannot be met by existing supply and are likely to result in pre-lets.”

In Aberdeen, Q3 saw the largest office deal in three years with the letting of 51,356 sq ft at Aberdeen International Business Park to Oceaneering.

By SCOTT REID

Source: Scotsman

Marketing No Comments

Demand for commercial property at lowest level since 2012, says industry report

Demand for office space in the South West has slipped to its lowest reading since September 2012, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ UK Commercial Market Survey has revealed.

The survey added that the current impasse over Brexit is contributing to perceptions that the South West commercial property market is in the downturn phase of the property cycle.

The RICS report for Q3 2019 said that enquiries from investors are down at headline level and that 53 per cent of respondents believe that the market to be on a downward trajectory.

Occupier demand in the South West fell at the headline level once again, with the net balance slipping to -19 per cent, the lowest reading since June 2012.

Once again, the retail sector continues to drive the overall decline (net balance -62 per cent, compared to -54% in Q2).

However, demand for South West office space also fell during Q3, with a net balance of -8 per cent compared to -1 per cent in Q2.

Demand for industrial space has a net balance in the region of +12 per cent.

The region’s retail sector continues to have large numbers of vacancies coming to market, prompting another increase in incentive packages on offer to prospective tenants.

Inducements are also on offer in the office sector with 17 per cent of respondents reporting a rise in the packages.

South West respondents to the survey project that rents for the coming three months are expected to rise in the industrial sector, the only sector to see any notable interest from tenants.

Unsurprisingly, the retail sector isn’t expected to improve, some 63 per cent of respondents in the region expect to see further reductions in rents across the market.

Across the UK, retail rents are reading at the lowest level since the financial crisis (Q1 2009).

Looking further ahead, local respondents expect prime and secondary retail rents to fall for the year ahead.

The outlook has turned negative for secondary office rents in the South West, driven by weakening expectations in London.

By way of contrast, the industrial sector continues to return rental growth projections for the coming 12 months in the region.

Interest in investing in the local commercial property market fell again this quarter, with -5 per cent more South West respondents seeing a fall in investment enquiries.

Overseas investment demand also declined across the sectors with a net balance of -9 per cent of respondents seeing a fall.

Tarrant Parsons, RICS Economist, said: “Although a clear majority of respondents now perceive the market to be in a downturn, the fact that capital value expectations are still positive in many parts of the country suggests a relatively soft landing for the commercial real estate sector is anticipated overall.

“That said, the fallout for retail is altogether more severe. It remains to be seen what impact the latest Brexit developments have on confidence across the sector, but with the picture unlikely to become clear until into the New Year it may well mean hesitation continues over the near term.”

Martin Smalley of Gleeds in Bristol added: “Brexit unsurprisingly has created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the regions.

“There are however hotspots around areas of significant infrastructure investment like Hinckley Point C which is fuelling growth across the commercial, retail, industrial and residential sectors.”

By James Young

Source: Punchline Gloucester

Marketing No Comments

Commercial property: Build-to-rent is a growing family affair

Research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that owning their own homes is no longer a priority for younger generations, particularly those in the 25-to-34-year-old bracket.

But renting is not just for singles or couples. Families are increasingly turning to the private rental sector, with a five per cent rise in Scotland over the last last year and three and four-bedroomed houses generating the steepest growth in rent.

This is where build-to-rent (BTR) comes in – homes which are built to a high standard specifically for the long-term rental market.

Up until now, BTR developments have captured a completely different market, but if it continues to deliver only for young professionals it will not achieve its full potential.

Families who cannot afford to buy their own homes are looking for security and are much more likely to settle for longer periods, providing a steady income stream for large-scale investors.

This is ideal for BTR developers who offer greater security to renters, with specialist operators rather than local factors managing accommodation.

On the regulatory side, there have been some notable moves in the last few years to support the case for family-friendly BTR.

Local authorities were given the power to create Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) in December 2017, capping rent growth at four per cent per annum in areas where rents were at risk of overheating.

This is particularly important for Scotland’s cities showing strong growth – including Edinburgh – with population growth forecasted at 7.7 per cent by 2026.

Perversely, by smoothing out the inflation and deflation cycle, RPZ provides greater levels of security for tenants and specialist landlords relying on a long-term investment.

The balance of risk between tenant and landlord has also shifted, with all leases in Scotland now based on a lifelong security of tenure.

Landlords can no longer terminate a lease on “no fault” grounds. Again, specialist landlords see this as underpinning the case for providing suitable and family-appropriate private rental accommodation.

Developers and investors should also take heart in the fact that a tax incentive, whereby six or more dwellings can be treated as non-residential thus exempting them from LBTT, is now in force.

This, coupled with economies of scale and efficacious modern methods of construction, is strengthening the business case for BTR in Scotland.

Some 6,300 BTR units are currently at various stages in the planning process, with developments such as Candleriggs Court in Glasgow and Lochrin Quay in Edinburgh, already complete.

A successful and inclusive BTR sector in Scotland is a win-win-win for policy makers and the Scottish Government, which is keen to meet ambitious housing targets; for developers and investors, who are seeking to capitalise on the growing demand for larger private rental accommodation, and especially for the growing family of Scotland’s renters.

By HEATHER PEARSON

Source: Scotsman

Marketing No Comments

Commercial property investment surpasses £100m in 2019

COMMERCIAL property investment in the north has surpassed £100 million this year, according to a new industry report.

The latest data from Lisney reveals a better than expected last quarter, with the recorded £60m investment between April and June 9 per cent up on the same period in 2018.

The resilient performance brings the total value of transactions in the market for the first half of 2019 to £101m.

The largest deal completed in the second quarter was Citi’s purchase of its Belfast office in the Titanic Quarter for £34m, with other notable transactions, including the sale of Antrim Business Park of £12.5m and the £5.25m acquisition of Timber Quay in Derry.

A total of £45m worth of commercial property was on the market in the last quarter, including the Great Northern Tower and Boat in Belfast, along with Clandeboye Retail Park in Bangor.

PwC’s decision to acquire additional space and occupy the entirety of its new 155,000 sq ft Merchant Square Belfast headquarters pushed take-up within the sector to 75,171 sq ft in the three months to June. That being said the total is down on the previous year, while a shortage of Grade A office space within Belfast city centre continues to be a challenge for the market until new stock comes online later this year.

The struggling retail sector was boosted by Primark’s opening of a second city centre store at Fountain House on Donegall Place and the expansion of its Abbey Centre outlet. In relation to the industrial sector, the biggest letting of the year was a 113,550 sq ft site on the Lisdoart Road in Ballygawley.

Declan Flynn, managing director of Lisney Northern Ireland, said the local market continues to perform admirably in spite of the uncertain political climate

“We’re continuing to see healthy levels of local activity at a smaller lot sizes with pricing remaining resilient. That said the appetite of external investors is undoubtedly hampered in the current climate,” he said.

“This is understandable as the capital markets reflect the risk associated with Brexit. The retail sector continues to be a major talking point as the sector remains in the midst of a correction, given how our volumes have been traditionally dominated by retail this is a particularly pertinent for the Northern Ireland commercial property market.”

By Gareth McKeown

Source: Irish News

Marketing No Comments

Commercial property: Lack of supply demands developments

There is no shortage of investors and developers looking to gain exposure to the Edinburgh office market.

However, as many landlords opt to hold on to their investments – attracted by rental growth and yield compression, there is a growing appetite to refurbish or redevelop older buildings in the Capital to meet the demand for quality office accommodation.

Edinburgh is experiencing historically high levels of occupier demand from a wide variety of sectors, with employers attracted by the city’s talent pool and the quality of life in the Capital.

However, the office market faces dwindling supply and we anticipate seeing a spike in rents as tenants compete for limited space.

Rents for grade-A offices in the city centre are currently around £35 per sq ft and could top £40 next year.

At present, there is little more than 250,000sq ft of prime office space available in Edinburgh and the two speculative developments currently in the pipeline – 
62 Morrison Street and 
20 West Register Street – are mostly or completely pre-let.

The Capital has lost more than 1.2m sq ft of office space to alternative uses in recent years, while take-up is running at 1m sq ft a year.

This poses two big questions: where will the money go? And where can thriving businesses house their growing numbers of staff?

Professional and legal services, the burgeoning tech sector, and a financial industry that continues to thrive – the market has rarely looked so good from an investor’s perspective.

Companies don’t want to relocate, even partially, because the city and lifestyle are key attractions for the talent that is the lifeblood of these service sector businesses.

But there are few – if any – sites in the city for large-scale speculative development still available.

Where possible, landlords are either substantially refurbishing older buildings or selling up, thereby avoiding construction and letting risks.

Competition for refurbished space is likely to hot up as the shortage becomes more acute; we are starting to see businesses actively competing for the best office locations.

Beyond that, the obvious escape valve for city centre-based companies lies to the west, around South Gyle and Edinburgh Park.

With excellent connectivity to the city and available space, we anticipate increasing demand and more interesting developments.

However, the city centre remains the most prized location for wealthy and ambitious, people-focused companies, and – where possible – older buildings will make way for more contemporary offices.

The re-development of Haymarket has been a start, but with investors poised and firms demanding more space, the next few years should see more interesting developments appearing.

Demand for office space around Edinburgh is likely to keep outstripping supply. As a result, rents look set to keep moving higher, especially as the city’s tech start-ups mature into larger companies, with a need to attract talented people.

By ELLIOT CASSELS

Source: Scotsman

Marketing No Comments

Investor enthusiasm for UK commercial property slumps

Investor enthusiasm for commercial property in the UK has slumped further as sentiment swings towards France and Germany.

Only 27 per cent of international professional real estate investors said the UK is their preferred market, down four per cent in the last 12 months as Brexit uncertainty continues to weigh on investor sentiment.

Meanwhile support for the French market saw a 20 per cent year-on-year increase and appetite for German investments rose by seven per cent, according to the latest commercial property investment barometer by real estate platform Brickvest.

There was also a drop in the volume of assets under management that investors are planning to plough into real estate over the next year according to the quarterly survey of 6000 international professional investors.

Investors are planning to commit 2.5 per cent of their total AUM, a drop of 33 per cent on the planned amount of 3.7 per cent in the second quarter of last year.

Brickvest chief executive Emmanuel Lumineau said: “The latest figures of our Barometer reveal the continued negative effect of Brexit uncertainty on the UK commercial property market among international investors and particularly those based in France and Germany.

“We can expect this to continue over the third quarter and the October deadline at the very least.

“In the meantime, France and Germany are becoming more attractive destinations for international real estate capital.”

By Jess Clark

Source: City AM

Marketing No Comments

Post-Brexit binge in commercial property?

Pent up demand could see a boost to the commercial property market post-Brexit, according to new analysis of the commercial property market from Shawbrook Bank.

The ‘UK Commercial Property Market Report1, produced by Shawbrook Bank and compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) assesses the state of the current commercial property market, exploring the various sub-sectors comprising the market, historic and future trends, and the impact of the changing political landscape.

The Shawbrook report shows that uncertainty over Brexit has weighed on the commercial property sector in recent quarters, as owners and tenants take stock. But despite activity slowing, the market remains a profitable place to invest and deliver a solid income over the medium to long term. Over the past 18 years, the commercial property market has returned 308% to investors compared to 209% for the FTSE100, and yields have remained stable; average yields across the commercial property sector have stood nearly unchanged at 5% since 2015.

Rob Lankey, Director of Commercial Property Investment, Shawbrook comments: “Although uncertainty is present, the commercial property market remains fundamentally resilient in terms of both yield and capital growth. Despite investors taking a wait-and-see approach, we believe many are stockpiling cash and simply postponing activity until we have a definitive Brexit outcome.

“With the long-term view and fundamentals of the commercial property market still compelling, I would go as far to say that we will see a ‘post-Brexit binge’ from professional investors looking to utilise the cash they have stockpiled to take advantage of investment opportunities in the post Brexit landscape. However, not every commercial property investment will automatically generate great returns. Doing your homework on potential investments is more important than ever. There are good and bad opportunities within all sectors.”

Factories, warehouses and other industrial properties have shown the most resilience

Underpinning the resilience of the commercial property market are factories, warehouses and other industrial properties, which over the past few years have become the best performing sector over one, three and five years, with yields in line with the commercial sector more broadly2. Stockpiling activity and strong demand for warehouses from online retailers have helped the sector to withstand economic headwinds to date, however, the unwinding of the stockpiling effect poses a risk to this asset class as does a no-deal Brexit, which would severely harm many of the manufacturers that are the current tenants of the industrial assets.

Table 1: capital value growth across industrial, retail and office properties

Capital value growth
Cumulative capital value growth Industrial Retail Office
One year: Jan 2018- Jan 2019 12% -8% 3%
Three years: Jan 2016- Jan 2019 31% -11% 5%
Five years: Jan 2014- Jan 2019 71% 1% 37%

Table 2: (Initial) yields across industrial, retail and office properties

(Initial) Yields
Industrial Retail Office
Jan-19 4.6% 5.7% 4.5%
Jan-16 5.4% 5.3% 4.0%
Jan-14 6.6% 5.7% 5.1%

 Growing popularity of serviced offices

In the office sector, demand has been strong following the recovery from the last recession. The increasing importance of professional and business services for the UK’s economy provides a strong macroeconomic background for assets in this category and growing popularity of serviced offices is becoming particularly important as new business start-ups and smaller businesses struggle to keep up with rising rents in cities such as London and Manchester and as a result are looking for more flexible spaces.

Retail needs to adapt to remain relevant

For retail properties, a number of factors have come together to create a ‘perfect storm’. On the back of a decade of very low real wage growth, consumers have turned away from the high street and increasingly do their shopping online. Recent research on high streets in Great Britain by the ONS shows that over half (56%) of addresses on high streets are now residential.3

Rob Lankey adds: “The challenges faced by retail won’t be solved by a shift to residential, but the trend will be a significant boost to opportunities for property owners. Irrespective of broad capital value trends, retail property can continue to provide strong rental returns for landlords where the combination of tenant and property location are meeting modern consumer demand. For investors of mixed-use space to realise the full benefits that can be had, there will have to be a level of collaboration in the property sector moving forward. Another beneficiary of the declining high street will be for shared office spaces, such as WeWork which would likely use former retail premises in UK town and city centres”.

Shawbrook Head of Products & Markets, Daryl Norkett adds: “Broadly, if we look at the sub-sectors that are performing today and consider the analysis brought to life in this research, there is opportunity for experienced investors to grow and diversify their portfolios. However, it is important to highlight that the current market requires a certain level of expertise, knowledge, understanding and commitment of time in order to make the right property investment decisions but if you do your homework, it can be a great investment.”

Source: Property 118

Marketing No Comments

Central London commercial property market investment up over a quarter

Commercial property investment in Central London (the City and West End) rose to £3.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a 28 percent increase on the £2.5 billion invested in Q1 2018, according to new data from Savills. The firm also claims that investment volumes in Central London in Q1 2019 were also higher than those in Q1 2015 before the UK’s referendum to leave the EU, when they reached £3.14 billion.

According to Savills, US buyers have been the most active investor group in the Central London market in the year to date, accounting for £1.43 billion of transactions (45% of the total), although this has only been across four properties. Domestic buyers are leading the way in terms of numbers of deals acquiring 23 assets, totalling £906.6 million (28%).

Savills highlights that, despite uncertainty in the market, there have been significant capital flows into Central London real estate in Q1 2019. Citigroup’s acquisition of its EMEA Headquarters at 25 Canada Square in Canary Wharf for approximately £1.10 billion is clear evidence of continued confidence in the Central London market.

The sale of 25 Canada Square (pictured) is the eighth deal above £1 billion to trade in Central London over the last five years, joining the likes of 1 Plumtree Court, EC4 (£1.16 billion) and 5 Broadgate, EC2 (£1 .0 billion) which sold in 2018. Savills figures show that 2019 has been a year which has picked up pace, with only 15 properties trading in January to February. March, however, saw 24 deals transact totalling £2.09 billion.

Stephen Down, head of Central London investment at Savills comments: “Despite the well-noted uncertainty hanging over the UK at the moment, this has not stopped a number of commercial property investors from recognising London’s innate strength. Several of them actually see now as an opportunity and the deals that are offered to the market still seem to draw in a healthy level of prospective buyers, both domestic and international. We have seen a particularly strong appetite for commercial development and opportunistic stock, which is a response to the structural supply shortage that Central London is facing in the office sector.”

by Neil Franklin

Soruce: Workplace Insight