Premises can be turned around by local operators
Brian Lavery, managing director of the Belfast office of property consultants CBRE:
Although the process of bank deleveraging started in the Northern Ireland market last year there were fewer properties offered for sale during 2012 than had been anticipated.
Against a relatively benign economic forecast for the region, the reality is that another challenging year is in prospect for the property market in Northern Ireland in 2013.
However, we expect to see more property assets being traded this year as the process of deleveraging picks up pace and owners become resigned to current values and the likelihood that there will be no recovery in values in the short term. There are no major brewery companies other than JD Wetherspoon with holdings in Northern Ireland with most off and on-licences being under local control.
Due to pressure on some locals who may have over-borrowed, we expect to see a notable increase in the volume of Northern Ireland hotels, pubs, off-licences and leisure properties coming to the market over the course of the next 12 months as banks focus on deleveraging in this sector. Once sufficient write-downs have been factored in and the pricing for these assets is realistic, in our experience there are plenty of buyers for viable businesses, with local cash and bank-supported purchasers being most active.
The demand for hotels, licenced and leisure properties across Northern Ireland will be boosted by the fact that prospects for the hotel and tourism sector of the economy look reasonably promising.
Derry celebrates being UK City of Culture this year, Belfast will host the World Police and Fire Games this summer and the G8 Summit will be held in the Lough Erne (above) resort in Fermanagh – which CBRE will be selling during 2013 – all of which will be a significant boost for tourism in the region.
Pricing will need to be realistic for transactions to materialise, particularly for secondary properties for which demand is thinner, but there are successful local business operators well able to turn around the fortunes of licenced premises.