Property investments rise as £58.6m spent so far in 2015
Investors are parting with big bucks for property investments in Northern Ireland as the number of multi-million pound transactions pile up.
In contrast, the first few months of 2014 were subdued as investors awaited the outcome of Nama plans to sell its Northern Ireland portfolio.
According to property agents CBRE, there were nine investment transactions totalling around £58.6m during the first three months of 2015.
And other prime industry land is coming onto the market - today sees the announcement of the sale of nearly 32 acres, mainly within the planned Sprucefield Regoinal Shopping Centre boundaries.
And Hillview Retail Park in Belfast - which includes a food store and retail warehouse parade - is also for sale.
CBRE's report highlighted that activity took place throughout the early stages of 2015 across all sectors - but investment is one area where things are definitely hotting up.
As well as a brace of big deals during January to March, CBRE said there were "several notable transactions" which were close to being agreed at the moment.
Others which concluded in the early part of the year include Threadneedle's acquisition of B&Q in Londonderry for £18m, the Government acquisition of Causeway Exchange office building in Bedford Street for £12.15m and Neptune Group's acquisition of the Linen Green in Dungannon.
But there were few residential sites being offered for sale, CBRE said - with the exception of the recent Belvoir Park scheme, which was sold last year and has now come to fruition.
Office activity is expected to pick-up - Tyrone developers McAleer and Rushe recently lodged plans to overhaul the former Ewarts Warehouse into office accommodation as part of their long-term Bedford Square scheme.
Brian Lavery, managing director of CBRE NI, said: "The research report has confirmed our confidence that the market has seen a further upturn in 2015.
"We expect to see more office investment properties coming to the market over the coming months with an increasing number likely to trade off-market."
However, Mr Lavery said there was not enough grade A office space to suit the demand from foreign direct investors (FDI).
According to CBRE, the largest office lettings in 2015 so far have been 21,000 sq ft to PwC at Waterfront Plaza and 11,000 sq ft to Rapid7 at Arnott House.
One trend in the first few months of this year has been for recent newcomers to bed in with new acquisitions in a different property type - such as Neptune Group's multi-million pound purchase of the Linen Green.
The group's website also reveals that it has bought 20.7 acres of industrial zoned land in Comber, Co Down.
An earlier investment by the English group recently came to fruition as eager punters queued up to buy newly-released houses at its leafy Belvoir Park development in south-east Belfast at the site of the former hospital. Neptune bought the site for an undisclosed sum in May last year.