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Slow start to Northern Ireland's commercial property market with just £11.6m sales in first quarter

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland’s commercial property market is off to a slow start in 2017, with investment value six times less based on the same period a year earlier.

The total investment in the first quarter was £11.6m, with transactions mainly driven by the retail sector. That’s down from £69m in the same period last year.

However, according to the latest property report from Lambert Smith Hampton, “a strong pipeline should see figures improve through the rest of the year”.

The majority of sales, 72%, were in the retail sector. That included the sale of Iceland stores, one on the Antrim Road, which went for £1.3m and one on the Newtownards Road, which sold for £1.33m.

In the office sector, Lambert Smith Hampton sold Chancery House in central Belfast for  £1.69m while Elizabeth House sold for £1.21m in the first quarter

Darren Fitzsimons, head of valuation at Lambert Smith Hampton in Northern Ireland, said: “In Northern Ireland investment activity has been low in quarter one 2017 principally due to a restricted supply.

“We are, however, aware of around £200m of deals in legal processes or where there is a sale agreed paving the way for a significant increase in activity as the year progresses. We expect investment volumes to be higher in quarter two, with retail likely to dominate yet again. There are also a number of small industrial investments that are currently sale agreed.”

Office space property made up 15% of deals, while industrial property was 13% of overall sales.

The report says that “nine months on from the Brexit vote, the economies of both the Republic and Northern Ireland are continuing to perform better than expected”.

It adds: “However significant challenges remain, such as the economic fallout from Brexit and the political uncertainty in NI”.

But while 2017 started off slowly, there are now a number of big value retail properties on the market. That includes two of Northern Ireland’s biggest shopping centres, Forestside in south Belfast and Foyleside in Londonderry.

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