Belfast Telegraph

Property investors scared off by Northern Ireland violence

By David Elliott

The recovery of the commercial property market has been hit hard by the ongoing protests across Northern Ireland.

Agents said negative images of rioting will have deterred some major funds from buying commercial property here. One deal, worth around £1.5m, has already been lost due to unrest.

“The rioting is very negative for the city,” the agent who saw the investment collapse said. “They were concerned about what they are seeing and got cold feet.

“While we know it’s just small pockets of trouble, to investors sitting in London it looks a lot worse.”

The commercial property market here, which includes offices, shops and factories, traditionally attracts investment from the UK and also from Europe and is therefore susceptible to such headlines.

Robert Ditty from Belfast-based Osborne King said the negative publicity isn’t helpful.

“Institutional investors that might have considered buying in Northern Ireland can easily look at other places,” he said. “The headlines make life a lot harder.”

January is traditionally quiet, he said, adding: “Our property pointers are very positive but the negative news makes life difficult. People are gearing up to bring stock on to the market at the end of January so that will be the true test.”

Stephen Deyermond from TDK Property said that despite trouble the market remains resilient.

“We act for a lot of UK retailers and it hasn't been raised as an issue,” he said. “Most who already do business here know a degree of unrest comes with the territory.

“There is no doubt that it is unhelpful from a business viewpoint, however my own view is that there is a big danger of the protests becoming an easy excuse for every negative business story.”

He added: “We are all very resilient and I think people's spending patterns just adjust to allow for the inconvenience “

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