Belfast Telegraph

Belfast city office market to see signs of recovery

Upmarket property group Savills said the resilience of properties in central London to the housing downturn could prove beneficial to the Belfast office market.

The firm's profits have almost doubled as revenues from advising on residential transactions in the UK increased 22% to £86.8m in 2010, as overseas investors saw property in London as an attractive investment.

The group's Asia Pacific arm delivered an "outstanding performance" with revenues up 33% to a record £280m but Savills expects transactions in the region to drop in 2011, as China moves to stem property speculation.

The market outside London also showed signs of recovery as a shortage of properties in the capital sparked renewed interest in high end regional retail assets.

The group said any new investment opportunities could help bolster the Belfast office market as there was otherwise a lack of demand from local government and professional firms.

Its latest figures said take-up in the office market last year was up marginally on the year before at 9.700 sq m.

Despite the public sector dominating the office market in the past, only 26% of space taken up last year was by the public sector.

Prime rents are around £140 per sq m - but Savills said secondary rents "were flexible and dependent on deals and incentives agreed between landlords and tenants".

There were few transactions in 2010, though one included the letting of 5,345sq m at Adelaide Exchange to NYSE Technologies.

Savills surveyor Mark Riddell said: "The figures speak for themselves, 2010 was a challenging year for the Belfast office market and looking at the remainder of the year we may have more of the same.

"However we are aware of a number of potential inward investment opportunities which may come to fruition and provide some much needed buoyancy in the marketplace."