Belfast Telegraph

Market activity set to pick up despite post-Brexit drop

By Margaret Canning

Brexit has hit investor appetite for commercial property in Northern Ireland, it's been claimed - though activity is expected to pick up between now and the end of the year.

The CBRE bi-monthly research report said £164.4m had been invested in 23 deals in the first nine months of 2016, compared to over £400m through 43 deals in the same period in 2015.

The agency said the referendum result had hit appetite for investment opportunities among UK institutions. But wealthy Northern Irish individuals and UK property companies were instead filling the void, CBRE aded.

The firm predicted that up to £100m in deals would be signed off between now and year-end.

Managing director Brian Lavery said: "Despite uncertainty in light of the June referendum, the commercial property market remains remarkably resilient.

"We expect to see up to £100m of transactions in the remaining months with assets such as Curry's Sprucefield guiding £14m, Laharna Retail Park in Larne guiding £5.78m and two office buildings at Clarendon Dock guiding £4.5m."

And there had been other big-money deals in the second half, with Damolly Retail Park in Newry sold to fit-out firm MJM for £30.75m, while the Tower Centre in Ballymena had been sold to the town's retail tycoon Sam Morrison for around £6.5m.

Office lettings had been steady in Belfast in the first nine months of the year, with Pearson Management Services signing up for 15,400 sq ft at Millennium House on Great Victoria Street.

Mr Lavery said: "Activity in the occupational markets has been strong regardless of the UK economic backdrop, with office, industrial and retail occupier transactions continuing to be recorded and signs of rental growth evident in recent months.

"With Grade A space still scarce, refurbishment programmes will become more prominent as most space requirements in the market remain active despite the Brexit uncertainty.

"The focus for the last two months of 2016 will be to get outstanding transactions completed by year-end."

And Mr Lavery said Brexit was likely to continue to occupy minds - particularly with recent reports that the UK government will consider cutting corporation tax to 10% in order to continue attracting inward investment.

Belfast Telegraph