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Majority of NI property deals 'from outside investors in last five years'

Northern Ireland's commercial property market has been dependent on buyers from outside the region which account for £1.64bn in deals over the last five years, according to research.

CBRE said deals involving firms from elsewhere in the UK as well as international investors, made up 87% of transactions between 2013 to 2017.

And Brexit means it's now important that Belfast "takes full advantage of its unique position between Dublin, London and Europe to drive further growth through real estate investment funds in Great Britain and further afield", according to Gavin Elliott, director at CBRE.

"The local market should be well placed for further future GB and international investment following the deal agreed between the Conservative Party and the DUP, which secured an additional £1bn funding for Northern Ireland," he said.

"Furthermore, the Belfast City Region Deal and the £100m Northern Ireland Investment Fund both offer new possibilities to refuel demand for real estate."

Despite the slow start, transaction volumes in Northern Ireland rose to £316m in 2017. But that was skewed by the huge £123m sale of CastleCourt shopping centre to Holywood investment firm Wirefox.

Other deals included the £27.25m sale of Tesco Extra in Newry to Investec,and the Great Northern Retail Park in Omagh, which was sold to a Northern Ireland pension fund for £9.175m.

CBRE said the retail sector performed well during the year, while there were six hotel transactions during 2017.

"The bedroom stock in Belfast increased to approximately 3,600 with the opening of The Titanic Hotel in September, extension to the Bullitt Hotel in November and part of Ten Square's extension during the year," it said.

Brian Lavery, managing director of CBRE, said: "The current political situation has no doubt had some negative impact on the local economy and commercial property market, and will continue to do so should the Stormont stalemate persist.

"During an unsettling period of political uncertainty, the continued future growth of the commercial property market in Northern Ireland is reliant on a fully functional local government being put in place."

This year will see the opening of several new hotels including the Maldron on Brunswick Street, the Grand Central on Bedford Street and the AC Marriott Hotel at City Quays.

Belfast Telegraph