CBRE today released their first bimonthly property market update report for 2019. The property consultants say that the traditional Spring selling season now kicks off in earnest following what has been a busy start to the year in all sectors of the Irish commercial property market.
Speaking this morning, Marie Hunt, Executive Director & Head of Research at CBRE said “Despite the fact that Brexit is now less than a month away and uncertainty continues to prevail, investor and occupier appetite for Irish real estate remains strong regardless. Occupier demand remains healthy across all sectors of the market and we continue to witness strong investor demand for investment opportunities particularly in the office and Build-to-Rent sectors”.
- Investment spend in Ireland was higher than anticipated last year with 200 transactions totalling more than €3.6 billion between them having completed during the 12-month period. Momentum continued into January and February of this year with strong investor appetite continuing to prevail for Irish assets.
- There is growing evidence of investors chasing value-add opportunities in the current market in an effort to generate enhanced returns.
- With the exception of the high-profile office investment ‘The Reflector’ in Dublin Docklands, which was recently launched for sale guiding €155 million and ‘The Henry Street Collection’ retail portfolio, which was launched guiding €26 million, there have been relatively few new launches of investment assets since the beginning of the year. However, activity has been brisk in the investment sector since Christmas with significant focus on completing the sale of assets that were brought to the market towards the end of 2018.
- As the sales of assets that are currently being marketed complete, new transactional evidence will be created that could influence yield movements in due course. However, at this juncture, prime yields across all sectors remain stable following some softening in the retail sector earlier in the year.
- The strength of appetite for Build-to-Rent residential investment opportunities has continued unabated in the opening months of 2019 with several transactions having been agreed since the beginning of the year, including a number of off-market sales. The weight of capital seeking to deploy in this sector has seen prime yields hardening during the opening months of the year from 4.0% at year-end 2018 to 3.85% with some further yield compression likely in due course.
- As the BTR sector matures, an increasing number of investors are now looking for opportunities to invest in the development of micro-living and co-living concepts, which they perceive to be particularly appropriate in a Dublin context. CBRE expect to see an increase in the volume of planning applications for co-living concepts in due course. It will take some time however to finesse the design element for the Irish market and to ensure that the communal amenities and facilities are appropriately placed and of sufficient size and quality to compensate for the smaller bedrooms that are traditionally associated with this form of development.
- Momentum has continued in the Dublin office market in the opening months of 2019 with more than 150,000m2 reserved at the beginning of the year (some of which has since signed) and more than twice that volume of requirements currently outstanding including several large requirements from the technology sector, which continues to expand at a steady pace in the capital. Demand was boosted further in recent weeks by the announcement that KPMG are seeking to consolidate their Dublin operations into a single office building – a 32,500m2requirement, which many developers will be competing to accommodate.
- Several developers are now reviewing their existing office portfolios and planning permissions to investigate the potential of achieving increased height and density following the publication by Government in recent months of new Height & Density guidelines for the city.
Industrial & Logistics
- Although the ultimate outcome of Brexit still remains largely unclear, the topic has certainly focussed the minds of many occupiers and given rise to additional enquiries and requirements for accommodation in the industrial & logistics sector over recent months. In addition to demand for modern accommodation in Dublin, several of these requirements are for accommodation outside of the capital including a number of active requirements for Cork.
- There is particularly strong appetite for retail offerings within mixed-use developments as the Placemaking agenda gathers momentum. CBRE continue to see strong demand from the leisure sector, service providers and the food & beverage sector with particularly strong demand for units that are fitted out to a high standard, enabling operators to commence trading in a quicker timeframe and without having to fund an expensive fit-out.
- As the issue of viability and affordability become increasingly topical, CBRE have witnessed a notable increase in demand for residential sites along key transport corridors of late with particularly strong appetite for good sites along the M1 and M7 road corridors at present.
- The most significant news announced in Cork in recent weeks was the decision by University College Cork (UCC) to acquire the Trinity Quarter development site in the city to house the university’s business school. This development will ultimately accommodate 4,000 students and will provide a huge boost to Cork city and region.
- CBRE continue to see strong volumes of international capital in particular looking for Irish hotel opportunities both from an occupier and investment perspective, which is encouraging. A transaction that is likely to attract considerable interest is an opportunity to develop a Cork city centre hotel at Sullivan’s Quay in Cork city. The new 220-bedroom hotel will form part of a mixed-use development comprising 8,000 sq. m. of offices and a landmark 12 storey tower hotel.
- Activity in the Dublin pub market remains predominantly focussed on sites that have alternative use value as evidenced by the strength of demand witnessed for the 0.8-acre Uncle Tom’s Cabin site in Dundrum, Dublin 14, which was guiding €3.75 million and has now gone to best bids and the Magic Carpet site in Cornelscourt, Dublin 18, which was recently offered for sale guiding €12 million.