Dublin, 1st March 2020 - Commercial property specialists CBRE Ireland today released their first bimonthly property market report for 2020. According to CBRE, in addition to having to contend with property-related measures announced in Budget 2020 towards the end of last year, noise about the status of some open-ended property funds and some unrealistic election manifesto promises in the run up to last month’s General Election created further uncertainty in the opening months of 2020. Nevertheless, while negotiations regarding the make-up of Ireland’s next administration and the creation of a Programme for Government continue, the property consultants say that activity has continued at pace in the commercial property sector during January and February, boosted to some degree by a healthy carryover of transactions from 2019 which will boost Q1 sales and leasing activity in many sectors.
"Several new mandates have been activated since the beginning of the year and there is good visibility on pipeline over the coming months, which is encouraging to the many investors who continue to seek investment opportunities in the Irish market. Activity in the office and industrial occupier markets remains particularly healthy with new supply continuing to be delivered, albeit on a very controlled and measured basis. However, at this juncture, the market requires visibility on the Programme for Government. This is particularly true in the multifamily sector where investors need clarity on the potential for a rent freeze - a measure which has invariably proved counterproductive in many other markets across Europe. Whatever the hue of the next administration, engagement with the industry is critical. We need long-term thinking to bring certainty to this sector, which has a vital role to play in the economy"
- Total returns from Irish commercial property reached 5.1% during 2019 according to the MSCI Irish Index - a respectable ungeared return that is attractive to long-term investors, particularly when the strength of Irish economic activity and underlying occupational demand is factored in.
- Activity has continued at pace in the Irish investment market since Christmas with a number of notable transactions completed in the opening months of the year, several of which CBRE were directly involved in including the sale of several office buildings including Classon House, The Reflector, The Treasury Building, 4&5 Harcourt Street and La Touche House in the IFSC. CBRE were also involved in the sale of the Project Vert and Herberton residential portfolios in recent months.
- Despite political uncertainty, CBRE say that assets are continuing to be launched for sale and demand remains strong. That said, according to CBRE, the sooner there is clarity on the complexion of the next Government the better.
- Demand for office accommodation is at an all-time high and supply is coming on stream in a very controlled fashion. Even before any 2020 transactions are recorded, almost half of all office stock that is currently under construction in the capital has been pre-committed.
- Solid occupier demand for new office buildings that are under construction in provincial cities including Galway, Limerick and Cork, which will give rise to leasing transactions being announced in these cities over the coming quarters.
- There has been a notable increase in small and medium sized requirements in recent months. Some of this is emanating from indigenous companies that are proceeding with office searches now that Brexit uncertainty has eased; some is from firms wishing to come out of flexible space while some are being triggered by upcoming lease events.
Industrial & Logistics
- Take-up in the Dublin industrial & logistics market reached an impressive 332,362m2 during 2019 - up approximately 9% on the previous year & 21% higher than the 10-year average. This momentum has carried over into 2020, with the months of January and February both considerably busier than normal in this sector.
- To some extent, this increase in activity is Brexit-related with several occupiers now proceeding with expansion and relocation plans now that the direction of Brexit is somewhat clearer than it was last year. In addition to several sales and lettings of industrial buildings throughout the capital, there has been considerable off-market trading of land during the opening months of the year, led for the most part by demand from data centre and logistics operators.
- Prime retail rents in the Irish market are holding up well with a number of notable transactions imminent on both Henry Street and Grafton Street that will underpin the current Zone A rent tone.
- With new supply coming on stream and some retailers looking to downsize their portfolio of stores around the country, there are currently some excellent opportunities for retailers seeking to gain a foothold or increase their presence in the Irish market.
- Despite the uncertainty that has prevailed in recent weeks, there has been good activity in the multifamily sector of the market with several transactions signed and competitive bids received on other assets that were offered for sale.
- There has also been increased evidence of activity in the co-living sector over recent months with several planning applications having been granted and others being prepared at present. Interestingly, many of these schemes intend incorporating units that are considerably larger than the minimum sizes permitted under the current planning code, which will prove to be a much more sustainable product long-term.
- Prime multifamily yields are stable at 3.75% at present. The trajectory of yields from this point forward will be dictated by whatever direction the Programme for Government takes in relation to capping residential rents. As outlined in CBRE’s Outlook 2020 report, if any form of rent control is introduced, this will dampen demand for multifamily investment, impacting on both returns and pricing.
- Having recorded almost €1.2 billion of trades during 2019, the Irish development land market has started well in 2020, boosted by a carryover of sales which had been agreed towards the end of last year. In addition, there has been considerable activity underway off-market in the opening months of the year, most notably in the industrial land market.
- Demand for residential sites continues at pace with particularly strong demand for both zoned and unzoned land in Dublin’s commuter belt. Several strategic sites are being prepared for sale at present while there is a good level of pitching underway giving visibility on pipeline for the coming months.
- Irrespective of the hue of the next Government, it is clear that all parties aspire to significantly increase housing supply over the coming years and in particular to increase the delivery of both social and affordable housing, which augurs well for the land sector of the market.
- There are currently 5 office schemes under construction in Cork, which between them will deliver more than 64,000m2 of new office supply. More than a quarter of this new stock has already been pre-let before any 2020 transactions are accounted for.
- Market conditions and the strength of appetite for hotels traded in 2019 has focussed minds and is encouraging hotel owners to bring hotels to the market. Following on from the successful sale of several high-profile Dublin city centre hotels last year including The Conrad in Dublin 2 and The Marker in Dublin Docklands, CBRE expect to see particularly strong demand for The Morrison Hotel in Dublin 1, which has recently been brought to the market guiding in excess of €80 million.
- According to CBRE, there are currently more than 4,000 new hotel bedrooms under construction in the capital of which approximately 2,200 are due to open for business during 2020. 20% of these hotel rooms are in extensions to existing properties.
- There has been continued strong investor appetite for healthcare properties since the beginning of the year, with spend only hampered by a shortage of supply. CBRE expect to see further consolidation in 2020 with several European groups keen to acquire owner-operated facilities throughout Ireland.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2019 revenue). The company has more than 100,000 employees (excluding affiliates) and serves real estate investors and occupiers through more than 530 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.
CBRE U.C., (CBRE Ireland) registered in Ireland, no. 316570. PSRA Licence No. 001528 is the country’s largest commercial real estate services company with offices in Dublin and Cork. Currently employing over 150 employees, we work with occupiers, investors and developers of office, industrial and logistics, retail, hotel and healthcare property, providing strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; tenant representation, corporate services; property and project management; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management and debt advisory; business rates and compulsory purchase and research and consulting. Please visit our website at www.cbre.ie