IRISH COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MARKET OFF TO A GOOD START IN 2022

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Dublin – Tuesday March 1st, 2022



Commercial property specialists CBRE today released their first bimonthly report for 2022, commenting on trends and transactions in all sectors of Ireland’s commercial property market.

According to the property consultants, with restrictions now fully lifted and investors and occupiers in a position to travel to inspect opportunities, the months of January and February have been considerably busier than normal.

According to Marie Hunt, Head of Research & Consultancy at CBRE Ireland,

“Several new sales and leasing campaigns launched since Christmas, a number of assets are currently being prepared for sale, new occupier requirements have been formalised and quite a few transactions have completed during the first two months of the year.

Indeed, activity levels have picked up pace across all sectors of the market and this is now becoming increasingly evident in provincial markets as well as in the capital. If the first two months of the year are any indication of the year ahead, a very active

2022 is in prospect for the property sector. We expect to see momentum building further over the course of the coming months, particularly as workers return to offices in even greater numbers and tourist activity starts to pick up”.

Acknowledging rising geopolitical concerns, she added “Labour shortages and rising material and build costs, which have a direct impact on viability and deliverability, remain a concern in

many sectors of the market, particularly now with geopolitical tensions further fuelling inflationary pressure. This in turn has heightened concerns about possible interest rate rises towards the end of this year as opposed to 2023”.

THE OFFICE MARKET

  • There has been continued positive momentum in the Dublin office leasing market since the beginning of the year and expectations are for a strong first quarter. Some companies facing expiries in older buildings may decide to renew leases on a short-term basis while others will now have confidence to make strategic decisions and move to new premises.
  • Several office building launches, which were postponed during lockdown, are due to occur over the coming weeks.
  • Even though the State aspire to occupy the most sustainable buildings, the public sector hasn’t been very active in the office market since the onset of the pandemic. This may change over the course of 2022 as public sector workers return to their offices in greater numbers.
  • As a direct result of the pandemic, there is particularly strong demand for own-door buildings that offer generous reception areas, balconies, car spaces and cycling facilities.

THE HOTEL MARKET

  • In tandem with a recovery in trading performance witnessed in recent weeks, the hotel property market has had a considerably busier start to the year than normal with a number of transactions underway and several new properties offered for sale since the beginning of the year. Several international hotel brands and investors have visited Dublin undertaking inspections in recent weeks and there is strong demand for both standing stock and development opportunities.

THE INVESTMENT MARKET

  • All sectors of the market have now moved back into positive territory with rents having largely stabilised and some further yield compression in evidence because of the sheer volume of capital targeting real estate investment.
  • Outside of off-market opportunities, there is good visibility on product due to be launched for sale in the Irish market over the coming months with sales campaigns for a myriad of different opportunities currently being prepared, across all sectors of the market including offices, industrial & logistics, multifamily and retail.
  • ESG is beginning to play an ever-important role with a wider gap emerging between the pricing of new and secondary buildings – a trend that is particularly noticeable in the office sector. In addition to efforts to protect the environment, investors are embracing ESG in order to protect the future value of their assets; meet stakeholder targets and expectations; adhere to legislation and enhance branding and marketing potential by obtaining accreditations such as GRESB, LEED, WELL and BREEAM.

THE INDUSTRIAL & LOGISTICS MARKET

  • Scarcity of supply continues to be a dominant theme in the industrial & logistics sector albeit several new schemes have now commenced construction, which will alleviate pressure to some degree in due course. As this new stock leases up (before practical completion in many cases), this will in turn create investible opportunities for investors keen to deploy into this sector.
  • We are likely to see more investors forward funding industrial schemes in an effort to secure the most modern and sustainable stock over the course of the coming months.
  • As new development plans are finalised in many local authority areas over the coming months and large tracts of industrial zoned land are rezoned for alternative uses, there is a clear need to ensure that alternative locations are designated for this vital use, particularly as supply chain and distribution patterns continue to evolve.

HEALTHCARE

  • Much of the activity in the healthcare sector is now focussed on site acquisitions and development projects, with many of the specialist healthcare funds seeking to grow their presence in the Irish market opting to develop buildings themselves considering the scarcity of purpose-built standing stock of the scale and quality they are specifically targeting.
  • Although there are many smaller nursing homes around the country available for purchase off-market, few are of a scale that is of interest to the larger funds, in turn providing an opportunity for smaller owner operators keen to establish a presence.

THE RETAIL MARKET

  • The retail sector of the Irish economy has been settling back to a more normalised level of trading activity over recent months. While shopping centres and neighbourhood retail schemes are experiencing healthy activity levels, footfall in city centres remains well below pre-pandemic levels. It will invariably take some time to regulate until more workers and tourists return to high streets and urban locations. Nevertheless, in anticipation of heightened trading levels in due course, we continue to see strong occupier demand for new stores, with many retailers conducting site visits and tours during the opening months of the year.

THE DEVELOPMENT LAND MARKET

  • While the land market is also busy, most land sales that are completing are relatively small in scale with pent-up demand for large residential development sites in the Greater Dublin Area in particular. Sites with the benefit of planning permission are most highly sought after and are achieving premiums considering the urgency to deliver housing supply. However, not all sites with planning are shovel-ready, in the sense that the planning permission that is in place may be for a scheme that is unviable in the current climate or inefficiently designed, necessitating a revised application.
  • In addition to ongoing judicial review hearings and a review of Ireland’s planning system, which is currently underway, many local authority development plans are about to expire with new development plans and regulations due to come into force in due course. This period of uncertainty is causing many vendors to take stock and this in turn is impacting on the volume of sites being brought to the market at present.