Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property

Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property
Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property

The national industrial market is arguably the best performing property sector currently with land values up a massive 21.6 per cent, prime net face rents up 3.8 per cent, and vacancy averaging a low 2.6 per cent, according to independent valuer and advisor m3property’s latest national industrial report.  

The Australian Industrial: Winter 2019 report found prime yields were at a record lows in the June quarter 2019, ranging from 4.5% to 8.75% nationally for prime stock and 5.5% to 10% for secondary stock, with sales activity over 2018 the strongest recorded since the mid-2000’s. 

However, the report also notes a significant slowdown in online retail trade growth, according to figures reported in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index. This may see some contraction in tenant demand for the logistics sector - the most important market driver.

Vacancy also rose over the first quarter of 2019 suggesting net demand is no longer increasing faster than net supply. 

Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property

National Director Research, Jennifer Williams, said the industrial market was undoubtedly enjoying its best period in years. Rents, which were previously stubbornly stagnant for a decade, are finally showing some real growth and land prices reflecting the enormous increase in demand for new stock on the back of the e-commerce revolution. 

“Australia’s industrial market is in the upturn phase of the current cycle and, while some states are further advanced in the cycle than others, it is generally a time when landlords should be locking in longer-term deals. 

“Sydney is experiencing boom-like conditions, Melbourne is experiencing significant land value increases and the Brisbane market is also seeing rental growth, land rates rising strongly and yields continuing to tighten,’’ Ms Williams said. 

She said, while slightly less advanced in the upturn, Adelaide was also experiencing solid demand and rental growth on the back of an impressive list of projects, while in the Perth market, prime space in the best locations was performing well, but secondary stock was languishing. 

The report found Sydney rental growth over the year to June 2019 was almost triple the long-term (25-year) annual average and land value growth was over four times the 13-year annual average, while in Melbourne tenant preference for new stock over existing space was driving significant land value increases, but at the same time constraining rental growth.

“Overall, the industrial market is travelling very well with economic stimuli including tax cuts, lower mortgage rates and easier access to loans, likely to drive economic activity and keep the industrial markets in the upturn phase of the cycle over the short-term. 

“However, the risks are growing. Prime well-located space should continue to out-perform and see further rental growth over 2019 but the secondary market is likely to have peaked in many markets and is starting to push up vacancy nationally. 

“The dip in online sales growth since late in 2018 is also a warning to investors but, more importantly, to speculative developers who need to be aware of the risk of an overblown response to the e-commerce led demand for new distribution stock. Already we are seeing a slight rise in vacancy for quality, well managed, industrial space,’’ Ms Williams said. 

January to September 2018 was one of the strongest growth periods in the history of the NAB online retail sales index (NAB 2019) with growth averaging over 1.6 per cent per month, but since then activity has slowed to an average below 0.5 per cent per month on reported numbers. (NAB, Online Retail Index reports 2018-2019).

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Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property

National Director Industrial, James Farrugia, said he expected strong investment demand to continue for at least the remainder of 2019 as the existing acquisitive players in the market continued to reweight their portfolios from other asset classes into industrial, particularly logistics, assets. 

He said low interest rates and the search for yield in an asset class that has traditionally offered attractive yields, had combined with the e-commerce revolution, a downturn in the apartment market and a troubled retail market, to produce the best industrial investment market in decades. 

“Yields may tighten further, but less than the last 12 months and certainly for super prime/prime assets which have already attracted the tightest yields and are now testing a growing number of purchaser’s return on investment tolerances when assets are bought to the market and these purchasers advance through the various rounds of negotiations. 

“Secondary investments may offer more scope for tightening, however the yield gap between prime and secondary assets has already contracted considerably in the last 12 months,’’ Mr Farrugia said.  

He said any further secondary investment yield contraction would need to be supported by strong fundamentals including a location within a tight market, good prospects for underlying land and rental growth, or a strong lease covenant which would carry the asset through to a timely redevelopment or repositioning. 

Mr Farrugia said limited development/investment options in Sydney, together with steady demand for modern logistics space and ongoing interest from domestic and international purchasers, would drive increased activity across the Melbourne and Brisbane markets, particularly for land acquisitions. 

“That activity is going to put further downward pressure on yields for prime properties in the best locations and drive further speculative construction across all eastern seaboard markets,’’ Mr Farrugia said. 

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Industrial market booming but online slowdown a risk factor: m3property 

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