Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills

Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills
Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills

The UK commercial property investment markets were already past their peak in both pricing and volume terms a year ago, and the result on the referendum on EU membership has arguably done little to change the trend, according to Savills’ latest report.

Confidence was definitely rocked in the third quarter of 2016, but by the end of last year there was acceptance that Brexit is a long process, rather than a one-hit event.

What has changed since the referendum is the make-up of investors that are active in the UK, with less activity by institutions and a sharp rise in demand from overseas private investors.

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Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills

Many investors have been attracted by the weakening of the pound, and at present this is seen as enough to compensate for a perceived increase in occupational risk.

Overall, our predictions for 2017 and beyond are investment volumes are expected to trend downwards towards £50 billion per annum, with a swing away from opportunistic deals to income-security plays.

Yields are expected to rise in most sectors, though the stable debt market, low vacancy rates, and global investor demand is expected to put a lower ceiling on prime yields than was reached during the GFC.

Brexit definitely carries a risk of creating a sustained period of occupier uncertainty, but to some degree this should be balanced by lower levels of development activity.

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Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills

However, until some clarity emerges as to how Britain will exit from the EU, the real impact on the UK market will be hard to quantify.

“We expect investment volume in Continental Europe in 2017 to be similar to that of 2016,” the report stated.

Although interest rates are expected to rise to 1.16% in the Eurozone, the property market should remain high on investors’ radar.

“In France, Germany and the Netherlands, where elections will be held, we expect a wait and see attitude by some investors during the first half of the year,” the report stated.

However, the prevailing story regarding core countries is the lack of prime product.

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Little change in the United Kingdom commercial property market despite Brexit: Savills

At the other end of the spectrum, prime yields in non-core countries are still above the European average, offering more attractive returns and yield compression potential.

This is especially so in countries like Spain and Italy where strong property fundamentals combined with the availability of portfolio opportunities are attracting foreign investors.

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