Surge of property deals worth £220m expected within weeks say CBRE

The £125 million sale of CastleCourt Shopping Centre is nearing completion according to CBRE

THE NORTHERN Ireland property market is expected to benefit from a £220 million windfall in the coming weeks, with further investment expected on the back of the £1 billion political agreement between the Conservatives and the DUP.

A total of £18 million was invested in seven separate transactions in the north last quarter according to the latest commercial property update from CBRE, with a flurry of activity expected in the next four to six weeks from outstanding deals.

The Q2 figures show a total of £220m of transactions currently under offer and in legals, while the commercial property and real estate services advisers further predict that the 'confidence and supply' deal between the Torys and the DUP will spell good news for the local property market.

Director of CBRE Gavin Elliott said that despite the recent political uncertainty the property market in the north has remained robust.

“The local property market should also be well placed for further future investment as a result of the additional £1 billion funding recently announced for Northern Ireland."

"We believe that Q3 will deliver a high level of investment given the closure of a number of shopping and retail schemes due to complete in the coming weeks. Whilst the Tory/DUP deal should be positive for the property sector, it is imperative that we have a stable local government in place, to deliver confidence to a global investment market," he added.

The second quarter has seen a number of large deals progress towards completion, including the estimated £125m sale of CastleCourt Shopping Centre and HMRC's Belfast city centre office requirement of 100,000 sq ft, while notable retail transactions include Hotel Chocolat at Donegall Square North, Boojum at Victoria Square and Skechers at the Quays, Newry.

Meanwhile the Northern Ireland office market showed its resilience with 147,438 sq ft leased in nine transactions. This has been fuelled by local indigenous companies expanding into larger premises along with FDI announcements.

Retail vacancy levels also continue to fall in key locations with demand from occupiers for prime locations resulting in positive rental growth for the first time in a number of years.

Demand for freehold industrial opportunities has continued with strong interest in both leasehold and freehold sites within Mallusk, and CBRE has experienced an increase in the number of new industrial enquiries and viewings over the last quarter.

CBRE's report also suggests there is a continued lack of good quality development sites across Northern Ireland, and that the residential market continues to perform well despite initial concerns over Brexit.

Similar to the first quarter of the year the hotel market was dominated by new developments, with seven now on site and CBRE tracking over 4,300 bedrooms at all stages of the planning process.

Works include the £15 million development of a George Best Hotel in the landmark Scottish Mutual Building in Belfast city centre by Signature Living, headed by Lawrence Kenwright.

The Liverpool developer told the Irish News he plans to have at least three of his four new Belfast hotel projects open within 18 months, with construction on the George Best project set to begin next month ahead of opening in the second quarter of 2018.

The remaining projects include the iconic Crumlin Road Courthouse and two, as yet unnamed city centre hotels, one of which will be announced in the next few weeks. It is all part of an estimated £110 million investment in the city from the Liverpool-based property developer.

For the full interview with Mr Kenwright see the Irish News business pages this week.

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