Beds, shed and politicians . . .
WITH the daily news diet being dominated by Covid-19, Brexit and more recently the impact of the Northern Irish Protocol, it is easy to lose sight of where the opportunities are in our market.
Anecdotally, there is little evidence that the Northern Ireland Protocol is causing supply issues for businesses or preventing our food retailers from stocking their shelves. If there are some shortages or delays there are numerous reasons for this, not least of all the lack of production due to Covid and confusion over deliveries given the late deal on Brexit.
This narrative however does not sit well with the ideology of some of our political representatives, who in my view have failed to embrace the opportunities that Northern Ireland could have going forward.
Notwithstanding the current political climate, Covid has undoubtedly dampened demand in certain sectors of the commercial property market.
Office occupiers are currently in short supply, however, there is still considerable demand from investors who are happy to buy vacant buildings either for their own occupation or to bring to the market to let. The Deloitte Building on Bedford Street, which is due to be vacated by Deloitte in the near future, has seen bids considerably in excess of the asking price.
In addition, the vacant 7,500 sq ft office building at 46 Bedford Street was sold in an off market transaction at values ahead of where they were before the pandemic.
Fundamentally the demand for “beds and sheds” has remained strong throughout the pandemic. Lettings in the industrial/distribution market remain buoyant as evidenced by the 89,000 sq ft letting of Loop Studios on Castlereagh Road, Belfast; the sale of the 42,800 sq ft storage and distribution warehouse at 6 Prince Regent Road, Belfast and the sale of 90,000 sq ft of warehousing at Ballynakilly Road in Coalisland.
The residential market has also continued to fare well with strong demand for new builds and continued interest in the private rented sector. We should take note of the fact that nearly 50 per cent of all investment transactions in the Dublin market in the last quarter were made up of private rented sector investments.
Aside from the fact that certain sectors of the property market are performing well, we need to lobby our politicians to ensure that businesses continue to thrive and want to locate in Northern Ireland so that we can revitalise and rebalance our economy.
We need to capitalise on our unfettered access to the EU and the remainder of the UK, a position that would be the envy of many countries throughout the world. We have exceptional talent in our labour force and now also have the ability to give ourselves a competitive advantage over the rest of the UK and Europe. All we need is the political will.
If our politicians want to have a scrap with the rest of the UK and Europe to create some headlines, why not concentrate their efforts on how to make the competitive advantage even better. If they do, we will see success not only in beds and sheds but in the rest of our economy.
:: Declan Flynn (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing director of Lisney (www.lisney.com) in Belfast