Surge in Scottish commercial property investment volumes 'hugely encouraging'
A surge in commercial property investment volumes in the first half of 2021 has been described as “hugely encouraging”, in a further sign of recovery in the market.
Total investment into Scottish commercial property during the six-month period reached more than £770 million, marking a 62 per cent increase on the same period in 2020.
Savills predicted that with a further £490m of assets currently under offer, the year-end investment figure for Scotland was on track to meet or even surpass the pre-Covid levels of £2.62 billion recorded in 2018.
Nick Penny, investment director and head of Savills Scotland, said: “These half-year figures are hugely encouraging and demonstrate how the pent up demand from last year is beginning to generate activity in the market, which will boost confidence as we enter into the second half of the year.
“Whilst we haven’t had a huge amount of available stock in the market, investor appetite is increasing and we have seen pricing remain strong for quality assets.
“Private equity and overseas investors have been the dominant buyers in the market so far this year, despite the restrictions that the pandemic has generated. We expect overseas appetite to increase further as travel constraints begin to ease, particularly with Scotland continuing to offer good value.”
The firm noted that the office sector accounted for nearly 40 per cent of total investment volumes in Scotland at £295m, with Edinburgh accounting for 36 per cent and Glasgow 27 per cent of that.
Despite the large volumes of available capital for the industrial sub-sector, only £82m was recorded in that area, although Savills said that this was down to a lack of stock as opposed to a lack of investor appetite.
While investment into high street retail remained weak, the out-of-town retail sector has seen renewed interest due to its strong performance during the pandemic and “long-term fundamentals”, the firm added.
Meanwhile, the Glasgow and Edinburgh city centre office markets have seen the highest take-up figures in more than a year-and-a-half, according to property advisor Avison Young.
Total take-up during the second quarter in Glasgow city centre was 142,821 square feet – down 13 per cent on the ten-year average, but the highest since the beginning of 2020.
Edinburgh city centre saw the largest number of deals since the final quarter of 2018, with take-up amounting to 137,705 sq ft – only marginally down on the ten-year average.
Peter Fraser, director at Avison Young Edinburgh, said: “With occupiers focusing on their return-to-office strategies, the central-Edinburgh office market has really started to pick up.
“We saw an extremely healthy level of activity during Q2, with the highest volume of deals in two-and-a-half years.
“There has been a big increase in enquiries and viewings in recent months, as well as a number of pre-let discussions.
“The general focus is on prime and well refurbished accommodation – a clear indication that occupiers are concentrating on best-in-class buildings.”