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Changing Times Mean Time For Change

The summer has provided a mixed bag of results and reports for the commercial property sector with winners and losers across the various sub-sectors and one word; “uncertainty” prominently featuring in nearly every article or publication produced.

As the Brexit deadline of 31st October looms, and politicians on the UK mainland prepare to return to parliament after the summer recess, the only sure thing about the second half of the year is that this uncertainty will continue and the exact effects of whatever happens after 31st October remain a mystery deal or no-deal.

In Northern Ireland, unlike their counterparts across the water, politicians won’t be returning to our national seat of power as the current political stalemate looks likely to continue into the Autumn and beyond.

Despite an overcast political mood it’s not all doom and gloom.

After a better than expected last quarter, with the recorded £60m of Property Investment Transactions between April and June; 9 per cent up on the same period in 2018, we’re entering the second half of the year in a resilient mood with the total value of investment transactions so far in 2019 at £101m and a further £45m worth of commercial property presently on the market.

To put this in perspective the total value of Property Investment Transactions for all of 2018 topped out at £165m despite the unsettled climate, so in spite of these numbers the market remains robust.

Activity in the office market also continues at pace, and we are cautiously optimistic for the prospects in the is sector for the remainder of the year

In the Residential sector property prices are still affordable for workers and the improving global perception of Northern Ireland combined with continued investment in our infrastructure continues to make the province an attractive location for expanding indigenous and FDI companies alike.

The outlook for the retail sector however, like the political climate, is uncertain with the High Street and retailers needing to reinvent themselves.

Some would argue that the retail sector is currently undergoing a period of change similar to that caused by the industrial revolution a century ago, though it is the impact of technology and changing consumer habits rather than mechanisation that are at the root cause of the change this time.

So as we head towards the end of quarter 3 and towards Autumn, within the fog of uncertainty there are clear patches, with opportunities in the investment and office markets primed and ready to be exploited, while change and reinvention continue to reshape the retail and industrial landscapes.

This article was written by Lisney MD Declan Flynn and first featured in The Irish News on Tuesday 20th August 2019


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