Saturday, May 9, 2009

UK Commercial Property Revival In Prospect: Report

Source : The Business Times, May 8, 2009

LONDON - Britain's bombed-out commercial property market is edging closer to recovery, with prices of prime shops and offices holding firm since March, a report on Friday showed.

Global property broker Cushman & Wakefield said yields for high-quality UK property in 21 of 24 market segments it monitors have stabilised in the last two months, presenting the most stable picture on prices since March 2007.

Moreover, some prices for prime shops, offices and distribution properties remain unchanged since Dec 31, putting yields of the most in-demand properties under pressure to fall, the report said.

'The UK is looking very attractive at the moment to overseas investors who can take advantage of the weak currency ... it is also almost certainly the most advanced market globally in the cycle and has received a very heavy fiscal stimulus,' said David Hutchings, head of the firm's EMEA research division.

UK commercial property values have nosedived by more than 40 per cent since summer 2007, when the banking crisis ended an era of record prices fuelled by cheap and plentiful debt.

According to research from Property Data, just 3.6 billion pounds (US$5.40 billion) of UK commercial property transactions were completed in the first three months of 2009, the lowest quarterly volume reported since their records began in 2000.

Cushman & Wakefield said it expected to see a gradual improvement in investment activity over the next two to three months as more would-be buyers move to exploit discounts before prices start to rally.

But it warned of further falls in values over the shorter term as rental growth assumptions and occupancy levels are hit by the recession.

'...even though the occupational markets have further pain to come, we expect the commercial property investment market to stage the first and earliest significant western European recovery, with signs of this likely to be evident before the end of this year,' Hutchings said. -- REUTERS

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