Saturday 1 October 2016

Dublin now a 'normal' investment after commercial property market recovery

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

Doug Rowlands, vice president, real estate client service, MSCI; Hugh Markey, Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland; and Aine Myler, director of operations, SCSI, at the property investment seminar yesterday
Doug Rowlands, vice president, real estate client service, MSCI; Hugh Markey, Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland; and Aine Myler, director of operations, SCSI, at the property investment seminar yesterday
Artist impression of U+I’s ‘Vertium’ plan

Ireland's commercial property market is now seen as a "normal" part of any investment portfolio, in the latest sign of the growing long term confidence in the sector.

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That was the message from property data service MSCI, which believes that the Dublin market is now classed alongside the likes of Barcelona and Edinburgh when it comes to the state of the commercial property market.

At a presentation in Dublin. MSCI's Doug Rowlands said Dublin is now seen as a strong European city, not competing with the likes of London or Paris, but positioned in the grouping of cities below that. Part of the attraction to Ireland was the strong media and technology sector in the Dublin docklands, while the rents in the Dublin office market remained strong.

Despite the strong growth, total returns in the Irish market were down by a quarter year on year at 2.9pc between January and March 2016.

A number of short term, opportunist funds bought property in Ireland in the depths of the crash and have since sold on their assets at huge profits to more conservative institutional investors.

That is a sign of growing market stability, said U+I chief executive Matthew Weiner. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Weiner echoed Mr Rowlands' suggestion that Ireland and the Dublin market in particular was now an essential part of any diverse property portfolio.

London-based U+I is developing a number of properties around the city, most notably it is building a huge new office block, known as 'The Vertium' building, on Burlington Road.

It is building there in partnership with Germany's Union Investments and developers Johnny Ronan and Paddy McKillen.

"Absolutely Dublin is seen as a normal place for investors to put their money into today," he said. "Union has proved that with its investment in Burlington Road.

"When it was at the planning stage, I expected we would need to have the building about 40pc pre-let before we would get an investor like Union on board. Of course we are getting it built without a pre-let.

"Dublin has now established itself in that bracket of solid European cities because it punches to that weight," Mr Weiner said.

"Whether we as a company arrived in Dublin by fortune rather than explicitly strategy, it has worked out very well for us.

"You just have to look at the quality of capital here now and that gives you a strong sense of how solid the market is now."

Mr Weiner was speaking after U+I released annual results which saw its net asset value - the key measure of value for a property company - rise 5.4pc to 291 pence per share.

London-listed U+I shares 5.5pc to 202.5 pence.

Irish Independent

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