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Rents and capital values expected to fall in all commercial sectors

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The values and rents from Irish commercial properties are expected to fall over the next 12 months according to the latest RICS Commercial Property Monitor.

The sentiment survey shows estate agents and valuers who are members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) expect industrial properties will show the smallest falls.

Respondents are expecting retail to be worst hit with a 13pc fall in rents across secondary locations and a 10pc fall for prime retail. For offices, prime rents are expected to drop by 5pc and by around 8pc for secondary.

Meanwhile, projections across the industrial sector are not quite as downbeat, albeit rents are still envisaged to fall by 5.5pc and 2pc for secondary and prime industrial and logistics space respectively.

Expectations for capital values were downgraded sharply relative to Q4, with all categories now displaying negative projections.

Capital values for prime retail are expected to drop by about 9pc and secondary by about 12pc while office values could drop 4pc for prime and 7pc for secondary. Prime industrials may fare best with a drop of about 3pc.

The percentage of respondents who believe the market has entered a downturn has doubled from 32pc to 64pc during the first quarter of the year.

RICS's Investment Sentiment Index also dropped to a near eight-year low of minus 27, following a figure of plus seven previously. Overall investment enquiries dipped in all sectors, as did investor demand from international buyers.

Declan Bagnall, chair of the Commercial Agency Group in SCSI attributed the better performance of industrial to the shift to online shopping which has increased the demand for more industrial units to hold stock, for general storage and for logistics.

He also pointed out that Covid-19 "is not just an Irish problem and that Dublin compares favourably with some other major cities in this report such as Paris, New York, Madrid, Singapore and Toronto".

In terms of the fair value of Irish property, the Irish market is ranked mid-table out of the 34 countries surveyed, 20 in occupier sentiment and 25 in investment sentiment.

"It's also important to point out that these results do not capture the full impact of Covid-19 and the Q2 results due out in three months' time will be a better indicator of performance and expected outlook," he added.

Describing as unprecedented the number of requests by tenants to landlords seeking rental forbearance, Mr Bagnall, a director of Bagnall Doyle McMahon, advised: "Open communication and establishing a good working relationship based on trust will be crucial for tenants and landlords as we work through current challenges.

"Therefore, whatever decisions tenants make in relation to payment of rent or service charge in order for their business to survive, they should, at the very least, communicate this with their landlords, both verbally and in writing."

Irish Independent