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Colliers predicts more worries for UK commercial property investment

The All Property total return forecast for this year is 8%, down from Collier’s quarter two forecast of 8.4% due to the rise in negative sentiment and the increased likelihood of a near term ‘double dip’ recession in Europe and the United States.

Currently, interest in prime real estate assets remains strong across commercial segments, it says. Sub 3% retail transaction yields have been recorded in London on Old Bond Street (Cartier) and in Knightsbridge (Rolex). Despite falling bond yields, Central London pricing may be finding a base.

Central London office demand for new space has been steady with further rental growth expected due to supply constraints. Some 13 requirements, active and potential, of over 100,000 square feet are focused on the City. Demand for medium sized units of 10,000 to 40,000 square feet, has also been steady with supply also limited.

Industrial occupiers are beginning to invest in distribution warehouses as some 15 ‘design and build’ schemes have been announced in the past three months compared to none in the previous three years. Occupiers with immediate needs are resorting to sub optimal smaller units to supplement current operations.

‘Given the volatility of equities markets across the globe, no asset class can claim immunity from uncertainty. Since the last publication of the Real Estate Investment Forecast, the European debt crisis has increased the prospect of a global debt crisis, with the spotlight shifting to Washington’s debt ceiling debacle and subsequent downgrade of US debt. This summer has seen surprising amounts of risk aversion as the AAA rated UK gilts have fallen from 3.4% at the beginning of July to 2.3% by the middle of August,’ said Rahim Jiwani, Property Economist at Colliers International.

‘The strongest returns are expected in 2013 as the economy begins to approach trend growth. From 2012 to 2016, we expect All Property to have an annualised 7.9% return led by the City of London offices and a rebound in shopping centres further along the horizon,’ he explained.

‘All Property equivalent and initial yields have fallen slightly in the year to date and may see further marginal compression by year end as rental growth trends begin to strengthen. Rental growth for All Property over the 12 months ending in July nudged positive for the first time since October 2008, according to the July IPD Monthly Digest. Rental growth for 2011 is forecast to be 0.1%, but will strengthen over the next couple of years at an annualised 2% from 2012 to 2016,’ he added.