Sales down by a fifth

Slow start to year as commercial property sales slump

David Melhuish

David Melhuish: ‘subdued start to the year’ (pic: Terry Murden)


Commercial property sales in Scotland fell by a fifth in the last quarter as investors reacted to market uncertainty, although investor appetite held up in Edinburgh.

Scottish Property Federation (SPF) analysis of sales during the first quarter of 2019 reveals they were 21%  lower than the same period in 2018. The drop in value was largely driven by fewer high-value transactions for this period, with the number of £5m+ sales down by nearly a third.

David Melhuish, director of the SPF, said: “The sales report for Q1 2019 shows a clear fall in total value of commercial property sales compared to the previous year. This aligns with investment data suggesting a subdued start to 2019 for the Scottish commercial property sector. 

“However, the sales data does underline the current strength of Edinburgh’s commercial property market, with the Capital accounting for 35 per cent of the Scottish market by value. The investment data also highlights the rise in investor appetite for alternative property asset classes, such as hotels and build-to-rent.  

“For investors, Edinburgh remains a hotspot, while more broadly, low growth and lack of certainty in the economy is weighing down on activity.”  

The SPF also reported £3.03bn in commercial property sales across Scotland for the last four quarters, the lowest rolling annual total since Q2 2014. 

Property data experts at CoStar reported a similar decrease in commercial property investment in Scotland in Q1 2019. Investment volumes fell compared to Q4 2018 and Q1 2018 by 41% and 54%, respectively.  

CoStar points to investment into alternative assets as the key driver of activity in Q1 2019, with below average investment into Scotland’s industrial and office sectors. 

Edinburgh showed a break from the national trend in Q1 2019, with higher values than the same quarter in 2018. The capital recorded a total value of £264m in commercial property sales, accounting for 35% of the total value of commercial property sales in Scotland.    

Aberdeen also saw commercial property sales recover against the previous quarter, with an increase from £14m to £41m. However, year-on-year, the total value of Aberdeen’s sales fell sharply by £125m. 

Glasgow experienced a decrease in the total value of sales by £26m (15%) from the previous quarter but rose by £49m on Q1 2018. Nineteen per cent of the total value of Scotland’s commercial property sales in Q1 2019 occurred in Glasgow, totalling £171m. 

See also:

Retail woes and planning laws on conference agenda


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