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Investors target commercial property in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s commercial property market has enjoyed a strong start to the year thanks in part to healthy investor demand for sensibly priced assets.

Investment in commercial property in Northern Ireland exceeded £120m during the first quarter of the year, supported by vulture fund Cerberus clearing out their loan book, the latest report from commercial property agency Lisney has revealed.

The largest investment of the year so far has been the £54.2m acquisition of Bangor’s Bloomfield Shopping Centre by Elandi, which was advised by London investment firm Tristan Capital.

Other notable sales included Capital House in Belfast, which was sold to Dublin-based Melcorpo, and Wirefox’s purchase of Oxford House and Gloucester House.

In total, there is currently in the region of £140m worth of property for sale across Northern Ireland, including Citi Group’s Belfast headquarters, Damolly Retail Park in Newry and Riverside Retail Park in Coleraine.

Declan Flynn, managing director of Lisney Northern Ireland, said: “The Northern Ireland commercial property market has enjoyed a buoyant 2016 thus far, driven largely by sustained investment transaction volumes and private equity funds selling out their loan books.

“Encouragingly, demand remains strong for assets which are currently on the market and priced correctly."

However, despite a strong start to the year, Lisney expects commercial property investment levels to fall in the second quarter due to growing uncertainty around the EU referendum.

Flynn added: “While this encouraging start to 2016 paints a positive picture for the market for the rest of the year as a whole, we predict the number of investment transactions will decline in the next few months before recovering again towards the end of the year.

“The reason for this is the uncertainty which abounds ahead of the European referendum, about the potential impacts of Brexit.

“We expect that most investors will take stock and await the outcome of the EU vote.” 

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