Central London’s office investment market has had another strong year with total turnover for 2016 expected to reach in excess of £16.8bn, 20% ahead of the long term average of £14.4bn and just 15% down on the £19.4bn recorded in 2015, which was one of the strongest years on record, according to Savills.
Overseas investors have been particularly active, partly due to the currency shift following the EU referendum, says Savills, with Asian buyers, followed by those from Europe, driving the market.
The firm reports that Asian investors deployed £4.5bn into the central London property market up to the end of November, accounting for one third of total turnover for 2016 – the greatest market share on record.
In the city market, overseas investors have accounted for a noteworthy 85% of activity since the EU referendum, with 54% carried out by Asian purchasers, with a number of new entrants including Asian Growth Properties, who acquired 20 Moorgate for £155m, and Kingboard Chemical Holdings who, advised by Savills, purchased Moor Place, 1 Fore Street for £271m.
Savills says of the total turnover for 2016, £8.1bn is expected to transact in the West End market while a total of £8.7bn will be invested in the city.
Stephen Down, head of central London investment at Savills, commented: “Central London’s office investment market has been on the world stage more than ever in the second half of 2016 and total turnover reflects the ongoing appetite for, what continues to be regarded as, a global gateway city. We remain realistic of course but with prime yields ranging between 3-6%, commercial property continues to be an attractive asset class for investors.”
Rasheed Hassan, head of cross-border investment at Savills, added: “The weakness of Sterling following the EU referendum has encouraged a flow of international money into London with an effective discount of 10-15% on entry prices for investors whose currency is pegged to the US dollar. Pricing overall has been easing off its high water mark since June 2015 and with these factors combined we have never seen such a level of interest in London from Asian investors, particularly those from Hong Kong, as we do today. Market dynamics have also triggered some overseas investors, who have waited in the wings for years, to decide that now is the time to buy in London.”
Compared to 2015, Savills says prime yields have moved out by 25bps this year in both the city and West End markets to end the year at 4.25% and 3.25% respectively.