Almost €800m was invested in the Irish property market in the third quarter of 2021 – 25% higher than a typical third quarter over the long-term average. This brought total year-to-date investment volumes in Irish real estate to €3.5bn, representing the highest volumes for the period on record and double the volumes seen in the first three quarters of 2020, according to the latest data from property advisor, Savills Ireland.
Savills say 2020 was defined by two lost quarters with travel restrictions hampering the ability of foreign investors to physically come to Ireland, while in-person viewings also faced serious disruption throughout the year. Ireland is now seeing a resumption of the strong levels of activity present before the pandemic with several large deals that are close to signing set to drive a strong fourth quarter. Savills expect to see year-end totals of between €4.75bn and €5.25bn in 2021, the second strongest year this cycle.
Investor appetite was strong across the board, but the multi-family sector continues to out-perform the rest of the market with €414 million worth of multi-family assets trading which accounted for 52% of investment volumes in the quarter. In total, multi-family assets with a value of €1.9bn have traded this year giving the sector a 54% market share.
The sector has accounted for a growing share of the investment market in recent years driven by strong growth in the PRS market and has been resilient to the pandemic to the point of benefitting from it, due to its growing perception as a defensive asset class. Once again, the private rented sector continues to play a vital role in unlocking new supply, which is evident by the majority of residential units being forward purchased. This is providing a healthy investment base by giving certainty for developers, without this, it is highly unlikely that current levels of construction would be happening.
The retail sector accounted for €107m this quarter, 14% of the total volume, this is the first time since the first quarter of 2019 that the sector has accounted for more than 10% of total volumes. Several deals almost signed that would have dramatically shifted this figure. Furthermore, from The Parks Collection sale which recently came to the market at a guide price of €78m representing a net initial yield of approx. 8.2%, Savills have seen a strong depth of demand with various bids received both for individual lots and the entire portfolio. Extrapolating from this process it would appear there was close to €500m worth of capital interested in these Irish retail assets.
Savills say sales across several sub-sectors demonstrate the shift in perceptions of retail assets. The acquisition of Nutgrove Retail Park by German fund AM Alpha for excess €66m is the first major retail park to trade in Dublin since the sale of The Park Carrickmines in the final quater of 2018.
Meanwhile, Savills say the sale of 26/27 Grafton Street to Deka is a clear indication that institutional funds with a longer-term focus have started to view Irish Highstreet retail as an attractive asset class once again. The third largest deal of the quarter in the sector was the regional sale of Bridgewater Shopping Centre, Arklow which also demonstrates that demand for retail assets is spread across a variety of asset classes with some further €150m worth of retail assets now sale agreed.
Looking ahead, Divisional Director of Investments at Savills, Brendan Delaney said, "We see opportunities arising for investors on some “mega deals” and select newer stock with ESG credentials coming to the market which will demonstrate more competitive pricing. While PRS retained its relatively large share of the market this quarter we would expect it to ebb in the final quarter as with a broad spectrum of assets set to transact in the final quarter of the year."