Property Deal of the Year
Editorial with Real Estate Partner Drew Nesbitt
Wilson Nesbitt is proud to sponsor the Property Deal of the Year category for the Belfast Telegraph Property Awards 2022. We as a firm understand the importance of celebrating local talent in this vibrant and innovative sector; especially those who are pushing the boundaries and reinvigorating challenging sites.
In sponsoring this category, we recognise the most outstanding investment property deal completed by a Northern Ireland-based investor or seller for a property located either in, or external to NI, over the last 24 months — with Covid in the background.
‘It’s important to celebrate local talent in this vibrant and innovative sector’
Pent-up demand has resulted in a big surge in the residential property markets. There’s been a wide spectrum of headline transactions delivered for the local market; with practical completion of The Ewart, by MRP/ McAleer and Rushe, the Paper Exchange by Wirefox and Olympic House by Titanic Quarter Ltd, each setting a new standard in Grade A office space, both for headline rents and environmental standards.
Oakland’s letting to PwC and subsequent disposal of Merchant Square to a Middle Eastern Investor for £87m set a new headline asset value. A sequence of large bulk goods retail parks have changed hands, and traditional retail assets have started to be repositioned.
“The head winds are building for 2023/24.”
It’s fair to say it has been a busy year for all involved in property, finance and construction. While there’s still a seemingly strong demand, the head winds are building for 2023/24. The rise in the cost of living and the war in Ukraine has driven up oil and wider energy prices.
How will this affect the real estate sector? At a macro level, inflation reducing consumer spending power, and interest rates driving up the cost of borrowing, is not good for our sector. However, opportunities always exist. An asset, purchased at the right time, with a reasonable investment horizon and with the opportunity to add value always has potential.
Opportunities exist in our local market
Often in times of high inflation and uncertainty investors flock towards real assets with income driven through necessity — energy and infrastructure, housing, life sciences and healthcare. All those opportunities exist in our local market and it may not be the traditional asset classes which create the biggest opportunities in 23/24.
Environmental, Social & Governance
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) will continue to be high on the agenda for funds, banks, corporate occupiers, purchasers and governments and the necessity for sustainability will create opportunities; both in building new assets and repurposing old ones.
Blue chip tenants, funds and purchasers will continue to drive the needs for the highest environmental standards in new build properties but there are many questions to answer about existing stock.
How will we make existing buildings more energy efficient? How will the grid cope with the move to EV cars? How do we heat our buildings in an affordable and carbon neutral manner? These are all factors which the real estate sector will have to tackle.
“More investment is required in our water and grid infrastructure.”
As to local issues, questions over the speed of the planning system and the new local development plans need to be answered and more investment is required in our water and grid infrastructure. Without the resolution of these issues, building in Belfast and beyond will grind to a halt and, as an investment destination, we will become less attractive.
We need an effective local government to provide the platform and seeing MLAs return to Stormont is of utmost importance. As a sector — we need to continue to highlight these issues.
As to our position in the NI market, we’re excited to be part of such a dynamic, evolving sector. We’re dedicated to continually developing and investing in our teams.
“We are committed to advising our clients on all issues affecting the full asset life cycle from strategic land and promotion through to development, corporate occupier and investment. We are looking forward to embracing all the challenges the next year throws at us.
“Wilson Nesbitt would like to wish all applicants the best of luck and we look forward to celebrating your successes with you on November 18.”
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