We are now just weeks away from March 29 when the UK is due to leave the EU and there is still no clarity on what might happen next. Indeed, we have had no shortage of twists and turns for the last two-and-a-half years.
The resulting uncertainty and turbulence, for the economy and property market, has been well documented.
It has without doubt created challenging circumstances for all those who are active in the property industry.
However, in spite of this, deals are still happening, albeit in smaller volumes. The total investment volume for 2018 in Northern Ireland is £177m.
That is significantly less than the five-year-average of £330m.
Interestingly, one trend that has continued is the strength of demand. The recent RICS and Ulster Bank Commercial Market Survey highlighted that, retail aside and despite political uncertainties, the demand for commercial property in Northern Ireland increased overall during the last quarter. The office sector enjoyed a particularly significant rise to its strongest rate in three years, with industrial demand experiencing a similarly positive result. Property has always been, and remains, an attractive investment.
For sellers who avail of the continued demand, strong prices can be achieved. The results of the survey also indicated that professionals expect near-term capital values to increase. However, the transactional process is not without its challenges. Whether buying or selling, we frequently encounter hurdles that can delay or even derail deals. A well-advised seller will be aware of the potential pitfalls pre-sale.
One adage remains true: ‘the day you buy, is the day you sell’. So, buyers should ensure that they are fully informed about the marketability of an asset prior to agreeing a price.
This means that a thorough and robust process of due diligence is not just recommended, but essential.
Receiving commercially prudent advice from an experienced commercial property consultant, supported by a team of professionals, is absolutely vital when acquiring or selling any type of commercial property.
While I will introduce and analyse opportunities for clients, and provide commercial advice on the various merits and demerits of a property investment, an experienced solicitor is always required to satisfy the legal aspects of any acquisition.
Other advisers, such as building surveyors or planning experts, may also be required to direct on specific issues.
In good times and bad, I would strongly recommend potential investors and sellers to appoint well-qualified advisers.
Doing so will ensure that issues, should they exist, and their ramifications, are known. It is vital to avoid such problems flying under the radar, as this will impact on price.
As well as this, there are often unobvious value-add opportunities that a good team of professionals can identify and ultimately improve the marketability of the property post-purchase.
Property can be a great place to invest, but investors need to be aware of both the opportunities and challenges before taking a leap.