Commercial sales on the rebound
Katherine Jimenez From: The Australian
COMMERCIAL property market activity has bounced back but it is still volatile.
Nationally, sales more than doubled to $2.6 billion for the third quarter of this year, according to real estate agent CB Richard Ellis.
The figures, based on transactions larger than $5 million, are 268 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 75 per cent above the same quarter last year.
CBRE global research and consulting director Kevin Stanley said sales activity over the past nine quarters had been uneven, with average sales at $1.8bn per quarter.
The volume for the three months to September was about 5 per cent below the same year-to-date period last year.
The CBRE report also notes that buying activity in the quarter was dominated by foreign investors, including buyers from Malaysia and South Africa.
Local real estate investment trusts continued to be largely out of the market.
Breaking down the numbers, the report says the office sector attracted the lion’s share of investor funds, accounting for 70 per cent of transactions in the quarter.
“Typically, this sector would account for around 50 per cent of all transactions in any given period,” Mr Stanley said.
Beyond the office sector, CBRE’s research shows that industrial property accounted for 23 per cent of all sales in the quarter, and retail 7 per cent.
A series of major industrial transactions, among them the $210m-plus sale of the Salta portfolio, lifted the tally. Foreign investors accounted for 42 per cent of all purchases in the quarter, and 36 per cent in the year to date, CBRE says.
The annual share of foreign investment was typically around 10-15 per cent.
“The Australian story continued to be a compelling one for foreign investors,” said CBRE international investments senior managing director Rick Butler.
European investors continued to be active, he said, but Asian buyers were the dominant group making acquisitions in the quarter, accounting for 56 per cent of all foreign purchases.
New source countries also emerged in the quarter, with Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Permodalan Nasional making a first-time purchase in Australia: Santos House in Brisbane.
South African investors were another new source.
Acquisitions centred on Brisbane and Sydney and included office, retail and industrial property.
Mr Butler described it as a new feature in the market and “likely to expand further in the future”.