Central London transaction activity in Q1 surprises on the upside

Commercial property investment in central London’s West End and the City rose to £3.2bn in the first quarter of 2019, a 28% increase on the £2.5bn invested in Q1 2018, according to new data from Savills.

The international real estate advisor also notes that investment volumes in central London in Q1 2019 were also higher than those in Q1 2015 before the UK’s referendum to leave the EU, when they reached £3.14bn.

According to Savills, US buyers have been the most active investor group in the Central London market in the year to date, accounting for £1.43bn of transactions (45% of the total), although this has only been across four properties. Domestic buyers are leading the way in terms of numbers of deals acquiring 23 assets, totalling £906.6m (28%).

Savills highlights that, despite uncertainty in the market, there have been significant capital flows into Central London real estate in Q1 2019. Citigroup’s acquisition of its EMEA Headquarters at 25 Canada Square in Canary Wharf for approximately £1.10bn is clear evidence of continued confidence in the Central London market.

The sale of 25 Canada Square is the eighth deal above £1bn to trade in Central London over the last five years, joining the likes of 1 Plumtree Court, EC4 (£1.16bn) and 5 Broadgate, EC2 (£1.0bn) which sold in 2018. Savills figures show that 2019 has been a year which has picked up pace, with only 15 properties trading in January to February. March, however, saw 24 deals transact totalling £2.09bn.

Stephen Down, head of Central London investment at Savills explains:

“Despite the well-noted uncertainty hanging over the UK at the moment, this has not stopped a number of commercial property investors from recognising London’s innate strength. Several of them actually see now as an opportunity and the deals that are offered to the market still seem to draw in a healthy level of prospective buyers, both domestic and international. We have seen a particularly strong appetite for commercial development and opportunistic stock, which is a response to the structural supply shortage that Central London is facing in the office sector.”

james.wallace@realassetmedia.com