5 reasons to invest in commercial property

Jake Webster, Managing Director at the Seventy Ninth Group, highlights the importance of spotting profitable buying opportunities in any market condition. Despite recent challenges in the commercial property sector, such as post-Covid shifts and economic downturns, there are still desirable investment prospects for those interested in alternative offerings.

Spotting profitable buying opportunities in tough as well as good times is key to success in commercial property investment, says Jake Webster, Managing Director at the Seventy Ninth Group

A rising tide lifts all boats and that’s true of the property industry as well as the wider economy.

The early noughties boom and 2008 bust is a perfect example. A combination of easy access to credit and double-digit property price inflation enabled amateur investors to make a profit with little to no experience. But many got their fingers burnt during the global financial crisis.

Experienced property asset managers, such as the Seventy Ninth Group, had the expertise to spot great property buying opportunities amid the falling market, enabling us to buck the trend and create wealth for our clients.

We’re seeing a similar pattern in today’s commercial property market, with potentially lucrative buying opportunities available for those with the specialist knowledge and funds to invest.

Commercial comeback

The commercial property sector has struggled following the post-Covid shift to homeworking, soaring inflation, and the cost of living crisis.

After a tough 2023, property values and confidence are both down. Office take-up at the end of 2023 was 10–15% below pre-pandemic levels across the UK, said Savills. And last year saw the lowest investment levels in the market in 20 years, according to CBRE.

But it’s not all bad.

Those who understand commercial property, and have operated through more than one economic cycle, know that underlying market conditions only make up part of the picture.

Expertise, experience, and trusted relationships mean that strong buying opportunities will always present themselves.

Plus, 2024 has already revealed positive signs in the commercial property sector.

Here are five reasons now could be a good time to invest

  1. 1. Growth opportunity
  2. 2. Return to the office

    The last year has seen high-profile examples of large employers asking their workers to come back to the office, from the government’s pressure on civil servants to some of the UK’s largest banks.

    And these are not outliers. Companies want workers to return to the office, with 98% of employers actively encouraging workers back with rewards including free food and drink and access to gym facilities, according to Towergate Health and Protection.

    Over a third (37%) are now making some office days mandatory.

  3. 3. Reversal of the race for space

    The return to office working has contributed to a reversal of the ‘race for space’ in the residential market. During the pandemic, demand rose for larger out-of-town homes as more people worked remotely.

    But the tide has turned as workers have gone back to the office.

    The last year has seen the price of flats rise more sharply than larger homes (2.7% compared to 1.7%), according to Halifax , as workers returned to urban living and first-time buyers responded to stretched affordability.

    The reversal of the ‘race for space’ goes as far back as May 2022, when Rightmove noted a demand for city centre living following the end of lockdowns because people prioritised being closer to the office.

  4. 4. Flight to quality

    Despite the challenging market, demand remains strong for high-quality office locations in the best locations.

    CBRE said that companies are looking for the best quality, best located, and most environmentally sustainable buildings to attract their employees back to the office. .

    Demand is outstripping supply in this sub-sector, a trend that’s expected to continue this year and beyond.

    Knight Frank’s research supports this, noting that nearly 84% of office take-up last year in the South East was for new or grade-A space, with occupiers seeking quality over size.

    At the Seventy Ninth Group, we’ve seen this demand for prime office property and have tailored our strategy accordingly. Millennium Park in Warrington is a great example of how we’ve renovated office space in a fantastic location to meet the needs of modern SME businesses and workers, from electric chargers to conferencing facilities and outdoor space.

  5. 5. Sharp rental growth

    Rental growth remains robust, and office space markets saw nearly record headline rents in 2023, said CBRE. It forecasts further growth this year of 3% across UK office markets at the prime end of the market.

    Again, it noted that the best-located buildings with the right amenities will see the highest growth in rents, due to the supply/demand imbalance.

Buying opportunities abound

The commercial sector is poised to recover, with many experts calling the bottom of the market and predicting accelerated growth from 2025. This makes now a potentially great time to explore opportunities within the sector.

But succeeding in this sector isn’t just about timing the market. It’s about knowing a good opportunity when you see it – in both benign and challenging economic backdrops. It’s where the Seventy Ninth Group’s expertise lies, in buying low and selling high.

Asset management businesses that are also agile and can adapt their approach are well placed to take advantage of good buying opportunities, because no two property projects are the same. That’s why the Seventy Ninth Group structures every commercial project differently, using the most appropriate business models, from acquiring, renovating, and selling, to management and letting of commercial office assets.

Our ethos is simple – we look for the best and quickest return on undervalued assets, based on decades of specialist commercial property market knowledge.

This bespoke approach means we can add value for our partners, whatever the prevailing market conditions.

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