The commercial property investment market is experiencing mixed trends in 2024 and is showing signs of recovery, driven by several key factors.

Various sectors show different performance levels due to fluctuating economic conditions and interest rates.

Key Trends:

Interest Rates and Inflation: Persistently high interest rates and inflation have strained the commercial real estate market. Investors are cautious due to increased borrowing costs and a tighter lending environment, which has led to a significant drop in transaction volumes and investment levels compared to previous years. 

Stabilisation and expected reduction in interest rates are anticipated to positively impact property valuations and investor confidence. The Bank of England’s decision to hold base interest rates and the anticipated decline in inflation are likely to create a more favorable lending environment, encouraging investment activity.  Political stability plays a huge part.

Sector-Specific Performance:

  • Office Space: The office sector is facing significant challenges with high vacancy rates, especially in central business districts. The shift to hybrid work models continues to impact demand, leading to some office spaces becoming obsolete.
  • Industrial: The industrial sector, including warehouses and cold-storage properties, remains relatively strong but is showing signs of moderation as post-pandemic demand stabilizes.
  • Retail: Neighborhood retail centers in urban and suburban areas are performing well, benefiting from stable consumer demand despite the ongoing growth of e-commerce.
  • Multifamily: The multifamily housing sector remains robust, driven by sustained demand for rental housing. This sector is expected to continue its strong performance. 

Generally, there has been some resilience in specific sectors, particularly industrial properties, which have shown solid rental growth. Additionally, while capital values in sectors such as retail and offices have declined, the worst appears to be over, with expectations for stabilisation and modest recovery towards the end of the year.

Geopolitical and Macroeconomic Influences: Geopolitical issues and broader economic concerns, including the potential for a prolonged period of high interest rates, are influencing the market. Investors are advised to manage liquidity carefully and optimize their operations to navigate these uncertainties.

Outlook:

The overall outlook for commercial property is cautious optimism. While certain sectors like multifamily and neighborhood retail are expected to perform well, others, particularly office spaces, face ongoing challenges. Investors and operators are encouraged to focus on liquidity management and be prepared for potential opportunities as the market continues to recalibrate especially during an election.

In summary, the commercial property market is navigating through a complex landscape in 2024, with varied performances across different sectors and significant impacts from economic conditions and interest rates.  Investment volumes however are projected to rise significantly, with some forecasts suggesting a 20% year-on-year increase in both 2024 and 2025. This growth is expected to be driven by opportunistic buying as investors aim to capitalise on lower property prices and improved economic conditions.

Overall, while the market faced considerable challenges in 2023, including declining capital values and high interest rates, the outlook for 2024 is cautiously optimistic, with several indicators pointing towards a gradual recovery in the commercial property sector.  Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed.

Author: Sylvia Garcia – Head of Commercial and Residential Property Department