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Latest Scottish commercial property sales figures reflect referendum uncertainty

Analysis of Scotland’s recent commercial property market transactions suggests that uncertainty ahead of the outcome of September’s Referendum has led to a reduced value of sales activity in the sector with the significant exception of Aberdeen.

Data from the Registers of Scotland (RoS) shows that in the second quarter of 2014 the total value of Scottish commercial property sales reported fell to £592mn from its first quarter total of £841mn. This fall in the value of sales comes amid a general economic recovery which had previously seen an increase in the value of Scottish commercial property sales since Q2 2013.

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF), which has analysed the RoS figures, expects to see investor appetite return in the autumn, predicting that once uncertainly surrounding the referendum vote has been resolved, the market will continue to follow the trajectory of the general economic recovery.

The analysis shows that Aberdeen is dominating the market, with some £165mn of commercial property sales in Q2, making up almost a third of all transactions. Glasgow has slipped significantly, with its £207m sales in Q1 reducing to just £58m in Q2.

David Melhuish, Director at the Scottish Property Federation, commented: “The fall in the value of commercial property sales between April and June inevitably leads to questions about the impact of the independence referendum on the commercial property market. It appears that since April there has been a slowdown in the number of higher value transactions, which would support the feedback from most members that with the exception of Aberdeen, generally investors have become increasingly cautious about committing to commercial property investments in Scotland before the outcome of the 18 September vote is known and a firmer political direction is established.”

“What we must bear in mind, however, is that, in line with the continued general economic improvement, we may see a bounce back in the value of sales post-Referendum. While we would expect a traditional surge in activity in the autumn, this may be tempered slightly as the UK General Election creeps closer, which could potentially provide more UK-wide political uncertainty.”

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