Scotland is on track to see in excess of £2.5bn invested in its commercial property market in 2018, according to Savills, with £2.485bn of deals already completed at the point of writing and two weeks remaining until the end of the year. Volumes mark a 10% increase on last year (£2.275bn invested), says the international real estate advisor, and places 2018 49% ahead of the 10-year average for commercial investment in Scotland.

Savills figures show the lion’s share of Scotland’s investment activity in 2018 took part in the offices sector which represented circa 45% of all transactions. Savills says domestic players have accounted for over half of all office transactions in 2018 (£1.129bn) as they return as ever more competitive players in Scotland where, in recent years, international investors have been dominant. Key deal to highlight this shift include the sale of The Mint building in Edinburgh to Hines for £53m (net initial yield of 4.5%).

Also notable in 2018, says Savills, is the far greater spread of investment activity across Scotland’s main cities unlike previous years which saw investors focus predominantly on Edinburgh. In 2018 almost twice as many office transactions took place in Glasgow (circa £300m) than Edinburgh, and Aberdeen also saw a rise in activity with close to £170m changing hands.

Nick Penny, head of Scotland at Savills and director in the investment team, comments:

“Regardless of Brexit, the simple economic argument around supply and demand of good quality offices is very compelling for Scotland. Our development pipeline and general market confidence was paused for longer than the rest of the UK following the financial crash due to uncertainty around the Independence Referendum. The result is a critically low level of Grade A office supply in Edinburgh and Glasgow that makes a strong case for rental growth and new development. Highlighting this point is the reality that Edinburgh’s development pipeline is now almost entirely pre-let.

Low yields in Edinburgh reflect the potential for growth and lack of risk however despite the strong level of investor demand for the Scottish capital, a lack of assets being marketed for sale in 2018 as a result of preceding record levels of activity has hampered overall transaction volumes. By investing in Edinburgh, and Glasgow, you are investing in a landlords market as supply is so limited and with its World Heritage status there will be restricted opportunity to change this dynamic in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, in Aberdeen a gradual improving economy and uptick in office activity being led by the oil and gas sector is piquing the interest of those investors looking for value.”

Savills research shows prime office yields in Edinburgh at the end of 2018 at 4.5%, Glasgow 5.25% and 6.25% in Aberdeen.

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