Turnover could reach levels last seen in 2007
Overseas buyers main driver behind rush to cash in on ‘distressed’ assets
Central Park: sale of office and residential investment likely to be one of the highlights of the year
Five years after the property market was brought to its knees, trading is once again characterised by a similar splurge of money as during the property boom.
By year end turnover in the commercial market is expected to reach €1.8 billion – the highest spend since 2007 when the figure hit €1.9 billion. There the similarity ends.
With the rampant demand for loan books and individual investments, the entire market has been reconfigured and revalued.
Prices in some instances have been cut by two-thirds. The players too have changed.
The big spenders in the halcyon years are now frequently the reluctant sellers, pushed to the front line by bankers, receivers and, of course, Nama.
Ownership of a great many commercial and multi-family properties in the Dublin area have already passed to American and UK funds.
And with an increased number of distressed assets due to be rolled out in loan books as well as in direct sales early in the new year – not to mention what some vendors like to portray as “consensual sales” with the agreement of their bankers – there will be no easing of the rush by overseas buyers to cash in on Ireland’s financial crisis.
Even in the run-up to Christmas the funds are weighing up the pros and cons of two high-value property portfolios, one of them Central Park in Leopardstown which is expected to fetch about €250 million.
The other is the Platinum Collection which features three high-quality office buildings in Dublin’s south docklands (two of them being eagerly sought by Irish Life and the other by Google) and another in Ballsbridge with an overall price guide of €120 million.
Those valuations are well short of the top price of €306 million already paid by US investor Kennedy Wilson for 16 properties in the Opera Portfolio including Stillorgan shopping centre, the new Bank of Ireland HQ on Mespil Road in Dublin 4 and KPMG’s offices on St Stephen’s Green.
The same Beverley Hills-based investor has spent the guts of €1 billion on a range of distressed properties including State Street Bank building in the city’s docklands (€108 million), Clancy Barracks residential complex (€82 million), the Gasworks apartments in Ringsend (€40 million), Sandford apartments (€27million) , Project Prince (€61 million), 50 per cent stake in Brooklawn House, Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge (€13.5 million) and Alto Vetro, Dublin’s new landmark residential tower in George’s Dock (€11.5 million).
The diversity and scale of the newly acquired properties means that Kennedy Wilson is now one if the biggest landlords in the country along with Nama, Irish Life and IPUT.
Its residential portfolio alone has reached almost 800 apartments. And the indications are the buying spree will continue.
Even if the company was to take a break, another US investor Hines is reported to be in the process of buying a 73 per cent stake in Liffey Valley shopping centre in west Dublin for about €250 million. The same company is rumoured to be about to spend almost as much again on other property investments in Dublin.