2015 was also the strongest year for investment
By Roxanne James

North East England a Hotspot for Savvy Property Investors

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Investment in property is growing at a greater rate in the North East than anywhere else in the UK, with investors snapping up more than £1bn worth of commercial property in 2015.

Research by real estate research firm CoStar has shown investment volumes within the region grew by 32% - the largest percentage increase of any UK region - proving that many property firms from the UK and beyond have the North East in its sights.

2015 saw deals which included the purchase of Newcastle Shopping Park in Byker for £46.25m, the sale of 254-bed Hilton Hotel in Gateshead for more than £36m to new pension fund owners Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited, Hanro Group's sale of Sainbury's in Heaton for £44.5m and Metnor Group's sale of purpose built student accommodation to a Singapore firm for £40.6m.

Gavin Black, chairman of the G9 Group of chartered surveyors, said the North East 2015 total of £1.06bn was almost double the £524m annual average over the last eight years.

Mr Black, chairman of the group which includes BNP Paribas Real Estate, Cushman and Wakefield, Gavin Black and Partners, Bilfinger GVA, HTA Real Estate, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Naylors Chartered Surveyors and Sanderson Weatherall, said:

"By any judgement this is impressive. Investors are increasingly searching beyond London for value and within the North East there is good value and asset management opportunities. Investors have the North East firmly fixed on their radars".

He added: "Taking account of the current Northern Powerhouse debate and our regional position within this, we are cheek by jowl with competing locations such as Leeds and Manchester, which, together with our neighbours in Edinburgh and Glasgow, are part of the UK's 'Big Six' regional cities".

"So we do have competition on our hands for inward investment. We therefore need to continue the narrative that there are opportunities in the North East and very good reasons for doing business here".

Key deals during 2015 were Standard Life's purchase of Monument Mall for £75m off an initial yield of 4.30%, Orchard Street's purchase of Wellbar Central for £40.1m off 6.04% and W.P Carey's purchase of Rainton House, Houghton-le-Spring for £32.5m off 7.36%.

Looking at sectors, CoStar data shows office investment was up 39%, retail investment rose 46% and industrial investment rose 77% year-on-year.

2015 was also the strongest year for investment by property companies and institutions and the second strongest year for foreign investment where North Americans outspent their overseas counterparts.

The most active buyers were property companies, 46% (£465m), funds 27% (£280m), institutions 24% (£240m) and private investors 3% (£35m).

Meanwhile the region's most active sellers were property companies, 65% (£576m), funds 19% (£169m), institutions 11% (£101m) and private investors 5% (£44m).

"The North East offers attractive returns," said Grant Lonsdale, real estate analyst at the CoStar Group. "Average yields across all sectors remain at 8.3% while across the UK they average 7.5% and in Central London they are just 4%. This underlines value and potential for investors".

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