Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:37

Office space under pressure in year ahead

Published by  eProp@News
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Property pundits agree that office property will remain the problematic sector in the next 12 to 18 months with dominant retail centres likely to be the best performers.

Vukile Property Fund CEO Laurence Rapp believes that — consistent with last year — the market will continue to "see the office property sector under pressure".

While Rapp believes the performance of the industrial property sector will continue to improve, retail property will continue to be "the preferred asset class given its growth potential but inherently defensive nature".

Redefine Properties CEO Marc Wainer believes the pressure in the office property sector will be particularly felt in the older B-grade property arena. Wainer says it becomes much more difficult to let B-grade space in the current market because newer A-grade rentals are flat. This results in A-grade rentals being more affordable and consequently there is less incentive for prospective tenants to move into B-grade space.

As for new office property space being developed, Wainer says: "Anything being built now is being built specifically for tenants." He says there is little in the way of premium office properties coming onto the market on a speculative basis.

Redefine is, however, developing a 20,000m² office building in Sandton.

Wainer says retail property is "still pretty strong, particularly in the larger centres", adding: "We’ve seen major retailers are still doing well, expanding their retail footprint."

He says industrial property is strong and there are good signs in distribution warehousing.

Growthpoint CEO Norbert Sasse says he sees the office property market remaining the weakest of the property types in the next 12 to 18 months, especially given the muted economic growth outlook in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2013 budget. Gross domestic product growth at about the 2.7% level is predicted for 2013.

Sasse also warns the market is seeing a slowdown in consumer spending, which will have a potentially negative effect on the retail property sector.

"However, we are confident the retail sector will continue to provide above average returns for the next 12 to 18 months."

As far as industrial property is concerned, he says there seems to be "mixed signals coming through the economy with manufacturing output coming lower than expected".

Sasse believes this, together with labour unrest in the mining sector, could also "pose some challenges for the industrial sector. However the fact that national vacancy levels in the industrial sector are at the 3% to 5% level suggests that there is no major oversupply of space. We are confident about the industrial property sector."

Source: BD

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