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Global investor confidence rising as Britain leaves the EU

31 01 20 brexit

Our chief economist and EMEA Head of Research comments on the market on the day the UK leaves the EU.

Dr Walter Boettcher, Colliers International’s chief economist, said: “Discussions and instructions in the commercial real estate market suggests that the stability of a UK government with a strong mandate may have been enough to inspire renewed investor confidence. Over the last six weeks, a global appetite for UK commercial real estate is apparent from investors across Asia, including Japan, and North America, but also from German investors.

“Some UK economic survey indicators also suggest a strengthening of business sentiment which may explain the Bank of England’s decision to leave the base rate unchanged. The economic outlook remains uncertain, with opinions varying widely.  Clearly, though, the onus is now on Government policy to stoke the economy, should it be required. 

The Prime Minister continues to make positive noises about infrastructure investment and regional economic rebalancing, all good news for commercial real estate, but we await the March budget announcement to see if these result in concrete foundations.

“Of course, Brexit still needs to be negotiated, hence its risk is not completely dispelled. However for the moment, commercial real estate investors seem content to begin positioning themselves for what looks, so far, like a potentially very interesting and active year.”

Damian Harrington
, Head of EMEA Research at Colliers International, added: “Despite the challenges facing Europe in the past few years, the real estate market has maintained a healthy position from both an occupational and capital markets perspective. 

In 2019 office take-up across Europe, for example, was very much in-line with 2018 levels, and occupier conditions are still heavily weighted towards landlords. So despite slowing employment growth, a mixed macro outlook and a rather turgid beginning to the year, provisional European transaction volumes came in very close to their 2018 levels of €308 billion – only two per cent down. Capital values – at least outside of retail – continued to grow which has helped maintain the volume momentum. And all this, despite a 30 per cent drop-off in activity in the UK. 

“This year a pick-up in activity into Britain is expected as it is arguably the most mis-priced market in Europe, if not globally, from a yield perspective. Further across the region, we can expect more retail assets coming to the market, helping to make up for the dearth of new commercial real estate available or changing hands. We are also likely to see investors incorporate more operational real estate into their portfolios and make niche plays by sector, in order to drive returns and mitigate their risk. 

“Ultimately, despite today being the day Britain officially leaves the European Union, it should be a good investment year for the continent, including some rebalancing of capital distribution back to the UK.”  



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Walter Boettcher

Head of Research and Economics

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

As Head of Research and Economics at global property advisors Colliers based in London, I lead a team of researchers identifying timely research topics and directing research and forecasting outputs. I have 25+ years of UK and European property industry experience and extensive expertise across a wide range of sectors and related industries. I participate regularly in industry panel discussions, but am focused more on direct client engagement with institutions, property companies, banks, and private investors. A regular media commentator, I have a wide range of national publication and broadcast experience. I joined Colliers International in August 2007 after several years at a private property company where I was responsible for managing a mixed portfolio of London residential, retail and office assets. Previously, I worked in a few London property advisory firms, a geodemographic company as well as a few youthful sojourns in the US offshore oil industry, local government and entertainment business. I am an economics graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received a  PhD from the Faculty of Science at University College London.  I am a member of the London Property Economics Forum and  Society of Property Researchers.

Perhaps best known for my alternative take on property economics and investment, I am a keen proponent of UK regional development and infrastructure investment.

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Damian Harrington

Head of Research

Global Capital Markets & EMEA

London - West End

Damian Harrington is a Director and Head of Research for both Global Capital Markets and EMEA at Colliers. He has over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry living and working from various locations across EMEA including London, Dubai, Prague, Helsinki and Amsterdam. Damian is responsible for producing research for internal and external clients. His expertise helps to provide clients with global capital market trends and analysis, and connects them with strategic and actionable insights, such as the changing nature of global capital and the impact on global capital flows. Damian has produced numerous research papers and generated analysis of markets across all asset types - from residential to offices, retail to logistics and hotels to niche sectors such as life sciences, air cargo and data centres. Damian is a member of the EMEA location strategy team and a key member of Colliers ESG focus group.  He speaks regularly at internal global conferences, external industry events hosted by GRI, ULI and other key industry bodies, plus key annual events such as MIPIM and EXPO REAL.

Damian holds a Masters degree in European Property Development and Planning from University College London, a BPI Bachelor of Planning from the University of Amsterdam and a BA (Hons) in Town and Country Planning from Manchester University. He is also a qualified surveyor, holding an MRICS with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

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Kim Inam

PR Manager

Marketing & Communications

London - West End

I'm a communications professional who has previously worked as a journalist for eight years covering a broad range of topics including politics, crime, health and housing in north London. In recent years I have worked in corporate communications for local authorities across London  and joined Colliers in October 2019, initially providing maternity leave cover.

I provide strategic public relations advice to various business lines within the UK organisation to secure recognition for their work in the property press as well as key target media, and work with our experts to produce thought leadership pieces which are of interest to our clients and colleagues within the commercial real estate sector. In addition, alongside colleagues in the PR and wider communications team, I provide media and social media training for our in-house experts to prepare them for media opportunities and raise their personal brand within the sector.

As well as supporting various teams within the UK business, I also I curate and edit regular content for the blog, which drives credible business leads to our experts.


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