Office sales boom driven by offshore investors and syndicators

Offices make up 60.5 per cent of top-tier assets sold in the last year

Central Park Corporate Centre, Auckland

A strong surge in office sales was the dominant trend in New Zealand’s commercial property market over the last year, new research shows.

An analysis by Colliers International’s Research and Consulting team has found offices accounted for 60.5 per cent of all commercial property assets sold for $5 million and above in the year to June 2018.

Colliers International Research Manager Leo Lee says provisional commercial property sales of $5m or more totalled $3.8b in the year to June, down slightly from $4.0b a year earlier. 

“The interesting trend here has been the phenomenal sales activity in the New Zealand office sector,” Lee says.

“An unprecedented amount of interest from offshore buyers pushed sales to $2.3b, eclipsing office sale in the year to June 2017 by 1.4 times.”

Of the offices that sold for $20m or more in the year to June 2018, 54 per cent were purchased by overseas investors, while 46 per cent were purchased domestically, predominately by syndicators.

“Auckland and Wellington were the favoured geographic destinations for investment, making up 86 per cent and 13 per cent of total office sales respectively,” Lee says.

Recent major office transactions have included the $181m sale of a 50 per cent stake in the ANZ Centre on Albert Street, Auckland CBD, to US fund Invesco, and the Central Park Corporate Centre on Great South Road in Ellerslie, Auckland, to Oyster Group and joint venture partner KKR for $209m.

Both transactions were brokered by Colliers International’s Capital Markets team.

Also among the major sales was Goodman Property’s $635m sale of the VXV portfolio in Wynyard Quarter, Auckland, to US-based fund Blackstone.

Lee says investor appetite for offices remains strong, with another Auckland CBD property changing hands after the analysis period ended at the end of June. Spark City Building C on Victoria Street West sold for approximately $77m.

Prime rents in the Auckland and Wellington CBD office markets showed continued growth in Q2 2018. Prime yields have declined further.

Lee says Colliers International’s latest vacancy data will be released next month.

“Early indications show that vacancy won’t stray too far from existing levels,” he says.

“Our forecast is for vacancy to remain relatively tight until further stock becomes available at the end of 2019.”

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