The market is in an upturn phase as tenant demand for offices increases for the first time since before the pandemic, according to the Q3 2021 RICS Commercial Property Monitor in Europe

In Q3 2021, demand for offices across the office and industrial sector increased, on the main across Europe.

Figure breakdown

The Commercial Property Sentiment Index improved in 19 of the 20 European nations covered by the monitor. Greece, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Austria, Portugal, Ireland and the UK are showing positive signs, but Cyprus slipped this quarter, with respondents pointing to the pandemic still hampering local economic growth.

The Occupier Sentiment Index also improved to -3% (net balance) this quarter, up from -13% in Q2 and shows that demand for commercial property is starting to stabilise. 55% more respondents continue to report an increase in demand for industrial units, whilst demand for retail remains subdued (-26% net balance). Interestingly for the first time since prior to the pandemic, demand for office space improved with +5% of respondents reporting an increase.

Following the trends in demand, rents for the coming three months remain mixed. Prime office rents are now expected to a see a modest rise in the year to come (1.4%) and rents remain firmly positive for prime industrial (+5%), data centres (+4%), multifamily residential (+3%), aged care facilities (+3%) and student housing (+2%). Rents are still expected to fall for hotels, prime and secondary retail and secondary offices over the next year.

Looking at investment in the European market, there are signs of stabilising, as the Investment Sentiment Index has also turned positive (+5%) for the first time since before the pandemic started.

However, in an extra question that was added to the survey to gauge investment sentiment for climate risk, 66% of respondents said that investors considered climate risk in their decisions.

The strengthening investor demand sees more respondents believing the market to be in an upturn phase and only 21% of European respondents feel the market is in a downward phase.

At the country level, a strong majority of survey participants are currently of the opinion that market activity is expanding across Greece, Croatia, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland.

‘Bring confidence to markets’

Tina Paillet, RICS senior vice president, said: “With the majority of Europe’s restrictions lifting and Covid cases in decline it’s promising to see the first signs of this being reflected in the latest data.

“As a forward leading indicator, these results will bring confidence to markets and underpin the value of Europe’s commercial property.

“The continued optimism about the growth in the market and continued focus on sustainability positions Europe as a front runner for reducing the built environment’s carbon emissions and helping meet net zero targets.”

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