Scottish commercial property investment bounces back in Q1

Investment in Scotland’s commercial property market saw a significant rebound during the first quarter of 2024, as inflation began to come under control and a cut to interest rates looked more likely, according to analysis from Knight Frank.

The independent commercial property consultancy’s figures showed total investment volumes rose by 53% on the same period last year, increasing from £251 million to £383 million.

Retail property accounted for 56% of investment volumes, largely because of the sale of Aberdeen’s Union Square for a reported £111 million. Hotels accounted for another 17% and offices represented another 15%.

The sale of Union Square also helped Aberdeen record its best first quarter in the last five years, with £140 million of deals. Glasgow saw a strong rebound from last year too, up from £49 million to £109 million – a 123% increase.

So far this year, listed property companies have accounted for 43% of investment, with international investors at 30% – well below their five-year average of 57% – and private capital representing 27%.

Alasdair Steele, head of Scotland commercial at Knight Frank, said: “Last year was challenging for commercial property across the world, with interest rates rising sharply after a decade of historic lows and the economy adjusting to a new normal post-pandemic. While there was some mixed inflation data moving into 2024, a cautious sense of optimism has begun to emerge.

“It is encouraging to see that beginning to be reflected in investment volumes. Although we are not quite back to pre-pandemic levels, there is a noticeable difference between now and this time last year as macro-economic conditions settle, and buyer and seller expectations move closer together.

“The particularly good news is that it looks like there is still plenty more to follow this year – international investors weren’t as active in the first quarter, but are still very interested in Scotland; there are several large office assets on the market; and there is a strong constituency of potential buyers. All things being equal, we are moving in a more positive direction for the year ahead.”