UK property investment volumes are set to exceed £60bn this year, sharply up on the £42.9bn recorded in 2020 and £50.4bn in 2019 – and placing 2021 in the top five years of all time, according to data from JLL.
“Given the wider economic context and the scale of the impact last year, this represents a remarkable recovery,” says Cameron Ramsey, director, UK capital markets research, at JLL. “The office sector is comfortably the largest both in the UK and globally, and this will be unchanged.”
Investors from the Americas accounted for £6.9bn of capital deployed in UK property to the end of Q3, followed by global investors (£6.6bn) and then investors from Europe (£4.9bn), Asia-Pacific (£2.4bn) and the Middle East and Africa (£0.8bn). In terms of individual countries, the US, Germany and Singapore were the top international investors in 2021.
“Singaporean investors have always been major global real estate players and the UK and London are among their top target markets,” says Ramsey. “Since the UK-Singapore travel corridor opened in Q4, a lot of Singaporean investors have visited London, and this is likely to translate into deals in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022.”
Across the UK, central London recorded the largest fall in investment. “It comprises predominantly office, retail and hotel assets, which were more impacted by the pandemic, particularly early in the year when restrictions were severe,” says Ramsey. “It’s recovered very well, albeit not quite to pre-pandemic levels. That is likely to continue, with very strong office investment expected in Q4 and 2022.”
While offices accounted for 34% of overall investment in the first three quarters of 2021, hotels only accounted for 3%. “In percentage growth terms, the hotel sector has the furthest to come, but we’ve seen a pick-up in activity in Q4 as travel restrictions eased,” says Ramsey. “If the pre-Omicron trajectory on travel resumes in the new year, we’re likely to see substantially stronger hotel volumes.”