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Dublin office take up increases in a cautious occupier market

13/10/2020

Occupier activity in the Dublin office market improved in Q3, with a total of 44,250 sq m taken up in the quarter. This brings the year to date figure to 104,150 sq m.

Despite the improvement from Q2, which was hampered by lockdown restrictions, a delay in decision making by some cohorts of the occupier market remains evident. This is most apparent in the volume of reserved space which was below average in the three-month period.

 

This aside, market demand is stemming from tech, professional services and state occupiers. Expanding tech occupiers lead the pack, accounting for almost 30% of take up year to date. Combined, the three sectors absorbed 70% of space occupied in the year to date. 

 

Commenting on the market, Ronan Corbett, Head of Offices at Cushman & Wakefield Ireland, “It is very encouraging to see a return in occupier demand during the quarter, which is supported by the increasing level of take-up. Whilst the next few quarters are likely to be bumpy until the path of the pandemic stabalises, we believe in the medium term there is enough pent-up demand in the market to swallow up any overspill in supply.”

 

Availability recorded a second quarterly increase, rising 7% in the quarter to 389,500 sq m. However, the rise was largely driven by new completions, with the release of second-hand stock to the market continuing to stay low. This perhaps again reflects the cautious nature of occupiers at present.

 

The upward trend in availability has unsurprisingly caused a shift in the vacancy rate. At the end of September, the total market vacancy rate was 10.1% and 7.7% in the CBD. However, excluding signed or reserved space, the CBD net vacancy rate remains low at 5.6%.

 

With construction sites open throughout quarter three, completions rose. A total of 42,700 sq m completed construction in the three-month period, the majority of which were new builds. A further 490,350 sq m of space was on site at the end of September and positively 53% of this space is pre-let. Over 100,000 sq m of space is ear marked to complete by year-end with over 270,000 sq m tentatively expected in 2021.

 

Looking forward, a total of 67,650 sq m of standing stock space is signed, with a further 259,450 sq m of space under construction also pre-let. These figures reflect the market’s immediate take up pipeline and while occupier decision making is muted by uncertainty, this pre-let space provides the market with a cushion for take up levels in 2021. 

 

Finally, prime headline rents in Dublin held stable in the quarter at €673 per sq m, however with a movement on terms evident. Downward pressure is forecast for prime rents at year-end and into 2021 as new supply hits the market and demand remains curtailed.

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