EDITOR'S LETTER: A year bookended by Brexit

Wow, what a year 2019 has been. Negative interest rates, record low yields in some cities, WeWork’s issues – and of course Brexit. Editor-in-chief Robin Marriott looks back on the past 12 months.

Wow, what a year 2019 has been. Even at the time of writing this – 6 December – there is drama.

I have just come from a meeting in London with a pan-European advisor. He is advising an international purchaser to hold off on a decision to buy a certain asset until the outcome of the UK election. Why would this advisor spend days more on a deal explaining everything to the client, only to wake up on Friday 13 December to a Labour government, and have to reprice the whole thing?

The UK election is about more than Brexit, but Brexit is what caused the election. And at the start of the year, Brexit is what was causing so much uncertainty ahead of the supposed 29 March exit date. So, we have a year that is bookended by a political issue that has negatively affected deal volume in the UK and has had some positive knock-on effects for deal volumes across the Continent. But, overall European deal volumes in 2019 declined nonetheless.

So, what happened during the course of the year, and what can we expect to see in 2020?

We have made a big attempt to answer both those questions within the December issue of PropertyEU. As our cover suggests, we have been talking to those in the market and bring you a briefing on Europe in 2020. We have deliberately given weight to market tips rather than restating broad predictions such as the continued march towards assets requiring specialised operators, which we have reflected throughout the year and will continue to do in the coming 12 months.

You will also find our Year in Review section within this issue. Like I say, it has been an amazing 12 months. Negative interest rates, record low yields in some cities, WeWork’s issues, the rise of tech – these have been some of the biggest stories in 2019.

And record new low yields are being achieved even as we close out the year. At a lunch recently, I heard that an office in Munich is in exclusivity at below 2.75%. In this case, Norges Bank Investment Management is selling Lenbach Garten to a German institutional buyer at a price that is being very keenly watched.

We will no doubt be reporting on this deal in late December/January, unless something slips. Which, by the way, we have seen quite a bit of in 2019 – assets being brought to market, not selling for whatever reason, and being brought back.

Good luck for 2020 and we look forward to following your moves.


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