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WA on world stage as investors seek secure, strong destination for capital

Perth Hero

Agents behind biggest deals of 2021 see no signs of slowing demand in Perth property market

Western Australia’s status as one of the least-disrupted markets in the world has seen its popularity skyrocket in recent months to become a go-to destination for commercial investment among the region’s biggest players.

According to research by Colliers, more than $1.943billion has been invested in WA office, retail and industrial assets alone in 2021 YTD (as at October 31, sales above $5million). This is a sigificant 25% spike in investment since 2019.

John Marasco, Managing Director of Capital Markets & Investment Services, at Colliers, said in a time of global economic challenges, the Western Australian economy had outperformed all other states and economies globally.

“This has had substantial benefits for the local property sector, particularly the highly sought after office, industrial and retail markets,” Mr Marasco said. “All the major east coast investors are heading West because they see value and opportunity.

“And there is more opportunity still to be unlocked as borders re-open and offshore buyers return adding increased competition to the domestic market. It is a very exciting time for the commercial property market in WA.”

OFFICE

In the WA office sector, 2021 YTD transaction levels are already 44.8% above 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with $893.3million in office sales above $5million transacting YTD 2021. This is 195% up on 2020, but more importantly a 44.8% increase on 2019 transactions. The figures are driven by Perth CBD office sales, which are up 160% on 2019.

Adam Woodward, Head of Office Capital Markets at Colliers, said Perth offered a higher yield spread when compared with major eastern states office markets such as Sydney and Melbourne in the current climate.

“This is a big tick for investors, domestically and from offshore,Mr Woodward said. “There is currently a wall of money looking to invest in Perth, and this is largely attributable to its transformation into a mature and liquid investment market.

“The spread for equivalent prime assets in Sydney and Perth is at historically high levels, approximately 140 basis points compared to the 20-year average of 100 basis points.

“Investors are increasingly being priced out of core CBD markets on the East Coast and are looking further afield to secure core investments. Assets that offer security in the form of a long leases to secure tenants attract high competition.”

With limited new office supply on the horizon, Mr Woodward said net absorption was forecast to continue to increase post-2021 as employment markets recovered much faster than anticipated.

“Occupancy in the Perth office market is higher than the east coast CBD markets, with occupancy at 76% of pre-Covid levels,” he said.

Colliers’ office experts have established the number one track record for major commercial sales in recent years. In 2021 alone, the company has been responsible for the market’s two biggest sales – a 49% stake in Woodside’s headquarters at Capital Square to Dexus for $339million and 140 St Georges Terrace to Primewest and BlackRock for $262million on behalf of AMP Capital.

Mr Woodward and his team are currently marketing Allendale Square in Perth on behalf of Mirvac.

RETAIL

In the retail sector, there have been $500.3million worth of WA shopping centre transactions YTD in 2021, with the largest deal being the $195million sale of The Square Mirrabooka to Fawkner Property.

The deal – which represents the largest sub-regional retail transaction in Australia for two years and the largest in WA for a number of years – was negotiated by Colliers’ Head of Retail Investment Services, Lachlan MacGillivray on behalf of Perron Group.

In the neighbourhood shopping centre market alone there have been $351.85million in WA sales in 2021 YTD, up 143% from $144.43million in 2019.

“I have never seen stronger demand for WA retail than I am witnessing right now,” Mr MacGillivray said. “WA has been the least-interrupted retail sales market in the world throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and, as a result, the WA market has outperformed in a major way.”

INDUSTRIAL

In the sought after industrial sector, the WA market has recorded $549.47million in sales above $5million in 2021 alone. This is an increase of more than 250% on the 2019 total sales figure for this sector of $156.49million.

Gavin Bishop, Head of Industrial Capital Markets at Colliers, said demand for industrial property was so high across the country that all major investors were looking for new markets to break into.

“There is so much capital wanting to get placed in the industrial sector, and yields are so tight on the eastern coast, that investors looking seriously at Perth and the WA market more broadly,” Mr Bishop said.

“Buyers are pursuing WA for value and to capitalise on the improving leasing market, where vacancies have tightened significantly over the past 12 months and rental growth has returned. This is all against the backdrop of a rebounding economy and scarcity of land supply to accommodate demand for new development, particularly in core locations such as the eastern corridor.

“The resource sector is driving employment and economic growth, as WA continues to support the global demand associated with the delivery of unprecedented levels of infrastructure stimulus associated with COVID-19 recovery. The state’s economy has been shielded from the worst of the last two years of the pandemic and investors are seeing now as the time to establish a position in the WA market before prices rise.”

Consequently, Colliers is also seeing an increase in the quantity of assets coming to market as private owners and syndicates begin to see the opportunity.

“All of this means there is more scale available in the WA industrial sector than there has been in the past,” Mr Bishop said. “Once WA industrial prices start to increase and are more on par with the eastern states, the yield spread will not be as great as it currently is.

“The time to get into the market is now, and investors from all corners of the country, and the wider Asia-Pacific region, are well aware.”

Mr Bishop and his team recently sold WA’s well known Brownes Dairy facility to Charter Hall for $63.5million.

“Charter Hall wanted to get into the food sector, and with Brownes being one of the state’s largest producers, this was an ideal opportunity,” Mr Bishop said. “All of the major REITs including Charter Hall, Blackstone, Logos, Centuria, Dexus and others are actively looking to invest within the WA industrial market.

“Dexus’ recent acquisition of Jandakot Airport from Ascot Capital, for circa $1.5billion, is further evidence of the underlying tenant demand in the Perth market. These purchasers are moving to deploy a lot of capital because they see so much demand coming through in WA.”


Related Experts

John Marasco

Managing Director | Capital Markets & Investment Services

Melbourne

I have been with Colliers International for over 25 years and am the Managing Director of Capital Markets & Investment Services, Australia as well as the State Chief Executive of Victoria.  

I have established a strong reputation in the Capital Markets space and have formed close relationships with major investors and institutions on a global scale. In recent years, I have negotiated some of Australia’s largest real estate transactions and have been instrumental in successfully brokering many substantial transactions with overseas investors entering the Australian market. My extensive connectivity in the global real estate market can unite capital with local expertise, regardless of location.

Our national Investment Services business represents market specializations including Capital Markets and Investment Sales. The two clear divisions servicing the Australian commercial office market ensures complete market coverage, efficiency and premium experiences and successes for our clients. 

‚ÄčAs a long standing senior member within Colliers International, I have played an integral role in contributing to the business's success in Australia. I hold a number of senior positions with Colliers including a member of the National Executive Board. I am committed to the success of the business by providing our people with the tools they require to deliver incomparable service and results.

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Adam Woodward

Head of Capital Markets | Australia

Sydney

Adam is a highly motivated, well rounded property professional with proven experience in deal origination and completion of major property transactions across all investment sectors. Adam’s specific experience has been working in a transaction team for a major public and wholesale institutional investment business.

He is particularly focussed on achieving the best results for his clients, with his ability to drive and generate well balanced, cost effective and collaborative solutions.

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Lachlan MacGillivray

Managing Director, Asia Pacific | Retail Capital Markets

Sydney

Specialising in the sale of major shopping centres, Lachlan has managed the sale of over $15 billion worth of shopping centres, working with a wide range of clients including institutional, international and private investors.

In 2021, Lachlan’s team transacted the largest retail deal in Australian history, with the sale of Pacific Fair and Macquarie Centre for $2.2 billion. This deal represents the largest retail transaction globally since 2018. He also secured the second largest agency retail transaction in Australia at $1.00 billion in the sale of Pacific Werribee and Pacific Epping.

In 2019, Lachlan's team transacted 83% of all retail assets greater than $100 million, equalling a total of $3.58 billion in sales. These included:
• The sale of Westfield Marion, SA for $670 million (50% interest);
• The sale of Westfield Burwood, NSW for $575 million (50% interest);
• The sale of Garden City Booragoon, WA for $575 million (50% interest);

In the last 5 years, Lachlan has sold 8 out of the 9 Australian regional shopping centres that were presented to market, and has successfully marketed over 100 different assets. Lachlan has achieved the largest individual transaction in Australian history with the sale of Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, QLD for $810 million (50% interest). 

With an in-depth understanding of shopping centre performance, Lachlan can provide you with expert advice on the sale and acquisition of all your retail investment:

• Capital Partnering / Joint Ventures / Portfolio Transactions
• Asset Marketing and campaign strategy, implementation and execution
• Shopping centre acquisition and disposal
• Sale negotiation and transaction
• Strategic asset positioning and repositioning to maximise asset performance
• Buy side investment advisory

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Gavin Bishop

Managing Director | Industrial

Sydney

Gavin is the Managing Director of Industrial & Head of Industrial Capital Markets Australia at Colliers, where he has been specialising in industrial property for 21+ years. Based in the Sydney CBD Head Office, Gavin manages a highly successful team of over 120 staff across every state & territory nationally in key industrial and logistics precincts.

Gavin specialises in the national industrial capital markets and has excellent relationships across a broad spectrum of institutional, international and private investors. Over Gavin’s time with Colliers, he has completed hundreds of deals in industrial property, settling over $14 billion in his career to date, and leasing over 400,000sqm. Gavin enjoys a 75% market share of industrial capital markets share in NSW.

Gavin has worked extensively in the sale of industrial portfolios of up to 30 assets in one portfolio. Gavin and his team have sold 24/34 of all industrial portfolios in Australia over the last five years, including the AMP Portfolio ($105m), J.P. Morgan Portfolio ($250m), Altis Portfolio ($342.5m), Qantas Portfolio ($802m) and GIC/Australand Portfolio ($1.073b).

Some major distribution centre sales that Gavin and his team have been involved in over the last two years include, the Calibre, Eastern Creek ($130.1 million), 1 Eucalyptus Place, Eastern Creek ($90.5 million), 3 Roberts Road, Eastern Creek ($253 millions) and 6-20 Clunies Ross Street, Greystanes ($76.6 million)

Gavin has focused on building deep relationships with his clients, providing the latest in-depth information about logistics markets across Australia, which in line with his extensive track record, has seen Gavin achieve record-breaking results for his clients.

Gavin is a long-standing member of the Colliers team, having joined in 2000 as a graduate valuer. Gavin commenced with Colliers as part of their Scholarship Program and he was fortunate to work across multiple service lines and locations across Sydney, before settling in the Industrial team in Sydney South in 2001. Over the last 20 years, Gavin has progressed through the industrial business including managing the Sydney South and Sydney South West offices, before moving into the NSW State Product Director for Industrial in 2010.

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