Commercial property: Covid embers begin to ignite

Posted on 6 Aug, 2020

Commercial property and Covid-19 make for an unusual pairing but the pandemic has changed how we view, use and will develop commercial spaces in the future. Although there is no ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ recovery just yet, there is evidence that the commercial fire wasn’t completely put out by Covid.

The immediate days and week after the introduction of lockdown were nothing short of bleak – with social distancing and travel restrictions reducing every corner of the country to a ghost town. The High Street has been hardest hit. Businesses that were on the brink of collapse have finally tipped into administration, while other names will survive but are set to slash jobs in headquarters.

Much has been made about the direct relationship between the health of our High Streets and offices, with absent workers who usually shop in their lunch breaks and eat dinner out before heading home partly to blame for the demise of many well-known brands.

Our Prime Minister, however, has noted the above correlation and wants people to return to offices before the Autumn. As a result, commercial agents are set to be busier than ever - whether it’s helping blue chip companies consolidate commercial space, assisting office owners scale back their square footage or sublet, or actively dispose of commercial assets for companies who are ditching their city presence altogether in favour of regional hubs.

Although it’s claimed 49% of adults in the UK are working from home due to coronavirus – contrasted with just 5% before the pandemic – home working won’t suit everyone on a permanent basis and many companies are realising they lose connections and creativity when distance separates them. Although they may have to introduce rotas or a shift system, there is evidence of big businesses keeping faith with big offices.

In fact, a recovery has already started, with agent Savills charting a 42% rise in commercial investment activity in June 2020, when compared to May 2020 - up from £755m to £1.3bn. A separate report carried in Property Reporter highlighted how demand for commercial real estate in the North is rising and Covid-19 hasn’t dampened the desire.

The ‘green shoots’ of a commercial property recovery are also well evidenced in Wales, where HMRC remains "committed" to moving into a new £100m building in February 2021 – a home that will house 3,600 staff - while JLL is under offer for 132,000 sq ft at British Land’s 1 Broadgate for its new London headquarters – the latter deal revealed mid lockdown.

To ensure other businesses follow suit, the Government has pledged £5 billion worth of investment to address infrastructure, commercial and residential property needs in the UK. While the cash injection may not always result in the shiny commercial skyscrapers of the past, there is certainly growth in mixed-use hubs where companies or individuals can rent space on a more local, flexible and collaborative level.

If you are an agent needing a professional partner to accommodate the uptick in commercial space requirements, Viewber can help. Our services make a seamless transition from a residential to a commercial setting, with our Viewbers able to:-

Accompany commercial building & premises viewings: we charge on a property-by-property basis so you only pay for what you use, and our Viewbers can collect/return keys if you’re simply looking for someone to open doors and lock up after. We can also conduct live WhatsApp video viewings and provide you with a vetted key holder, if required.

Conduct commercial property inspections & visits: these services are ideal during the pre-purchasing or rental process and when managing large commercial property portfolios. Our visits can be a brief as a drive-by or as detailed as a filmed walkthrough with an accompanying objective report.

Covid-proof marketing packs:  be prepared for the unexpected with our Covid-proof commercial property marketing packs. One visit from one Viewber can yield static photos, a 360? virtual tour, a floorplan and a video walkthrough – everything you need to market a commercial property online, whatever lockdown conditions prevail.

Why not get in touch and discuss your commercial property needs?

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