Brisbane has emerged as the country’s hottest CBD office investment and development market with more than $1 billion in transactions expected to close through the first six months of 2021.
There are at least six major deals in motion around the Brisbane CBD as an increasing number of owners test the market in a city agents say is “poised” for further growth.
The catalyst has been strong post-COVID-19 prices paid for office towers at 10 Eagle Street, which fetched $285 million, and 310 Ann Street, sold to Ashe Morgan for $210 million.
“I think what we’ve seen off the back of assets like 310 Ann Street and 10 Eagle Street is a bit more influx of activity in the Brisbane CBD,” said Justin Bond from Knight Frank.
He said investors like the rental returns, which can reach 6 per cent on a passing yield, and are not intimidated by relatively high office vacancy rates of 14 per cent or sector uncertainty caused by rise of remote working.
“Obviously the return in Brisbane compared with Melbourne and Sydney is quite strong,” he said.
“We’re pretty well poised with major infrastructure like Cross River Rail, and also now with the Olympics potentially coming, there’s a lot of activity in Brisbane. The CBD in my mind is looking quite healthy.”
Knight Frank research said $740 million of Brisbane CBD offices had already sold so far this year – compared with $607 million in all of 2020.
Mr Bond is marketing the latest CBD property to hit the market: a 27-level office building managed by Investa at 179 Turbot Street that market observers expect will attract interest around the $200 million mark.
Meanwhile, expressions of interest close on Wednesday for No. 1 Brisbane, a package of three buildings owned by Charter Hall on Queen Street Mall that has been marketed with a price guide of around $120 million.
An off market campaign is also being run for the 10 level office building at 299 Adelaide Street, owned by FA Pidgeon & Son, which developed the site in the mid 2000s after buying the land a decade earlier for $3.5 million.
Marketing is under way for 444 Queen Street, a 56-year-old building owned by Abacus Property Group and the Public Trustee of Queensland, and is being cast as a repositioning opportunity for between $50 million to $60 million.
Local agents say 545 Queen Street is being sold by Axis Capital, which bought it in 2017 for $70 million, to Cromwell Property Group for $118 million, a deal that requires Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
Yet another property on the market is the office high-rise at 50 Ann St, with talk that around $210 million is being asked for the 25,519 square metre building.
Tom Phipps from CBRE, who is marketing No. 1 Brisbane and is also involved in the sale of 444 Queen Street with Knight Frank, said there is good depth of capital chasing investment opportunities.
He said most of it is local and coming from a mix of syndicates, high net worth individuals and private investment companies. “Good quality office stock in the CBD is getting attention again,” Mr Phipps said.