Gearing for commercial property gold rush

In a year that has seen many newer auction houses cancelling their December sales, Alliance has decided to hold four additional auctions in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The national auction house said it had signed up 110 “motivated sellers” who have committed to sell before Christmas.

The Group, which has put over R6 billion worth of real estate under the hammer this year, has reported strong interest from buyers looking to cash in on lower interest rates and capitalise on improving property sentiment.

Alliance Group Chief Executive Rael Levitt comments: “In this market, investors are looking to move fast before commercial property prices increase and positive 2010 World Cup sentiment inflates value. We’ve been overwhelmed with the variety of stock going under the hammer – we have lined up over R1 billion worth of stock in the next two months and that makes it the largest portfolio of real estate to ever hit auction floors”.

The lots that will be coming under the hammer include an R600 million portfolio from one of South Africa’s listed property funds. Several JSE listed property-owning companies in South Africa are embarking on strategies that will reduce the number of properties held and increase the average value of their portfolios from ±R40 million to R100 million per property.

Many funds are selling off smaller non-core buildings which are often multi-tenanted and lack the potential to be transformed into larger developments. Funds are rather seeking to acquire new blue-chip higher profile stock and plan to continue with ongoing programmes of refurbishing, upgrading or extending current stock.

“Auctions over the next year will start offering the greatest selection of commercial property every seen in South Africa as prime stock change hands from listed funds to private investors. The gold rush for prime commercial real estate starts this December”, says Levitt, “and most of it will happen on auction floors”.

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