Latest analysis from Caxtons Chartered Surveyors points to how business change is raising demand for office space in many of Kent's town centre office markets. This is having a knock-on impact on capital values in the county.

Caxtons reports the prime town centre office yield in Kent fell sharply during 2016 to 6% by the end of the year, the lowest level since the financial crisis. This 200 basis points decline since 2015 has bolstered capital value growth for investors in the county's town centre office markets.

Kent prime office yield

Kent office market source data

Source: Caxtons

Business change is a key driver of rental growth that is underpinning much of the upward pressure on values. Quality town centres with good accessibility to London have a growing appeal to companies, including those that may have wholly or partly relocated from London. Companies remain cost conscious and are increasingly seeking to reduce overheads. For example, office rents in what was affordable Shoreditch now stand at £60 per square foot. This compares to £26 per square foot in Sevenoaks and £25 per square foot in Tunbridge Wells, both offering a short commute for meetings.

Furthermore, staff are increasingly seeking to work nearer home, for greater flexibility. This is reflected in a growth in flexible working practices as well as the number of freelancers providing high value services to companies in London or further afield. This is generating demand in Kent's town centres for both traditional office space as well as co-working space.

The upturn in demand has depleted available office space, which has fallen across quality town centre locations in the South East.

The loss of stock as a result of large scale office to residential conversion of older, more obsolete buildings

has added to the shortage in some locations. This has particularly damaged the availability of smaller, cheaper offices suitable for start-ups and freelancers. Potentially, this has negative implications for innovation and small business growth in the county. On the upside, increased numbers of residents in the county's towns has been positive in generating a dynamic environment for business and residents, which helps to attract high skilled staff.

The success of Kent's town centre office market has served to bolster investor demand, also placing pressure on prices. A wide range of investor groups are seeking to increase exposure to quality locations. These include a growing number of local councils, who, with the benefit of low cost debt, are joining the bidding for assets that do come to market. This has placed further pressure on values.

During 2017 Caxtons expects to see continued strong occupier demand for quality town centre locations across Kent. This will put further upward pressure on rents in some towns. Sevenoaks for example is expected to reach close to £30 per square foot this year. However, Caxtons also anticipates yields will stabilise for office assets this year.

Charlotte Bland BSc (Hons) MSc MRICS has been appointed a full board director at Caxtons, one of the largest independent firms of general practice chartered surveyors and property consultants in the South East.

Born, raised and living in Kent, Charlotte graduated from the London South Bank University with a Distinction in MSc Real Estate Appraisal. Her first job was with a small, independent firm of surveyors in Hertfordshire, working mostly on landlord & tenant and corporate real estate matters. Charlotte joined Caxtons in 2011 and now heads up the Commercial Management and Investment department. She specialises in acquiring and disposing of property investments for a variety of clients.

Neil Chatterton, Managing Director of the award winning firm said "It has taken Charlotte less than six years to become a director of the company, which was founded in 1990 and is a busy regional practice.

"Charlotte's experience, knowledge and passion ensure that clients benefit from her advice. She is a great advocate for all who enter the sector, which is seeing more women taking on influential and powerful roles across the property and construction industry.

"We are delighted that Charlotte is taking on the role and I and my fellow directors welcome her considerable expertise to the Board."

Charlotte was pragmatic about her appointment saying that when she began her career in property she knew that it was for her: "I always needed a career that I would enjoy every day - a career for life – and I found it in property. I am serious about the sector and ensuring that it flourishes. I have learnt so much since qualifying and I endeavour to use that knowledge and expertise to my clients' advantage, whatever the project in hand."

Charlotte took up her post on 1st July 2017.

charlotte bland 7846 SQU

Charlotte Bland

Sarah Singer, a senior negotiator at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, has been awarded the Best Letting Agent in Gillingham by allAgents in their 2017 People's Award for Customer Experience.

allAgents.co.uk is the UK's largest customer review website for the property industry where clients rate their letting agent depending upon the level of service they receive. Reviews comprise an overall ranking for the agency; responder's comments; agent's fees and the name of the negotiator that handled the transaction. allAgents then use the information when judging their annual awards.

Caxtons is delighted that Sarah has been rewarded in this way. Alan Stewart, Director & Head of Residential Lettings

& Property Management said that he is not at all surprised Sarah has received this accolade as she always goes out of her way to ensure that clients are provided with the best possible service.

 

Sarah Singer Sarah Singer

AllAgents Award