The author of the article is Tomas Slyva, REAL GAME partner and commercial real estate consultant
In recent years, a new asset segment has emerged in the Lithuanian commercial real estate market – stock office type projects. It is a convenient solution for companies that want to have their own shop / exhibition hall, warehouses and office space in one place.
The location of the stock office is usually near the main highways, in the first visible rows from the road. Such projects usually consist of at least 4 so-called “boxes” connected to each other. Each has 3 different purpose rooms: storage / manufacturing, commercial and office. This is a very popular segment in Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries.
STOCK OFFICE PIONEER
The EPRO Group’s project “A1” in Kaunas, Iceland Road, which was implemented in 2018, can be considered the pioneer of the Stock Office in Lithuania. The project of the new concept was accompanied by success – the premises were successfully leased or sold in a relatively short time, and at the same time attracted the attention of other real estate developers as a benchmark for the stock office concept. Construction of the second A1 + project has already begun.
Darnu Group was the first to develop a larger stock office project in Vilnius. They have already started the construction of the Vilnius Business Park on Ukmergė Road. We can also consider the project successful from the developer’s perspective, as most of the premises have already been sold with advance contracts.
MARKET SITUATIONS AND NEAR FUTURE PLANS
With the success stories of these projects spreading in the market and the industrial real estate market taking over the highly optimistic mood, the forecasts quickly attracted a group of both professional real estate developers and newcomers to this market who are determined to implement this type of project.
More than 10 such planned projects are publicly announced in Vilnius alone, their total area is well over 50,000 sq. M. m. It is safe to say that there are still a number of planned stock office objects that are not yet announced because they are in the design stages.
As a large part of the projects being developed and planned will be dedicated to the rental market, the natural question is, how soon will the market be able to “eat” such a large amount of simultaneous rental supply in this segment of higher-priced industrial real estate?
In the stock office projects currently under development, a large proportion of transactions are sales transactions. We notice that it is much more difficult to rent premises for the desired level of rental prices. This indicates that there is a significant amount of money invested in industrial real estate on the market, but will future tenants be able to meet investors ’expectations for the payback of the facility?
Rising construction prices and rising expectations are affecting the rapidly rising rents expectations of developers or investors who have purchased stock office space. We have to deal with projects whose business plans are calculated by estimating the rental price of about 10 Eur / sq.m. m or even much higher. For most tenants, this means a huge increase in costs compared to current leases or new projected development costs. However, most of the projects have similar concepts and will essentially compete for the same customers, so tenants will have ample choice.
THE MOST REAL SCENARIO – THE BEST OF HAPPINESS
The first experienced developers or properties and projects for sale in the best locations and therefore with few competitors are likely to win. Other rental projects may have a higher vacancy rate for some time or may require renting at lower prices than calculated in the original investment plan. It will be very interesting to see how the stock office segment will fare in 2022-2023, when most of the projects will be implemented.