Hines Courts Luck in Ireland

As Ireland restructures its real estate industry and banking system, opportunities abound and Hines Interests has positioned itself to capitalize on the real estate market's favorable conditions with the debut of its Dublin office.

April 1, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Ivan Walsh

As Ireland restructures its real estate industry and banking system, opportunities abound and Hines has positioned itself to capitalize on the real estate market’s favorable conditions–favorable for those firms with available financing–with the debut of its Dublin office.

Hines certainly has access to capital as well as existing funds that will allow the international real estate company to pursue single-asset and pooled-asset acquisitions, completion financing for halted projects, portfolio workouts and partnerships with property owners and their banks. Brian Moran, a native of Dublin who has worked with Hines in the past, will spearhead the company’s endeavors, which will focus predominantly on Dublin. Through its activities, Hines desires to play a part in returning stability to Ireland’s real estate industry.

It’s all about timing, and the timing for gaining a foothold in Ireland’s commercial real estate market, according to Hines, is just right. “The election of a new government in Dublin will lead to a new momentum in dealing with the National Asset Management Agency and the banking crash,” George C. Lancaster, a senior vice president with Hines, told CPE. “Also NAMA has completed 80-plus percent of the ‘warehousing’ process of real estate loans and now will turn its attention to the loan and asset dispel process.”

As was the case in the U.S., those highly anticipated bargain-basement prices attached to commercial real estate assets did not come to pass in Ireland. And like the U.S. market, Ireland does not offer a great many steal-of-a-deals, but there are deals. “Assets are unlikely to be at a major discount to current values; however, rents and yields are at levels that value good assets below replacement cost,” Lancaster noted.

Already, Hines has closed a few acquisitions involving Irish-owned and banked assets in the U.K., including Stonecutter Court, a 152,800 square-foot office complex in London. The three-structure property encompasses two small buildings and a 139,800 square-foot building occupied in its entirety by financial advisory firm Deloitte.

While Ireland’s real estate market has taken a pounding, the suffering won’t last forever. According to Lester, the market will begin to show signs of life again “once NAMA starts an active disposal program based on agreements with major borrowers, which are currently being documented.” He says it could happen “sometime this year.”