Green shoots of improved leasing activity were evident in Q2 and take-up reached 1.9m sq ft. This was an uplift of 36% on Q1 and almost double the recent trough in Q4 2020.
Central London availability continued to rise and hit 9.4% in Q2, but there has been a clear deceleration in the rate of space being brought to market.
We expect the rate of development activity will cool in the short run given the uncertainty in the occupier market and following a sharp increase in building costs. Annual growth of material costs reached 7% in July 2021, exacerbated by labour shortages in the construction sector.
Rents have softened in Soho and Midtown. It is expected there will be further moderation in rents over the next six months, particularly in poor quality stock that is not fit for hybrid work models.
Investment activity ticked up to £2.2bn in Q2 after a slow start to the year of only £1.9bn in Q1. There are now numerous available investment assets in the market and we expect investment volumes will pick up markedly in the second half of the year.