OWNER-OCCUPIERS are dominating the industrial/business park property sector amid forecasts of another round of hectic leasing in an already tightly held market.
It has been predicted that while prime-grade assets will be in demand from tenants and owner-occupiers, some secondary properties could be harder to shift.
The move to buy has been triggered by low interest rates and a number of deals are in the wings for the next six months.
According to agents, recent transactions show that trends have been emerging where an investor will buy a semi-leased property, use the existing tenant for investment income, and then use the excess space for their own expansion plans.
In the past, these buyers may have just opted to lease and then make a purchase down the track.
With the lower cost of borrowings they have been opting to buy and save money on signing a new lease.
The director of industrial property at Colliers International, Geoff Hunt, said his sales indicated that owner-occupiers were identifying value and realising there was a window of opportunity to acquire these assets at below replacement cost.
''Vendors are achieving better results as compared to leasing these assets up and selling them as investments on a rate per square metre,'' he said.
The same people are selling the assets and not having to provide tenant incentives on leasing.
''Instead they will be occupying part of the respective buildings and leasing out the balance or taking on part investment,'' he said.
Mr Hunt said the recent 17-19 Orion Lane Cove sale was a good example. It provided a benefit of about $1.5 million to the vendor, AMP as compared with AMP leasing it out and selling it down the track.
He said Colliers International was working exclusively with KIA Motors Australia sourcing sites to establish a 10,000-15,000-square-metre head office facility.
But in new data from Jones Lang LaSalle, a wave of industrial lease expiries has been predicted in Sydney in 2013-14 and is set to spur activity within the sector.
The NSW head of industrial property at Jones Lang LaSalle, Andrew Maher, said a strong cohort of tenants who signed leases in Sydney's industrial sector in 2003-05 were now approaching lease maturity, being seven to 10 years into term.
''When these expiries translate, many industrial occupiers will be looking for different premises with better efficiencies,'' he said.
''This could potentially result in a swathe of secondary accommodation coming into the market.''
Mr Maher said the spike in market activity was expected to generate stiff competition, and occupiers with upcoming expiries should be considering their current location and building specification with regard to the latest developments in building quality or new road infrastructure.
The director of national industrial research at Jones Lang LaSalle, Nick Crothers, said sectors such as retail, and non-engineering construction were under pressure.
''These sectors are the dominant users of industrial space … this squeeze, and growing acceptance of a lower growth trajectory, is leading industrial occupiers to seek an 'efficiency dividend' from real estate,'' Mr Crothers said.