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A new lifestyle sector is experiencing an influx of investment activity, according to a property valuation expert.
“The popularity of lifestyle industrial is seeing an uptick in investor interest,” reported Chris McKillop, a commercial director at Herron Todd White.
Until fairly recently, industrial precincts were far from being considered desirable residential locations, but Mr McKillop said that commercial outfits choosing to base their operations in low-cost trading centres has often had the effect of transforming the area.
“Lifestyle industrial sees sheds moving away from their traditional use for businesses like smash repair shops, spray painters and steel fabricators, and toward more resident-friendly operations such as microbreweries, high-quality restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, and florists. Some have even become live music venues fronting retail clothing outlets, gyms and sporting venues,” McKillop explained.
Home owners seeking space and attracted by the emergence of these cultural and lifestyle offerings soon follow suit.
“We’re seeing home owners buy these sheds so they can own a decent sized living area and huge additional space for, say, $800,000 in a location where houses cost around $1 million.”
It hasn’t taken long for investors to seize on the opportunity, finding good asset potential in the commercial or residential prospects of these areas.
“There’s definitely more investors starting to creep into the space now,” Mr McKillop observed.
“They can buy these investments for sub-$500,000, and they’ll get a 5 per cent net rental return because the tenant typically pays all the outgoings,” he said.
But of course, McKillop doesn’t suggest those looking to get in on the ground floor should race to buy in any industrial park.
He said that there are a few factors needed to make industrial areas successful as lifestyle precincts, and even then, legal and practical concerns can make these purchases slightly more complicated.
“Normally, these sorts of projects evolve from established, older industrial precincts close to appealing population centres,” he said, which means that proximity to traditional cultural hubs is still part of the equation.
“Areas where there’s already good quality housing nearby, or in close proximity to CBDs, do well as industrial lifestyle hubs,” he noted.
Anyone considering buying in these areas needs to do their due diligence, according to Mr McKillop. For those wanting to buy an industrial space to use for residential purposes, he urged them to check the area’s zoning to ensure the block is not near heavy industry users and confirm that potential live-work spaces allow the “caretaker’s unit” to be used for habitation and not simply as an office space.
For investors purchasing to rent out for commercial purposes, he recommended seeking out properties with a good tenant already in place whenever possible.
“If you are speculating by buying a vacant lifestyle industrial property, get advice on tenant demand in your area. Having an untenanted commercial property of any sort is risky at the best of times.”