'Enormous challenges' in regional commercial property sector

Creating financially viable projects the main challenge, says Tuohy O'Toole director Gerard O'Toole

18th May, 2017
Gerard O’Toole, director, Tuohy O’Toole and founding partner, National Property Consultants Partnership

What's your name?

Gerard O’Toole

What’s your company and describe your role?

I am a director of Tuohy O’Toole, a general practice surveying firm based in Westport. I am also a founding partner of the National Property Consultants Partnership (NPC), which is a collection of highly respected independent valuation surveying practices providing a bespoke valuation service to national clients. I am a past chair of the Western Region of the Society of Chartered Surveyors and presently sit on committee.

How long have you held the position?

Tuohy O’Toole was formed 10 years ago following a merger of two businesses. I have been a director of the firm since its creation.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

As a business owner, my responsibilities are to my clients both small and large and my fellow directors. I am ultimately responsible for the provision of professional services to clients in both the public and private sector. As a regionally based business, you have to be a “jack of all trades” dealing with a large variety of instructions and client types.

What is your professional background?

I am a Chartered Surveyor with 20 years experience of the Irish property market and have been in private practice for the last 15 years. I trained at DTZ in London and Dublin. Prior to that I was in the construction sector working in the UK and USA.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am married with four children aged between 16 and 11 so the weekends are busy! I seem to a have a multitude of hobbies which I never get around to but try to keep fit. I am a lifelong Arsenal fan and have a keen interest in architecture.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

In 1990, I took a career break and spent a number of years travelling the globe. I think the experience has stood me in good stead.

You are speaking at iQuest’s 2017 Commercial Property Summit. What are you speaking about?

I am taking part in one of the regional property discussions. We are going to be addressing challenges and opportunities within the regional commercial property sector.

What challenges do you see for the sector?

Potentially, they are enormous. In the provincial markets we are just dusting ourselves down following a severe and prolonged market correction. We are now faced with Brexit and a potential curb of new FDI from the US. Creating financially viable projects which can win bank support remains the key challenge in an environment where costs are rising and demand is patchy.

Where do you see the commercial property sector in 10 years time?

The sector is likely to have grown and hopefully absorbed the impacts of Brexit and other challenges. We would expect to have seen a broad recovery in asset values and generally greater confidence throughout the market from occupiers, investors and lenders. Business occupiers are becoming increasingly conscious of real estate overheads and developers are going to have aligned their developments to suit market demands. Energy consumption and green buildings are the future. This is not a fad, it is here to stay.

Gerard O’Toole, Director, Tuohy O’Toole and Founding Partner, National Property Consultants Partnership is appearing at the Sunday Business Post Commercial Property Summit on June 15 at the AVIVA Stadium. For more information on this event please see www.commercialpropertysummit.ie

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