NETHERLANDS - Transaction volumes in the Dutch real estate market this year will fall slightly below those for 2011 despite a 36% increase in the first half over the same period last year, according to Savills.

The firm forecasts year-end volumes to come to €3.2bn, compared with €3.4bn last year, attributing the 36% boost in first-half transaction data primarily to the €425m sale of the Philips High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.

Otherwise, volumes across office, industrial and retail fell by 10% to €1.6bn in the first half from €1.8bn over the same period last year.

Despite broadly weak sales data across commercial property in the first half, German funds' appetite for prime office accounted for transactions totalling €516m (47%), according to the report published this week.

However, CBRE consultant Robert-Jan van Dijk told IP Real Estate Dutch that institutional investors were also looking at prime, specifically mid-sized assets.

"It could be that, when private equity firms emerge, it's a sign that the bottom of the market has been reached," he said.

"That assessment is probably premature, but you could interpret private equity firms' presence in the market as a good sign."

Van Dijk told IP Real Estate that demand remained strong for central business district assets.

"The location has to be perfect, and the building needs to be in top shape, but there is demand for really prime assets," he said.

"Investors should also be looking at the major provincial cities, where there is strong demand for office in the vicinity of public transport hubs. Demand for space is high. So are yields."

Investor interest has focused on Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague and Utrecht - which accounted for 11 of the 15 largest office transactions recorded by Savills - primarily mixed-use assets near transport hubs.

Savills' head of office agency Coen de Lange said prime rents were likely to remain stable for the rest of 2012-13, in contrast to increased vacancies and downward pricing pressure in secondary.