Real estate investors across the EMEA region intend to be very active in 2016. According to CBRE’s 2016 EMEA Investor Intentions Survey almost half (48%) of all surveyed expect their purchasing activity to be higher than last year, compared with just 15% who expect to be less active buyers. 43% also expect their selling activity to increase, indicating a buoyant and liquid real estate investment market for the region in 2016.
Despite this commitment to real estate investment, one notable change has been a decline in investors’ appetite for risk. After three years of diminishing popularity, prime or core assets are back on the agenda. The proportion of investors who see prime or core assets as the most attractive part of the market has jumped from 29% last year to 41% in 2016. This is partly explained by investors’ concerns over economic issues. When asked the question “What poses the greatest threat to property markets in 2016”, global economic weakness was seen as the greatest threat (31%), with domestic economic problems (14%) a distant second.

Diverging investor views were prevalent in the responses given for the most attractive country for real estate investment. Germany was the most frequent choice as investors’ preferred destination, with 17% of all responses. The UK was in close second place with 15.1%, followed by Spain (10.2%), Netherlands (9.9%), France (9.2%) and Poland (9.2%). More importantly however, is the fact that this was by far the closest result of any of CBRE’s seven surveys, with many more markets coming into the mix this year.

There was also a big uplift in interest in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). When taken as a group, CEE markets saw their proportion of preference rise from 6% in 2015 to 23% this year. This can partly be explained by investors’ continued “search for yield”. In H2 2015 prime yields in continental Western Europe fell very sharply and this has resulted in the yield gap between CEE and Western Europe increase markedly, raising CEE’s attractiveness to real estate investors.

At a city level, London retained its preferred status, with 15.1% of all investors favouring the city, but the gap between London and other cities is closing. Madrid came second with 12.2%, closely followed by Paris (11.6%), Berlin (10.8%), Amsterdam (7.3%), Warsaw (7.0%), Milan (4.7%), Budapest (2.9%), Prague (2.7%) and Munich (2.4%).

Across the more traditional sectors, offices remained the favourite asset type with 37% of the responses. However it was residential assets which saw the biggest increase in investor interest, growing from 5% of preferences in 2015 to 12% in 2016. Retail also fared well, and the recovery of consumer confidence and consumer spending has resulted in the proportion of respondents choosing retail increasing from 22% in 2015 to 27% in 2016.

The search for yield, as mentioned with regard to CEE, was also apparent in respondents’ answers to the “alternative” sector. 56% of all respondents were already invested in one or more alternative sectors, and 57% were actively looking in one or more of these sectors. Real estate debt is the segment that currently has the most market penetration with over 30% of investors already having some exposure and 22% actively looking for further investment. Student Housing was the segment which attracted the most new interest. 20% of respondents already have investments in this area with most of these seeking further exposure. However there are a further 13% of respondents who are looking to invest in student housing for the first time.

Jonathan Hull, managing director of Investment Properties, EMEA at CBRE, commented:

“There were a few stand-out themes in our survey this year, but the most interesting, to my mind, is investors’ purchasing activity. Almost 85% of respondents expect their purchasing activity in 2016 to remain higher or the same as last year. This result, taken alongside similar figures for investors’ selling intentions, indicates that we are set for another year of strong investment activity.

Overall however, there was much less agreement amongst respondents on what constitutes the most attractive market and preferred investment strategy. As differences in opinion are what make a market, this would suggest that 2016 will be an interesting time in real estate across the EMEA region.”
Vineta Vigupe, CBRE, Director of Research and consultations in the Baltic region, comments:

“For the seventh consecutive year CBRE has carried out such a comprehensive and important survey indicating and outlining investors’ activity and intentions. Getting acquainted with it, it can be concluded that investors’ interest in the Baltic region will not decline this year due to attractive yields and positive economic background. 2016 will be an interesting year and we will definitely see new investor names, respectively – a trend that began in 2015 with the market penetration of new large players from Western Europe and Americas, such as the Partners Group, Blackstone, Hili Properties, etc., will continue this year as well.

Demand will be high for prime retail and office properties with an attractive rate of return. Given the fact that recent year’s development of commercial properties in Latvia was limited, Lithuanian and Estonian investment market could be more active this year as evidenced already in the first months of accomplished transactions with a total investment volume of almost 100 million euros. However, currently there are large and attractive investment properties in the selling process in all three Baltic countries, which will likely change hands during this year. ”

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About CBRE’s 2016 EMEA Investor Intentions Survey
The survey was carried out between 8th January 2016 and 4th February 2016. The survey attracted 1,255 responses globally, but respondents were first asked the global region for which they were most responsible. This report covers the 423 who responded in EMEA.
These responses were spread across a range of types of real estate investors. The most numerous were fund/asset managers, who accounted for 42% of survey participants. A further 13% were pension funds, insurance companies or sovereign wealth funds. The other most numerous respondents were private equity/venture capital firms (11%), private property companies (10%) and listed property companies/REITs (10%).
The respondents were predominantly investors domiciled in Europe (87%). UK-domiciled investors were the most numerous, making up 26% of the total, followed by France (13%), Netherlands (12%) and Germany (12%). The respondents from outside Europe were mainly from North America (8%).

Media Contacts

Natasha Sunderland, CBRE
+44 20 7182 3688 / +44 7795 010209

Vineta Vigupe, CBRE
+371 2916 2408