The global real estate environment is off to a strong start for 2019. While uncertainties regarding trade, Brexit, and other geopolitical tensions linger, we have yet to see any major weaknesses in real estate markets. The sector continues to attract capital and pricing levels are holding steady thanks to strong capital flows.
Real Capital Analytics (RCA) reports that acquisitions of income-producing commercial real estate last year rose by 3 percent to $963.7 billion. That is the third highest annual total on record behind 2007 and 2015.
The Multifamily Sector
Multifamily housing is expected to continue to attract sustained investment and debt capital. Multifamily demand remains steady and is driving up rent prices as younger generations are being priced out of home ownership and older generations are downsizing. The top three emerging markets to watch in the United States for multifamily housing this year are Phoenix, Portland, and Tampa Bay.
The growing need for workforce housing is also driving the market for multifamily housing. In fact, workforce housing has actually outperformed the overall multifamily market in each of the last four years.According to a report by CBRE, workforce housing has brought in nearly $375 billion in investment over the last five years. That is more than 51 percent of the total for all multifamily asset classes.
Tech, Retail & E-commerce
Real estate fundamentals remain strong amid trends surrounding urbanization, retail, and ecommerce. Suburban markets are adapting to technology and becoming more urbanized with added focus on community-oriented retail concepts. Retail stores and shopping malls are undergoing an identity transformation, as retailers are adjusting their real estate needs to accommodate omnichannel experiences, especially in the U.S. and Europe. Additionally, e-commerce companies are adding smaller, satellite facilities to their networks of regional distribution centers as a reaction to the demand for fast, low-cost shipping.
Tech firms and flexible space providers continue to have a major impact on the global real estate market this year. Flexible space providers are targeting their focus on larger enterprises. More and more firms are leasing shared spaces. And as employees become more mobile, companies are adapting and coworking is becoming more popular. Coworking is primarily focused in high-wage markets and cities with a large number of professional services companies. Coworking spaces in tech markets are nearly double that of other markets.
Mixed-use real estate is also going to remain a significant opportunity, with the convergence of retail, office, residential, hospitality, and community-focused spaces. This adaptation is causing a shift in the types of tenants that properties are accommodating, resulting in shorter lease agreements.
REITs and Mergers & Acquisitions
Investors are expected to continue to diversify into secondary markets in search of yield. This includes real estate investment trusts (REITs), which have recently increased valuations and pay healthy dividends. Global REITs are projected to outperform other sectors and deliver strong returns in 2019. The property sectors among REITs expected to see the most M&A activity this year are industrial, self-storage, data center, multifamily, and student housing. Experts also predict the possibilities of some deals in the hotel REIT sector.
The year 2018 outperformed 2015’s prosperity for global commercial real estate investment in the current cycle, with a five percent increase in global investment volume. The U.S. accounted for 52 percent of global transactions. A total of six investors from Canada, France and China invested a record $41 billion in U.S. entities.
The value of U.S. entity-level transactions increased threefold last year, driven in majority by cross-border investment. Toronto-based Brookfield acquired Forest City Realty for $11 billion, making Brookfield the second-largest property owner in New York City, led only by the city government, and boasting a NYC portfolio worth around $32 billion. In 2018, Brookfield also acquired the second-largest U.S. mall owner, General Growth Properties, for $15 billion. Both Forest City and GGP were publicly traded REITs.
International property is sustaining its 2018 performances as a remarkably popular market. Some of the top cities for real estate investment in 2019 include Lisbon, Toronto, Dallas-Forth Worth, Melbourne, Singapore, Berlin, New York City, Vancouver, Raleigh, Montreal, Tokyo, Madrid, Osaka, and Sydney. Specifically, the city of Lisbon has been noted to be the 2019 investment capital of Europe. This is due to increased tourism, a growing economy, and competitively lower pricing.
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