Austria (+74%), Romania (+54%), the Netherlands (+46%), and Denmark (+32%) experienced the greatest annual increases in commercial property investment in 2017, as total investment across Europe rose to €234 billion, a 7% increase year-on-year, according to.
Cross-border investment accounted for over 50% of the total activity in 2017 (compared to 44% in 2016) with Asian investors being the largest overseas investors in Europe. However, according to Savills, once the UK is excluded the US was responsible for the most cross-border investment in mainland Europe, accounting for a 9% share of the market; focused primarily on individual, lower-yielding trophy assets. Domestic investors were more active in targeted secondary locations with more room for yield compression and favourable returns.
Marcus Lemli, Head of European Investment comments: “The trend of overseas capital targeting big-ticket assets is set to continue throughout 2018, and we expect to see more Asian investors crossing the Channel from London to compete for assets in mainland Europe. In turn, we anticipate that opportunistic investors will increasingly move to secondary cities and locations on the fringe of core markets as they hunt for stock, leading to prices rising and yields hardening. In particular, we expect investment volumes to rise swiftly in secondary cities such as Manchester, Rotterdam and Dusseldorf and fringe office markets in Frankfurt and Prague.”
Despite high prices and average prime office yields reaching a historic low of 3.9%, compared to the 4.6% five-year average, offices continue to be investors’ European asset class of choice, says Savills. The sector accounted for a 46% share of all investment volumes in 2016. However, value-add investors, in particular, have been targeting the industrial sector which has seen the biggest increase in investor demand in the past 12 months. Industrial property accounted for 15% of total European investment volumes last year, up from 11% in 2016 and 9% in 2015, reaching €65.9 billion across Savills survey area in 2017, a 23% increase y-o-y compared to the 3% y-o-y increase for offices. Belgium (+240%), Germany (+75%), Norway (+74%) and Italy (+70%) experienced the greatest y-o-y increases with 2017 industrial volumes well above their long-term averages.
“In Poland strong investor demand and volumes of equity exceeding the availability of product, especially in the prime segment of the market, as well as the inflow of new capital, put pressure on prime yields which achieved the lowest levels in history. It is expected that 2018 will be another record year on the Polish market, as the volume of transactions finalised and deals in the advanced stages of negotiations already exceed €3.0 billion,” says Marek Paczuski, Deputy Head of Investment Department at Savills Poland.
Alice Marwick, European research analyst adds: “The 2018 outlook for Europe is positive, with growth expected to be underpinned by an accommodative monetary policy, improving labour markets and positive consumer sentiment. As we are reaching the late stages of this cycle, real estate investors are now focusing on structural rather than cyclical themes that drive fundamentals and good quality, long-term income streams, which is set to benefit the logistics, residential and alternative sectors. Prime yields should stabilise and remain at historic low levels as interest rates remain low, institutional allocations in real estate increase and Asian inflows continue to rise.”