CEE Investment volumes for the Q1-Q3 2020 period have reached ca. €8.0 billion and are 12% down compared to the same period of 2019. Poland attracted €4 billion which represents 50% of all volumes in this period. Average transaction sizes are up 31.5% and the number of transactions is down 32% according to Colliers International. Despite investor appetite remaining strong for CEE, year-end volumes are likely to reach €10-11 billion, ca. 20% lower than in 2019.
The industrial/logistics asset class is presently the most attractive for a majority of banks in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) following the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results from the latest edition of KPMG’s Property Lending Barometer (PLB), an annual study by the global audit and advisory firm that attempts to measure banks’ lending sentiments in Europe’s property markets. That preference lies in contrast to where most bank finance in Europe has typically landed prior to COVID: the office segment.
The 12-month rental outlook for both prime and secondary CBD offices is stable in Bucharest and Budapest and negative in Warsaw. In Prague, the outlook is negative for prime assets and stable for secondary assets. The vacancy rate is expected to increase over the coming year in all of the four capital cities. Occupier conditions are currently neutral across the region, with Bucharest and Budapest expected to become tenant markets over the next 12 months, according to Colliers International.
The gross lettable area of industrial locations operated by CTP has passed 6 million square meters. The growth has continued due to long term trends of increasing e-commerce and supply chain relocations, supported by the COVID-19 crisis.
Across Europe, markets have stabilized as the impact of COVID-19 on logistics real estate has begun to dissipate, with strong investor demand for the sector driving yield compression. The rent growth outlook has become more positive as markets have steadied and supply-side constraints have remained intact, driven by low levels of speculative development in most continental European countries. Land scarcity is also affecting rent growth. Prologis published its third-quarter global earnings announcement along with its European and Central European performance update.
Half of the employees who normally work in office buildings continued to work mainly from home even after the state of emergency was lifted, despite the fact that, during the summer, most companies began to bring back their employees partially or through rotation in the office spaces, as shown by a research study conducted by Cushman & Wakefield Echinox regarding the working methods of employees in Romania during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the third quarter of this year, residential developers operating in the six largest cities in Poland sold 13,300 units, which is 94% more than in the previous quarter. In most markets, these units were sold at higher asking prices than in the second quarter. Thanks to new launches, which returned to the level seen at the beginning of 2020 of 13,000 units, the offer remained stable, according to the latest JLL report on Poland’s residential market.
Due to the prolonged COVID-19 epidemic, some tenants on the Warsaw office market are postponing relocations, looking for sublessees or downsizing their offices. According to the Cresa Polska report "Occupier Economics: Office market in Warsaw in the third quarter of 2020", office take-up amounted to 113,000 sqm in Q3 2020, which is the weakest quarterly result in the last 10 years. Warsaw’s office stock reached 5.8 million sqm.
Experts of the international investors’ panel at SEE Property Forum 2020, a hybrid event organised by Property Forum and RICS, agreed that Romania’s property investment market has matured a lot in recent years but the lack of liquidity is still an issue. They also confirmed that COVID-19 makes it difficult to forecast the future direction of the market and it makes certain market players, especially banks, more cautious.
The impacts of COVID-19 are becoming visible on Prague’s office market with a rapid decrease of net demand and the postponement of several completions of new office projects. At the same time, the share of sublease deals within the total take-up increased from around 1% in previous quarters to 7%. The Prague Research Forum announced the office market figures for the third quarter of 2020.
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