1 European Real Estate Quarterly Q 015
2 Economy and Capital Markets Q1 appears to have brought an abrupt downturn in global growth, with a mix of estimates and preliminary data suggesting that, outside of the three quarters during the heights of the GFC 1, Q1 global GDP grew at the slowest rate since 001. Q1 US GDP growth was barely positive and Q1 Chinese GDP growth dipped to its lowest level since early 009; It would be easy to surmise that this is the beginning of a coordinated slowdown, caused by factors common across the world s major economies; However, on balance this is rather unlikely. The slowdown in the US and Chinese economies was due to unrelated causes. The US saw export volumes, household spending, and energy sector spending all fall during the quarter due to currency strength, cold weather, oil price effects, and port closures all likely to have temporary effects. While the Chinese growth decline continues to largely be down to a slowing property market and the transition away from an investment led economy; Despite the Chinese growth decline being ongoing, the Chinese economy continues to have a rising share of the global economy. This means that the net addition to world GDP from Chinese growth is likely to be just as large as it was pre-gfc; Compared to the US and China, the situation across most of Europe couldn t be more different. Recent data and leading indicators continue to paint a mostly consistent and positive story (albeit with some concerns around the edges such as the ongoing Greek default and Eurozone exit risk); For the remainder of the year, Eurozone growth is likely to continue to exceed previous consensus forecasts and surprise to the upside. However, Q1 GDP growth was 0.% q-o-q and lower than expected due to relatively weak German growth. In contrast, France is at last seeing a more robust recovery with Q1 growth reaching 0.6% q-o-q. Spain too had a strong quarter, with growth matching France s at 0.6% q-o-q; Figure 1. Selected countries GDP evolution and forecast (real, base = Q1 008) Looking ahead to growth in Q and Q3, leading indicators mostly continue to suggest further rises in GDP growth, and these indicators in aggregate are consistent with annualised growth of around 3%. Whilst this is probably overoptimistic, buoyed by positive sentiment in the European financial markets, the Eurozone could well achieve 015 growth of a little over % if the recovery remains on track; Several factors are driving the Eurozone recovery. Firstly, the rapid decline in oil prices lifted real incomes and following several years of Source: Oxford Economics, Macrobond depression this is releasing latent consumer demand. Secondly, the ECB s QE program has indirectly devalued the EUR and has boosted corporate profits (a particular problem for the Eurozone over the past few years). Even France and Italy, which have seen especially lacklustre profits since the Eurozone crisis, are now seeing early indications of recovery; Additionally, partially due to ECB monetary policy and banking sector reforms, credit conditions continue to improve noticeably. Both non-financial corporate and household lending growth are improving, indicating the drag from deleveraging is alleviating. This is likely to help underpin business investment and employment growth which have struggled following the onset of the GFC; Outside of the Eurozone in Europe, the UK economy grew at a rate of.8% during 01 one of the fastest rates of growth in the OECD. The second data release from the ONS suggests that the UK grew at only 0.3% q-o-q during Q1 a noticeable slowdown; Given the reduction in capex by North Sea oil and gas companies, political uncertainty in the run-up to the UK elections, and weak construction growth, the decline in growth is unsurprising. However, this softening in momentum is likely to be temporary, considering that real income growth of above % is expected during the year (off the back of strong real wage and employment growth) is likely to continue to fuel retail sales volume growth; With the Conservatives being re-elected to the UK Parliament with a majority in early May (which none of the polls foresaw), this sweeps away the pre-election concerns over a possible hung parliament and lengthy negotiations and gives David Cameron a robust platform to govern from in his second term as prime minister; However, the medium-term outlook is less certain, with the promise of a 017 In/Out EU referendum in the UK looking like it will come to pass and the rapid rise of the Scottish National Party reigniting the Scottish independence debate. 1 Global Financial Crisis
3 Investment Market Crisis Country investment volumes rebound European commercial real estate investment activity reached EUR5.8 billion during Q1 015, an increase of 31% y-o-y and represented the highest Q1 total since 007. The wider investment market remains buoyant, with many European markets experiencing positive y-o-y growth in investment volumes; As Figure. indicates, investor demand in the Crisis Countries continues to recover strongly, with investment activity picking up notably in Italy and Portugal during Q1. Italy in particular saw a sharp increase in investment volumes, boosted by strong crossborder capital inflows and large transactions; Q1 investment volumes increased by 153% y-oy to reach nearly EUR3 billion in Spain. Investors preference for prime assets in gateway cities of the Crisis Countries remains strong. The recent growth in Spanish investment volumes and that c75% of Q1 Spanish investment volumes were recorded in the Madrid market, is evidence of this; The industrial sector continued to lead in terms of yield compression during the quarter. In particular, the Crisis Countries and the major cities in the UK and Germany, saw some of the strongest industrial yield compression. Yields also declined sharply for prime offices and retail in the Crisis Countries during the quarter, led by Barcelona offices (- 35bps), Milan and Rome retail (-30bps) and Madrid offices (-5bps); Figure 3. shows the yield gap evolution between office properties and bonds in France and Germany. Despite the ongoing yield compression in the office sector in central Paris and the key German cities, the yield gap for both countries reached an all-time high at end-q Despite the rise in government bond yields in early Q, the yield gap remains attractive. This combined with historically low interest rates is expected to continue to drive investor demand into property; Figure. Crisis Country commercial property investment volumes EUR billions Source: CBRE Figure 3. German and French yield gap evolution % Source: Macrobond, PMA Spain Italy Portugal Ireland Key German office markets average net initial yield less German 10 year bund yield Central Paris office net initial yield less French 10 year government bond yield Outlook As prime yields have reached record lows in some core western European markets and risk appetite continues to increase, core plus and value-added types of investment strategies across a number of European markets are finding increasing appeal for investors. Examples of such opportunities can be found in the UK regional markets, retail in the German second tier cities and logistics development projects in Germany and central Europe; Strong capital value growth is expected throughout much of Europe during the course of 015, driven by yield compression and strengthening occupier markets. Of the three main sectors, high street retail is expected to experience the strongest capital value growth over the next five years, and the industrial and logistics sectors are forecast to outperform offices (largely due to the relatively attractive pricing and higher income returns that such property types often offer); Capital value growth is forecast to slow down as 00 approaches due to outward property yield shift (in turn due to forecast outward yield shift in government bonds). However, interest rates across Europe may well stay lower for longer which would likely give property yields reprieve. Similarly, the weight of capital targeting the European real estate market and concomitant downward pressure on yields may well partially offset any upward pressure on property yields from rising government bond yields; Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland
4 Prime assets in the markets of core western Europe have already seen considerable yield compression over the last few years. Logically, this is likely to restrict total returns for such assets over the short to medium-term. A change in investors preference towards higher yielding assets is forecast to see stronger yield compression in non-core locations and non-core assets, reducing the prime-secondary yield gap. Office Market Following a strong end to 01, Q1 015 aggregate European take-up fell q-o-q but was broadly in line with the level achieved during the same period last year. However, there were clear variations between the core markets; Central Paris in particular had a slow start to the year, with Q1 take-up down 37% q-o-q and 13% y-o-y, reaching only 16,000 sq m. The weak economic fundamentals, combined with a fall in large letting deals, continued to have a negative impact on occupier demand; The central London office market continued its strong performance from last year, with Q1 take-up 5% higher than the longterm first quarter average. Robust occupier demand in London has been supported by strong employment growth and upcoming lease events; The aggregate European office vacancy rate continued on a downward trend during Q1 015, led by central London (- 90bps), Dublin (-58bps), Budapest (-50bps) and the major German cities (-5bps on average). The fall in the level of supply was complemented by improving occupier demand in most European markets and low levels of development completions; As Figure. shows, office rental value growth has been quite significant in many of the core European markets over the last four to five years where prime rental values are now higher or close to their pre-gfc highs. Despite the strong rental recovery in Dublin since Q 013, prime rental values still remain some way below their previous peaks; A total of EUR.5 billion was invested across the European office market during Q1 015, the strongest yearly start since 007; The Crisis Countries continue to attract strong investor interest, with Portugal, Italy and Ireland all experiencing significant y-o-y increases in investment volumes; The office sector saw further yield compression, with the Crisis Countries leading the contraction in prime net initial yields over the quarter. Office yields in a number of core European markets are now at or below their pre-gfc lows, such as central London and the major German cities; Figure. Selected European markets prime rental value evolution (Q1 001=100) Paris CBD Munich London City Hamburg Dublin Although yields compressed significantly in the Source: PMA Crisis Countries during 01, they still remain above their pre-gfc levels. This, combined with the weight of capital now targeting the Crisis Countries, suggests there is room for further yield compression in those markets; Outlook Although still below the long-term average, the level of office completions is expected to increase during 015. This is not expected to have a notable impact on the overall European vacancy rate, as new space being delivered to the market is likely to be absorbed quickly due to strengthening occupier demand for high quality office space; Improvements in occupier sentiment combined with a shortage of quality new supply are expected to support further rental growth across Europe. Madrid in particular is forecast to experience the strongest rental value growth in Europe, with an average growth of 8.1% pa for the period, followed by Barcelona (6.1%) and Dublin (5%). In Warsaw, rental growth prospects are expected to remain weak in the short-term, due to a large speculative development pipeline expected to reach the market in 015 and 016; Most European office markets are forecast to record positive prime capital value growth throughout 015, led by Dublin (7.9%), Madrid (1.6%) and Barcelona (17.%). In contrast, the CEE markets are expected to experience negative capital value growth, notably in Moscow and Warsaw where prime capital values are forecast to fall by 6% and 9% respectively during 015.
5 Logistics Market Buoyant occupier activity but shortage of investment assets Occupier activity Letting activity was strong in 01 in Europe (particularly in H), bringing about a 50% increase in take-up compared to 013. The CEE markets were generally strong performers; According to the early 015 figures, in Germany, take-up for logistics and industrial space in Q1 015 totalled just over 1m sq m, which is more or less the same as in Q1 01 and 3% higher than the long-term average. This is the fifth quarter in a row that occupier activity has passed the 1m sq m mark; With nearly 790,000 sq m of take-up during Q1 015, occupier activity in the UK remains strong. The supply picture across the country is gradually improving as more speculative schemes reach completion; Take-up in the French logistics market totalled 700,000 sq m in Q1 015, representing a 39% y-o-y increase. Demand for grade A warehouses and large units is picking up, particularly from large retailers. If this trend persists, full year 015 take-up could see the logistics market perform as well 01; No speculative development activity is currently recorded in France, but there are non-speculative schemes with planning permission that could be completed relatively quickly; Investment activity Investment in the industrial and logistics sector reached record levels in 01, achieving EUR3. billion. The UK dominated the European logistics investment market, accounting for c0% of overall investment volumes in 01. The Nordics and Germany also saw appreciable increases. By contrast, France, Belgium and the non-core CEE countries saw a slight drop in investment activity in 01; Investment activity slowed at the beginning of 015. In Germany, a total of EUR500m was invested during Q1, which was just one-third of the Q1 01 level and 1% lower than the 10 year average. There hasn t been significant portfolio deals recorded during 015 to date and no single large deal has exceeded EUR100m. While the number of transactions remained stable, the average deal size has decreased by 50%, reflecting a lack of long-leased, large units for sale. However, demand remains strong and investment activity is expected to pick up in the coming quarters, with several large portfolios currently under negotiation; The UK investment market was extremely active during 01. A total of EUR3.8 billion of logistics stock was sold during 01, up from EUR. billion in 013. Demand should remain strong in 015, particularly with the sale of portfolios as new entrants to the market seek to rapidly gain significant exposure; Only EUR90m was invested in French logistics during Q1. Ongoing negotiations for several large portfolios suggest an increase in investment activity by the end of the year; Outlook Average prime yields across Europe contracted for the eighth consecutive quarter during Q This reflects the prevailing low risk-free rate environment, increasing investor sentiment and a growing investment appetite for relatively higher-yielding logistics assets; A lack of well-located, modern and high quality space is observed in many markets which is expected to encourage both rental growth and new development activity; Figure 5. illustrates the long-term diversity of markets in the logistics sector; Looking at prime total returns vs. volatility on the chart, it appears there exists opportunities to take on more volatilityadjusted return in Germany, given the relatively low volatility in the country; Figure 5. shows that the UK markets look more volatile, but current and foreseeable market conditions in the logistics sector are very positive; France has a mature and solid logistics market in its prime locations, but there is lack of suitable assets for sale and France lags other markets in terms of speculative development activity; In the CEE region, (particularly in Poland and the Czech Republic), there are opportunities in further developing a number of newer locations as logistics activity continues to thrive. Figure 5. Prime total return/ volatility profile for logistics markets Average forecast prime total return (%) Munich Lille Marseille Lyon Rotterdam Antwerp Prague Warsaw Luxembourg Frankfurt Brussels Berlin Hamburg Rome Amsterdam Milan Paris Dusseldorf Budapest London Glasgow Edinburgh Lisbon Birmingham Copenhagen Manchester Barcelona Madrid Dublin Stockholm Volatility (% standard deviation) Source: AEW Europe, PMA. Period covered: (historical prime total returns for / forecast prime total returns for ).
6 Retail Market Tenant demand recovery is gaining momentum Retail sales volume growth in the EU rose for a third consecutive month at a rate in excess of 3% y-o-y in February 015. However, there were clear Figure 6. EU retail sales volume growth disparities between individual countries, with strong increases in annual sales in Luxembourg and central Europe offsetting weaker performances in countries 3 such as Greece and Switzerland where annual sales declined; In the UK, the grocery market has begun to show possible early signs of recovery with Tesco recording % sales growth between November 01 and -1 January 015 inclusive, which is the retailer s strongest performance in 18 months; However, in terms of expansion, the discounters are expected to outperform the big four supermarkets 3. Aldi plans to open 1.0m sq ft of new stores in 015, more than the total of Sainsburys, Tesco and Morrisons combined. And Lidl is planning to open ,000 sq ft of grocery stores, double the amount of Tesco; Source: Macrobond Germany s large cities remain popular with expanding global retailers. In Berlin, the French fashion label American Vintage entered the German market opening its first shop there, as did the Japanese fashion label Edwin and Italian chain store Risamore; The significant expansion plans of existing retailers and new entrants in Paris, notably large luxury brands, combined with limited supply in the traditional prime areas continued to put upward pressure on high street rental values; Percent Strong investment volumes Improving economic growth, strengthening retail sales volumes, pent-up investor demand and low interest rates drove European retail investment volumes to their highest level since Q 007; The European retail investment market experienced a strong start to 015 with a total investment volume of EUR19.1 billion in Q1 015 (an increase of 9% y-oy); Eastern Europe (ex-russia) experienced the strongest growth with retail investment volumes rising 1,166% y-o-y during the quarter. France, Italy, Benelux and the Nordic countries all also recorded investment volume growth in excess of 100% y-o-y; Figure 7. Selected countries unemployment rate (ILO definition) Percent Outlook The continuing trend of declining unemployment rates in many European countries, as indicated by Figure 7., is likely to drive further recovery in European retail sales volume growth; Source: Macrobond, Oxford Economics Under threat from of multichannel retailing, two shopping centre formats are more likely to prosper: large, dominant centres that are an entertainment experience in themselves; and smaller food-anchored, convenience oriented centres. Both these formats have stronger defences against e-commerce competition than other centre types; Polarisation of the European retail market is intensifying with prime pitch locations seeing ever-increasing occupier demand, in contrast to retailers actively withdrawing from poor performing secondary locations. This trend is likely to become more prominent in the French shopping centre market, where scheduled completions for the remainder of 015 are expected to reach a record high. This is expected to see some occupiers migrating from weaker locations and older centres to newly completed centres. 3 Tesco, Sainsbury s, Asda and Morrisons
7 Residential Markets As Figure 8. shows, European residential investment volumes reached EUR11.1 billion during Q1 015, an increase of 187% y-o-y. Q1 also saw the acquisition of a 1,000 unit apartment portfolio in Germany by Deutsche Annington from the GAGFAH Group for EUR3.9 billion, reflecting a strategic move towards the student accommodation sector; United Kingdom House prices in the UK rose.6% q-o-q and 8.1% y-o-y during Q Following the steady decline in house sales during most of 01, January saw sales volumes increase for the second successive month; The recent return to real wage growth for the first time in several years, very low mortgage rates and last December s stamp duty changes have supported housing demand. On the supply side, housing stock remains tight across the country. This, coupled with the low level of properties available for sale is likely to put upward pressure on house prices in the shortterm; As Figure 9. Indicates, the mortgage market continues to improve, with the number of mortgage approvals reaching 6,953 in April. This represented an 8.6% rise on March 015 and was the largest monthly increase since June 01; Figure 8. European residential investment volumes EUR billions Source: RCA Figure 9. UK monthly mortgage approvals (000s) France In France during Q 01, prices of existing houses edged down by.% y-o-y, with prices of flats and of houses falling by.3% y-o-y and.1% y-o-y respectively. In Ile de France, the general decline in prices was less than in the regions (-.0% vs. -.3% y-o-y); Overall, average prices in France have now fallen for three consecutive years, so much so that in most regions, prices at the end of 01 Source: Macrobond were lower than they were in 006. However, there are significant differences across the country; While, the annual investment volume of existing stock held steady at the beginning of 01 (following an increase in 013), investment volume has been falling since June 01. Overall, the annual number of transactions decreased by.% y-o-y, with 700,000 transactions completed during 01 compared to 717,000 during 013; Germany The residential sector was the most invested-in sector during Q1 015, reaching EUR5.9 billion, compared with EUR3.7 billion for offices and EUR.7 billion for retail; In Germany, the average dwelling rose in price by 3.6% y-o-y in February, driven by a 7% y-o-y house price increase in existing single-family homes. The increased interest in existing properties was due to a limited supply of new buildings; Although house prices have mostly remained stable, this lack of new supply combined with strong demand has in some cases prompted slight increases in prices. Thus, although the average price for quality newly developed units remained unchanged at EUR3,000-3,500 per sq m during Q 01, a growing number of transactions were completed at higher prices; Despite this current lack of immediate new supply, recent data shows that Germany may well be at the beginning of a period of increasing housing construction activity. This increase in supply will be welcome, given it has firm foundations in short to medium-term population growth off the back of increased immigration from east-central Europe and the Crisis Countries.
8 An affiliate of Natixis Global Asset Management AEW Europe is a leading European real estate investment manager with 9 offices throughout Europe. AEW Europe is focused on the creation, execution and management of discretionary commingled investment vehicles, separate account strategies and real estate securities funds to both institutional investors and private clients. The group has over 70 employees who are responsible for over 18 billion of assets under management. The integration of AEW Europe with the resources and capabilities of North American-based AEW Capital Management creates a truly global real estate investment management platform with aggregate gross assets under management of more than billion. Research & Strategy Contacts AEW Europe 8-1 rue des Pirogues de Bercy 7501 Paris, France AEW Europe 33 Jermyn Street London SW1Y 6DN, UK AEW Europe Steinstraße Düsseldorf, Germany Sam Martin MSc MRICS Executive Director Head of Research & Strategy Tel. + (0) Shan Shan Qi MSc Associate Tel. + (0) Ken Baccam MSc Director Tel. +33 (0) Virginie Wallut MBA Associate Director Tel. +33 (0) Abraham Mboyo Mbango MSc Analyst Tel. +33 (0) Investor Relations Contact Alex Griffiths Director Tel. + (0) This publication is intended to provide information to assist investors in making their own investment decisions, not to provide investment advice to any specific investor. Investments discussed and recommendations herein may not be suitable for all investors: readers must exercise their own independent judgment as to the suitability of such investments and recommendations in light of their own investment objectives, experience, taxation status and financial position. This publication is derived from selected sources we believe to be reliable, but no representation or warranty is made regarding the accuracy of completeness of, or otherwise with respect to, the information presented herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the current judgment of the author: they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AEW Europe or any subsidiary or affiliate of the AEW Europe s Group and may change without notice. While AEW Europe uses reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information in this publication, errors or omissions sometimes occur. AEW Europe expressly disclaims any liability, whether in contract, tort, strict liability or otherwise, for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or special damages arising out of or in any way connected with the use of this publication. This report may not be copied, transmitted or distributed to any other party without the express written permission of AEW Europe.