Commercial property investment activity in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) continued to increase slowly in October and November 2009, totalling a provisional 432 million in 11 transactions, according to the December edition of CB Richard Ellis' CEE Property Investment MarketView. Year-to-date investment turnover for the region stands at just under 1.5 billion. Despite this somewhat higher level of recent activity, 2009 turnover as a whole will still finish at c. 80-85% below total 2008 turnover.
A noteworthy trend that emerged in October and November was the closing of more transactions of higher value. Jos Tromp, Head of CEE Research & Consulting, comments: "Four of the total eight transactions of more than 50 million so far in 2009 were recorded in October and November. These transactions included the largest investment transaction of the year in the Czech Republic the purchase of the Gemini A&B office buildings by Deka and the trading of the significant Profi retail portfolio in Romania. The 39 million average transaction size in October and November was the highest average since Q3 2008. The fact that larger transactions are occurring with greater frequency suggests that a market rebound may be gaining traction."
The investment market in Southeastern Europe, which has been extremely quiet in 2009, also saw increased signs of activity in October and November. Tromp explains: "The Southeastern European sub-region accounted for 22% of total CEE investment turnover in October and November, its strongest result so far this year. Turnover included the first property transaction of the year in Bulgaria and the trading of the Profi retail portfolio in Romania. While the closing of several transactions does not necessarily point to a wider trend, it does suggest that some investors are becoming more comfortable with current pricing in Southeastern Europe."
Despite these signs of revival, turnover is still lagging investor interest in Central Europe. Pavel Schanka, Director, CEE Capital Markets, explains: "Institutional investors continue to look for investment opportunities in core Central European markets. Thus far, their focus has mostly been on prime office and retail properties in capital cities. This approach has kept turnover low in Central Europe because there is limited prime stock available and owners often believe they can obtain a better price by delaying sales, especially since yields for truly prime, city center-located properties have moved down in some Western European markets. Positive economic outlooks in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland could help make these investment markets more liquid again in 2010."
Source: CB Richard Ellis