RICS: Challenging times with little improvement in Europe's commercial property market (EU)

The latest RICS Global Commercial Property Survey suggests that sentiment towards real estate markets generally remains positive away from the euro area and Central and Eastern Europe, where occupier activity is still falling and the outlook for rents and capital values remains negative in the majority of markets, including France and The Netherlands. Furthermore, the supply of distressed assets in Europe is likely to be most pronounced in this region than elsewhere.

But despite this bleak picture, some good news emerged this quarter in some European markets. For example, investors’ appetite for commercial property is growing at its fastest pace in Spain and this is beginning to have some impact in expected capital values. The same is also true in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Belgium, where investment enquires and capital value expectations were positive this quarter. The RICS survey suggests buyers are looking for good deals in these areas, where demand for distressed property is rising.

However in other markets, including France and Poland, though investment demand has increased this quarter, capital values are expected to decline further in the coming months.

Russia and Germany, the two top European performers in this survey, continued to record further increases in tenant demand and rental expectations, as well as very positive results in the investment side.

Globally, respondents to the Q1 2013 survey are particularly upbeat about the prospects for much of Asia and North America, but the recovery story in UAE is also continuing to gain ground. Findings suggest that the investment market is continuing to run ahead of the occupier market. This is despite continuing issues relating to the provision of bank finance to support the acquisition of commercial property in some world regions.

On the occupier side, rent expectations are particularly positive in Canada, Russia and Japan with strong readings also being recorded in China, Hong Kong, the US and Germany. One notable story is the more positive mood in Japan, which appears to be running a little ahead of the macro news but reflects, in part, the dramatic shift in government policy over the past few months. Meanwhile, the UAE numbers are continuing to improve, fueling hope that a sustainable recovery is now under way.

Brazil again saw weaker results in the fourth quarter on the occupier side. This follows a remarkably strong and consistent period of gains in both rents and capital values and reflects the sharp slowdown in the economy. Sentiment in the Hong Kong investment market also appears to be cooling in the face of the government’s recent announcement on stamp duty.

Commenting on the Q1 survey results, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “The easing in risk premia has continued to underpin the global real estate market with a few notable exceptions. Significantly, Asia continues to be particularly attractive for investors but other parts of the globe including North America and a little more surprisingly, a few distressed parts of Europe are also seeing a greater level of interest.

"In contrast, the trend in occupier activity remains more problematic with rent expectations still falling in more than half of the countries surveyed. But the recovery story is slowly spreading with the UAE recording its first positive reading since 2008. ”

Source: RICS

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