Global real estate investment bounced back in Q4

US deal volume nearly doubled quarter-over-quarter; multifamily and industrial held strong

(iStock/Illustration by Alexis Manrodt for The Real Deal)

Global commercial real estate investment ended 2020 on a strong note, with deal volume rising 84 percent in the final three months of the year following a drastic slowdown early in the pandemic.

CRE deals worldwide totaled $290 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the all-time high of $364 billion in the same quarter of 2019, according to a new report from CBRE. For the full year, global CRE deal volume was down 26 percent from 2019.

“The Q4 rebound was significant in all three global regions, as the promise of vaccine deployment and continued economic recovery buoyed investor sentiment,” CBRE analysts wrote. Despite a resurgence of Covid cases in parts of the world, “Q4 performance is grounds for an optimistic outlook for 2021.”

The year-end surge was led by the Americas, and the U.S. market in particular, which saw deal volume rise 97 percent quarter-over-quarter to $135 billion, or 47 percent of total global volume.

For the full year, CRE investment in the U.S. was down 34 percent. In Canada, it was down 29 percent, and in Brazil it fell 15 percent. In Mexico, it plunged 57 percent year-over-year.

Multifamily leads the way

Multifamily and industrial properties accounted for 62 percent of deal volume, up from 53 percent in 2019. These asset classes have remained attractive to investors “due to their stable outlooks and proven resilience amid the pandemic uncertainty,” CBRE’s report said.

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For all of 2020, European markets saw the smallest decline in deal volume, at 17 percent. Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands drove a 84 percent quarter-over-quarter surge to end the year, while Denmark, Switzerland and Norway saw more investment activity in 2020 than in 2019.

As in the Americas, multifamily and industrial deals gained ground in 2020, accounting for 38 percent of total activity compared to 30 percent a year before.

“Looking ahead, recent reintroductions of lockdown measures may weigh on investor sentiment in early 2021,” the report said, while also noting that investors anticipate more distressed sales.

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In the Asia Pacific, investment activity in the fourth quarter of 2020 was nearly equal to that of Q4 2019, demonstrating “the economic benefits of an effective pandemic response,” according to CBRE.

India stood out as a major destination for global real estate investment in 2020, with deal volume rising 11 percent year-over-year. Big transactions there included Brookfield’s acquisition of a $2 billion office portfolio and Blackstone’s acquisition of a $1.2 billion retail portfolio in the country.

Deal volume in South Korea also rose year-over-year, by 6 percent, while activity in Japan and Taiwan dropped by 2 and 6 percent respectively.

CBRE is predicting a 15 to 20 percent increase in global CRE investment volume this year, in light of accommodative monetary policies, additional fiscal stimulus and progress on vaccine deployment around the world.