The past year has seen a sharp turnaround in attitudes towards property, and the asset class still looks set to attract investors going forward.
According to data from Lipper, the past year has seen a sharp turnaround in the amount of net new investments made into cross-border property funds in Europe. There may be a number of reasons for this, as Dennis Lopez , Global CIO of AXA Real Estate, explains when compared to equities and bonds.
On the bonds side, it is the case that historically low interest rates as a result of quantitative easing measures cannot go much lower. The downside concern then is that interest rates go up. Thus, the risk is not so much a credit risk as one of fixed rates on longer term bonds. Regarding equities, it depends on which market is being discussed.
They may be fairly valued in certain parts of the world, so they do not necessarily represent the same investment risk as fixed income, butalternatives, including property do look relatively attractive. In certain regions, such as Europe, there are additional reasons to look toproperty assets, Lopez adds.
Growth expectations are not strong, and property could do well in this type of environment, particularly because property markets did not go into the financial crisis in a state of overbuild, except for some very specific areas, such as Spanish residential.
But lack of overbuilding in commercialoffice or retail property, implies that there was growth in ‘grey space', of tenants vacating.
Now, Lopez sees sustainable rents going forward amid the growth, and therefeels positive about its prospects for generating high single digit to double digit returns - depending on the level of risk taken by the investor.
Comparing the European property market against others globally, Lopezbelieves the US is showing signs of strong gains in its economy, and that despite some political issues there seems to be sustained recovery there.
Emerging markets have been hit by some currency volatility linkedto monetary policy decisions at the US Federal Reserve - the tapering ofits quantitative easing programme - and in that environment Europe looks relatively good as a place in which to invest in property. Additionally, Europe offers a number of transparent property markets that are based on ‘global' cities such as London or Paris, which means demand too is global in nature.