Optimism Amidst Uncertainty: Key Takeaways from EXPO Real
Head of European Investments Christopher Mertlitz discusses key themes dominating the discussion at Munich's premier real estate trade show
By: Christopher Mertlitz | Investments
Earlier this month, Europe’s largest real estate trade show EXPO Real returned in Munich. Nearly 40,000 attendees gathered to network and discuss trends, innovation and opportunities in the real estate market. Traditionally, EXPO is a place “where deals get done” but given the current challenges in the macroeconomic environment attendees were more focused on understanding where the market is heading into 2023. Here were three of the most prominent topics discussed.
Rising interest rates
With the European Central Bank announcing its third consecutive rate hike this month, interest rates were the main topic of discussion at EXPO Real. Largely, attendees were focused on how assets should be priced to reflect rising rates, with the consensus that we’ll continue to see cap rates rise and property prices fall into next year. However, a big challenge that attendees are facing is how to bridge the gap between seller expectations and the pricing buyers will need to generate adequate returns.
To compound the issue, inflation remains at record highs in Europe which means more interest rate increases are certainly on the horizon. This will create an even more challenging environment for real estate investors that require third-party debt financing to close transactions, making all-equity buyers better positioned to execute on deals.
Logistics still dominant
Despite the macroeconomic doom and gloom, the current market still has room for certain sectors to thrive. Logistics remains the darling of the real estate world, with Europe seeing record logistics investment volumes in the first half of 2022. 20% of all real estate investment in Europe is in the logistics sector, suggesting there is still a very strong investor appetite for the asset class. The sector continues to benefit from tailwinds amplified by COVID such as the rise of e-commerce, which continues to drive occupier demand for logistics and warehouse space. Record-low inventory and high demand have meant the logistics sector has been slower to see cap rate increases than others; however, many are seeing a re-pricing period take place which is critical for investors looking to close transactions.
Sale-leasebacks gaining prominence as bank lending becomes more restrictive
Amidst all the uncertainty at EXPO Real, there was still an undercurrent of optimism among attendees. Historically, we’ve seen more sale-leaseback opportunities come to market in challenging economic environments as a result of companies seeking ways to shore up capital to support ongoing business operations and growth. With banks becoming more restrictive with lending, alternative forms of capital such as sale-leasebacks provide an immediate opportunity to plug the financing gap for companies. And with interest rates likely to continue rising into 2023, now is a great time to pursue a sale-leaseback and lock in an attractive rental rate for the long-term.