Based on a new report by JLL, total direct real estate investment reached just over $700 billion in 2015 – on par with 2014 levels – with further modest expansion predicted for 2016. Institutional investors continue to allocate significant capital to real estate, and they are broadening their investment to include segments such as student housing, healthcare and the private rented residential sector in markets outside the U.S.
As business and political leaders convene to discuss global issues at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, it is clear that real estate has established itself as a key driver of economic growth in both established and emerging cities across the globe. The top 30 cities accounted for nearly half of total global real estate investment in 2015.
According to Colin Dyer, CEO of JLL, “As we mark another year of robust commercial real estate investment, we are optimistic the market is still on track to average $1 trillion per year by the early 2020s. While the ‘Big 6’ cities of New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore will continue to lead in terms of transactional activity, we anticipate more cities will become investible and challenge the ‘Big 6.'”
Key trends in city investment from JLL report:
- Investor demand for prime assets in the world’s most globalized metropolitan economies reached a new record in 2015, with New York overtaking London in investment levels. At $92 billion, these two cities combined accounted for 13 percent of global activity.
- U.S. cities accounted for nearly half of the Top 30 cities in 2015. Seattle, San Diego and Miami registered sharp growth in investment activity and re-entered the Top 30.
- Overall global commercial real estate investment in 2015 was just 1 percent below 2014 levels (at $704 billion) and 7 percent below the all-time high in 2007 ($758 billion). Nonetheless, the strength of the U.S. dollar underplayed the true level of market activity in 2015, and at fixed exchange rates full-year volumes would be a record $765 billion.
- Direct commercial real estate investment into emerging markets (excluding China) fell by one-third, from 8 percent of the global total in 2014 to 5.5 percent in 2015. Factors included China’s slowdown, lower commodity prices and the negative impact of higher U.S. interest rates on emerging market currencies. Shanghai and Beijing, however, had a stronger 2015 and remain the only emerging world cities among the Top 30.
- There is particularly strong investor interest in ‘New World Cities,’ which are small- to medium-sized, have a favorable infrastructure and livability platform and have achieved global reach through specialization. Examples include San Francisco, Seattle, Munich, Miami and Melbourne. A core set of 32 ‘New World Cities’ now account for over 20 percent of global real estate investment compared to about 10 percent in 2006.
- Economic and real estate rebounds in Southern Europe prompted Madrid and Milan’s presence in the Top 30 for the first time since 2009.