The "globalisation" of the property industry is one of the strongest trends of 2013, according to panelists at the IPD/IPF annual conference today.
"In the years following previous recessions and financial crises, international investors would retreat back into their home markets, but now we are seeing exact opposite happening. Real estate has become a truly global industry in a way it never was before," said Andrew Smith, global head of property at Aberdeen Asset Management.
Risk appetite is increasing, and global real estate investment strategies are re-emerging as investors search for yield, said Jon Zehner, global head of capital markets at LaSalle Investment Management.
"Two years ago, I thought that global real estate funds were dead. It turns out I was wrong. A lot of large institutions are looking at global funds, not just single-country or even single-region strategies," he said.
Real estate transaction volumes have increased significantly this year, pushing values up and yields down, but concerns are emerging about whether economic fundamentals supporting rents are strong enough to deliver sustainable growth, panellists cautioned.
"I'm slightly concerned that capital market activity is running ahead of actual economic growth. When you look at most office markets, genuine rental growth has not come through yet," said Roger Orfe, managing director at Apollo Global Real Estate.
Rents have been flat in Europe during the first three quarters of 2013, while in Asia they have actually declined 10-15%, according to LaSalle research, said Zehner.
However, speculative develoment is on the rise in Asia, with China accounting for half of the world's high-rise buildings currently under development, he added. An estimated 89% of office developments currently underway in Shanghai are speculative, according to LaSalle data.
"You begin to understand why some people are very worried about the stability of the Chinese banking system," he said.