Despite recent evidence of moderating growth, the European economy is remarkably strong. Property markets are tight, with solid demand and limited levels of new supply. Real estate investment activity remains robust and interest rates are still low, especially relative to property yields. Central banks are tightening, but in Europe this is expected to happen only gradually. What could go wrong? Our view is that risks are mounting, including Brexit, trade tensions, and populism. And yet, no factor has yet to materially diminish the European property markets’ strength. At best, investors must accept that high absolute pricing metrics point to less potential for capital appreciation. At worst, a correction may be in the offing.
How should investors position their European property portfolios and direct new investment activity in such an environment? We recommend focusing on three long-term themes – heads, beds, and sheds – that provide a mixture of non-cyclical growth and defensiveness. Heads refers to the demographic and structural changes driving the growth of key cities and dynamic submarkets. Beds refers to the emergence of the defensive Living Sectors, which include rented apartments as well as student and senior housing. Sheds encompasses the logistics sector, which is a favourite globally, but has especially attractive growth potential in Europe.
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