Sweden is Europe’s most liquid commercial property market, with UK top for overseas investment
Research from DTZ shows Sweden regained its position as the most liquid European commercial property market in 2012 with turnover at nine per cent of its invested stock.
Norway (eight per cent) and the UK (six per cent) were ranked second and third most liquid markets in Europe in 2012 respectively. They were followed by Poland (six per cent) and Germany (five per cent).
Despite having the second-largest invested stock in Europe, France was only ranked as the 10th most liquid market
Nigel Almond (pictured), head of strategy research at DTZ, says: “Sweden’s position at the top may come as a surprise given its position as the eighth-largest investment market in Europe at EUR106bn, around a sixth of the size of the UK. Commercial real estate investment activity in Sweden has rebounded strongly since the onset of the global financial crisis reaching close to EUR10bn in 2012. The market, along with the wider Nordic region is perceived as a relative safe haven during the recent crisis. The banking sector also avoided many of the worst excesses of the boom period supporting a much stronger recovery. It is therefore no surprise to see two Nordic markets taking the top two places.”
Despite recent economic and market volatility across the CEE, Poland has seen consistently high levels of investment activity, supporting its fourth position amongst the most liquid markets, despite its relatively small size. Its neighbours, the Czech Republic and Hungary, were ranked 12th and 24th respectively.
In volume terms domestic investors have been the most dominant buyers over the last ten years across Europe, but they have been net sellers in every single year over the period. Therefore, we can take an alternative look at liquidity ratios on the basis of cross-border investment. This alternative ratio highlights those markets most attractive to overseas investors, in particular those from outside of Europe who have been increasing their activity in recent years.
On an inter-regional basis (investment from outside of Europe), the UK remained the most liquid market as inter-regional purchasers acquired 2.4 per cent of the UK’s invested stock in 2012. Two-thirds (close to EUR10bn) of the UK-bound investment from non-European investors was focussed on Central London. This represented 37 per cent of all inter-regional activity in Europe as a whole.
Ben Cook, head of UK inward investment at DTZ, says: “The UK, and in particular Central London, is one of the top markets globally for foreign investors. Over the past ten years investors from no less than forty countries outside of Europe have invested in the UK, double any other European market. In 2012, overseas investors accounted for 71 per cent of all commercial deals in Central London – almost GBP10bn of the GBP14bn transacted.”
Poland was the second most liquid on an inter-regional basis (1.6 per cent), followed by the Ukraine (1.5 per cent) and Sweden (1.2 per cent). Germany at 0.8 per cent is ranked 7th with France (0.6 per cent) in eighth position. Of course, many of these markets are relatively small. Poland is the thirteenth largest market in Europe (EUR 44bn) and the Ukraine (EUR11bn) ranked 20th. Sweden, Europe’s most liquid market, was the fourth most liquid market with inter-regional investment representing 1.2 per cent of its stock. On an absolute basis, after the UK, Germany attracted close to EUR4bn of investment from outside of Europe, with EUR3bn in France, EUR1.3bn in Sweden and EUR0.7bn in Poland.
The UK has consistently been the most attractive market for inter-regional investors with a top three inter-regional liquidity ranking in seven out of the last ten years. Both Germany and Poland have ranked in the top three, five times and Sweden four times. France, Europe’s second largest market has been in the top three just once. Norway, Europe’s second most liquid market in Europe in 2012 saw no activity from investors outside of Europe with the majority of investment either domestic or from within the Nordic region.
Magali Marton, head of CEMEA research at DTZ, says: “The research highlights that size is not all when it comes to liquidity. There are a number of relatively small markets displaying higher levels of liquidity. These markets should really be on the radar for more internationally-focussed investors. A number of markets including Sweden and Poland rank well on both an overall and an inter-regional basis and could therefore justify attracting higher levels of overseas capital. Despite its position as one of the top markets by size, France could do a lot more to increase its relative attractiveness to investors given its low rankings, particularly its attractiveness to overseas capital.”
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