- Deglobalization has had profound implications for portfolio construction in listed assets. Conversely, with real estate, there are indications that the asset class has become more global in recent years.
- Return dispersion across national markets has decreased, while property type has become a more important return driver across all markets, suggesting stronger international alignment, as cross-border transaction volumes have remained stable.
- Institutional real estate investors could still face challenges from deglobalization, but a historical preference for more transparent and stable markets may help counterbalance some of them.
Real estate has historically exhibited a strong home bias, with investors favoring their local markets. Where investors have sought offshore exposure, they have typically favored markets that offer higher levels of transparency, better governance and stability. This is not to say that investors have not allocated to markets that are less transparent than their home markets. Nor that they have not pursued strategies higher up the risk curve when they invested in foreign markets. But in aggregate markets with higher transparency and government ESG scores have tended to attract more real estate capital.
Globalized real estate drivers in a deglobalizing world
The demand for international real estate is driven by the world’s largest institutional investors, many of whom have explicit global real estate investment mandates. Surveys of investor intentions show continued strong demand for cross-border investments among this group.1 Despite this sentiment, the share of the volume of cross-border transactions, as tracked by MSCI Real Capital Analytics, has remained relatively stable over the last decade, ranging between 19% and 26% of total quarterly transaction volumes.2
Even with relatively stable flows across borders, there is evidence that real estate may have become more global based on return behavior. There has been a notable decline of total-return dispersion across national markets in the MSCI Global Annual Property Index since 2008. At the same time, the spread of returns across property types has increased across all markets as technology changes (like the rise of e-commerce) and the pandemic have disrupted real estate markets, causing headwinds for sectors like retail and office but boosting other sectors like industrial. These trends point to potentially stronger international alignment in the asset class: Unlike in much of the previous two decades, since 2019 there was a greater opportunity for outperformance from allocation decisions based on property type, rather than country.
Return dispersion decreased across national markets but increased across property types
Source: MSCI Global Annual Property Index
Could deglobalization affect real estate?
Political populism, the COVID-19 pandemic and increased geopolitical tensions have all contributed to concerns about deglobalization. Business cycles may become desynchronized, leading to wider variations in the performance of equity and bond markets across countries, lower correlations and higher volatilities. The investment impact of this trend emerged in recent years: In equities, correlations between countries and regional blocs have declined.
Going forward, global investors in bonds and equities may respond by taking a more nuanced approach to asset allocation — for example, by considering new, more focused country allocations for broad allocation decisions (geopolitical blocs, energy importers versus exporters or autocracies versus democracies) and placing greater emphasis on risk factors exposed by the war in Ukraine, such as sanctions risk, reputational considerations and currency convertibility. While it is possible that similar deglobalization headwinds may emerge for real estate investors, there are several factors that could mitigate this.
One example is that, as mentioned earlier, transparency, governance and stability have always been important considerations for global real estate investors, as it is an opaque and illiquid asset class, where asset-investment life cycles are typically measured in years (the median holding period for assets in the MSCI Global Annual Property Index has been six years). The result is that markets with higher transparency, better governance scores and stronger institutions represent the lion’s share of the opportunity set and transaction volumes.
Transparency, governance and stability have mattered in real estate
Where available, market-size estimates are sourced from MSCI’s Real Estate Market Size Report 20/21. For the remaining countries, market size is assumed to be 10% of GDP. Source: JLL, Our World in Data, MSCI
Institutional real estate investors may therefore have less exposure to countries significantly exposed to decoupling risk due to deglobalization. Of the approximately USD 2.3 trillion of assets that MSCI tracks in the MSCI Global Annual Property Index and MSCI Asia Annual Property Index, over 91% of the capital value was invested in liberal democracies with real estate markets rated as transparent or highly transparent by JLL.
Nevertheless, deglobalization could have knock-on effects that impact real estate. For instance, increased political polarization and pandemic-induced supply-chain disruption could drive “nearshoring” and changes to international trade patterns.3 These changes could in turn affect the volume, nature and location of real estate demand. For example, a move from just-in-time to just-in-case logistics could increase demand for industrial-warehouse space and see some of that demand shift away from markets that are further afield and more vulnerable to potential trade disruption.
While deglobalization could result in profound consequences in asset allocation and portfolio construction, different asset classes may be affected in different ways. The distinct features of the real estate investment process, as opposed to that for listed equities and bonds, as well as the nature of the opportunity set typically available to global real estate investors, may mean that real estate could be less directly exposed to the effects of this investment megatrend.
The authors thank Alexis Maltin for her contributions to this post.
1For example, see: “2021 Institutional Real Estate Allocations Monitor.” Hodes Weill & Associates and Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate, Nov. 10, 2021.
2It should be noted that purchases made by third-party managers on behalf of offshore investors will count toward domestic volumes rather than cross-border volumes and thus may underestimate total cross-border capital flows.
3Nearshoring is the practice of transferring a business operation to a nearby country, especially in preference to a more distant one.
Simplicity launches real estate conveyancing solution in Ontario – ITBusiness.ca
Prolegis is a cloud-based real estate conveyancing solution made for real estate lawyers. It integrates with a real estate practice, providing tools and information to help each user enhance their performance, customer engagement, and work-life balance.
Prolegis is designed to help users save time, with all the capabilities and key third-party integrations needed to convey a real estate transaction. The solution provides user flexibility to configure and organize work, communicate with clients, and manage the real estate transaction end-to-end from a single solution at any time. It offers a library of document and workflow management tools, community databases, stakeholder portals, and real-time support.
‘Simplicity is incredibly pleased and excited to offer Ontario real estate lawyers and conveyancers a fresh new choice in a legal software provider. Collaborating with our valued customers and a network of trusted stakeholders, we are building a better, brighter future for real estate legal professionals and Canadian homebuyers,” said Neil N. Babiy, co-founder and chief executive officer of Simplicity Global Solutions Ltd. “At Simplicity, we envision a future where innovative technology is at the forefront of enhancing the customer experience in the real estate ecosystem. We are committed to helping advance technology utilization and adoption within the real estate sector by providing solutions that are user-friendly, easy to implement, and economical to acquire and operate.”
Ontario real estate lawyers and conveyancers can now book a demo and learn more about the tool here.
U.S. real estate giant Blackstone says it will not target single-family homes in its Canadian expansion – The Globe and Mail
Blackstone Inc. BX-N said Monday it has no interest in investing in single-family homes in Canada, laying to rest speculation the giant global asset manager would scoop up hundreds of Canadian houses and turn them into rental properties.
After Blackstone announced plans in May to establish a Canadian office in Toronto, rumours abounded that the private equity firm would unleash its firepower, gobble up homes and increase competition for individuals and families looking to buy homes. The typical home price across the country has climbed 50 per cent over the past two years and real estate investors have come under scrutiny for their role in ramping up competition and driving up prices.
But Blackstone’s head of real estate Americas, Nadeem Meghji, said that is not in the cards for the company’s Canadian expansion.
“It’s just not an area that we are focused on in Canada,” he said in a joint interview with Janice Lin, the new head of Blackstone Canada.
The New York-based company, which has US$915.5-billion in assets under management, has been accused of profiting off the 2007 U.S. housing meltdown after it bought swaths of distressed properties and then rented them out to U.S. residents.
Blackstone has said it did not own any single-family homes before the crisis and didn’t foreclose on any of the properties. It has also said many of its purchases were homes that had been sitting vacant and dragging down local property values.
Blackstone has since sold that business and owns a rent-to-own business called Home Partners of America – one of the many players in a growing single-family home rental market in the U.S.
“We don’t have a similar platform in Canada and we don’t have the intention of launching one because, from our perspective, we think there are just more interesting places to deploy capital in the Canadian market,” Mr. Meghji said.
Ms. Lin, a former Canada Pension Plan Investment Board executive, is in charge of Blackstone’s expansion in Canada. She cited the country’s favourable immigration policies and its strong population growth as two key factors that make Canada a winner for Blackstone’s capital.
Blackstone mostly owns warehouses and other industrial space in Canada, as well as a couple of office towers. It also has some investments in apartment building developments. All together, they are worth about US$14-billion, according to Blackstone, representing just a tiny fraction of the company’s global real estate portfolio.
Ms. Lin and Mr. Meghji both said the company will continue to invest in industrial and top office buildings, as well as hotels.
Blackstone has previously said it expects its growth here will be significant. Mr. Meghji would not quantify “significant” except to say he expects growth will be material and Canada could eventually command a larger share of Blackstone’s global real estate portfolio.
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Calls increase for more money as Montreal and rest of Quebec facing housing crunch
MONTREAL — When Soufia Khmarou moved from Morocco to Montreal in 2009, she thought finding an affordable house for her and her three children was going to be easy.
“I was not expecting this,” Khmarou said in an interview Monday. “What we see, what we hear about Quebec … the reality doesn’t reflect the ad.”
Khmarou appeared next to Manon Massé, a spokesperson with Quebec’s second opposition party, Québec solidaire, who told reporters Montreal’s affordable housing shortage is going to get worse if more money isn’t made available.
Standing next to a construction site of high-end condominiums near downtown Montreal, Massé said, “There are housing units being built in Montreal. But for the families that want to find a place to stay and afford to pay rent each month, there’s a crisis.”
The need for affordable housing will be especially acute after June 30, she said, when most of the leases across the province end. Many families will be forced to remain in or move into homes that are unsanitary or unfit for their needs. Massé said low-income families in Montreal and in the rest of the province are spending up to 85 per cent of their monthly incomes on housing.
Khmarou said she’s been on waiting lists to access subsidized housing for the past three years, hoping to move her family out of a Montreal apartment she said is unsanitary.
“But I don’t have any answers; all I see is more and more people on the same lists,” Khmarou said. “There’s no hope; there’s no low-rental housing that’s being added on the market.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante held a separate news conference on Monday, also to lament the lack of affordable housing in the city. Plante said Montreal has been waiting for the past four years for millions of dollars promised by the federal government to build around 1,200 affordable housing units and renovate an additional 4,700 units.
“We know that there’s a housing crisis — it’s hard on July 1,” Plante told reporters. “To know that there are almost 6,000 units that are taken hostage, that aren’t made available for citizens, it’s unacceptable. It’s been four years, at one point, patience has a limit.
“When we talk about the safety and healthiness of housing units, that’s what’s at stake,” she said.
A coalition of housing committees and tenant associations in Quebec released a report over the weekend indicating a widespread rent increase across the province. The coalition analyzed 51,000 rental listings from February to May and said rents across the province increased by nine per cent between 2021 and 2022, reaching an average of $1,300 per month.
The coalition said that less-populated parts of the province were used to an accessible market but are now seeing strong increases.
Rentals.ca, a Canadian website for apartment rental searches, said the average rent for all Canadian properties listed on its site was $1,888 per month in May — a year-over-year rise of 10.5 per cent. With an average of about $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom unit, Montreal ranked 22nd out of 35 cities. Vancouver, the front-runner, had the same size units listed for an average of $3,495 per month.
The association of homebuilders, called the Association des professionnels de la construction et de l’habitation du Québec, said in a report last week that Quebec is missing 100,000 homes, with more than 37,000 families on waiting lists to access subsidized housing.
Paul Cardinal, director of economic services with the association, wrote that “the only way to sustainably reduce real estate overheating is to increase supply.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 27, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press
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