Global property investment expected to fall

Mortgage defaults in US may prompt lenders to tighten credit, says JLL

(TOKYO) Global direct real estate investment may fall this year as concerns about defaults on US mortgages prompted lenders to tighten credit, said Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, the world’s second-largest commercial real estate broker.

Asia may be the only market to experience an increase in investment in the second half of this year, Jane Murray, Asia-Pacific head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle, said in Tokyo yesterday. Global direct property investment rose 41 per cent in 2006 to US$699 billion, advancing for a third-straight year.

‘The highly leveraged players who were very active earlier in the year are certainly sitting on the sidelines at the moment,’ Ms Murray said.

The four-year boom in real estate is threatened after the US housing slump raised concerns about the value of mortgages and bonds linked to those loans. Investors are finding it harder to borrow money when they want to fund property acquisitions.

Japan, Singapore, China and India are among the markets offering the best opportunities for investors, according to Jones Lang LaSalle research.

Grade A office rents in Japan have gained 80 per cent in the past three years and have more than doubled in Singapore, Ms Murray said. Grade A buildings are no more than 25 years old, with total leasable floor area of more than 10,000 square metres and more than 800 square metres a floor, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

Japan features strong economic growth in a large market and is the only country where returns on office buildings exceed local interest rates, also known as a positive yield spread, Ms Murray said.

Morgan Stanley raised a record US$8 billion for a real estate investment fund in June. In April the firm agreed to buy 13 Japanese hotels from All Nippon Airways in the country’s biggest real estate deal.

Japan offers a positive yield spread of 1.56 per cent, compared with negative spreads in other major cities including London, Paris, Frankfurt and New York, said Takeshi Akagi, local director in Japan for Jones Lang LaSalle.

Investment in China rose 23 per cent in the first half of the year even after the government sought to curb property investment to cool gains in housing prices. India, where more than half the population is under the age of 25, doesn’t have enough offices, shops and houses to meet demand, Ms Murray said.

‘It will require major additions to the stock base across every sector over the coming years to accommodate its rapidly growing services sector and the increasing wealth of its population,’ Ms Murray said.

‘When the Indian government begins to deregulate investment for foreign players, we will see a flood of money pouring into that market.’


Source: Bloomberg (Business Times 25 Oct 07)

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