BY Fraser Tennant
The global real estate fund sector is currently experiencing a period of “disruption” with major social and economic changes sparking a clamour for new investment, according to a new EY report.
EY’s ‘Global market outlook 2015: trends in real estate private equity’ found that M&A deals in particular are continuing to surge, a scenario that is being driven by three main factors: (i) a desire for incremental growth; (ii) the strategic merit of transactions; and (iii) the availability of debt and equity on favourable terms.
As a consequence of this increasing demand for new investments, prices have skyrocketed, leading to the possibility of M&A dealmaking activity in 2015 exceeding the peak levels of 2007.
In the US, the real estate market is currently awash with cross-border capital due to the country’s faster than most economic recovery; however, the immense popularity of this particular asset class has raised the spectre of a bubble similar to the one that enveloped Japanese investment in the US back in the 1980s.
Despite this, analysts such as Mark Grinis, EY’s global real estate fund services leader, are relatively relaxed about the perceived threats.
“If we look at history, market collapses have always been preceded by deteriorating economic fundamentals and stress factors like overdevelopment and rising vacancy rates," said Mr Grinis. “So far, there is little evidence of these precursors. What's more, industry players have moved carefully along the risk spectrum, which is why we have not seen an excessive amount of development or movement in markets that lack significant economic drivers.”
Elsewhere in the report, significant changes to the way private equity funds are administered are highlighted, with outsourced administration platforms shown to be particularly popular. And in terms of regulation, the report flags up the increasing scrutiny being directed toward the global real estate fund sector by the likes of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The EY report is based on a series of interviews with more than 20 of EY’s global fund partners in the US, UK, Europe and Asia.