Nearly half (45%) all real estate investment into the Asia Pacific region is flowing into Australian commercial property markets.
This is double the next biggest markets of Japan (19% of investment) and China (18), according to Jones Lang LaSalle, with investors attracted to Australia by its transparent markets, efficient regulatory regimes supported by solid economic fundamentals and relatively high yields.
Offshore buyers of Australian commercial property are now around four times greater than those selling their investments, a trend that commenced in 2007 and which has grown more pronounced in the last three years.
“Australia punches well above its weight in terms of direct investment,” said Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of research and consulting David Rees at a retail outlook breakfast in Melbourne this week.
“Last year 29% of investment came from offshore – an all-time record.”
Rees says that while the big commercial markets of New York, London and Paris continue to attract offshore investors, a significant flow of investments into the Asia Pacific region is underway.
“They are investing in the region because of the long-term growth prospects with a big shift to Australia,” Rees says.
“Capital flows into Australia are expected to continue through 2013,” he says, highlighting that retail and office yields are broadly in line with long-term averages, and very appealing to offshore investors.
Regional shopping centre yields are around 6.32% compared with a 10-year average of 6.39% while sub-regional yields are above the 10-year average of 6.39% at 6.32%.
However, a scarcity of premium assets (sought by offshore investors) should see yields compress by around 25 basis points at the tight end of the market.
Rees says the shift to Australian commercial real estate is part of a global re-weighting to real estate as global investors shift their portfolio weightings from the large equity and bond markets to the much smaller real estate markets.
“A 1% downsizing in global equity portfolios towards non-residential real estate implies a 7.8% increase in global real estate portfolios. A 1% reduction in global bond markets in favour of real estate has a similar impact. A 0.1% re-weighting of global real estate portfolios towards Australia implies an increase of around $9 billion in offshore holdings of Australia real estate,” says Rees.