The Results Are In On Whether The Pandemic Is As Bad As The Global Financial Crisis For Property Returns
In the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, a business question cropped up frequently when talking to real estate investors: Is it going to be as bad as the 2008 financial crisis?
Well, the data for 2020 is in, and as far as the performance of UK property goes, so far it is not even close.
UK capital values fell by an average of 7.6% in 2020, according to the CBRE Monthly Index of UK property, and the sector produced a total return of -2.2%. That compared to a whopping 26.8% drop in capital values in 2008, when the sector returned -22.1%.
The UK is going through its worst recession in centuries, and property income has been hit hard during the pandemic, with tenants in sectors like retail, leisure, serviced offices, hotels and student accommodation unable to pay full rents. But this has not produced the same sharp drop in valuations caused by the complete lack of liquidity in financial markets experienced in 2008.
The reasons for the diverging overall performance of 2020 and 2008 can be seen by examining the performance of individual sectors. In 2008, the credit crunch caused pretty much all real estate assets to be written down in value equally.
But in 2020, industrial property actually performed well as lockdowns provided huge boosts to the long-term shift to online purchasing. CBRE said values in the sector increased by an average of 4.8%, and the sector produced a total return of 9.9%.
Retail was the opposite side of the coin. Values in the sector fell 17.8%, and the sector produced a return of -11.6%. That is the biggest delta on record between the best and worst performing sectors, CBRE said.
The average office fell in value by 4.2%, CBRE said, due to uncertainty about the future utilisation of the sector. Central London offices outperformed slightly, falling in value by 3.3%.
In 2009, property rebounded quite well. Values fell 4%, but rental growth meant the sector produced a total return of 4%. With the UK entering a third national lockdown, it remains to be seen if the sector can bounce back in 2021.