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What Does The Pullback In Investment By The World's Largest Investors Signal About 2018?

The moves of the world's biggest investors can often provide hints about the current state of the market, and their activity in recent years may signal a slowdown in 2018.

The pace of net investment among the 50 largest commercial real estate investors (according to assets owned) has been on the decline since 2016, according to Real Capital Analytics’ global data set. 

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“There’s a thought that these largest global investors are market-makers and set the tone for what’s happening in the market. You’ve seen that their pace of gross new purchases and acquisitions are down from 2015 [and 2016]. If you look at just that, you might think they're not as interested or not investing,” Real Capital Analytics Senior Vice President Jim Costello said. 

But that is not necessarily the case. The top 50 global property owners acquired $145.7B worth of assets last year, RCA reports, and increased their commercial real estate exposure at a quicker pace last year than they did in 2016.  

Still, the purchase of income-generating assets by mega-investors like Blackstone Group, Brookfield Asset Management and GIC slowed 2% year-over-year. At the same time, the sell-off of income-producing properties slowed 14% year-over-year, RCA reports. 

This pullback in investment activity is on par with the decline of deal volume experienced in global markets through the middle of last year, Costello said. In terms of sector performance, the 50 largest investors flocked to multifamily assets over all others in 2017, acquiring $18.3B worth of assets during the year. Fifty-five percent of the total units were in North America.  

“Owners of existing assets are probably less likely to test the market today,” Costello said. “The only things out there are 4% and 5% cap rates. You’re not going to get as great of a yield. There are challenges in actually finding a quality asset. Some of the best stuff is already traded in this cycle.