Continental European Property Market Commentary - December 2013


 Schroders expects the eurozone to see growth of 1-1.5% through 2014-2015, with the main driver being exports. In addition, low inflation should support a gradual increase in real incomes and consumption and the improvement in business confidence should lift investment in Germany. However, high unemployment will continue to weigh on government finances and both France and Italy need to reform their labour laws to boost competitiveness.

– Unsurprisingly, most of the fastest growing cities over the next five years are expected to be in export led economies such as Germany (e.g. Munich, Stuttgart), the Nordics and Switzerland according to Oxford Economics. The other cities which should see relatively strong growth are either centres for international business services (e.g. Amsterdam, Paris), or cities with a heavy bias towards IT / high-tech industries (e.g. Bergamo, Lyon, Toulouse).

Occupational Market

– While the stage is now set for a recovery in European office rents, the timing of the upswing will vary from city to city, partly because of local differences in economic growth, but also because of variations in vacancy. Most cities currently have a surplus of office space and some of this will first have to be re-occupied before demand and supply get back to equilibrium. We expect Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Stockholm which have relatively low vacancy rates to lead the upturn in office rents this year, followed by Brussels, Paris and the other big German cities in 2015-2016. The recovery in southern Europe will probably be delayed until 2017, or even later.

– Although most countries should now see a recovery in consumer spending, probably the key issue facing retail property is the shift to online retailing. Initially, the main impact was on books, music and electronics, but clothing is now also being sold online and this poses a real threat to less dominant shopping centres, given that clothing and footwear tenants typically account for 40-50% of their rent roll. Accordingly, we prefer either shopping centres which dominate their catchment area, or out-of town schemes let to supermarkets, pharmacy, DIY and furniture retailers. We also see growing demand from retailers for flagship stores in big city centres.

– By contrast, logistics is benefiting from online retail. The main impact so far has been on large warehouses for retailers like Amazon, but we expect that demand for smaller units near to big cities will also grow, as the flow of express parcels increases and as retailers introduce same day delivery.

Investment Market

– The availability of property debt improved significantly in 2013, as re-capitalised banks resumed lending and new lenders, such as insurers and debt funds, began operations. Predictably, it is easiest to obtain debt in Germany, Paris and the Nordics and lenders in those markets will lend on non-prime assets, if the borrower has a strong track record. While we expect further growth in property lending over the medium term, the ECB’s asset review could lead to a pause in 2014.

– The weight of capital from global investors means that prime yields on new offices in central business districts (CBD) of Paris, the big German cities and Stockholm are now at 4.25-4.75%. Although this may be justifiable in Munich or Stockholm which have good rental growth prospects, we think that prime office yields in many German cities look expensive. Alternatively, we think that in many northern cities better value can often be found in older CBD offices which may be multi-let, or which have short unexpired terms, or new offices on the edges of the CBD.


– Schroders forecasts total returns of between 6-8% per year on average investment grade property in Europe between end-2013 and end-2016. The cornerstone will be an income return of 5.5%, but we also expect a limited fall in property yields of 0.25% and a modest upswing in rents.

The main upside risk in the short-term is that the inflow of capital from Asia and the USA results in a sharp fall in yields, boosting capital values in 2014. There are two main downside risks. First, the eurozone economy could stall, so that the recovery in rents fails to materialise. Second, although in most of Europe there is still a large gap between property yields and government bond yields, property could start to look expensive if 10 year bond yields rose by a further 0.5-1%.



Important Information:
The views and opinions contained herein are those of Schroder Property Investment Management Limited and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds. For professional investors and advisors only. This document is not suitable for retail clients.

This document is intended to be for information purposes only and it is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroder Property Investment Management Limited (Schroders) does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact or opinion. This does not exclude or restrict any duty or liability that Schroders has to its customers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended from time to time) or any other regulatory system. Schroders has expressed its own views and opinions in this document and these may change. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in the document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions.

Any forecasts in this document should not be relied upon, are not guaranteed and are provided only as at the date of issue. Our forecasts are based on our own assumptions which may change. We accept no responsibility for any errors of fact or opinion and assume no obligation to provide you with any changes to our assumptions or forecasts. Forecasts and assumptions may be affected by external economic or other factors.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

Use of IPD data and indices: © and database right Investment Property Databank Limited and its Licensors 2014. All rights reserved. IPD has no liability to any person for any losses, damages, costs or expenses suffered as a result of any use of or reliance on any of the information which may be attributed to it.

Issued by Schroder Property Investment Management Limited, 31 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7QA. Registration No. 1188240 England.

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

For your security, communications may be taped or monitored.