Opportunity the investment conundrum

Alastair Walker Backgroundv2-editedWhile Australia’s property market remains a safe haven, limited stock is a significant obstacle for overseas investors, says Napier & Blakeley’s managing director Alastair Walker.

“There is still a substantial amount of investment funds under management looking for a home – and the volatility in other markets serves as a reminder that Australia remains a safe haven,” says Walker (pictured), who oversees the independent property, development and sustainability consultancy.

The latest investment intentions survey from the Asian Association for Investors in Non-listed Real Estate Vehicles (ANREV) reports around AU$82.4 billion is expected to be poured into property in 2016, with the top three investment destinations in the regions of Tokyo, Sydney and Melbourne.

“Opportunity is now the great conundrum facing investors,” Walker warns.

“Australia presents a transparent market with a good yield to debt ratio, but a shortage of stock is limiting investment opportunity.

“The local property investment groups who have righted their ships in the last seven years after the Global Financial Crisis are now heavily challenged by offshore investors, some with very deep pockets.”

Last year was a record year for office investment, with around $30 billion turnover in commercial property, according to Savills latest report.

Foreign investors were the most active purchasers in 2015, acquiring 46 per cent of the stock sold, or $7.6 billion worth of office transactions.

“Our chairman, Peter Mitchell, is based in Singapore, and travels around Asia talking to investors and we get reports back every day, especially from Chinese investors wanting to get into the Australian market. These aren’t just big global funds, but a range of investors who see Australia, and particularly Sydney, as an attractive destination,” he adds.

While Sydney and Melbourne remain the “first choice” for offshore investors, Walker says they are increasingly looking further afield – and are looking beyond traditional shiny new offices.

“Expect retrofitting of existing assets – something that has been slow off the mark – to become a bigger thing in 2016,” Walker says.

“There is a substantial amount of commercial office stock in fantastic locations – and it just needs to be brought into the 21st century,” he says.

“Carbon may have gone off the boil in the media, but the drivers to improve existing buildings remain. While investors will always look at the bottom line return, there’s a massive opportunity sitting there waiting for us to capture.”

Established in 1985, Napier & Blakeley is an independent and privately-owned, international, integrated, property services consulting organisation. To find out more, visit: www.napierblakeley.com

Published on PCA Website
1 March 2016

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