News release

Investors expect APAC
real estate investment acceleration

COVID-19 prompting investors to reimagine investment priorities and deployment strategies

August 26, 2020

Kuala Lumpur, August 26, 2020 – Asia Pacific real estate investment volumes are expected to rebound in the first of half of 2021 as investors continue to weigh up current market uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to global investors surveyed by JLL (NYSE: JLL), environmental and economic uncertainty resulting from COVID-19 is providing challenges when deploying capital, prompting investors to reimagine Asia Pacific strategies to focus on core geographies and further accelerate pre-COVID trends.

Around 84% of survey respondents expect transaction volumes to recover by the second half of this year. Deeper analysis shows 32% expect recovery in 2H 2020, while 52% expect recovery in 1H 2021. Nonetheless, with an expected recovery over the next six to 12 months, many investors have identified Japan, South Korea, China and Australia as the markets most likely to observe an increase in transactional activity into 2021. Asia Pacific real estate transaction volumes totaled $52.9 billion in the first six months of 2020, representing a decrease of $40.3 billion from the same period in 2019, according to Real Capital Analytics.

“The logistics sector continues to present strong fundamentals and is expected to be resilient moving forward. Growing demand from the e-commerce and grocery industries are some of the key drivers, supported by short term demand from critical suppliers such as medical devices, products and pharmaceuticals. Given the strong underlying drivers for logistics real estate, around 81% of survey respondents plan on increasing their exposure to this sector by the end of 2021. And those that plan on increasing their exposure to logistics will also have a greater focus on platform and entity levels deals. This allows investors to quickly gain scale, an important investment consideration for investors in logistics real estate,” says YY Lau, Country Head of JLL Property Services (M) Sdn Bhd.

“Our interactions with clients reinforce the view that investors will continue to seek defensive locations and sectors where the rental collection experience has been positive. Japan and Korea remain high on the preferences for clients, as do sectors such as multifamily, non-discretionary retail and logistics. As transactional activity increases and pockets of value emerge from the crisis, we expect investors to move up the risk curve,” says Stuart Crow, CEO, Capital Markets, Asia Pacific, JLL.

In the third quarter of 2020, an unpredictable environment remains the biggest challenge in deploying capital, say investors. Approximately 60% cited uncertainty as driving a pause in their transaction activity. Specifically, underwriting assumptions, rent assumptions, vacancy forecasts, cost of capital and pricing uncertainty were cited as the primary reasons stopping investors deploying capital in the current environment.

As investors review their Asia Pacific strategies, JLL expects several key themes to gather momentum into 2021:

  • COVID-19 accelerating pre-existing trends: Investors are planning to increase their exposure to logistics (81%), multifamily (58%), and alternatives (44%) between now and the end of 2021.
  • Focus on capital value preservation: 82% of investors are planning to retain or increase their exposure to the core sectors, such as offices, by the end of 2021 with only 6% expecting to reduce their exposure.
  • Going beyond core: While core (income investments) sectors remain central to strategies, investors also plan to increase their activity in the core plus (growth and income investments) by 42% and value add segments by 49% (growth investments) in 2021, due to both the limited opportunity to acquire assets and a rebalancing of relative risk and volatility.
  • Transactional diversity to mature: Direct acquisition in private markets will remain the primary route for most investors, but many are increasingly looking towards different transaction structures in order to gain and increase their exposure to real estate. 32% of respondents are planning to increase exposure to platform or entity deals, while 29% plan to increase their activity in debt markets.

“COVID-19 is changing how investors access real estate. While we typically see a shift to more stable risk profiles during times of uncertainty, many investors are signaling not only a longer-term diversification strategy in Asia Pacific but are also reimagining how they transact in this region,” says Roddy Allan, Chief Research Officer, Asia Pacific, JLL. 

JLL surveyed 38 global investors collectively holding close to $2 trillion of assets under management. 

About JLL

JLL is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL Network is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $18.0 billion in 2019, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 93,000 as of June 30, 2020.