MOBs Still a Hot Ticket Among Investors

Judging by recent research conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle's Healthcare Capital Markets group, investors cannot get enough of the medical office building subsector of healthcare real estate.
JLL - Mindy Berman

Mindy Berman, of JLL

Judging by recent research conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle’s Healthcare Capital Markets group, investors cannot get enough of the medical office building subsector of healthcare real estate. Evidence from the commercial real estate services firm’s mid-year 2013 study is in the billions–$3.5 billion in MOB and MOB portfolio sales, to be exact.

The usual suspects are in the game, but the continued high performance of MOBs and growing user demand are reeling in new players. “There are new non-traditional investors coming into the MOB space [and] this includes pension funds, sovereign buyers and institutional investors seeking stable income generally,” Mindy Berman, Managing Director of JLL’s Healthcare Capital Markets group, told Commercial Property Executive. “The most active continue to be the public healthcare REITs, as well as the non-listed healthcare REITs.”

Just halfway through 2013, 124 MOBs valued at more than $1.8 billion had changed hands. The numbers are impressive, though not quite as high as those during the first half of 2012, when a total of 171 properties traded for approximately $2.2 billion. Additionally, the sale of MOB portfolios dropped from 11 groupings of assets with a total value of just over $2 billion in 2012 to seven groups accounting for $1.7 billion.

But there is a reason behind the year-over-year decline in volume despite a growing demand for these assets among investors: capital gains. The 2012 numbers are somewhat skewed as the spike in activity at the end of 2012 due to the impending increase in capital gains resulted in a sluggish first quarter in 2013.

However, a clearer, perhaps more accurate picture of the increased year-over-year competition for MOB assets is demonstrated through the rise in the average sale price, which jumped from $161 per square-foot during first half of 2012, to $197 per square-foot during the first half 2013. The exorbitant amount of funds being raised in the healthcare real estate arena in a climate where purchasing opportunities are comparatively limited is pushing up prices to historic levels and continuing to place downward pressure on cap rates.

Regardless of where the numbers were at the mid-year point, JLL still anticipates that by the close of 2013, MOB sales volume will have outpaced that of 2012. And there’s no end in sight to investors’ seemingly insatiable appetite for the product type. “There continues to be enormous capital raised for healthcare which is outstripping the supply of properties available¬†so I expect 2014 to continue to be very active.”