CPE 100 Sentiment Survey: Where’s the Capital Going?

The search for yield will drive increasing numbers of investors to look beyond the top metros for the next few years, according to the latest CPE 100 Quarterly Sentiment Survey.

Even as assets in primary markets attract fierce competition, the search for yield will drive increasing numbers of investors to look beyond the top metros for the next few years, according to the latest CPE 100 Quarterly Sentiment Survey.

Asked to name the market category that will attract the largest increase in investor interest during the next 12 to 18 months, an overwhelming majority of executives surveyed—78 percent—named secondary markets.

The findings are a highlight of the third-quarter survey of the CPE 100, a group of leaders representing a diverse range of industry stakeholders. The CPE 100 Quarterly Sentiment Survey offers two sets of insights: a focus on a different critical topic each quarter and a regular check-in on expectations for economic performance.

Source: CPE 100 Quarterly Sentiment Survey, September 2015.

Source: CPE 100 Quarterly Sentiment Survey, September 2015.

Regarding expectations for investor groups, the CPE 100’s views span a broad spectrum. Asked to predict which category will ramp up activity the most during the next 12 to 18 months, a third named offshore investors. Smaller numbers of participants variously cited public REITs, private equity investors, and pension funds and life insurance companies.

The CPE 100 also weighed in on challenges facing investment. Executives were asked to rank their concerns on a scale of 1 (highest) to 5 (lowest). Topping the list: global economic, financial and political uncertainty, which scored a cumulative rating of 2.11. In second and third place were stepped-up competition from foreign investors (2.78) and an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve (2.88). Somewhat lower on the list of worries is that a too-strong dollar will stymie the flow of foreign capital; that issue scored 3.2. And in a somewhat surprising result, tax and regulatory issues lagged well behind, receiving a score of 4.14.

“Real estate has become a much more global business, and real estate players are clearly paying attention to both local impacts — such as how competition from foreign investors is influencing deal outcomes — as well as how country-level and regional issues are affecting business,” observed Editorial Director Suzann Silverman.

Concerning the broader economy, prospects for executives’ own companies attracted the most upbeat responses. Eighty percent expect their firms to be doing better three months from now, up from 64 percent in the previous survey. Executives were positive but less exuberant regarding the outlook for the industry as a whole: 60 percent said the commercial real estate sector will be performing better in three months, an uptick from 53 percent previously.

Impressions of the economy are more skewed. The most striking shift in recent months is that fewer executives believe business conditions will be largely unchanged in the short run. Thirty percent expect the economy to be the same in three months—only half as many as in the prior survey. Meanwhile, half of the CPE 100 expect improved economic conditions three months from now, up from 40 percent in the previous survey, and 20 percent predict that the economy will be somewhat worse.