Europe is in the grip of macroeconomic uncertainty which is making investors cautious, while the lending market is also difficult, according to Mike Bessell of Invesco Real Estate.
‘Across the EU and in the US there is a repricing period right now,’ Bessell, who is managing director of Invesco Real Estate in Europe, told PropertyEU at Expo Real. ‘The challenge is that the end is unclear.’
Unstable interest rates and investor caution are adding to a climate of uncertainty, he noted. Although the lending market is difficult, financing houses are not forcing sales yet, while the market is going through a period of discovery. Said Bessell: ‘We are watching the financing market.’
In terms of sectors, Bessell said there was ‘still a lot of occupier demand for housing and a shortage of product’. He noted that higher mortgage rates would cause a slowdown in housing and create uncertainty. In the logistics sector, while vacancy and supply rates were low, there would also be uncertainty going forward, not least as a result of shocks in the global supply chain.
Companies’ rethinking of workspaces and locations following the pandemic would have repercussions for office space, Bessell said. ‘If they can, they will downsize in space, but continue to demand quality. A boring office block is not popular.’
Retail remained problematic, he suggested, as vacant space would be difficult to fill, although strong assets would ‘stay strong’.
For the UK, London-based Bessell sees ‘huge uncertainty’ that will force everyone to watch the market closely. ‘Do the maths again on every deal,’ he advised. The so-called ‘sterling shock’ was forcing a wait-and-see approach: if assets become more attractive in dollar terms, that would also be an opportunity.
In Bessell’s experience, however, the cost of hedging against differences in exchange rates is generally a bigger problem than dealing with currency volatility.
Looking ahead, Bessell said the drivers of uncertainty ‘are out of our control’.
‘Mr Putin, the Chinese Communist congress, the lockdowns there, the US elections and a new balance coming out of that.’ To which he added: ‘Interestingly, they are mostly issues we did not even worry about before Covid.’
Invesco, which is based in Atlanta in the US, has $89.9 bn (€90.7 bn) in assets under management globally. It is active across Europe, with the exception of Norway and Switzerland.