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ME investors prefer hotel, residential assets

Dubai, October 4, 2011

Investors in the Middle East stated an appetite for hotel and residential assets above the other asset classes, with residential in Saudi Arabia and hotels in Egypt the most popular investment targets in a recent survey.

Seventy per cent of investors in the Middle East said they were more than likely to look to increase their real estate holdings over the next 12 months, according to the 2011 Global Investor Sentiment Survey released by Colliers International, commercial real estate services company.

Two-thirds of them targeted returns in the region of 15-20 per cent, the survey said.

Investors remain relatively nervous regarding risk, with half reporting that they did not feel compelled to move up the risk curve at all compared to early 2011. This view is in line with global investors, the majority of whom reported no increased risk appetite, the report said.

Two key issues were flagged by respondents in terms of what factors would play a key role in their ability to expand their portfolios: the supply of “for sale” property and “political risk”.

The political concerns stem from the great uncertainty in the region regarding the future shape of governments and what impact their decision making may have on the real estate market.

“Demand continues to outpace supply in the lower end of the residential property sector in Saudi Arabia. However, with government plans to spend nearly $70 billion on low-income housing to satisfy the demand of a growing and financially empowered middle class, the market outlook for Saudi looks particularly strong,” said John Davis, chief executive officer, Colliers International Mena.

“In Egypt we are seeing a lot of cautious prospecting with an intention to buy. While investors wait to see if a change in leadership and supporting government will herald in a new era of stability, their conviction in the country’s long term fundamentals, especially in the tourism sector, will likely drive opportunistic acquisitions of hotel assets,” he added.

The cost of finance for real estate investment has shown no signs of improvement with 60 per cent of respondents in the Middle East reporting financing costs had shown no change since early 2011. Some respondents noted that even when looking for finance for fully occupied prime office buildings on long leases, banks showed a great deal of nervousness and risk aversion.

Looking at the occupational cycle in the Middle East, the second largest portion of respondents (30 per cent) took the view that the market is at around five o’clock, with some minor rental falls still to occur.

A further 40 per cent stated that they believed that the market had reached the bottom of the cycle, six o’clock, or was showing some minor improvements having reached seven o’clock.

Looking forward, respondents in the Middle East were mildly optimistic with a notable portion (40 per cent) suggesting that they thought the cycle may have reached eight o’clock in twelve months’ time.

However, 50 per cent took the view that the market would be between five and seven o’clock, e.g. still hovering around its floor.

On a positive note, 70 per cent of the investors in the Middle East believed that the relative value of real estate had improved strongly compared to ten years previously. Strong increases in output and growing populations in the region making real estate a fundamentally more important asset within their economies.

This contrasted with the view in Europe where the majority of respondents believe that real estate’s relative value had not increased. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: hotel | Dubai | Survey | residential | Colliers | Property investment |

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