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Debt & Structured Finance | Canada Research

Curve inversion draws CRE capital

Increasing evidence of a global economic slowdown in recent weeks has elevated the risk profile for Canada’s economy. Globally, Brexit negotiations are still gridlocked, the Eurozone economy falters and U.S.-China trade negotiations drag on. Domestically, household debt-to-income levels are the highest they have ever been, retail sales are slowing, oil sands producers are reevaluating projects due to pipeline delays and the likelihood for ratification of the CUSMA trade deal wanes as tariffs remain. These developments have sparked concern that a technical recession may emerge in Canada given weak expectation for Q1 2019 growth and a potential downward revision to Q4 2018’s already meager results.

Amid these growing headwinds, the Federal Reserve eliminated their expectations for an interest rate hike this year. The Fed acknowledged the need to avoid getting stuck in a deflationary environment like that which has plagued Japan for the last two decades. In turn, this dovish shift in tone triggered an inversion on another segment of the U.S. yield curve as investors sought the safety of bonds. Widely considered a reliable harbinger of a downturn within a few years, the spread between 10-year Treasury bond yields fell below its 3-month counterpart for the first time since just prior the Great Financial Crisis. The inversion also emerged in Canada and pulled down global bond yields. In fact, investors are even pricing in expectations for central banks to cut interest rates by the end of 2019 to keep the economy going. For the commercial real estate market, falling bond yields may translate to lower mortgage rates with wider cap rate spreads. The precipitous fall in bond yields has some lenders contemplating next steps.

Against this backdrop, commercial real estate has become an increasingly attractive investment vehicle. According to CBRE’s Global Investor Intentions Survey 2019, diversification is the primary driver for investors in the Americas showed the strongest interest for value-add property assets. However, the commercial real estate sector has attracted an abundance of capital over recent years and real estate funds are now challenged to deploy all that capital as the levels of dry power continue to rise. But even more capital is expected to come with the recent formation of several mega-sized real estate funds such as BCI and RBC’s CA $7 billion investment partnership, Brookfield’s recent closing of its US$15 billion BSREP III fund and Blackstone’s record-setting US$20 billion property fund on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Demand for high-quality apartment buildings in downtown Edmonton helps fuel record investment quarter

Investment in Edmonton’s multi-family residential rental and industrial market helped fuel a record-breaking quarter in 2018 as the province continues to claw its way out of recession.

According to data released by CBRE Limited, Edmonton had its best quarter ever in Q2 this year, recording $1.49 billion in commercial real estate investments, representing a 51 per cent increase from the previous quarterly record of $994 million set in the fourth quarter of 2016. This brings Edmonton’s first half investment total to $2.07 billion, which is an all-time high for a half-year period and up from the previous record of $1.7 billion set in the second half of 2016.

Dave Young, executive vice-president with CBRE Limited, said Friday the growth in investment in the multi-family market is being spurred on by consumers looking for high quality apartment buildings, especially in the downtown core.

“We’re starting to see a transition from old to new,” said Young. “If you look at the inventory of apartment buildings, a lot of that was built from the mid-1950s to maybe the early-1980s, so you have a lot of older stock out there and it’s not giving what tenants are demanding.”

Tenants are looking for newer amenities that older apartment buildings don’t have, such as en suite laundry, and developers are beginning to take advantage of that demand.

Ice District has helped to fuel the demand within the downtown core, said Young, but it’s also about a shift in mindset.

“It’s urbanization, it’s densification. In terms of transportation patterns, in terms of traffic and in terms of transit, everything is focused on an urban lifestyle and we’re finally getting to see that,” said Young, citing The Hendrix apartment building, 9733 111 St., as an example.

“Ice District, for sure, has had an impact on our downtown core for the positive, but you also look at 104 Street from basically 100 Avenue all the way to 104 Avenue, there’s downtown urban living there that wasn’t there when I got into this business in 1990.”

There is still some demand for development around the Anthony Henday, Young says, but it’s not as active as downtown.

Out with the old

The demand for higher quality buildings is also being felt in industrial markets.

Tenants are really demanding more functional space and are being more strategic where they invest, said Young. Vacancy rates remain healthy, but the majority of future vacancies will be in older industrial buildings that just aren’t as adaptive.

“It’s kind of like the old apartment buildings where you see tenants getting sucked out into the new ones, the same thing is happening in the industrial buildings,” said Young. “The days of a 19-foot, distribution building just off 142 Street and the Yellowhead, they’re gone.”

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