DTZ Research: Overseas Investors Driving U.S. Price Rises

  • The U.S. market continues its upward trend, with investment volumes nationwide reaching a pre-crisis record of $267 billion in the 12 months to mid-year 2014.
  • Non-American investors were the biggest net buyers at $4 billion, in a reversal of the trend in 2013. Despite being most active, domestic investors became net sellers at $5 billion.
  • Among the overseas investors, international and Asia-sourced capital were most active. Chinese capital is now being invested across all of the eight major U.S. cities, with Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the lead.
  • The strong weight of capital has pushed office cap rates to near ten-year lows. With weight of capital remaining strong, investors will need to move up the risk curve to achieve the same returns.

CHICAGO--()--DTZ today released its latest investment market update for the United States, covering volumes on a national level in deals greater than $20 million. The analysis focuses on the top eight U.S. markets where activity reached $89 billion in the period, a 23% increase over the previous 12 months.

“Looking ahead, we see US volumes and prices rising further. With a new record of nearly USD $150 billion of new capital targeting the US markets, investors will need to move up the risk curve to achieve the same returns”

In most cities, cap rates are now close to their 10-year low: at 4.3%, San Francisco now has the lowest cap rate and close to a ten-year low of 3.7%. DTZ observed similar trends in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., while Chicago, Houston and Dallas showed more scope for further compression.

“Despite a small, 7% quarter-on-quarter fall in activity to $59 billion, the US market continues its upward trend, reaching a new post-crisis record of $267 billion, representing a 33% increase on the same period a year ago,” commented John Wickes, Head of Americas Research at DTZ. “In the eight key U.S. cities we monitor, volumes rose by 38% over the quarter, pushing volumes over the past year to 23% higher than the same period a year ago.” The strongest growth was recorded in Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles; Manhattan, while still attracting the highest volume of capital, was down 3%, which has caused investors to look to other major centers.

North American investors dominate the U.S. market, acquiring nearly $76 billion of assets in the year to Q2 2014 and representing 84% of market activity and, on the sell side, reaching net sales of close to $4 billion. However, a steady decline in North American net investment contrasted with net positive activity from non-North American capital.

“Nearly half (47% or $9.2 billion) of non-North American investment came from internationally sourced capital, including some U.S.-headquartered fund managers who raised capital in multiple jurisdictions. More than a quarter (27%) of the capital targeting the main eight cities originated from Asia Pacific. China represented the biggest investor by source with close to $1.6 billion invested, reflecting a similar trend in Europe," noted Ed Wlodarczyk, DTZ’s Head of Capital Markets, Americas. “European capital represented a further $3.3 billion of investment, with Norway acquiring office properties in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco,” he added.

Unlisted funds remained the most dominant investors on the buy side, with $39 billion invested in the past twelve months, and also were heavy sellers. Listed companies were also acquisitive, at $13 billion invested over the same period. Of property types, office investments have been by far the major source of activity, representing two-thirds of investment, a level typical for the major cities monitored. Since the beginning of 2009, the office sector has typically represented 70% of all deals over $20 million. Retail was the next largest segment, with $16 billion invested, representing 18% of investment activity. Industrial assets represented a further 12% or $10 billion of investment.

The strong weight of capital has pushed office cap rates to near ten-year lows. “Looking ahead, we see US volumes and prices rising further. With a new record of nearly USD $150 billion of new capital targeting the US markets, investors will need to move up the risk curve to achieve the same returns,” said Nigel Almond, Head of Capital Markets Research at DTZ. “Relative value, as measured by our Fair Value Index remains good for the moment, due to low government bond yields. Time might be running out for investors to take advantage, as bond yields are expected to increase in the next few years,” he added.

About DTZ

DTZ, a UGL company, is a global leader in property services. We provide occupiers and investors around the world with industry leading, end-to-end property solutions comprised of leasing agency and brokerage, integrated property and facilities management, capital markets, investment and asset management, valuation, building consultancy and project management. In addition, our award winning research and consulting services provide our clients with global and local market knowledge, forecasting and trend analysis to make the best long-term decisions for their continuous success far into the future. DTZ has 47,000 employees including sub-contractors, operating across 208 offices in 52 countries. For further information, visit: www.dtz.com.

About UGL Limited ABN 85 009 180 287

UGL Limited (ASX: UGL) is a global leader in outsourced engineering, property services and asset management and maintenance delivering essential services that sustain and enhance the environment in which we live. UGL comprises three business units including Engineering, Operations & Maintenance and Property providing services across the power, water, rail, resources, transport, communications, defence and property sectors. Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, UGL operates worldwide across 52 countries employing over 56,000 people. For more information, visit: www.ugllimited.com.


Nigel Almond
Head of Capital Markets Research
+44 (0)20 3296 2328
John Wickes
Head of Americas Research
+1 312 424 8087
Ed Wlodarczyk
Head of Capital Markets Americas
+1 312 424 8015
Media please contact:
Catherine Schuler +1 312 240 3185

Release Summary

DTZ Research: Overseas investors driving U.S. price rises