- More than 90% of investors still see Switzerland as an attractive market for real estate investments
- 65% of respondents assume that the ongoing high inflation rate will pose great challenges to the real estate sector in 2023
- Residential and logistics real estate remain some of the most popular investments on the real estate market
- More than 90% of investors see climate change as the most important megatrend that will preoccupy the real estate investment market over the next years
Zurich, 18 January 2023. Real estate investors continue to see Switzerland as an attractive country to make investments in real estate. 92% of respondents still consider Switzerland in 2023 to be an attractive or very attractive location for real estate investments. Whereas in last year’s survey 31% of the investors deemed the market to be very attractive, the figure in the current survey has even risen to 33%. Daniel Zaugg, Sector Leader Real Estate at EY in Switzerland, explains: “This can be attributed to the stable economy and the location which remains attractive.”
With respect to the development of the investment volume in 2023, it is revealed that 58% of respondents expect a sideways trend at a high level for the current year. According to the survey participants, this assessment can be explained primarily by the prevailing uncertainty and the difficult financing situation. Due to these factors, as many as 35% even anticipate a decline in the investment volume. Last year only 6% of respondents were of this opinion.
All in all, investors look into 2023 with a great deal of optimism. Zaugg adds: "Even with a focus on the international environment, Switzerland continues to be seen as an attractive country for real estate investments."
These are the findings of the most recent “Real Estate Investment Market Trend Barometer” that has been conducted by consulting firm EY in Switzerland each year since 2011. The results of the study are based on a survey by EY Real Estate Switzerland (conducted in October 2022) in which 48 investors active on the Swiss real estate market participated. The respondents include, but are not limited to, pension funds/investment foundations, insurance companies, real estate funds, private individuals/family offices, listed real estate companies and asset managers.
Consequences of interest rate trajectory and rising inflation
The continuing uncertainty in the market, primarily with regard to future interest rate developments is hampering growth and, according to investors, constitutes a major challenge for the real estate sector in the coming year: 67% of the investors surveyed believe that speculative land banking (trading and holding of land in expectation of a future increase in value or with the aim of further developing it into agricultural, industrial, residential and commercial areas) has become obsolete as a business model. Around 65% of respondents assume that the ongoing high inflation rate will pose great challenges to the real estate sector in 2023. Karl Frank Meinzer, Head Real Estate Switzerland at EY in Switzerland puts this into context: “Inflation is significantly lower in Switzerland than in neighboring countries, which means there is less interest rate pressure. Therefore, real estate financing in Switzerland will remain interesting, at least in relative terms, and lend stability to the transaction market”
The majority of respondents (87%) agree strongly or somewhat that the ongoing uncertainty in the market will bring about a further sharpening of investment profiles. The consequences of inflation are also revealed in the question as to the greatest hindrances to timely completion of real estate transactions: 65% state that the lack of clarity regarding overall economic development – in particular with regard to inflation and demand for space – was one of the greatest hindrances to quick transactions.
Investors anticipate falling prices for shopping malls, offices and hotels
With regard to respondents’ expected outlook for various types of usage, it becomes clear: For “shopping malls”, “offices” and “hotels”, the prospects seem to be poor. When asked for their assessment of the situation, they differentiate according to the real estate’s location (1-a-location, 1-b-location and periphery). With regard to shopping malls, the respondents do not see rising real estate prices for any of the locations (0%, 0%, 0%) and a majority anticipate a fall in prices for shopping malls in all locations (51%, 100%, 85%).
With regard to office premises in the 1-a-category, 15% anticipate rising prices and a majority of 64% reckons with constant prices. In the case of offices in 1-b- and peripheral locations, none of the respondents reckons with an increase in prices (0% in each case) and most investors forecast falling prices (64% and 81%).
Regarding the business hotel segment, a majority of respondents anticipate falling prices in all locations (1-a-locations: 59%, 1-b-locations: 87%, periphery: 93%). Only with regard to business hotel in prime locations do 4% of investors anticipate rising prices. The assessments regarding vacation hotels turn out to be similarly pessimistic: In this area, too, a majority anticipate a fall in prices in all locations (55%, 83%, 87%). Only 2% of respondents forecast an increase in prices for vacation hotel real estate and then only in the prime category.
Interest in residential and logistics real estate unabated
Investors expect predominantly stable prices and, depending on location, an increase in prices, with regard to the “residential” and “logistics” types of usage, which means they are investors’ favorites as they were last year. A large portion of respondents expect constant prices for residential properties across all locations (1-a-locations: 44%, 1-b-locations: 64%, periphery: 60%). It is remarkable in this context that 44% of investors anticipate rising prices for residential properties in prime locations.
With regard to logistics real estate, a stable price development is expected across all locations (55%, 53%, 51%). Here again, it is primarily real estate in 1-a-locations where investors expect to see rising prices in the current year (32%).
The anticipated price trajectories in the various types of usage are also reflected in respondents’ interest in investing in real estate. Residential properties are still the most popular: Once again this year, 93% of all survey participants expressed interest in this type of real estate (2021: 93% and 2022: 93%). With regard to office real estate, slightly more interest is apparent in comparison to the prior year. Whereas last year 11% of respondents placed a strong focus on this type of usage, this year it is 15%. Both hotels and retail as types of usage are not, or only to a minor extent, at the focus of the vast majority of survey participants’ interest (94% regarding business hotels and 93% regarding vacation hotels, 94% regarding shopping malls and 78% regarding food/DIY).
Important megatrends: Climate change replaces demographic change
This year, the most important megatrend for the Swiss real estate investment market is no longer demographic change: The majority of respondents (91%) are of the opinion that climate change will have a significant impact on the Swiss real estate market over coming years. Demographic change now stands at 87% in second place of the most important megatrends. Digitalization continues to be seen as a relevant trend (76%), but loses significant ground on the prior year (91%) and is being overtaken by interest rate developments (78%). Around 61% of respondents believe that political instability and uncertainties will impact the Swiss real estate market over the next 5–10 years which constitutes a significant increase on the prior year (40%). At 30%, the megatrend of globalization of investment flows is given the least support, losing in relevance on the prior year (47%). Meinzer says: "In particular, the new CSRD regulations on the part of the EU will make ESG reporting mandatory from 2024, at least for large companies, and will lead to the need to align real estate investments with their sustainability. A pull effect is expected, which may well further deteriorate the value of non-sustainable real estate in the market."
The increasing importance of climate change is also shown in the significance given to ESG projects by the investors: ESG due diligences are becoming standard practice during acquisition procedures and increasing energy costs mean that transformation of the portfolio of buildings is increasingly gaining in attractiveness. 82% of the investors surveyed state that they intend to implement ESG-related projects over the coming 12 months.