A worldwide boom in development is coming—especially in emerging economies, according to Byron Carlock, U.S. real estate practice leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Carlock is the author of “Real Estate 2020: Building the Future.” His research counted up a tremendous amount of planned infrastructure investment. If these infrastructure projects are completed, they will drive new development in property markets around the world.
“The surprise was the scale of infrastructure investment,” said Carlock.
Giant infrastructure projects may have been delayed by the crash and the long, slow recovery—but they are still on the books. As these infrastructure projects move forward, global construction output is expected to almost double to $15 trillion by 2025, up from $8.7 trillion in 2012. The global stock of investable real estate will rise by more than 55 percent to around $45.3 trillion by 2020, according to the report. That’s up from a 2012 total of $29.0 trillion. And the expansion will continue over the next decade, increasing by a similar proportion by 2030.
Much of this development will take place in cities—particularly in new cities now growing in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. “By 2025, there will be 37 ‘megacities’, up from 23 today, and 12 of these will be in emerging markets,” according to the report. “1.5 million residents a month will move to Chinese cities for the rest of this decade.”
The report’s optimism about emerging markets might come as a surprise, given that many headlines over the last months warn about investment exiting emerging economies like Brazil. Investors were speculate that short-term interest rates—and investment yields—may potentially rise again in more developed countries, offering more attractive returns that some emerging markets in the short term. Other economists have worried that the banking sector in China may have problems, based on their analysis of the relatively high short-term interest rates that the banks charge each other. However, the PwC report is focused on long-term trends that will play out over decades. “This research attempt to reach across cycle and not respond to reactive capital flows,” says Carlock.
A growing volume of investment capital is available to fund this investment. PwC estimates that the broad asset management sector will see assets under management swell to $101.7 trillion by 2020, up from $63.9 trillion today. That's a 60 percent increase.
Cities in United States will also keep growing. “Even the developed Western nations will be urbanizing, albeit—at a slower pace,” according to the report. Demographics are driving the urbanization trend in the U.S., and young people increasingly favor urban neighborhoods and older people are less able to drive and, for some, less eager to maintain large, suburban homes. Infrastructure investment like high-speed rail lines will also help drive development in the U.S.
Top real estate markets in the United States still draw most investment—and will continue to have a preferred place in the investment strategies of most funds. “North America is a preference about 70 percent of the time right now,” say Carlock. However, emerging markets are taking a larger share of this global investment in real estate. “That 30 percent allocation to emerging markets is a significant shift from past research.”
This article was republished with permission from National Real Estate Investor.