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INVESTMENT l Market Trends - what to expect for 2013

The investment market has been changing in nature over recent times. A combination of the economic and Euro crises, and a market which has self-regulated (some would say over-regulated) have pushed investors into new segments. We take a look with Anixton and CBRE at what has been happening in 2012, and what we may expect for the whole of 2013.

Anixton is very active in the Brussels real estate market, with a number of innovative approaches. We asked managing partners Vincent Gérin and Cédric Liénart de Jeude to explain how they see the market evolving, its players and its opportunities

Vincent Gérin: We are seeing a transformation within the market, this cannot be denied. There is a change in the pure investment market, where normally you find a well-let building and sell it to a client, because the right product is getting very hard to come across. This is because tenants are no longer ready to commit to long terms. Even traditional tenants such as the Belgian Buildings Agency (Régie des Bâtiments) announce that they are looking to commit for a maximum of nine years, no longer eighteen years. So the investment market is somewhat disrupted at the moment, because on the one hand we have the tenants and on the other the large institutional owners, owners who are looking for security even if this is expensive. But tenants are very unsure about the future, not knowing if they are going to have to move or go out of business, and are looking for very short term leases. So it seems to me that this disrupted market is beginning to shift in emphasis towards development. We are facing an ageing of the building stock in Brussels. Within the context of a dossier carried out for the RTBF – whose building is forty years old – we undertook a survey into all the buildings constructed during this pivotal period of the end of the 60’s and the early 70’s, and we saw that with the exception of the Astro Tower and a few other buildings they have all undergone substantial renovation or been demolished and rebuilt. This really was the time when large office buildings began to make their appearance, and so we are now arriving at the beginning of a new cycle where the buildings which were built at the end of the 70’s are in need of total renovation. I should add at this point that I am personally against the type of moratorium on new office building which was proposed a few years ago because if we introduce this type of moratorium we prevent ourselves from having new office stock in Brussels. And it should be remembered that rental levels are currently very low compared to other capitals, and low rents mean low resale prices – which in turn put the brakes on high quality architecture, both technically and visually. So I think it is a good thing that the investment market is moving in this direction of development and total renovations, including a change of use. The demand for housing in Brussels is high and is going to get higher, and it seems that the city limits – or the region’s limits – are not going to change. But even so, there is still demand from the European Institutions and others, which means renovation has to be part of the answer.

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 | 16-05-13


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