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Markets & Geopolitics

Perspectives on Global Real Estate Investment

10 years on from the Global Financial Crisis, the RICS Investment Risk Forum (IRF), made up of more than 40 of the world’s most influential real estate investors, has found that diminishing returns are driving real estate investment diversification. In a new report, this group explores whether lessons from previous cycles have been learnt to mitigate future risk.

RICS Investment Risk Forum
11 October 2017

The IRF was established in 2015 to foster industry leadership and to share best practice, with the aim of enhancing the industry’s approach to risk management.

This report, the first by the group, draws on responses to an anonymised sentiment survey along with follow-up interviews. Further context is drawn from IRF roundtables, which have been held regularly in London, New York and Singapore since September 2015.

The report aims to highlight some of the trends and perspectives which influence risk management in real estate investment. It is designed to stimulate further discussion and to act as a foundation for ongoing leadership in this field.

Four main themes

1. Risk management after the Global Financial Crisis

The 2007/8 Global Financial Crisis remains in the minds of investment managers, prompting an increased focus on risk management over the last ten years. However, investors are balancing this with a need to achieve returns. With some investors believing that we’re nearing the top of the cycle, several are moving further up the risk curve to achieve them.

2. Availability and accuracy of data

Despite global property investment volumes reaching all-time highs in 2015, the findings highlight a lack of quality benchmarking data in many markets. More than half the respondents agreed that inconsistent property data reporting is a major challenge today. A particular concern was its impact on their ability to accurately compare asset, portfolio and fund-level performance between countries.

3. The shifting investment landscape

All respondents are seeing a shift in their investment universe. This tends to be seen in two areas: 1. A changing geographic focus, and/or 2. A move into alternative assets. These trends have come about for many reasons, including a changing risk appetite among their investors and a willingness to seek higher returns in non-traditional assets.

4. Emerging investment risks

The survey asked investors to score the impact of certain risks, based on the current market conditions and sentiment. The top 3 risks noted by investors were as follows:

  • Changing real estate occupation and use habits.
  • Unrealistic valuations.
  • New generations of employees lacking experience of property cycles/lessons learnt.


Three areas of improvement suggested by the IRF:

  • Greater accessibility to indices that can enhance benchmarking and the ability to manage risk prudently.

    Data sets such as total returns are available in some developed markets but there is a need to capture this information more systematically around the world.

  • Common standards that underpin real estate information would ensure property data is more transparent, comparable and meaningful across markets, to allow better informed decisions on investment risk. Some international standards exist today, including international standards for valuation (IVS) and property measurement (IPMS), but more can be done to encourage the use of these standards and ultimately create greater market confidence.

  • The industry needs to share innovative thinking, market insight and best practice. As a priority, we need to share lessons with new generations of employees, in particular on liquidity management; integration of research in the risk management process, and practical approaches to risk management.

Global Perspectives in Real Estate Investment

Influential leaders from the world of real estate investment share their thoughts on the main risks and emerging opportunities in the market. The RICS Investment Risk Forum comes together quarterly in London, Singapore and New York to share best practice in risk management.

The World Built Environment Forum facilitates industry leading discussions harnessing the enormous potential of the 21st century's people and places.