Philip Charls, chief executive of the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA), joined REIT.com for a video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.
Charls gave a broad overview of developments in the European property market, starting with the arrival of REITs in the Spanish market about a year ago. Spanish REITs have performed “very well,” according to Charls. He noted that hedge fund managers Paul Soros and John Paulson were among the first investors in Spanish REITs: “You can’t imagine a better place to start it off.”
Charls said the introduction of additional Spanish REITs is expected “in the near future.”
Turning to the broader question of why Europe is gaining such strong interest from global investors, Charls pointed to a number of factors, including: stability in the Euro since 2012; modest economic growth; strong demand from institutional investors; and a continued movement in retirement planning from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans.
Charls pointed out that European REITs have raised about 6.5 billion Euros during the last nine months. The companies expect to add an additional 9.5 billion Euros in the near future, he said.
“For Europe, it’s an amount that we’ve never seen before,” he said.
In terms of EPRA’s current priorities, Charls said the organization’s prime goal is investor outreach, which he called “spreading the gospel of REITs.” Research is also a priority, Charls said, as well as pushing the lagging markets of Italy and Germany, where “there’s still a lot of opportunity.”