PropertyEU Market Barometer: Transactions to be hit 40% YoY in Q2 2020

PropertyEU readers are forecasting market disruption in Q2 2020 of 40%, compared to Q2 2019.

That is the weighted average estimate for the decline they expect in transaction volumes or revenues as the coronavirus crisis bites.

Two-thirds of respondents to the survey are investment managers, brokers, and advisors. The remainder are architects, designers, asset managers, developers, law firms, banking and financial service companies, and public relations firms. They are active across all property asset classes.

Details of the responses for transactions are as follows: 11.3% believe there will be a 0-20% drop-off in Q2; 27.83% predict a 20-40% decline; 28.8% believe there will be sharp 40-60% fall; 23% think there will be an even steeper slump of 60-80%; but just 9% see a 80-100% wipe-out. Figures are broadly similar for revenue.

Sentiment
The PropertyEU Market Barometer captures sentiment in the European real estate industry. For the second survey in a row, respondents rated how strongly concerned they felt about the impact of coronavirus on their jobs. Concern levels are still running at a ‘7 out of 10.’ The answers come two weeks into a lockdown period introduced in many countries.

On the other hand, they rate the extent to which they see opportunities arising out of the crisis as a ‘7 out of 10’ – a new question that was posed.

Motivation levels are reasonably high, also on a ‘7’ as the vast majority continue working remotely.

When asked how able they felt to complete vital tasks such as transactions using technology only (that is, without face to face meetings), there is a mixed picture; 19% very easily; 34.6% easily; 27.2% neither easy nor difficult; 16.1% difficult; and 2.93% very difficult.

The majority of respondents said their company will have to make a moderate level of fundamental changes to their business. Some 39% expressed that feeling. Meanwhile, 6.76% said their company would be making a ‘great deal’ of fundamental changes; 24.1% said ‘a lot’ of fundamental changes would be made; 25.8% said only ‘a little’; and 3.8% ‘none at all’.

As this latest survey reacts to latest developments, over 80% (83%) said they agreed with government measures to help tenants within their jurisdiction. That means that 17% do not.

Strong feelings on unfairness
There were some strong feelings expressed in an open dialogue box where respondents could write what questions they want to be asked in the next survey.

One asked: ‘Why are landlords being strung up and burnt alive?’

Another said: ‘Landlords should be protected like tenants.’

‘Is the cost of business closures likely to be fairly split between tenants and landlords?’

Another said: ‘How are the banks contributing to the sector? So far, it is only the landlords.’ And another: ‘Do you think the government should do more to support owners of commercial premises, particularly shopping centres, and provide clearer guidance for support? It is ironic that often funds own these buildings with equity from the general public, pension funds, banks etc, but with tenants understandably not wanting to pay rent when not trading, the very same people will be the ones affected indirectly.’

Time frame
Many simply want to know others’ estimates for how long it will be before people can go back to work normally.

Plenty of trading questions emerged, such as this one: ‘How fast will investors adapt to the new situation and how long will it take them to realize they should accept discounts on their divestments? Will they fall back on the opinion of valuers (who will first need to see market evidence) or will they see for themselves that their book values (market values) are no longer realistic?’

But there are also longer-term questions. ‘Should the relationship between landlord and tenant be fundamentally changed so that most if not all leases are variable rent leases based on the tenant´s cash flow?'

Click here for the findings from our first survey: Real estate market to recover in 12 months