2020 recorded the highest share of capital raised for European non-listed real estate debt products since 2015, a sharp increase to 19% from just 5% in 2019.
Traditional equity real estate players are stepping in to fill the funding gap in the market in search of yield, and are attracted by diversification benefits that non-listed real estate debt has to offer.
European investors in particular are expected to continue allocating to the asset class. The ANREV / INREV / PREA Investment Intentions Survey 2021 highlights that 21.9% of European investors plan to increase allocations to European non-listed debt products over the next two years (up from 16.3% in 2020). Similarly, 28.1% expect to maintain their current allocations and none indicate an intention to decrease their allocations over this period. This is in contrast to the Asia Pacific and North American investors, who indicated slowing expectations to increase allocation towards European debt from 30.0% and 20.0% respectively in 2019 to 18.2% and 12.5% in 2020. This is a trend pronounced amongst those with cross-regional allocation strategy, possibly driven by uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
For pension funds and insurance companies debt accounted for 32% and 17% of their overall European non-listed capital raising activity in 2020, respectively. As pension funds and insurance companies both adopt a liability-driven investment strategy, non-listed real estate debt products likely offer an attractive risk-adjusted investment opportunity.
The 2021 INREV Debt Vehicles Universe Study expanded to include 95 vehicles, with a total target equity of €57.8 billion, doubling in size since 2016.
The latest study includes 21 newly added vehicles, of which ten were launched in the last three years, for the most part with a closed end investment structure and a senior debt loan strategy. This is in line with the overall composite of the Universe. In general, the average size of younger vehicles is slightly larger compared to their older peers, with €680 million and €610 million target equity, respectively. Open-end vehicles with younger vintages are slightly smaller on average compared to their older peers, whilst the opposite is true for the recently launched closed-end funds. The size difference is most marked when looking at a country and sector strategy. The average target equity of a newer single-country, multi-sector vehicle is €930 million – more than twice the size of an equivalent older vehicle at €430 million.
The Debt Vehicles Universe Study 2021 reveals a substantial preference for senior debt loan strategies, which account for 55.8% of all debt vehicles by number and 65.6% by target equity. It is the most popular strategy in both closed and open-end debt vehicles, accounting for €32.5 billion and €5.3 billion of target equity, respectively. In contrast, the riskier junior and mezzanine debt strategies represent only 17 vehicles in the total universe of 95, or 12.5% in terms of target equity.
Direct lending and mixed loan generation strategies dominate the composition of debt vehicles in the Universe, with 80 vehicles being equally split between the two. Direct lending vehicles show a total target equity of €17.8 billion, almost half of the mixed loan category. Just six vehicles have a loan acquisition strategy with a combined target equity of €4.2 billion.
In terms of geographic strategy, debt vehicles with a multi-country investment strategy account for 53.7% of the Universe by number and 72% by size, with a total target equity of €41.7billion. Vehicles with a single-country strategy account for the remaining €16.2 billion of target equity.
In terms of target equity, multi-sector strategies account for 96.5% of debt vehicles included in the study, marking a significant increase of circa 20% in absolute terms on the previous study. This echoes the strong preference for multi-sector strategies across all non-listed real estate investment routes, with private real estate debt being no exception.
Iryna Pylypchuk, INREV’s Director of Research and Market Information, said: “The doubling in size, be it in terms of fund managers’ debt AUM or the INREV Debt Universe, suggests that the European non-listed real estate debt market is finally taking off. There are many moving parts in terms of how non-traditional lenders develop their strategies and product offerings in this space, but over the coming years we expect European investors to continue increasing allocations to non-listed real estate debt, fuelling strong capital raising activity and bringing much-needed transparency and improved market coverage.”