12/13/2021 | by Diane Rusignola

The Real Estate Equity Securitization Alliance (REESA) convened its inaugural Global REIT Congress last week, featuring speakers from across the globe and 100 participants from 30 countries. The conference explored the fundamentals of REIT investing in developed and developing countries, highlighting sector performance metrics and perspectives from global investors.

REESA Secretary General Nathaalie Carey introduced the conference with a video featuring the alliance’s seven global real estate association leaders:

REESA is centered around bringing together a global community to advance the REIT model worldwide. Carey also serves as SVP of industry affairs and social responsibility at Nareit.

Bonnie Gottlieb, founding member and immediate past secretary general of REESA, moderated the first session, “Global REIT Performance and Successful REIT [Securitized Real Estate] Associations,” featuring REESA member CEOs. Brooks (REALPAC), Leech (BPF), Moerenhout (EPRA), Morrison (Property Council of Australia), Wechsler (Nareit), and Zialcita (APREA), along with Ken Aso, deputy secretary general of ARES, discussed the current economic and political climate for REITs in each of their respective regions and how it is impacting market performance.

Zialcita said that REITs in Asian Pacific countries have been outperforming the broader market this year; and Aso noted that in Japan, the second largest REIT market in the world by market cap, REITs have generally recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Leech said the economic and political climate for REITs in the U.K. is favorable, highlighted by the fact that eight new U.K. REITs were listed on the international stock exchange in 2021 despite any headwinds resulting from the pandemic. Moerenhout noted that 14 European countries have introduced national REIT legislation.

Wechsler said that with about $3.5 trillion of commercial real estate represented in U.S. REITs and 217 REITs listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, “performance year-to-date has been quite strong.” Morrison said the Australian REIT market, the third largest in the world behind the U.S. and Japan, has “bounced back strongly from the pandemic”; and Brooks noted that REITs have done well in Canada’s small market, including one REIT IPO in 2021.

Panelists in the second session, “REIT Performance and Perspectives from Global Investors,” looked at global REIT performance and discussed what investors are looking for from REIT investments, particularly in emerging markets. John Worth, Nareit EVP of research and investor outreach, moderated the session that featured Laurel Durkay (Morgan Stanley), Daniel Feldmann (Hazelview Investments), and Rogier Quirijns (Cohen & Steers).

Worth shared data on the global growth of REITs over the past 60-plus years, noting that the U.N. projects another 2.5 billion people will be added to the urban populations of the world by the year 2050, especially in Asia and Africa.

“This is going to require a tremendous amount of capital to build, modernize, and maintain the built environment in which those people are going to work and live,” Worth said. “It’s so critical that REITs are part of that toolkit to provide access to capital, provide market discipline, and allow a broad-based ownership of this real estate in the built environment.”

Global investors and panelists Durkay, Feldmann, and Quirijns also discussed the importance of ESG in real estate and how companies can best communicate their stories to global investors.

To watch a reply of REESA’s 2021 Global REIT Congress and to sign up to receive notifications about future events, research, and projects, visit reesa.org.