APREA Chief Sees Convergence in International REIT Rules

Peter Verwer, chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Real Estate Association (APREA), joined REIT.com at NAREIT headquarters in Washington for a video interview.

Verwer took over as head of APREA this year from former chief executive Peter Mitchell. Verwer discussed some of his priorities for the organization. He described the current environment in the Asia-Pacific market as “one of the greatest opportunities for real estate wealth creation that we’ve ever seen.” As such, he said his chief objective is to expand opportunities for real estate investment in Asia.

Verwer also discussed the potential spread of the REIT approach to real estate investment across Asia in the form of new REIT legislation.

“Asia is really on the move,” he said. Among the key developments, the new government in India has approved REITs, making it the 31st country across the globe to do so.

All eyes remain on China and what would be a major addition to the global REIT market. Verwer noted that the size of China’s real estate market is likely to exceed that of the United States by 2022. Verwer said pension funds throughout Asia stand to become a powerful force in the investment landscape, which could have a major impact in China.

“If you look at the pension funds across Asia and in China, in particular, there’s an opportunity for them to invest more and more into real estate. A REIT option would transform that marketplace,” he said.

In terms of the evolution of REITs in Asia, the disparate REIT models in the region are converging towards one closer to that of U.S. REITs. For example, in Hong Kong, the government recently allowed for REITs to generate a portion of their income from development activities.