Weak economic development in recent years and more restrictive bank lending in the euro zone has impacted the European property markets in many ways. In light of, among other things, historically low government and bond interest, low interest rates and periodically volatile stock exchanges, investors have been diversifying their holdings to include more stable types of assets in search of attractive, risk-adjusted returns, e.g. through real estate investment.
Compared to Europe in general, the Swedish real estate market has remained strong, maintaining relatively stable transaction volumes and prices. The current market is characterised by a large number of players with capital from various sources and with different time horizons and risk profiles – both domestic and foreign, short-term and long-term, with both opportunistic and risk-averse capital.
The focus of investors and financiers in the Swedish market in recent years has also shifted towards real estate assets that provide stable and long-term returns. The types of property that have been the object of greater interest in recent years include housing, sheltered accommodation, offices in prime locations, properties with government or municipal tenants, logistics properties with stable leases and properties with commercial tenants, particularly in grocery retail. Accordingly, ICA Gruppen’s own properties were more attractive in the market in 2013.
The transaction volume in the Swedish commercial real estate market amounted to around SEK 100 billion in 2013, which is slightly lower than in 2012 but on a par with the average in recent years. The transaction market remains stable – both in terms of liquidity and the number of market players.
After several years of strong growth, the growth rate of the Norwegian economy slowed in 2013. The total transaction volume in the real estate market was NOK 40 billion, which is in line with the previous year. The growth rate was, however, slightly lower than in the past, largely due to more restrictive attitudes to financing and lending among the Norwegian banks. In a historical perspective, the general rent levels for offices and retail are still considered high and in the same perspective vacancy rates are still considered low.