Canada tops commercial property as economic woes take effect

    Canada has one of the strongest commercial property markets in the world, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

    The RICS Global Commercial Property Survey shows that the ongoing euro crisis and global economic woes are beginning to take effect on respondents, but Canada is bucking the trend – followed closed by Thailand and China.

    Indeed, Canada emerges from the survey as one of the strongest countries, with most – if not all – indicators suggesting that real estate activity is continuing to rise.  

    Demand was strongest from investors, while Japan and China also saw interest rise. Expectations of future investment activity rose at the fastest pace in Japan, where 57% more respondents indicated they expect activity to pick up as opposed to fall in the next quarter. Contrastingly, the picture was weakest once more in Italy, with confidence towards real estate purchases in Greece and Spain dropping further.

    Indeed, availability of investment finance continues to tighten in the euro area. As a result, the softness seen over the past year in peripheral Europe has now infiltrated the core, with Italy and France exhibiting weaker results alongside Greece, Spain and the Republic of Ireland.

    Development starts of property rose at the fastest pace in Malaysia and Brazil, though Canada and China are also seeing an uptick in new activity. Unsurprisingly, new development was scarce in Europe.

    But while capital values are only expected to pick up in a handful of countries during the next quarter (Brazil, Canada and China), Germany emerges from Europe as the only market showing some resilience.

    Indeed, tenant demand increased in fewer than half the responding countries, while available space for occupation was on the rise in all but three countries: Germany, the US and Canada. Consequently, the rental outlook deteriorated in the majority of markets.

    Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, commented: "The re-emergence of the euro crisis allied to generally weaker economic numbers has clearly taken its toll on much of the real estate world although the continuing strength of the market in countries such as Canada, China and Thailand is impressive. However, it remains to be seen whether they can continue to buck the more gloomy trend if the macro data remains disappointing. Recent actions from central banks in China, Brazil and in Europe provides some reason for encouragement but more stimulus may be needed to ensure the global economy can steer a path through the increasingly choppy waters."