According to studies by Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), commercial real estate and development plot transaction volume in Germany totalled just over EUR 60 billion in 2021. The previous year's EUR 58.2 billion was thus exceeded by 3.2 percent, the ten-year average by 28 percent and the five-year average by 1.3 percent. After 2018 and 2019, 2021 will be only the third year since C&W began collecting transaction data throughout Germany in 2000, for which a transaction volume of more than EUR 60 billion was recorded.
4th quarter set final accent
Transaction volume in 2021 rose steadily from quarter to quarter to EUR 22.2 billion in the 4th quarter, making it the second strongest in the last two decades two decades, second only to the final quarter of 2019 (EUR 30 billion). As in the 3rd quarter, some very large-volume transactions contributed to this result. These include the sale of an office project in Munich's Werksviertel to Union Investment for around EUR 600 million and the sale of the Europe Value Venture II Fund to GIC, in which numerous German logistics properties worth over EUR 500 million changed hands. The two largest transactions of the year as a whole remain the sales of the T1 high-rise building in Frankfurt to Allianz Real Estate in the 3rd quarter and the "Fürst" in Berlin to Aggregate Holding in the 2nd quarter. For both properties, the agreed purchase price was over EUR 1 billion each.
Transactions of single properties dominated the market in 2021. Their contribution rose by 20 percent year-on-year to EUR 44.8 billion, corresponding to 75 percent of total volume. By contrast, the contribution from portfolio transactions fell by 27 percent to EUR 15.3 billion, the lowest level since 2014.
Prime yields remain low
The average of prime yields for office properties in the top-7 markets is currently 2.76 percent, 13 basis points below that of a year previously. Munich is the most expensive market (2.50 percent), followed by Berlin and Frankfurt with 2.60 percent each. Cologne (3.00 percent) and Stuttgart (3.10 percent) are, comparatively speaking, the cheapest markets.
The prime yield for logistics properties in the top-7 markets is now 3.00 percent, with exception of Stuttgart where it is 3.10 percent. The average (3.01 percent) has compressed by 47 basis points compared to the end of 2020. The spread between average office prime yields and average logistics prime yields has thus narrowed from 60 to 25 basis points.
The average prime yield for first-class commercial buildings is currently 3.51 percent, 26 basis points lower than at the end of 2020, but still well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.30 percent. The spectrum ranges from 3.05 percent in Munich to 3.70 percent in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart. C&W expects that prime yields will continue to compress slightly further in 2022 due to the unabated high demand for prime properties.
German capital dominated
International capital accounted for 38 percent of transaction volume in 2021. This is less than in the previous year (41 percent) and also the lowest proportion since 2013. Alexander Kropf, Head of Capital Markets at Cushman & Wakefield in Germany, commented: “On the one hand, the pandemic and the long lockdown at the beginning of the year again limited freedom of travel and the ability to visit potential acquisitions. As a result, the transaction market only really gained momentum in the second half of the year. On the other hand, it is striking that some foreign investors, especially from the Asian region, often do not want to, or cannot, endorse the high purchase prices, in international comparison, of core product in Germany. However, we also see that international private equity companies are increasingly actively exploring the market for opportunities. They are willing to invest large volumes, so the price expectations of seller and buyer meet. We expect a lot of momentum here in 2022."
Berlin attracts the most capital
With a transaction volume of EUR 34.6 billion, the top-7 markets account for more than half of the German total and achieved an increase of 10 percent on the previous year. Berlin leads the ranking unchallenged (EUR 11.3 billion). This is followed by Munich (EUR 6.7 billion), Frankfurt (EUR 5.9 billion) and Cologne (EUR 3.5 billion) as well as Hamburg (EUR 3.0 million), Düsseldorf (EUR 2.6 billion) and Stuttgart (EUR 1.6 million). Among the top-7 markets, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt remained below the levels achieved in the previous year. Cologne and Stuttgart made the greatest gains on the previous year's results due to some very large-volume transactions.
Similar level expected in 2022
The economic forecasts for Germany are positive, conditions in the financial markets remain attractive and the search for investment opportunities remains high. Against this backdrop, C&W expects a lively transaction year and volume at a similar level to 2021.