For some, the lack of meaningful data about real estate markets is a cause of woe but others will delight in it. Real estate pivots on differences of opinion and, at times of market disruption, the gulf between property pundits is never wider.
Blackstone and its investors are in no doubt about the opportunities that lie ahead and have aggregated just under $10bn of spending power for a new European real estate fund. Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe VI is roughly a quarter larger than its predecessor and has become the private equity house’s largest-Europe-focused real estate fund.
Real estate often benefits from turbulence in the equities markets. Goldman Sachs has come out and declared that we are now past the worst and that the stock market crashes of late March won’t be revisited, but that feels very bullish especially as several developed economies do not feel they have yet felt the full impact of the pandemic.
In the face of all that, if you still feel good about real estate then there’s still the small matter of what you should now pay for it. Valuations are nigh on impossible as funds gate themselves in the face of ‘material uncertainties’. However, while many real assets may not be capable of valuation they still do have a price. Valuing and pricing are often confused in real estate but whereas there are conditions which make it not possible to do a valuation, there is always a price that will be paid for an asset.
If you want to see this at work then look at commercial property auctions which offer multiple assets in the open market. Undeterred by the lockdown, auctions are becoming live-streamed events offering online bidding. Whilst they deal with the smaller assets in the market, what they offer is an insight into the pricing which will ultimately influence the lattice of valuations which make up a real estate market.
To find a path through current real estate markets, it may be advisable to start at the micro end of the sector rather than draw too much inference from what Blackstone and its peers are doing.