13. März 2013     Print Print 

Sweden is Europe's most liquid commercial property market

New research from DTZ shows Sweden regained its position as the most liquid1 European commercial property market in 2012 with turnover at 9% of its invested stock. Norway (8%) and the UK (6%) were ranked second and third most liquid markets in Europe in 2012 respectively. They were followed by Poland (6%) and Germany (5%). Despite having the second-largest invested stock in Europe, France was only ranked as the 10th most liquid market.

Top 10 liquid markets in Europe, 2012
Rank County Liquidity
1Sweden9,2 %
2 Norway7,6 %
3UK6,4 %
4 Poland5,7 %
5Germany5,2 %
6 Luxembourg4,1 %
7Ukraine3,9 %
8 Finland3,8 %
9Belgium3,5 %
10 France3,0 %

Nigel Almond, Head of Strategy Research at DTZ commented: “Sweden’s position at the top may come as a surprise given its position as the eighth-largest investment market in Europe at €106bn, around a sixth of the size of the UK. Commercial real estate investment activity in Sweden has rebounded strongly since the onset of the global financial crisis reaching close to €10bn in 2012. The market, along with the wider Nordic region is perceived as a relative safe haven during the recent crisis. The banking sector also avoided many of the worst excesses of the boom period supporting a much stronger recovery. It is therefore no surprise to see two Nordic markets taking the top two places.”

Despite recent economic and market volatility across the CEE, Poland has seen consistently high levels of investment activity, supporting its fourth position amongst the most liquid markets, despite its relatively small size. Its neighbours, the Czech Republic and Hungary were ranked 12th and 24th respectively.

In volume terms domestic investors have been the most dominant buyers over the last ten years across Europe, but they have been net sellers in every single year over the period. Therefore, we can take an alternative look at liquidity ratios on the basis of cross-border investment. This alternative ratio highlights those markets most attractive to overseas investors, in particular those from outside of Europe who have been increasing their activity in recent years.

On an inter-regional basis (investment from outside of Europe), the UK remained the most liquid market as inter-regional purchasers acquired 2.4% of the UK’s invested stock in 2012. Two-thirds (close to €10bn) of the UK-bound investment from non-European investors was focussed on Central London. This represented 37% of all inter-regional activity in Europe as a whole.

Top 10 liquid markets by inter-regional investment, 2012
Rank Country Liquidity
1UK2,4 %
2 Poland1,6 %
3Ukraine1,5 %
4 Sweden1,2 %
5Turkey1,1 %
6 Russia1,0 %
7Germany0,8 %
8 France0,6 %
9Romania0,4 %
10 Belgium0,3 %

Ben Cook, Head of UK Inward Investment at DTZ said: “The UK, and in particular Central London, is one of the top markets globally for foreign investors. Over the past ten years investors from no less than forty countries outside of Europe have invested in the UK, double any other European market. In 2012, overseas investors accounted for 71% of all commercial deals in Central London – almost £10bn of the £14bn transacted.”

Poland was the second most liquid on an inter-regional basis (1.6%), followed by the Ukraine (1.5%) and Sweden (1.2%). Germany at 0.8% is ranked 7th with France (0.6%) in eighth position. Of course, many of these markets are relatively small. Poland is the thirteenth largest market in Europe (€44bn) and the Ukraine (€11bn) ranked 20th. Sweden, Europe’s most liquid market, was the fourth most liquid market with inter-regional investment representing 1.2% of its stock. On an absolute basis, after the UK, Germany attracted close to EUR4bn of investment from outside of Europe, with €3bn in France, €1.3bn in Sweden and €0.7bn in Poland.