Nearly half of European commercial real estate lenders expect an increase in new loan originations within the next six months as competition remains for lending on prime buildings in trusted markets across the continent, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Cushman & Wakefield’s fifth survey of major lenders across Europe – a mix of banks, funds and institutions – on their commercial real estate lending activities and captures the latest sector dynamics across the continent. Respondents provided views on recent activity as well as trends expected over the next six months.

Close to half, 47%, said they expected to see an increase in new loan originations, while a further 36% anticipate maintaining current levels of activity. Only 17% believed loan originations would fall. This positive picture shows sentiment has improved compared to survey results from the end of 2016.

The report also shows lenders remain principally focussed on activity in the traditional big three markets of the UK, Germany and France. However, while the UK maintains its position as the main market where lenders anticipate focusing activity, its dominance has been diluted since the vote to leave the EU. The UK’s share of the lending market now represents 21% compared to 25% at the start of 2016.

Elsewhere, Germany’s share of lending activity has increased to 17% while significant growth has also been seen in the Benelux and Nordic regions in particular.

Senior debt remains the preferred loan structure for the majority of lenders, although its share has diminished over the past 12 months. This shift has resulted in a rise in alternative structures including stretched senior and mezzanine finance with the former preferred by 20% of respondents, up from 10% a year ago.

James Spencer-Jones, Head of EMEA Structured Finance at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Strong competition from lenders towards prime assets in major markets has maintained some downward pressure on margins since the start of the year. However, the overall picture shows lenders maintaining a degree of caution. This is particularly true for secondary assets where lenders are more selective on what they will finance and heavily focused on amortisation and exit value.

“Outside the big three markets of the UK, Germany and France there’s been a notable returning focus on the Nordics due to the region’s strong fundamentals which include stable governance and a transparent tax environment as well as high levels of investor liquidity.”

The report shows that the average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio at the all-property level has risen in the majority of markets and are edging back towards levels seen at the start of 2016.

Nigel Almond, Cushman & Wakefield’s Head of EMEA Capital Markets Research, said: “In most markets loan-to-value ratios are one to two percentage points below where they were a year ago and remain low by historical standards and are typically around the 60% mark in most European cities. Regulatory pressures continue to act as a restraining hand on the market with no sign of movement back towards the greater appetite for risk seen a decade ago. Caution is also reflected in a greater focus on prime assets over secondary ones or development in second tier markets in the near term.”

Source : Cushman & Wakefield

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