Morguard Expects Solid Growth for Canada’s Commercial Real Estate Market in 2020

Morguard’s 22nd annual economic outlook and market fundamentals report states that investor-confidence remained strong in the multi-suite residential, industrial and office segments in 2019, as demand continued to outpace supply of properties in these asset classes.

The 2020 Economic Outlook forecasts a positive outlook for Canadian real estate assets and a retail segment that will continue to adapt to industry changes.

“Commercial real estate remained one of the most attractive and stable long-term investments in 2019 and will continue to attract interest from investors in 2020,” said Keith Reading, Director of Research at Morguard. “The real estate industry, along with the Canadian economy, continued to expand in 2019 despite the global trade dispute and challenges in the oil and gas sector impacting domestic business confidence.”

The multi-suite residential asset class performed at a healthy level for investors in 2019. Nationally, economic growth and ongoing demographic trends continued to support strong rental market conditions throughout the year.

Increased demand from downsizing baby boomers and families looking to rent due to the high cost of home ownership in major cities drove the segment’s strong performance.

Morguard suggests that 2020 will see positive rental demand patterns and constrained supply will continue to place upward pressure on rents in major cities.

The industrial asset class experienced an extension of the bullish phase of its investment cycle as investors continued to bid on available properties with confidence, following record high annual transaction volume of $12.7 billion in 2018.

Most Canadian markets saw strong rent price appreciation in 2019 as demand continued to outpace supply. Sourcing available space to lease remained a significant challenge across the country, forcing several businesses to look at design-build opportunities to meet their accommodation needs.

In the office market, investment sales activity continued at a record pace in 2019. Canada’s technology sector drove demand for leased space, resulting in upward pressure on average rents, especially in the downtown areas of major cities. The national average vacancy of Canadian office leasing decreased in the first half of 2019.
Ongoing changes in the retail industry and the resulting uncertainty drove investors to exercise increased caution in 2019. Investment transaction activity has remained relatively brisk, with sales above the long-term average.

Consumer spending growth is expected to increase moderately in the coming year, guided by continued wage growth and low interest rates. According to the report, Canada’s labour market performed well this year, seeing the lowest unemployment rates over the last 50 years.

“Continued changes in consumer spending habits, e-commerce and demographic shifts forecasted for 2020 has reinvigorated the retail environment. Retail owners are introducing a new consumer experience in the tenant mix and more service retail among other measures to engage shoppers and keep up with industry changes,” said Reading.

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