Like a ton of bricks

遭受重创

Is investors’ love affair with commercial property ending?

投资者正在对商业地产失去兴趣?

After covid-19, the investment world will become more discriminating

疫情过后,投资界将变得更加挑剔


The second week of March was a heartbreaking one for Will Beckett. The boss of Hawksmoor, a chain of steakhouses that employs 700 workers in Britain, had been days away from opening his first New York outpost. Instead government-imposed lockdowns forced him to close all his restaurants down. The City types that usually queue for its sizzling cuts were forced to go without. So too were Mr Beckett’s landlords, after he told them he could not afford to pay rent for the second quarter. Most of his peers, he says, have also yet to square the bill. Restaurateurs are likely to miss their payments for the third quarter too.

三月份的第二周令威尔·贝克特感到痛心疾首。他是英国牛排连锁店Hawksmoor的老板,在英国雇有700名员工,再有几天他的第一家纽约分店即将开张了。然而,政府的封城令迫使他关闭了所有的餐馆。城市人经常排队购买滋滋作响的牛排,现在只好作罢。贝克特先生的房东也是如此,他告诉房东付不起第二季度的房租。他说,多数同行都未付清房租。餐馆第三季度的房租可能也没有指望。


Most people probably have more sympathy for chefs and waiters than for landlords. But many do not realise that payments made to commercial landlords are increasingly channelled towards their own pension pots or insurance claims. The global stock of investible commercial property—hotels, shops, offices and warehouses—has quadrupled since 2000, to $32trn (see chart 1). More than a third is owned by institutional investors, which piled in, lured by lucrative, solid returns.

多数人可能更同情厨师和服务员而非房东,但许多人不知道,他们的养老金或保险理赔越来越多地来自商业地产房东收取的房租。自2000年以来,全球的投资性商业地产存量(酒店、店铺、写字楼、仓库)翻了两番,达到32万亿美元。超过三分之一的商业地产为机构投资者所有,吸引它们的是丰厚可靠的收益。

Covid-19 has upended the impression of solidity. Most immediately, it has severely impaired tenants’ ability to pay rent. It also raises questions about where shopping, work or leisure will happen once the crisis abates. Both are likely to prompt investors to become more discriminating. Some institutions may shift their funds away from riskier properties; other investors, meanwhile, might hunt for bargains, or seek to repurpose unfashionable stock.

新冠肺炎颠覆了这种可靠的印象。最直接的问题是房客交付房租的能力被严重削弱。另一个问题是危机消退后,哪里将成为购物、工作、休闲之地?两个问题都可能使投资者变得更加挑剔。有些机构投资者可能从风险较大的地产中撤资,也有投资者可能寻找廉价资产,或者对过时的存量加以改造。


As a result both the numbers of institutional investors buying up property and the amounts they have allocated to it have risen since 2010 (see chart 3). A chunk is channeled through private property funds, which have raised $1.6trn since 2008, according to Private Equity Real Estate, a publication. All together, institutions hold about $6trn worth of assets privately, and $5trn through listed vehicles. Property is typically financed by helpings of debt, which accounts for just under half of the market’s value in America.

所以2010年以来,收购房地产的机构投资者数量和资金投入量出现了增长。房地产私募基金提供了大量资金,《地产私募基金杂志》公布的数据显示,2008年以来,房地产私募基金筹集了1.6万亿美元。机构投资者共计拥有自有资产约6万亿美元,利用上市工具筹集了5万亿美元。房地产通常依靠举债来融资,债务占美国房地产市场价值的比重不足一半。

Investors’ appetite has been met by a growing supply of assets. Since 2000, businesses ranging from burger chains to banks have spun out trillions of dollars of property they used to own to free up cash, often leasing it back immediately after divesting. Worldwide, offices and shops account for 61% of assets, though the share of commercial housing (ie, student housing and condominiums) and logistics assets has been rising.

日益增多的资产供应满足了投资者的需求。2000年以来,从汉堡连锁店到银行,企业剥离出数万亿美元的房地产来释放资金,往往是售后回租。写字楼和店铺占全球资产的61%,商品房(即学生住房和公寓)和物流资产的比重不断攀升。




Start with delinquency. As lockdowns shuttered shops and businesses, rent collections collapsed. Less than half of all tenants in Britain paid rent on time at the end of March; a quarter of it was still due seven weeks later, says Remit Consulting, a research firm. Hotels have been worst hit: with borders closed and travel restricted, average occupancy fell from 70% before the pandemic to a low of 15% in early April. In America, average revenue per room shrank by 84%, to $16 per night, in April. Stand-alone shops and shopping malls have also suffered. Collection rates have fallen below 50% on both sides of the Atlantic.

先说拖欠租金。“封城”迫使店铺和企业关闭,导致房东收不上租金。据Remit咨询公司透露,在英国,只有不到一半的房客按时交了租金;仍有四分之一的租金七周后到期。酒店遭受的冲击更为严重:由于边境关闭和出行受限,平均入住率从疫情前的70%降至四月初的15%。四月份,美国每间客房的平均收益减少了84%,降至每晚16美元。独立店铺和商场也陷入困境,大西洋两岸的收租率降至50%以下。

Offices have proved sturdier. Firms that rent out co-working spaces on short-term leases have suffered. Other tenants, bound by decades-long leases, have continued to pay. Still, collection rates range between 57% in Britain and 90% in America. Late or missed rent payments in the double digits are hardly normal.

事实证明写字楼比较坚挺。短期租出联合办公场所的企业陷入困境,租赁期长达几十年的房客在继续交租。英美的收租率在57%至90%之间,迟交或没交房租的比例达到两位数是罕见的。

The resulting lost rental income is likely to have passed through to missed mortgage payments. Many banks report losses with a lag and with limited detail, but delinquency rates on commercial-mortgage-backed securities (cmbs)—bundles of loans sold on capital markets—provide a barometer. In America this month they exceeded levels seen during the financial crisis (see chart 4). A fifth of debt payments on shopping properties are late; a quarter of those due on “lodgings”—including student housing, vacant since universities closed—have also been skipped.

租金损失可能导致按揭付款的拖欠。许多银行推迟公布亏损,而且细节有限,但商业抵押担保证券(资本市场出售的大量贷款)的债务拖欠率是一个参考指标。本月,美国的债务拖欠率已超过金融危机的水平。房地产按揭贷款有五分之一被拖欠,“出租房”按揭贷款也有四分之一被拖欠(包括学生宿舍,大学关闭后一直闲置)。


But fresh outbreaks, or lingering fears of infection, could throttle the return to normality. Cash-poor and fearful, companies may limit business travel. Households may shun far-flung holidays and perhaps even shopping trips at home. That is bad news for hotels, restaurants and shops. Erin Stafford of dbrs Morningstar, a rating agency, reckons that, short of a fast recovery, half of America’s independent restaurants may go under.

然而,新疫情的爆发或者挥之不去的传染恐慌可能阻碍收益的恢复。资金拮据或者感到恐慌的企业可能限制商务旅行。家庭可能取消远途度假甚至本国的购物旅行,这对于酒店、餐厅、店铺来说不是好事。“晨星”评级机构的艾琳·斯塔福德预测,由于无法快速复苏,美国一半的独立餐厅将可能倒闭。


Bricks and mortal
Further ahead, covid-19 will also make some types of commercial property less of a safe bet than others, by accelerating trends that were visible even before the coronavirus began to spread. The most obvious is the rise of online shopping. Since February the rich world has seen a surge in e-commerce activity. Many shoppers may choose to stick with the speed and convenience of click-and-deliver. In 2019 a record 9,300 bricks-and-mortar stores closed in America; Coresight Research, a data firm, says 15,000 could fold this year. JCPenney, a century-old department-store chain, went bust last month.

实体店
另外,新冠肺炎也将使某些类型的商业地产不再万无一失,因为它加快了新冠肺炎爆发之前就已显现的趋势,最明显的是网上购物的兴起。今年2月以来,发达国家的电子商务活动激增。许多消费者可能决定继续享受网上购物的速度与便捷。2019年,美国倒闭了创纪录的9300家实体店,数据公司Coresight Research声称,今年可能有15000家实体店倒闭。上个月,百年老牌百货连锁店JCPenney破产。

Shopping malls, particularly those in the sticks, could be in trouble. On top of the reduced rent caused by shop closures, the vacating of department stores, which often act as “anchor” tenants, may give other stores the right to pay lower rents, or even to cancel lease agreements, says Aditya Sanghvi of McKinsey, a consultancy. A third of America’s 1,100 malls could end up being demolished. On June 23rd Intu, which owns shopping centres in Britain, appointed administrators.

购物中心可能陷入困境,尤其是偏僻地区。除了店铺关闭导致房租减少之外,百货商场是“支柱性”租户,其闲置可能使其他店铺有权少付房租,甚至取消租赁合同,麦肯锡咨询公司的阿迪亚·赛格维说道。美国的1100家商场最终可能有三分之一倒闭。6月23日,在英国拥有多家购物中心的“财捷集团”任命了管理人员。

The pandemic’s effect on office space is less clear. Many workers may find that they quite like working from their bedrooms or kitchens. Others say they miss the camaraderie of the office. Social distancing may also force firms to spread out more, reversing a trend that saw office space per employee fall by half in a decade. If the net effect were a reduction in rented space, it could cause havoc. Victor Calanog of Moody’s, a rating agency, calculates that if tenants in New York gave up even 10% of their space over the next five years, it could result in a halving of rents sought on vacant properties.

疫情对办公场所的影响没那么明显。许多员工可能发现,他们十分喜欢在自己的卧室或厨房工作,也有人说想念同事。社交距离可能迫使企业扩大员工的办公间距,扭转了十年后每名员工所占办公面积减少一半的趋势。如果净效应是租赁面积减少,这会引发灾难。穆迪评级机构的维克多·卡拉诺格估算,如果纽约的房客在未来五年减少10%的办公面积,那么空置地产的房租会减半。

Meanwhile, the shift to remote shopping and working presents investment opportunities. Storage and distribution facilities remain geared towards industrial use rather than pick-and-pack. Brian Chinappi of Actis, a London-based private-equity firm, says the crisis has made it even hungrier for data centres, which it is now building in Asia and Africa.

与此同时,网上购物与远程办公带来投资机遇。仓储与分销设施仍然面向工业用途,而非提货与包装服务。伦敦私募股权公司Actis的布莱恩·基纳皮表示,这场危机已使数据中心更加炙手可热,该公司正在亚洲和非洲建造数据中心。

The writing on the wall
Assessing the extent of potential losses from the crisis is hard. Britain’s financial watchdog thinks uncertainty on values is so strong that it has forced listed funds to suspend redemptions. Analysts canvassed by The Economist reckon property values will fall by less than 20% overall this year, and rents by 5-10%. That compares with falls of 25% and 10-20%, respectively, in 2008-09. But a lot depends on how long rent suspensions last. msci, an index provider, estimates that assets subject to a six-month rent holiday and a recession could lose 37% of their worth. reit prices suggest retail properties could have further to fall.

不祥之兆
评估这场危机带来多大的潜在损失很难。英国的金融监督机构认为,房产价值的不确定性太大,上市基金已被迫停止赎回房产。本刊咨询的分析人士预测,今年房产价值将总体下跌低于20%,租金下跌5-10%。相比而言,在2008-09年,两者分别下跌25%和10-20%。但这很大程度上取决于停交房租持续多久,据指数编制公司“明晟”估算,受到六个月免租期和经济衰退的影响,此类资产的价值将下跌37%。房地产投资信托基金的价格显示,零售地产将下跌更多。

Booking losses
Figuring out who will bear those losses is even tricker. Laws differ as to whether creditors or equity holders should get preferred treatment, with the former favoured in Europe and the latter better protected in America. Most important, ownership of property assets is “a big, complicated web” that cannot easily be untangled by outsiders, says a consultant. Property vehicles are often owned by large asset managers that aggregate pension-fund money from all over the world. Despite improvements in disclosures, private funds remain opaque. Lenders are not always best-in-class either. “Try getting a French bank to reveal its property-type breakdown for commercial real-estate lending,” says one analyst.

账面亏损
要想弄清楚谁将承担这些损失就更难了。应该优待债权人还是持股人在法律上有所差别,赢波娱乐FG:前者在欧洲更受照顾,后者在美国更受保护。最重要的是,房地产资产所有权是一张“复杂的大网”,外人很难梳理明白,一位顾问说道。房地产投资工具一般由大型资产管理公司所有,吸引全世界养老基金的投资。尽管私募基金的信息披露有所改善,但仍不透明。贷款机构也未必出类拔萃,“试试让一家法国银行披露不动产贷款的地产类详细数字”,一名分析人士说道。

What seems clear is that banks are in a sounder position than during the financial crisis. Loan-to-value ratios were below 60% at the end of 2019, compared with 70% in 2007, so there is more equity to absorb drops in values, says Richard Bloxam of jll, a property consultancy. Banks’ capital buffers are bigger. In America cmbss can catalyse credit crunches, because property lenders often use them as collateral to finance more loans. But these account for 15% of total property debt, down from over 50% in 2007. And they have held up well so far, thanks to purchases by the Federal Reserve. (The Fed’s programme, which excludes newly issued cmbss, expires on September 30th.)

银行似乎明显比金融危机时更加稳健。2019年底,贷款与价值比率低于60%,而2007年为70%,所以房产贬值能被更多的资产吸收,房地产咨询公司JLL的理查德·布洛克萨姆说道。银行的资本缓冲更充足了,美国的商业抵押担保证券会导致信贷紧缩,因为房地产信贷机构通常将它作为担保来提供更多贷款,但目前它占资产总债务的15%,而2007年占50%以上。到目前为止,商业抵押担保证券得益于美联储的购买而表现良好(美联储的购买计划不包括新发行的证券,该计划将于9月30日失效)。

A more diverse lending universe, though, means more entities are exposed to potential losses—including institutional investors, which have piled $235bn into specialist private property-debt funds since 2008. Some funds are already struggling to repay the short-term debt they have raised against long-dated assets. Bigger shocks may well occur when batches of loans mature. Britain faces a £43bn ($53bn) commercial-property refinancing wall in 2020-21; America’s is worth $2trn over the next five years.

信贷领域更加多元化,这意味着更多的实体面临潜在亏损——包括机构投资者,2008年以来,它们向专业的私人房地产债务基金投入了2350亿美元。有些基金偿还利用长期资产筹集的短期债务已经力不从心。当一批批贷款到期时,更猛烈的冲击可能来临。2020-21年,英国面临430亿英镑(530亿美元)的商业地产再融资墙,美国在未来五年面临2万亿美元的再融资墙。

Such losses notwithstanding, investors’ love affair with commercial property is unlikely to be at an end. Interest rates in the rich world are close to zero, if not below it, and going nowhere. The spread between real-estate and government-bond yields is still alluring. Private-equity firms’ mountains of dry powder—now worth a third of assets under management, the highest since 2010—will put a floor under values. But those who once blindly piled in are likely to think twice. The result could be a more discerning investment approach. Institutional investors could become more cautious, favouring targets like housing blocks or prime offices that provide long-term secure income; more money seems to be chasing a shrinking pool of “defensive” assets, which could push prices up further and dampen yields. Some will hedge their bets. Alisa Mall of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a $3.5bn endowment with a 10.5% allocation to property, says it wants to add generalist managers who can invest across sectors and geographies to its portfolio of “sharpshooter” specialists.

尽管面临这种亏损,但投资者不大可能停止对商业地产的青睐。发达国家的利率即使不低于也接近于零,并且不会有所改变。房地产与政府债券之间的收益率差依然诱人。私募股权企业拥有大量干火药——目前占管理资产的三分之一,达到2010年以来的最高水平——这将阻止房地产价值下跌。但以往盲目的投资者可能变得踌躇,最终采取更加挑剔的投资方法。机构投资者可能更加谨慎,青睐住宅区或优质办公楼等投资目标,带来长期稳定的收入;更多的资金似乎在争夺日益减少的“防御性”资产,这会进一步推高价格,使收益减少,有些投资者将两面下注。纽约卡内基公司是一家拥有35亿美元的基金,房地产投资占10.5%,该公司的艾莉莎·莫尔表示,我们希望在“神枪手”专家阵营里增加通才型经理,能够跨领域、跨地区投资。

Yet others, mostly private real-estate funds, hope to swoop on bargains (most public vehicles are trading below their underlying asset values). Craig Duffy of glp, a private-equity firm based in Singapore with a vast portfolio of warehouses, says the firm has $7bn of dry powder to deploy, and hopes to raise another $8bn-9bn by the end of 2020. Some will focus on debt at a time when liquidity to stretched borrowers comes at a premium: Skardon Baker of Apollo, a firm that invests in distressed assets, says its European opportunistic fund has deployed €500m in the past 12 weeks.

其他投资者(多是地产私募基金)希望投资廉价资产(多数上市工具的交易价格低于资产的潜在价值)。新加坡私募股权公司GLP对仓库拥有庞大的投资组合,该公司的克雷格·达菲表示,他们拥有70亿美元尚未部署的干火药,希望到2020年底再筹集80-90亿美元。有些投资者将债务作为投资重点,目前对于缺少资金的借款者来说,流动资金很难得:斯卡登·贝克来自投资不良资产的“阿波罗”公司,他说在过去的十二周里,该公司的欧洲投机基金部署了5亿欧元。

The big winners will probably be giant firms like Brookfield, which closed a $15bn fund last year, and Blackstone, which raised a record $20.5bn vehicle a few months later. They have war-chests allowing them to command price discounts by buying bundles of assets at once. And they are among the few firms with the development skills needed to turn buildings round. Ever greater demand for their services may allow them to charge hefty fees, on ever bigger sums. Pension funds and insurers are becoming warier of commercial property. But for private-equity barons it remains a giant moneymaker.

大赢家将可能是巨头企业,例如:去年,布鲁克菲尔德资产管理公司关闭了150亿美元的基金。几个月后,黑石集团筹集了创纪录的205亿美元投资工具。他们拥有专款,通过一次性批量购买资产来获得价格折扣。它们还具备盘活楼盘的开发能力,这种企业并不多见。市场对它们的服务需求越来越大,可以对越来越庞大的资产收取高额费用。养老基金和保险公司对商业地产变得越来越谨慎,但对于私募股权巨头而言,商业地产仍然是高回报的投资领域。