Increasing cross-border capital flows are inevitably leading to greater global integration in commercial real estate. But integration is not happening at every level in every market. The largest cross-border investors focus on one layer of the market only.

This layer of the market be priced differently, for some or all of these reasons:

  • Due to investors’ risk free rate (RfR) being different to local investors’ RfR
  • Due to this layer’s objectively lower risks and therefore lower risk premium
  • Due to different motivation: capital preservation rather than most return per unit of risk
  • Due to different risk sensitivity (more attuned to political risk, less concerned with volatility)
  • Due to Merton’s investor recognition hypothesis

The characteristics of this market layer are:

  1. Reliable liquidity
  2. Transparency
  3. Big lot sizes
  4. Locations with recognised brands

A key issue is the effect of this trend (towards global integration) on market pricing, which we will quantify.

Bond investors might call this layer triple AAA; equity investors might call it blue chip; real estate does not yet have a corresponding label.

The trend has implications for indices, valuation (potentially), asset allocation and market structure.