The economy, bond yields and real estate: where to from here?right-arrow
read-time5 mins
by Charter Hall Direct

To access this part of the website, please select your country of residence from the following list.

The country of my primary residence is:

Due to legal restrictions, access to this website is only available to residents of Australia and New Zealand from within Australia or New Zealand. In order to access this website, you must provide the State, Territory or Province and postcode for your primary residential address within Australia or New Zealand.

The State or Territory of my primary residence in Australia or the Province of my primary residence in New Zealand is:

Due to legal restrictions, access to this website is only available to residents of Australia and New Zealand from within Australia or New Zealand. In order to access this website, you must provide the State, Territory or Province and postcode for your primary residential address within Australia or New Zealand.

The State or Territory of my primary residence in Australia or the Province of my primary residence in New Zealand is:

By proceeding you confirm that you are a resident of Australia or New Zealand accessing this website from within Australia or New Zealand and you represent, warrant and agree that:

  • you are not in the United States or a “U.S. person”, as defined in Regulation S under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“U.S. Person”), nor are you acting for the account or benefit of a U.S. Person;
  • you will not make a copy of the documents on this website available to, or distribute a copy of such documents to, or for the account or benefit of, any U.S. Person or any person in any other place in which, or to any other person to whom, it would be unlawful to do so; and
  • the state, territory or province and postcode provided by you below for your primary residence in Australia or New Zealand are true and accurate.

I agree to the above terms Yes or No.

Unfortunately, legal restrictions prevent us from allowing you access to this website. If you have any questions, please contact us by e-mail by clicking on the link below.

Contact Us

The past year was one for the record books. The pandemic inflicted synchronised economic impacts across the globe. The unprecedented nature of this economic downturn generated significant challenges in determining the path forward. However, as the year progressed, it was evident this economic recession was different from the GFC: distinguished by the magnitude of the initial downturn but also the speed of the recovery.

The Australian experience

The Australian economy has benefited from strong government fiscal support and the exemplary containment of the virus, resulting in a materially stronger than anticipated economic recovery. In April last year, consensus GDP forecasts for 2020 ranged between -3.4% and -10.0%. These forecasts strengthened over time, with 2020 growth results finishing the year at a manageable -1.1%. Perhaps even more remarkable was the recovery across the labour market, outpacing several forecasts which predicted that the unemployment rate would exceed 10% over the year. It peaked at 7.5% before progressively reducing to the most recent reading of 5.8% (March-21). This is approximately 0.5% above the pre-pandemic trend of 5.25% - a level most economists didn’t expect until 2022. Although many advanced economies shared similar recoveries, Australia’s comparative containment of the virus and effective policy support fuelled a shorter downturn and subsequently, a stronger economic recovery.    

GDP Global Growth_for feature article DF

Source: Koyfin

 

The economic recovery and bond yields

Given the speed of the economic recovery, the stimulatory government policy support and the further relaxation of government restrictions, forward projections for growth in Australia have been upgraded. These factors and the rebound in commodity prices have increased expectations for inflation, wages and longer-term economic growth. As such, bond yields have now lifted from historically low levels.

The Reserve Bank has separately suggested that both wage growth and the consumer price index (CPI) could initially show some ‘catch up’ after slowing sharply during the depths of the pandemic. However, annual inflation is not expected to move within its target range of 2-3% for several years. In response to this relatively good news, over the calendar year 2021, the 10-year bond yield increased from around 1.0% to a high of 1.9% before more recently trading down to approximately 1.7% (at the time of printing).

Bond yields and real estate

The gap between property yields and bond yields is known as the ‘risk premium’, being the excess yield that can be achieved from investment in commercial property versus the ‘risk-free rate’ of an investment in a government bond. So even though bond yields are increasing (this is known as the ‘steepening’ of the yield curve), the spread – or the difference between commercial real estate yields and bond yields, remains high – even when compared to historical levels (as illustrated in the office and industrial yield charts on page 4). Based on these measures, this signals limited downside risks to commercial real estate valuations.

Real estate resilience

Assets with long Weighted Average Lease Expiries (WALE) and quality income streams from strong tenants are well placed to absorb any sustained rise in bond yields. Further strength can be found in assets that benefit from leases with fixed annual rental escalations, as this hedges against any significant and sustained increases in inflation.

Real estate resilience by sector

Average ‘risk premiums’ should reflect the associated risk and future growth of an investment.

As an example, the discretionary retail and industrial real estate sectors have been experiencing very different structural changes from the rapid growth in online retailing. These trends are being reflected with the two sectors undergoing different ‘re-ratings’: industrial risk premiums are narrowing, while regional and sub-regional retail risk premiums are expanding. The discretionary retail sector can be further compared to non-discretionary retail (think Bunnings, Coles or Woolworths), which have performed strongly over the last year. The average risk premiums for neighbourhood shopping centres that have a majority of non-discretionary retailers as tenants have also been narrowing.  

The outlook

There are several reasons to be positive about the near-term outlook for the Australian economy and the real estate sector. Global and US growth has strengthened significantly, the Australian housing market is in a cyclical upswing, and the drag on the economy generated by Australia’s adjustment to lower commodity prices have now passed. In fact, commodity prices have now increased to decade highs, providing a real income boost for the wider economy. These factors are expected to support the momentum already underway across the Australian commercial real estate sectors, in particular for the industrial, non-discretionary retail and social infrastructure sectors.

Prime industrial yield vs. 10-year government bond rates

Industrial spreads have narrowed and approached the lower bound of historical movements. However, given the structural tailwinds, implied risk premiums are being adjusted lower.

Prime yield ind

Prime office yield vs. 10-year government bond rates

Office risk premiums remain within typical historical ranges.

prime office yield

Source: JLL Research, Charter Hall Research