EXPO REAL 2022 – Not all Crises are the Same

After EXPO REAL 2020 was cancelled completely and only a significantly reduced version of the leading Munich trade fair could take place in 2021, the crowds were correspondingly large in 2022. Spread over seven halls, there were 1,887 exhibitors and almost 40,000 participants. The need for discussion was correspondingly great in view of increasing uncertainties due to interest rate hikes, rising material costs, shortages of skilled workers and raw materials. In the residential construction sector in particular, the mood was clearly subdued, at times even very serious. For this reason, Federal Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz also visited the fair. Despite the crisis, the minister is sticking to the goal of 400,000 new homes per year, saying, “That’s not witchcraft, generations before us have managed that with 700,000 homes.” The forecasts of experts, on the other hand, are gloomier: many consider 200,000 new apartments to be more realistic, and some even talk of hardly any new apartments being built in a few years.


By contrast, the situation in the logistics sector is much better. After a very strong first half of the year, growth here continued in the third quarter. Investors continue to believe in the German logistics real estate market despite the geopolitical and financial market-driven uncertainties, according to the uniform mood. The German capital Berlin is the clear driving force behind the growth, but significant increases in sales were also achieved in Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

The office property market is currently still resisting the crisis. Office take-up in the first nine months of 2022 in the seven real estate strongholds is just under 2.8 million square meters, 29 percent up on the same period last year. One reason for this is that the labor market is proving relatively robust despite the looming recession, and corporate balance sheets are mostly positive. “We see that demand for premium space remains strong,” says Stephan Leimbach, Head of Office Leasing JLL Germany. The pressure to change is great, he said, and is coming from various quarters. “For example, leasing decisions that were postponed in the Corona years are being made up. The increased use of home offices entails a change in the use of office space, which is often difficult to implement in the traditional office. And the competition for talent is not making things any easier,” Leimbach sums up.

The majority of companies are looking for high-quality office space to attract and retain employees. An attractive physical environment is increasingly becoming a production factor for one’s business performance. According to a recent JLL survey, 43 percent of companies plan to accelerate investment in a sustainable and flexible workspace between now and 2025.

On average, the vacancy rate in the top seven real estate star locations is 4.8 percent. However, vacancy rates will continue to rise gradually, especially for lower-quality office space. Nearly 70 percent of office take-up is in prime space. “This makes it clear that space vacated as a result of relocation that does not meet the requirements of new tenants will slip into vacancy. These can then only be placed on the market with corresponding rent reductions or after comprehensive refurbishment,” predicts Leimbach.

After three days of the trade fair, the picture that not all crises are the same is becoming clearer. There are currently clear differences between residential, logistics and office real estate with regard to future growth forecasts. On the other hand, there is unity about the necessity of direct exchange on site. Especially in uncertain times, EXPO REAL is an important platform for all participants in the real estate industry.

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