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Canadian commercial real estate investment could reach high of $59B in 2023: CBRE

The outlook for commercial real estate looks "bumpy" in the near term, but CBRE's 2023 forecast predicts a soft landing could still be in the cards.

The Canada Real Estate Market Outlook report, released Tuesday, predicts challenges such as tougher financing conditions and a potential economic slowdown will weigh on investment.

The commercial real estate company said it expects one to two quarters of slowed investment before activity rebounds in the spring.

Over the longer term, CBRE said large investors are targeting real estate and that more certainty for interest rates should be a boon for the industry.

That interest means commercial real estate investment in Canada could reach an all-time high of $59.3 billion this year, spurred by greater merger and acquisitions activity.

The better visibility about interest rates, which the Bank of Canada has paused at 4.5 per cent while it weighs their effect on the economy, should allow pricing expectations to recalibrate in 2023, said CBRE Canada chairman Paul Morassutti in a statement.

"Deal flow will pick up, and by Q3 and Q4 we should see much more robust investment activity," he said.

Office vacancy continues to increase, with demand for older space being replaced by interest in more modern locations. As companies balance their hybrid working arrangements for employees, the report said spaces that help attract workers back to the office will be a priority in 2023.

"Many forward-thinking tenants will use the coming year to relocate to properties with the best amenities, commute times and sustainability profiles," the report said.

While some property owners have considered converting their real estate to residential, office spaces are more likely to be retrofitted or demolished.

Efforts to boost office attendance has also led to rising demand for urban rental real estate as workers seek to minimize commute times.

The report noted a growing demand for multi-family rental real estate, with Canada's overall vacancy rate falling to a 20-year low of two per cent in 2022. It predicted high demand will continue this year, led by higher immigration targets, driving vacancy even lower in 2023.

Commercial real estate investment totalled $58.5 billion in 2022, which nearly matched the record volume set in 2021.


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