a.s.r. real estate

ASR DMOF benefits from improved office market fundamentals

The Dutch office market fundamentals have changed dramatically over the last five years. Recovering from the GFC back in 2012, the office market was characterized by low take-up figures, while vacancy rates were among the highest in Europe. This followed a long period in which many offices were developed on monofunctional office locations. During 2013 however, take-up levels bottomed out and showed first signs of improvement. Now in 2018, The Netherlands has one of the highest GDP growth figures in Europe, which has positively impacted the office market.

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A strong shift in demand has been evident. Highway-locations were very popular due to low rents and high accessibility. Nowadays, attracting a young and talented working force and improving productivity of employees are important criteria in determining a suited location to hold office. The first criterium is referring to the (post) millennials. This group does not have a ‘9-to-5 working day mentality’, does not require a fixed workplace and prefers a creative working environment in which work and social activities can mingle. Flexible office concepts offered by companies like Tribes and Spaces are emerging and fully support this new way of working. This has led to strong take-up figures in city centers and public transport hubs, which are considered most appropriate for meeting all these requirements. According to JLL, these type of office locations were responsible for almost 75% of take-up over the last five years.

The fund has benefitted strongly from current market conditions, but also by following a strict investment policy. Occupancy levels have improved greatly since inception of the fund in December 2016 and asset management initiatives that focus on sustainability are in place to provide (future) tenants with high quality modern office space. The fund has developed the DOLF (Dutch Office Location Filter), an in-house research tool, which has identified the most attractive office locations in The Netherlands and is used proactively by the acquisition team. Through use of this tool a.s.r. real estate has estimated that 5 to 7 million sq.m. of office space divided over 30 to 40 office locations fits the strategy of the fund. Considering a total office stock in the Netherlands of 50 million sq.m., a very disciplined focus has been established. Besides the established G4-cities, several office markets like Eindhoven and ‘s-Hertogenbosch are emerging and perform well according to the DOLF. 

Dutch office yields have compressed for more than three years, but still offer a high spread over long term interest rates when compared to other European office markets. By having a great network and maintaining close relationships with asset managers and developers, the fund secures early involvement in the acquisition process, which eventually can lead to attractive pricing conditions.

The fund currently offers a great entry point to benefit in the next two to three years from high economic growth figures, increasing rental prices, lower vacancy levels and an increased focus from investors and tenants on multifunctional locations near important public transportation hubs. Combined with a moderate leverage target of 15%, investors can benefit from an attractive risk/return profile.

For more information on the ASR Dutch Mobility Fund and its strategy, please contact Victor Hagenbeek.

Victor Hagenbeek
Associate Fund Management
ASR Dutch Mobility Office Fund
M: +31 (0)6 10 50 28 01
E: victor.hagenbeek@asr.nl