EXPO REAL 2009 BLOG 1: Exposed Real

PERE is at the Expo Real property trade show in Munich this week. Here, our European editor Robin Marriott gives his initial observations.

Having touched down in Munich this morning, there is no question Expo Real is more “Exposed Real” this year due to the realities of the downturn.

Even at Munich International airport some 30 minutes away from the exhibition centre there was a sign that this year would be far quieter than previous years: one could clamber onto the Expo shuttle bus without being barged out of line.

Upon arrival at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre there was another sign: It only took 10 minutes to register and drop luggage off.

Inside the main halls, there are actually spare seats to sit on and one can walk the aisles in a straight line. Plus, where are the freebies?

Oh, and one more thing: people here are actually keeping to appointed meetings.

There are a lot less people here, and those that are here have more time on their hands

Robin Marriott

It is clear what has happened. It doesn’t take a genius. There are a lot less people here, and those that are here have more time on their hands.

I bumped into one US real estate professional from a well known firm within minutes of entering the fray. He says the firm is involved in a secondaries transaction here in Europe. Good for him and his firm. I say that because PERE`s first meeting with the global head of real estate of a large law firm said in direct property there is little to buy. Those with funds are even asking lawyers if they know of anything attractive out there.

The story so far, though, seems to be that the weakness of the pound against the euro has given added impetus to look to buy real estate in the UK: This has had an interesting effect. UK funds are here at Expo in Munich tapping up European institutional investors for capital in the knowledge that – whether a short term trend or not – British property seems cheap. In particular, German capital is in demand, and that capital appears to want prime London offices.

I'm now off to a meeting with AEW Europe, the pan regional investor. We will discover if they too are interested in UK real estate too.

Look out for more blogs from EXPO as Robin Marriott seeks out industry experts to share their notes on the market.