Private equity real estate had a bounce-back year in 2021. After a pandemic-addled 2020, in which the top 100 firms in the private equity real estate universe collectively grew their five-year fundraising totals by a mere 3 percent, the industry rallied in 2021, pushing its capital raising total from $511 billion to $637 billion, an increase of 24.7 percent.

While many of the mega-fund managers perennially atop the PERE 100 feature prominently on this year’s list, credit for the comeback belongs to sector specialists and reawakened giants. Here are the key takeaways from this year’s ranking.

1 Specialist surge

Sharpshooting managers can be found up and down this year’s ranking, as investors looked to build exposures to specific property types and regions. Two firms rode this wave of specialization into the top tier of the PERE 100. Hong Kong-based ESR, which develops and manages logistics assets throughout the Asia-Pacific region, soared from 31 in 2021’s ranking to number four this year, more than tripling its five-year fundraising total. New York-based single-family rental specialist Pretium Partners, which fell outside the top 100 in last year’s rankings, climbed to the 15th spot on the back of a deluge of co-investments and separate accounts targeting the red-hot property type.

2 Three of a kind

Blackstone has held the top spot in the annual PERE ranking with a clenched iron fist since the list’s inception. So, it is little surprise the New York-based mega-manager retained the top position in 2022, even after a relatively slow fundraising year – its aggregate total fell from $49.9 billion in 2021 to $48.7 billion this year. More noteworthy is the fact that runners-up Brookfield and Starwood Capital, which raised $29.9 billion and $21.7 billion, respectively, appear to have cemented themselves as perennial number two and three players in the space. This is the third year in a row the ranking’s top three is unchanged and the first time all three have surpassed the $20 billion mark.

3 Return to form

Washington, DC-based Carlyle Group is back in the top 10 once again after tumbling 20 spots in 2021. The private equity titan’s leap into the number six position in this year’s PERE 100 is a testament to how influential a single fund closing can be, especially for managers that are not focused solely on real estate or those that choose not to raise for separate fund series concurrently. For its part, Carlyle closed its ninth US opportunity fund on roughly $8 billion in December, clearing its $6 billion target to become its largest real estate vehicle to date.

4 Back with a splash

A juggernaut from the earliest days of private real estate fundraising, Goldman Sachs Asset Management Real Estate has returned to the PERE 100 ranking after a more than decade-long hiatus. The investment bank took the 36th position on this year’s list – coincidentally one spot behind Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing, another resurgent pillar from private equity real estate’s first wave – with $5.7 billion of recently raised capital under its belt. In April, Goldman Sachs closed its new-look, which targets value-add returns, on $3.5 billion raised from both institutions and high-net-worth individuals, indicating the firm’s comeback push has legs.

5 APAC rising

Two of the top five capital raisers in this year’s ranking are headquartered in Asia, a first for the region. ESR and Singapore-based GLP held the fourth and fifth position, raising $16.6 billion and $15.5 billion, respectively. In 2021, the top eight firms were based in either the US or Canada, and in 2020, GLP was the only group from outside the Americas to feature in the top 10. With Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital at number 11 and Stockholm-based EQT Exeter at 18, 2022’s top 20 was among the more geographically diverse in recent history. North America still dominated the overall list, with 72 of the top 100 managers calling the continent home, compared with nine from Asia-Pacific, 18 from Europe and the British Isles and one from the Caribbean.