One of the more notable claims made about the private real estate sector in recent years is it is dominated by a handful of large managers.

Such a contention is evident when considering the sector’s institutional capital raising activities, for example. The top 10 managers alone have been responsible for between 28 percent and 40 percent of the total equity raised for closed-end private real estate funds in the last five years, as per PERE data. In 2022, the top 10 managers raised a little more than 37 percent of the $168.7 billion aggregate raised for the sector.

But if there was an overarching takeaway from this year’s PERE Global Awards, it would be that a greater number of winners this year compared with the past five years demonstrates a widening array of relevant organizations in the sector.

In the 2022 iteration of the Awards, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday, there were 33 winners, up from 30 in 2021 and 31 in 2020. The three Awards before them heralded no more than 27 winners. Further, in the 2022 Awards, the average number of firms per award was 2.15, some way apart from the 1.74 average in 2018.

The Awards have evolved over the years to reflect the times. This has led to greater diversity among the categories – the 72 included in this year’s competition is the most offered yet. That has meant a more disparate cohort of organizations being considered for nomination. Last year’s introduction of ESG and proptech categories, for instance, was followed by categories specifically for data center strategies this year – the sector was previously included within alternatives.

But this should not detract from the notion there is a greater selection of relevant institutions now operating across a more level playing field. Indeed, it is important to note the recently added categories are also of priority to the biggest managers in private real estate.

The reality here is that life is becoming more competitive in the areas of the private real estate market that matter the most these days.

Such competition was notable in our analysis of the Awards winners. In the 2022 Awards, in 39 of the categories, the margin between first and second place was 10 percent or less of the votes. In the 2021 Awards, the same could be said of 36 categories. Meanwhile, in the 2022 Awards, there were as many as eight categories where the margin between first, second, third and fourth place was 10 percent or less in the voting, up from just one instance in the 2021 iteration.

This larger spread of victories is ultimately a win for institutional capital providers. It underlines how they benefit from an increasingly greater depth and breadth of choices. For them, the investment world is only getting larger, not smaller.