UK - Commercial real estate sales rose by 44% last year as pension funds and other institutional investors targeted supermarkets and central London office space, figures show.
Research by Property Data said transactions climbed to £36.4bn ($58bn) from £25.2bn a year earlier, while sales rose 29% to £12.3bn in Q4 from a year earlier.
Director Mark Pickering said: "Total purchases by UK institutions was £11.6bn, with net investment the highest we've seen since our records began in 2000 at £5.4bn.
"The majority of interest has been in retail units but pension funds have been particularly interested in supermarkets. They provide secure rental income returns and also act as a hedge against inflation."
The findings come as real estate fund manager PRUPIM acquired three supermarkets on a sale and leaseback basis the M&G Secured Property Income Fund.
The purchase of three Sainsbury's superstores for £125m ($199.8m) maintain the weighted average lease length of the fund at close to 25 years and increases the proportion of the fund's income which is inflation linked to over 80%, said the firm.
The fund is designed to provide investors with alternative ways of insulating liabilities against inflation risk rather than relying solely on index-linked gilts, offering an additional yield pick up of 3.5% over index-linked government bonds, said the firm.
PRUPIM director of fund management Steffan Francis said: "These assets, which offer long-term income from a high-quality tenant, with the added security of good quality underlying real estate, meet the needs of institutional investors in the fund.
"Pension schemes in particular are increasingly attracted to this fund as properties such as these can help address inflation risk at a lower cost than equivalent government bonds.
"The transaction allows investors to receive further exposure to a sector which has proven to be stable and liquid in varying economic environments. We expect the current strong appetite for the fund to continue and are seeking out suitable investment opportunities with the necessary lease structure and quality of tenant."
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