CHICAGO, Ill. – Hotel real estate investors, who unlocked capital and aggressively bid on hotel assets in 2012, are expected to increase their buying activity in 2013.The abundance of equity capital and improving debt markets will support a buoyant market for hotel trades this year. Americas hotel transaction volume for the year is expected to surpass the $17.5 billion that 2012 netted, with a moderate increase to $18.5 billion[i], according to initial results from Jones Lang LaSalle’s annual Hotel Investment Outlook report.
The Hotel Investment Outlook report is a forward-looking, global analysis which tracks key factors affecting the hotel investment market. The Americas highlights include:
Competition for high-quality assets will push up capital values and drive down yields
Strong re-emergence of hotel financing will be driven by CMBS
Private equity funds to be the largest net buyers of hotels in 2013
“We expect 2013 to be another strong year for hotel transactions,” said Arthur Adler, Americas CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. “The United States remains the world’s most liquid hotel investment market which will lead the Americas region to transact approximately 55 percent of the global transaction volume. We should see global volumes top $32 billion this year.”
Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013 report agrees that this year will continue to gain transaction velocity, noting “transaction volume should finally gain momentum as buyers capitulate in the face of strong revenue growth and lenders dispose of more foreclosed assets.”
The Propellers of Debt Liquidity
A strong re-emergence of hotel financing driven by CMBS will propel debt liquidity to its highest level since 2007. CMBS lenders will continue to drive pricing, terms and accessibility. Balance sheet lenders are more selective with regard to asset quality, market and sponsorship, but will continue to provide floating rate structures that are favored by hotel owners. It’s expected that hotels will remain a targeted asset class for lenders as they offer high yields, relative to other real estate and fixed income classes, relative to the risk.
“The unpaid balance of hotel CMBS loans with initial maturity dates through 2013 totals nearly $19 billion[iii]. Lenders, and in particular subordinate lenders, have shown an increased willingness to foreclose or exercise other rights and remedies, including note sales. Consequently, 2013 could very well mark the beginning of the long-awaited ‘great deleveraging’ particularly for hotel assets,” added Mathew Comfort, Executive Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle.
Striking While the Iron’s Hot: The Big Buyers
There are several key drivers of deal activity including: availability and cost of capital, changes in supply and demand fundamentals, REIT stock prices, the size of the assets brought to market and the overall hotel ownership composition as more hotels are in the hands of traders verse long-term holders. Jones Lang LaSalle expects private equity funds to be the largest net buyers in 2013 as the funds unleashed more than $6.5 billion of capital into Americas hotel investments in 2012. During the next several years these funds will have a buying capacity with leverage of up to $45 billion for hotel acquisitions. Coupled with REITs, private equity will likely comprise as much as 70 percent of total acquisition volume.
REITs will remain active buyers of single-asset acquisitions or small portfolios of institutional quality hotels in the top 15 markets; however, the exact force of REITs on the market will depend largely on their ability to raise capital when it is accretive to shareholders. On the flip side, private equity funds will be seeking needle-moving bulk investments in either large single assets or portfolios as well as high-yield driven trades in the secondary and tertiary markets.
“Look for the private equity merger and acquisition market to also pick up,” added Robert Webster, Managing Director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. “In addition, Middle Eastern and Asian investors are likely to fund $1 billion in transactions this year as they selectively pursue opportunities in prominent gateway markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C. and New York. We also expect several landmark hotels to trade in secondary cities from opportunistic international investors.”
Beyond Brazil: Latin America and the Caribbean
Investor interest in quality hotel product extends beyond the United States as Latin America and the Caribbean experience considerable growth. Opportunistic investors and hotel brands with some risk tolerance are looking to Latin America to make strategic plays in key markets where there are viable development opportunities. Mexico’s expanding network of branded limited service hotels that cater to the middle class will be a primary growth area for investors. The Caribbean transaction market will be largely driven by resort or stalled projects defaulting loans. In terms of fundamentals, the standout markets will include the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Aruba. The hotel space in South America will continue to make dramatic transformations as under-supplied countries like Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru are increasingly on the radar of intra-regional investors.
Future Looks Bright
Macro-economic pressures have kept a lid on economic growth resulting in slow but steady growth. However, as the future comes into focus growth is poised to accelerate.
“A scarcity of high-quality, performing assets will drive competitive bidding pushing up capital values and driving down yields.” Adler added, “Hotel fundamentals will continue to be driven by growing tourism, business and leisure travel in major gateway and convention markets, as well as in resort destinations throughout the Americas. This will result in increased occupancy and stronger pricing power. The United States is expected to experience RevPAR gains of six to seven percent, creating opportunities for buyers and sellers alike in 2013.”