Are alternative assets the next big thing in real estate?

SHANGHAI, 11 April 2018 – Investors are increasingly turning to alternative real estate sectors to take advantage of their attractive yields and long-term growth prospects in Asia Pacific, says property consultancy firm JLL.

April 15, 2018

Increased interest in self-storage, data centres, student accommodation, education and aged care as investors chase yield

SHANGHAI, 11 April 2018 – Investors are increasingly turning to alternative real estate sectors to take advantage of their attractive yields and long-term growth prospects in Asia Pacific, says property consultancy firm JLL.

In the first of a six-part research series focusing on 'The Rise of Alternative Real Estate in Asia Pacific', the report defines alternative sectors as non-traditional real estate assets such as aged care or nursing homes, student housing, education, data centres and laboratories.

"Globally, Asia Pacific's alternative real estate market is still relatively immature compared to Europe and the U.S. but interest is growing as investors continue to seek out new sectors to diversify assets and enhance returns," says Rohit Hemnani, COO and Head of Alternatives, Capital Markets, JLL Asia Pacific. "The way alternatives are structured presents a long-term operating lease, which provides a stable income stream and decreases market volatility."

According to JLL, estimated yields on alternatives such as data centers can range from four to six per cent in Tokyo and Singapore, and six to seven per cent for Sydney. By contrast, those for core assets such as office buildings can generate around 2.5 per cent in Tokyo and 4.5 per cent in Sydney, while shopping malls can command approximately five per cent in Australia and around 2.5 to 3 per cent in Tokyo.

Hemnani adds: "The top global buyers of alternatives are REITs, equity funds, investment managers, real estate operating companies and developers. In 2016 alone, these five groups of investors put over US$43 billion into the sector. In Asia Pacific, we're seeing a similar trend of developers and private equity allocating more capital to alternatives. REITs are especially active in countries like Japan for aged care."

The report explains that the outlook for alternatives in Asia Pacific is positive and will continue to gain momentum due to broad demographic shifts such as urbanisation, an ageing population, as well as the region's rising household wealth and increasing use of technology.

Asset classes like education and self-storage will stand to benefit from the growth of the urban population in Asia Pacific, which will account for over 400 million people by 2027. Rapid adoption of smart phones, cloud computing and the Internet of Things will drive a surge in demand for data centres, bolstered by an additional 560 million internet users over the next decade in the region.

Meanwhile, the region's ageing population will rise by an additional 146 million people within the next 10 years, contributing to the expansion of senior housing and nursing homes.

The challenge ahead

Despite these strong demand drivers, there remain a number of barriers to entry. Typically, aged care and data centres are highly regulated by governments so managing them in accordance with local laws can be demanding. In Asia Pacific, the various alternative sectors sit across different levels of maturity, so understanding market fundamentals and operational capabilities can also pose as a challenge. However, it is evident that significant opportunities exist.

Hemnani explains: "With urbanisation rapidly growing across the region, international schools in Asia Pacific are forecast to multiply by three to four times to meet a target of 10 million students over the next 15 years. This will boost the education and student accommodation sectors that are well-positioned to grow in Australia, China, India and Southeast Asia."

"Similarly, the rise in the ageing population means that the senior housing market will fare well, particularly in Japan and China, as these markets provide enormous potential for growth."

For more information, please download 'The Rise of Alternative Real Estate in Asia Pacific: The Fundamentals' here.

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About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2017, JLL had revenue of $7.9 billion and fee revenue of $6.7 billion; managed 4.6 billion square feet, or 423 million square meters; and completed investment sales, acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $170 billion. At the end of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of 82,000.  As of December 31, 2017, LaSalle had $58.1 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

JJLL has over 50 years of experience in Asia Pacific, with over 37,000 employees operating in 96 offices in 16 countries across the region. The firm won the ‘World’s Best’ and ‘Best in Asia Pacific’ International Property Consultancy at the International Property Awards in 2016 and was named number one real estate investment advisory firm in Asia Pacific for the sixth consecutive year by Real Capital Analytics.  

In Greater China, the firm was named ‘Best Property Consultancy in China’ at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific 2016, and has more than 2,200 professionals and 14,000 on-site staff providing quality real estate advice and services in over 80 cities across the country​.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​