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Canadian Pension Funds Invest In Real Estate Assets

Canadian pension funds are increasing their real estate investments, betting the slumping property market will recover as the global pandemic recedes and office workers return to urban centres.

Canadian pension funds held $278.7 billion in property assets in 2019, up 4% from 2018, according to the Pension Investment Association of Canada, making them the country’s largest real estate owners.

In a world of slower economic growth, very low interest rates, volatility in equity markets, real estate offers an attractive opportunity for pension funds, which take a long-term investment horizon.

As the pandemic forced many staff to work from home, the office vacancy rate in Canada hit a 16-year high of 13.4% in 2020. Downtown office properties were hit particularly hard.

However, Canada’s second-largest pension fund, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, is taking a contrarian approach to real estate.

The real estate subsidiary of Caisse has said that the fund is cutting exposure in traditional asset classes and prioritising opportunities in growth sectors that include logistics and residential office buildings, among others.