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McLEAN, VA-A survey by locally-based J.E. Robert Cos. offers some hope in what is shaping up to be one of the nastiest credit crunches in recent times. The survey of US and European investors, conducted in September, found that mandates to invest in commercial real estate are on the rise: 60% of all respondents indicated their mandate for real estate is growing. The survey also revealed a growing global focus–but with North America as still the core region of investment. When asked to rank their top choice of regions to invest in commercial real estate, 44% of respondents chose North America, 30% selected Asia and 18% named Europe.

“It was very impressive to see that the mandate for real estate continues to grow, even during these times,” Clyde Robinson, director of global capital markets and client relations at JER Partners, tells GlobeSt.com. Still, though, he continues, the current environment calls for greater attention to investor needs. Robinson points to survey findings that show transparency and regular communications are also key drivers for investors; 90% cited transparency; 82% named regular communications; also 82% cited longevity as important when considering a real estate investment firm. “Two-way communication is important particularly during challenging markets,” he says. Common questions, not surprising, are about the opportunities and unforeseen risks in the market right now, he adds.

The survey also found that private equity is the most attractive form for investing in commercial real estate, followed by REITs and direct investments. Forty-eight percent of the investors surveyed invested between $10 million to $500 million in private equity commercial real estate funds over the past year; 33% invested in REITs and 33% through direct investments.

The survey was conducted by Siegel+Gale in September 2008. Seventy-one percent of respondents are US-based, while 21% are in Europe. Participants were representatives from pension funds (48%), financial institutions (25%), and endowments (10%).

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