The investment wing of Canada’s largest insurer entered into an agreement with Munich-based financial giant Allianz that will see the two companies jointly invest in office buildings in smaller U.S. towns – those with populations between 35,000 and 250,000.
But news of Manulife’s investment plans surprised analysts who previously expected a low Canadian dollar and increased immigration to draw more interest in local commercial investing.
“The dip in the value of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis the U.S. could result in increased demand for goods produced in the GTA for export south of the border,” said TREB president Paul Etherington following the release of November stats that left much to be desired. “This could lead to an increase in the demand for industrial space in the GTA as well.”
The Toronto Real Estate Board reported 470,604 leased square feet of industrial, commercial, retail and office space this November, down 25 per cent compared to the 624,924 square feet of combined space leased in November 2013. The number of combined industrial, commercial/retail and office transactions in November, however, was unchanged compared to the same period in 2013.
Still, Canada remains the top investor in U.S. commercial property. Avison Young was among the long list of brokerages acquiring major square-footage stateside this year, announcing its acquisition of two Florida-based firms in November.
Since 2010, Canada has spent $43.4 billion in the commercial market in the States – four times as much as China, the second biggest spenders in the U.S. market.
Agents focused in Canada’s commercial market were dealt another blow this week, as Manulife Asset Management Private Markets announced plans to invest up to $1 billion in the U.S.