Real estate investors are increasingly targeting the life sciences sector, according to JLL, a bet that the critical role it has been playing during the pandemic is set to continue.
In October, Blackstone raised $7.5 billion from investors for its new life sciences office real estate perpetual fund. It also sold its U.S. medical real estate investment trust BioMed Realty Trust for $14.6 billion to existing BioMed investors. U.S. life sciences real estate developer IQHQ has raised $1.7 billion.
The deals come amid expansion efforts from sector-focused real estate investment trusts (REITs), including Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Healthpeak Properties, and Ventas, which recently set up a joint venture with Singapore’s GIC focused on four U.S. campus projects. In Europe, AXA Investment Managers Real Assets recently invested in a platform that owns 20 life sciences assets and seven projects in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
“The buyer pool is broadening as more investors focus on life science offices and laboratories while they wait to see how COVID-19 uncertainty will play out,” says Jacob Rowden, U.S. capital markets research analyst at JLL.
The production of vital medicines, as well as increased testing and therapies to combat COVID-19, are boosting occupancy levels. Ongoing demand from critical cancer, gene therapy, and immunology research, among other focus areas, continues to provide sustained demand, says Audrey Symes, U.S. health care and life sciences research director at JLL.
“The more critical the facility is to operations, the lower the perceived occupancy risk,” Symes says.
Global real estate investment was down 44 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the third quarter of 2019, according to JLL data. But sectors that have proven critical throughout the crisis—such as logistics, data centers, and multifamily—have fared better than others.
Investment in U.S. life sciences real estate is up by 6.6 percent over the previous 12-month period, evidencing the resilience of the sector. More than $7 billion of investment took place across the United States alone in the past 12 months.