According to Richard Barkham, CBRE Global Chief Economist and Head of Americas Research: 

“The global economic recovery is well underway, with Asia Pacific region setting the pace, Europe following and the U.S. recovery more or less on track, despite the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases. CBRE expects strong economic growth in 2021, fueled by pent-up demand, economic stimulus and the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines. Commercial real estate will trail the overall economy’s rebound by six to nine months and will regain some momentum in 2021. 

“CBRE foresees the industrial & logistics and multifamily sectors recovering more quickly than other commercial real estate sectors due to underlying demand and demographic trends. Other sectors drawing interest from investors and users include data centers and cold storage, a subsector of industrial & logistics. Still others will face a lengthier road to recovery, such as the office sector adapting to a greater amount of remote working and the hotel sector awaiting the return of business and conference travel. 

“Substantial stimulus measures taken by many governments, including the U.S., are expensive steps that will boost global debt-to-GDP ratios and lead to higher taxes in the years ahead. However, these stimulus measures are money well spent to revive economies and boost employment amid a rare global shock.” 

Click here to read CBRE’s Global Real Estate Market Outlook 2020 Midyear Review. 

You also can listen to the latest edition of CBRE’s Weekly Take podcast in which Spencer Levy and Richard Barkham discuss the midyear outlook. 


  • Economy: CBRE anticipates GDP declines this year in Europe (8.1 percent), the U.S. (5.1 percent), Japan (6 percent), India (5.9 percent) and South Korea (0.8 percent). Meanwhile, China’s GDP growth is expected to slow to 2.3 percent for the year. In turn, each region will return to GDP growth in 2021, including 5 percent in the U.S., 6.4 percent in Europe, 8.5 percent in China. The global recession will depress long-term interest rates for at least two years, which will help steer capital flows to commercial real estate. 
  • Capital Markets: While global investment in and lending to commercial real estate has declined this year, liquidity remains available – albeit on more conservative terms. Property repricing and distressed selling so far is limited. CBRE’s preliminary forecast is for a 14 percent decline in property capital values this year and a 3.4 percent rebound next year. Expected depreciation of the U.S. dollar has opened the door for lower-cost investment in U.S. real estate. 
  • Industrial & Logistics: A continued surge in e-commerce will solidify industrial & logistics as a top-performing sector of global commercial real estate. Modern, class-A warehouses will attract most demand from investors and occupiers. Additional demand for warehouses will come from retailers adding more inventory to accommodate consumer and end-user demand fluctuations and from manufacturers diversifying their supply chains to reduce dependence on China. 
  • Multifamily: CBRE anticipates the average rental rate in the U.S. to decline by 8.8 percent this year and vacancy to rise by more than 3 percentage points. However, a steady recovery for the sector in 2021 and 2022 will be fueled by falling unemployment, strong underlying demographic trends and active lenders. A recovery in rents and occupancies will revive investment activity in the sector. 
  • Office: CBRE foresees negative net absorption (demand) for office space globally this year, and a modest rise of 1 percentage point in the global vacancy rate, before an improvement starts next year. Even so, rents are likely to fall 3 percent to 6 percent next year in most markets. More companies are allowing a greater amount of remote work than they did prior to the pandemic, but the physical office is expected to continue to support collaboration, creativity, innovation and client service. 
  • Retail: Shoppers have transitioned to making fewer store visits but spending more during those visits. They currently prefer open-air centers and retail parks to enclosed malls. Curbside-pickup services will become permanent offerings for many retailers. The transition of department store space to e-commerce fulfilment centers will also accelerate. 
  • Hotels: Leisure travel has carried the hotel recovery in its early stages, but the return of corporate and group travel is critical to a full recovery of the sector. That likely will depend on the emergence of a vaccine. The pandemic’s deep hit to hotel revenue will cause a repositioning of some hotels into other uses, sales of some and permanent closures of still others.