ASIA - Asian property funds lack transparency, nearly two-thirds of respondents of a new survey by the Asian non-listed real estate fund association ANREV have said.

In the organisation's fifth annual Investment Intentions Asia Survey 2012, nearly 80 industry responses also showed China to be the focus of many investors' attention, with Chinese retail units the preferred choice for both investors and fund-of-fund managers.

However, 61% of those surveyed cited lack of transparency as the "main challenge" when investing in the region's non-listed property funds, with Alan Dalgleish, director of research and professional standards at the association, saying this represented an opportunity for investors.

"The finding suggests investors and managers are looking for improvements in the level of transparency across the industry," he said.

"This year, ANREV will expand its research programme, increase the coverage of the ANREV Funds database as well as expand the sample size of the fund level performance tool - the ANREV index."

There was also a sharp rise in intention to seek investment in Asia's developed markets, with 89% of respondents citing such countries as a preferred location, up by more than 40 percentage points on 2010 and 20 percentage points the year before.

Similarly, investors preferred to seek exposure to China, Australia and Singapore, while focusing on units within the office and retail market.

Japan fell out of favour with both investors and fund managers, while retaining a strong second place among fund-of-fund managers surveyed.

ANREV also said there was a "sharp" increase in interest in joint ventures, although it did not provide details of the percentages.

It said support for investment clubs had all but collapsed since its last survey was published in 2011.

"The interest in investment clubs dropped sharply from 57% in last year's survey to only 10% this year," Dalgleish said.

"Investors appear to have much less confidence in this investment approach, most likely because of the difficulty of sourcing and executing such opportunities in the region."

The survey received 79 responses from companies, with one-third coming from investors and fund-of-fund managers, while the remaining 65% were from fund managers.