EUROPE - Institutional investors are seeking safety in housing real estate as an investment option but not all opportunities are equal, the German real estate company Patrizia has suggested in a study.

One trend identified in a survey conducted for Patrizia's first housing real estate study was the increasing differentiation between housing for rent and for sale.

While the sentiment last year was balanced towards both markets - while around 30% of investors wanted to buy into the housing market another 30% wanted to sell and the rest hold their investments - this year a different picture has emerged.

Just under 20% of investors this year said they would want to buy into the "for sale" housing market but 40% said the same about the "for rent" market.

The findings were exactly reversed for those who said they wanted to sell their holdings.

"That means that in the housing sector investors are increasingly taking the necessary differentiation in this market into account in their investment strategy," said Patrizia.

"High levels of ownership in the housing markets can slow down economic development," argued Marcus Cieleback, head of research at Patrizia.

He explained price bubbles were much larger in those markets and ownership of self-used properties led to a diminished flexibility when it comes to changing your employer, which means labour markets become less effective.

Patrizia concluded that the rented housing markets in Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany are "attractive above average" for housing investments to institutions while Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Estland and Austria range at the lower end of attractiveness.