Actual returns from real estate portfolios will fall short of expectations in the next three years, according to a survey by Union Investment Real Estate.

Half of the 164 institutional investors surveyed in Germany, France and the UK foresee lower returns between now and 2018.

Expectations improve only slightly over a five-year-period, the Hamburg-based asset manager said.

Olaf Janßen, head of real estate research at Union Investment Real Estate, said the recent ECB decision on QE had “further increased the pressure on strategic re-adjustments of real estate investments”.

Nevertheless, the survey did not show a major shift towards higher risk investment. Core sectors in Europe are still considered a “safe haven”.

Only a “comparably small group of investors” was shifting assets into higher-risk categories or segments with higher returns such as hotels or logistics.

According to the survey, only 37% of investors said they were prepared to take higher risks, which is the same share as in the last survey in summer 2014.

Janßen said investors did not see the need for further diversification as long as the rental situation for core European properties remained stable.

Adjustments towards slightly higher risks were made within the core range by accepting slightly shorter lease term periods and lower levels of pre-letting.

Around half the investors hoped to increase returns from their portfolios by increasing the share of B-cities and by concentrating on the European core markets.

Further, most want to use “market opportunities” to re-arrange portfolios and take profits, which is why Janßen expects the turnaround speed in portfolios of European real estate investors to increase.