More than three quarters of real estate investors in Europe expect the current market cycle to continue to at least 2019, according to Union Investment.

The investment manager’s latest study, published twice a year, shows that 75% of the 168 professional property investors in Germany, France and the UK between May and July did not expect the market to peak before 2019. Of those investors, 43% expected the peak to come even later.

Union Investment said the risk-averse attitudes of investors was prompting them to accept lower returns.

The study shows that 71% of investors in Germany and 74% of those in the UK are pursuing a “same risk – lower return” approach to the real estate investments, with these percentages up 15 and 14 percentage points, respectively, from the previous survey six months before.

Risk tolerance was higher in France where 59% of respondents said they expected to achieve lower returns with the same level of risk; 41% said they were taking on more risk to achieve the same yield targets as before.

Nearly one third of investors polled were pessimistic about attractive opportunities in the office market in the next 12 months, while 51% said they saw few prospects for compelling investments in the retail sector.

The survey picked up that many investors were looking to alternative sectors, such as student housing, in the face of dwindling opportunities in traditional sectors.

Olaf Janßen, head of real estate research at Union Investment Real Estate in Hamburg, said: “In recent months, high prices for office and retail real estate in the core markets have sparked the creativity of professional investors and caused them to take a broader view of the property market.”