Investors remain positive on mainland China’s long-term growth despite the COVID-19 outbreak, according to new research from Cushman & Wakefield.

The 2020 Mainland China Commercial Real Estate Investor Intentions Survey – which attracted 122 respondents – revealed that more than 60% of respondents believe that investment activities will rebound within six months after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and 99% of respondents express their willingness to continue investing in mainland China.

According to the survey, investors are more enthusiastic about Tier 1 cities, especially foreign investors, with 100% of respondents from foreign institutions stating they have plans to invest in Shanghai in the next 12 months. Sixty-three of the survey respondents are from foreign-funded institutions.

“Despite the impact of the pandemic, most investors have confidence in the market and are optimistic about the long-term development of the commercial real estate (CRE) market in mainland China,” it stated.

James Shepherd, head of research, Asia Pacific at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The survey results show that domestic investors are more proactive than foreign investors in terms of project execution, and more willing to increase their investment budget in 2020.

“Impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, most foreign-funded enterprises have significantly slowed their project progress, which provides domestic-funded enterprises with opportunities to accelerate their pace of acquisition.”

Shepherd said for investors who are based in Asia, China is an important part of their portfolio allocation in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We expect that there will be a range of investment opportunities in the market when the pandemic situation gradually becomes clearer, and transaction volume may rebound in the second half of the year.”

Alvin Yip, president of capital markets in Greater China, and head of capital markets in China at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Looking back at past crises, the impact of SARS in 2003 was not prolonged, as China’s economy was in a period of rapid growth, and although the global financial crisis of 2008 took a toll on the global economy, China’s real estate market rebounded rapidly afterwards due to high liquidity in real estate projects and a healthy financial market.”

Today, most investors have become accustomed to turbulence, Yip said.

“The straight rise in asset values over the past few years has kept investors waiting for new market entry opportunities should a correction arise.

“With the China government’s concerted effort to control the coronavirus, and with the support of economic stimulus measures, we are hopeful that its impact will only be short-term. Experienced investors may find this an opportunity to expand their footprint in China.”

Catherine Chen, director of research, Asia Pacific at Cushman & Wakefield and author of the report, said: “We can see from the findings of this survey that investors generally have an objective view on the impact of COVID-19.

“They believe that the pandemic will have certain negative impacts on the market in the short-term, especially in the office, retail and hotel sectors, but this short-term impact will not cause them to abandon their investment.”

Chen said under the impact of the pandemic some industries are experiencing rapid growth in demand, such as online retail and services, artificial intelligence and big health.

“We anticipate that this growth will lead to the further development of the CRE sectors supporting these industries, including data centres, logistics and R&D centres.”