Intelligent Investment

2021 Global Investment Volume Hits Record Level

February 2, 2022 3 Minute Read

  • Global commercial real estate investment reached a record annual total of US$1.3 trillion in 2021—up by 55% from 2020 and 21% from 2019.
  • Q4 volume in all three regions—Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific—surpassed 2019 levels, with the Americas and EMEA setting record levels.
  • The multifamily sector attracted much more capital in the U.S. and Europe, while industrial investment remained strong across all regions. The office, retail and hotel sectors showed signs of recovery and appear poised for further growth in 2022.
  • Sun Belt markets continued to lead overall growth in the U.S., while investment in multifamily and high-quality office assets picked up in gateway markets.
  • Entity-level and large portfolio transactions drove growth in Europe’s multifamily and industrial sectors, while also fueling growth in overall Asia-Pacific investment.


Despite a surge in COVID cases and rising inflation, global commercial real estate investment had strong growth in Q4 2021, with record volumes in the U.S. and Europe along with strong volume in Asia-Pacific.

Global investment volume increased by 54% year-over-year in Q4 to a record US$498 billion. Full-year 2021 global volume increased by 55% from 2020 and 21% from 2019.

The multifamily sector, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, drove volume growth in Q4 with a 90% year-over-year increase to US$183 billion. The industrial sector recorded US$104 billion of investment in Q4, a 43% year-over-year increase.

Figure 1: Global Commercial Real Estate Investment Volume, Q4 2021 (US$ Billions - Floating)

Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics, Q4 2021.


The Americas region had a banner year in 2021, as annual investment volume surged 83% to nearly US$775 billion. Q4 had record quarterly volume of US$301 billion, up by 82% from Q4 2020. The Q4 increase was fueled by 116% growth in multifamily investment volume. Sun Belt markets continued to see robust growth, while gateway markets began to recover—particularly in high-quality office assets.

The multifamily sector’s share of total investment grew to 45% in Q4 2021, up from 41% in Q3 2021 and above its 2015-2019 average of 28%. Although growth was primarily driven by Sun Belt markets, gateway markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago all had year-over-year growth of more than 110%.

The industrial sector accounted for 22% of total investment volume in Q4, on par with growth in the previous two quarters but down from its pandemic-era high of 27% in Q4 2020. Industrial investment increased 55% year-over-year to US$64 billion in Q4. Full-year investment in the sector increased by 53% year-over-year to US$160 billion.

The retail sector accounted for 11% of total investment volume in Q4, its highest share since Q2 2020. Retail investment increased by 119% year-over-year to US$34 billion in Q4 2021 and by 84% for the full year to US$74 billion. Strong entity-level activity totaling US$14 billion in the second half of 2021 included Realty Income Corp.’s acquisition of VEREIT’s retail portfolio and two mergers: Kite Realty Group and Retail Properties of America, and Kimco Realty and Weingarten Realty.

While the office sector’s share of total investment fell to 17% in Q4, it recorded its highest quarterly volume of US$120 billion since Q4 2018—an increase of 73% from Q4 2020 and 19% from Q4 2019. Full-year 2021 office investment volume increased by 55% from 2020 to US$136 billion—just 5% shy of 2019’s total.

Hotel investment volume surged by 142% year-over-year in Q4 2021 to US$12 billion. Full-year volume reached US$43 billion, a 238% increase from 2020. Both were the largest percentage increases among the major property sectors, as activity bounced back from COVID-suppressed levels in 2020. Compared with its pre-pandemic performance in 2018, hotel investment volume increased by 11% in 2021.

Figure 2: Share of Global Investment Volume

Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics, Q4 2021.


The European investment market closed 2021 with record quarterly volume of US$155 billion. Full-year volume totaled US$423 billion, up 28% from 2020. There was a surge in entity-level and large portfolio activity, particularly in the residential sector with Vonovia’s acquisition of Deutsche Wohnen and in the industrial sector with Blackstone’s acquisition of supermarket chain Asda’s warehouses.. Approximately 76% of capital inflows in 2021 came from Europe, up from a 71% average between 2013 and 2019.

The office sector had the largest share of European investment volume in Q4 at 32%. Office investment volume increased by 23% in Q4 to nearly US$50 billion—the highest quarterly total since Q4 2019. Between 5% and 10% growth in office investment volume is forecast for 2022.

Multifamily investment volume totaled US$120 billion in 2021, a 46% increase from 2020 and primarily driven by the take-over of Deutsche Wohnen by Vonovia in Germany and by multiple large-platform deals across Europe like the sale of Akelius’s residential business in Germany and the Nordics to Heimstaden.

Industrial investment volume increased by 51% year-over-year in 2021 to a record US$73 billion. While industrial’s share of total investment volume fell to 16% in Q4 from an average of 18% between Q3 2020 and Q2 2021, it was significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Retail investment volume totaled US$41 billion in 2021, down 9% from 2020 and 11% from 2019. Investment in the retail park/warehouse category overtook the shopping center and high street categories for the first time in history. Meanwhile, the hotel sector showed signs of recovery in Q4, with a 76% year-over-year increase in investment volume to US$20 billion.


Asia-Pacific investment volume increased by 5% year-over-year in Q4 to US$42 billion. Full-year volume of US$143 billion was slightly below 2017’s record US$146 billion. Investor sentiment should remain upbeat in 2022, with ample capital for deployment. Total investment volume in 2022 is projected to increase by 5% to 10% from 2021.

Office investment volume totaling US$65 billion in 2021 was on par with 2020. Mainland China accounted for the largest share of Q4 volume. Several prime office transactions were closed in Singapore and Sydney. The office sector accounted for 45% of total investment volume in the region.

Industrial assets remained highly sought after in 2021, with full-year investment volume increasing to US$35 billion from US$22 billion in 2020. Strong demand for warehouses from REITs and property funds in Japan and Australia further compressed logistics yields over the year. The industrial sector accounted for a record 29% of total investment volume in Q4.

Retail investment volume spiked in Q4, as several REITs acquired major shopping malls in Australia for redevelopment into mixed-use properties. Annual retail investment volume reached US$21 billion in 2021 from US$12 billion in 2020. Retail accounted for 18% of total investment volume in Q4, its highest share since Q4 2019.

Hotel investment activity picked up over the course of 2021, particularly in Japan and Australia, as investors sought urban hotels catering to pent-up domestic travel demand. However, total volume of US$6 billion in 2021was down 7% from 2020.


Another year of investment growth is expected in 2022, albeit at a more moderate pace than in 2021. Continued economic growth and low interest rates will fuel investment activity. Headwinds, such as rising inflation, geopolitical tensions and the potential for a COVID-19 resurgence, may cause some jitters in Q1 2022. CBRE estimates that annual global investment volume will increase by roughly 8% in 2022.

Figure 3: Total Value of Commercial Real Estate Investment Transactions (US$ Billions)1

Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics, Q4 2021.
1 Values include entity-level transactions and exclude development sites.
2 In order to calculate global totals, local currency values are converted to US$ using the most recent quarterly FX rates of Q4 2021. This calculation eliminates currency impacts over time and generates the same growth rates as in local currencies.

Figure A1: Seasonally Adjusted Investment Volume (US$ Billions - Floating)

Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics, Q4 2021.