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World's ultra wealthy hold a fifth of their wealth (US$5.3 trillion) in real estate assets

LONDON and SINGAPORE, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Private wealth is increasingly shaping the world's real estate markets and the use of private equity in major property deals worth at least US$10 million has nearly trebled since 2009. 

Real estate now accounts for around a fifth of the invested wealth of the nearly 200,000 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in the world, according to new analysis from international real estate advisor, Savills, in association with Wealth-X, the world's leading UHNW intelligence provider.

In Around The World In Dollars And Cents published today, Savills estimates that the total value of the world's real estate is now around US$180 trillion, some 72 per cent of which is owner occupied residential property.  Of the US$70 trillion that is 'investable' and therefore traded regularly - including US$20 trillion of commercial property - over half is being bought by private individuals, companies and organisations. Investing institutions, listed companies and publicly owned entities are becoming relatively less important to world real estate as a result.

Around 3 per cent, or US$5.3 trillion, of the world's total real estate value is owned by UHNWIs. This wealthiest 0.003 per cent of the world's population has real estate holdings which are worth an average of US$26.5 million each.

"Global real estate is mostly residential and held by occupiers, but private owners are becoming more important in the world of traded investable property," says Yolande Barnes, head of Savills world research.  "Since the 'North Atlantic debt crisis' of 2008, sovereign wealth funds, wealth management companies, private banks and family offices have stepped into the property deals that corporate bankers have deserted."

She added that: "In the world's leading cities, the willingness of private wealth to take the place of debt finance or to take a higher-risk development position is now making the difference between deals done or schemes mothballed."  Savills estimates that around 35 per cent (or 6,200) of global big ticket (>US$10m) deals in 2012 were only possible because of private funding.

Mykolas D. Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X, confirms the growing importance of private wealth: "We forecast that the UHNW population will grow by 22 per cent by 2018, its combined wealth - currently US$27.8 trillion - is expected to total over US$36 trillion by 2018. This presents huge opportunities for those involved in global real estate investment to create the right product in the right locations."

The geography of UHNWI wealth (ranked by real estate holdings):
European and Asian UHNWIs hold by far the biggest share of all privately owned real estate, together accounting for almost 80 per cent by value. European UHNWIs hold 31 per cent of their wealth in real estate and Asians 27 per cent, with a total value of around US$4.2 trillion, according to Savills.


by world region

% of total world private wealth

Total private wealth US$bn

% of wealth held in real estate

Real estate wealth by region US$bn











Middle East















Latin America





North America





World Total





Source: Savills World Research/Wealth-X

The firm has also analysed the way private money moves around the real estate world and found that the majority (92%) of investments are within the 'home' global region.  North America stands out as uniquely domestic, with 99 per cent of all UHNWI investment coming from US citizens themselves.

Meanwhile, mature and emerging nations have seen much more cross-border inward investment. Just under half (44%) of UHNWI investors in Africa and two-thirds (66%) in Latin America are from outside the home region.

European real estate markets are the largest and most international, having attracted the most global inward investment, relative to size, with London the standout global destination for private inward real estate investment from virtually every corner of the globe. 

"In recent years there has been a tendency for UHNWIs to focus on 'safe haven,' trophy properties for capital growth and wealth preservation," says Barnes. "In future, we anticipate that some will begin to seek more productive, long-term income-producing positions.

"UHNWIs will be competing more directly with institutional investors in future but, being more opportunistic and less constrained by formal criteria, are more likely to become pathfinders and pioneers than corporate investors are."

Editors notes:

About Savills
Savills is a leading global real estate service provider listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company, established in 1855, has a rich heritage with unrivalled growth. It is a company that leads rather than follows and now has over 500 offices and associates throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

About Wealth-X
Wealth-X is the definitive source of intelligence on the ultra wealthy with the world's largest collection of curated research on ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals, defined as those with net assets of US$30 million and above. Headquartered in Singapore, it has 12 offices on five continents. (www.wealthx.com)


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