Beyond covering this important area of Germany, our German consultants in Düsseldorf work alongside our other European teams effectively recruiting real estate professionals across the Benelux region. However, despite the geographical vicinity the markets are very different.

Due to the relative strength of the German economy, German funds and institutional investors have been fairly active over the last year or two. In fact, this group of investors have been leading the pack when it comes to buying large trophy-assets and core property – in Germany and across the Benelux region, as demonstrated for instance by the recent purchase of “The Rock” office property by Deka in Amsterdam.

As recruiters we look across Europe and our Düsseldorf office, which is not only in the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the strongest economic regions of Europe, it is also in the heart of Europe and as such just around the corner from the Benelux region.

However, all – or most – activity has come at the prime end of the market, as the general economic uncertainty (bank as well as government finances remain a serious concern) means that most investors really only focus on core locations and grade A property. Rental levels, although mostly stable, remain fragile and general economic growth seems unstable. Some opportunistic investors have returned, although there remains a significant gap in the market which does not look like it will be closed anytime soon.

It seems that not only is the Benelux market much smaller, it is also a little less transparent, considering the size of the market. However, it is unlikely that compared to Germany the rate of increase in investment volumes will be reached either. It is apparent that Benelux is not dissimilar to most of Northern Europe in that the value of assets in the market have not yet sufficiently corrected to attract investors back to the bidding table. With equity around there are buyers in place looking for “the deal” but the margin between their expectations and vendors still needs to close.

What does this mean in recruitment terms? In Germany the relative strength of the market and the activity of the institutional investors have translated into recruitment requirements at all levels. In the Benelux region this demand for qualified staff is a little less pronounced, although high calibre real estate professionals who know their specific markets well and have a strong personal network and reputation are increasingly becoming valuable talent. This is no more evident than in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and as such we look at the market and in recruitment terms see a similar level of demand to last year.

Timothy Rowe
Managing Director, Cobalt Recruitment