GLOBAL – Pooled funds appear to be back in favour with real estate investors at the expense of club deals and joint ventures, according to a study revealed at MIPIM.

The survey, carried out by KPMG, shows that 33% of investors have identified pooled funds as "the most attractive vehicle in today's market", level with direct holdings/separate accounts and above club deals and joint ventures (25%).

Only 18% of survey respondents currently employ pooled funds in their real estate portfolios, suggesting a change of approach among many investors.

The 15-percentage-point increase seems to have come at the expense of direct holdings/separate accounts (41% of investors currently employ this approach) and club deals/joint ventures (35%).

Stefan Pfister, partner and head of real estate at KPMG, revealed the results at RE-Invest, a summit for leading institutional investors at MIPIM in Cannes, which included a number of sovereign wealth funds and large pension funds.

They mark a reversal of last year's findings that seemed to suggest real estate investors were favouring joint ventures and club deals over funds.

Opportunistic, core and debt strategies were also identified as offering the best opportunities, with 29% of investors selecting opportunistic, 29% core and 21% real estate debt.

Investors were less bullish about emerging markets (11%), fund/portfolio 'secondaries' (4%) and listed property and real estate investment trusts (REITs) (4%).

The survey also found that investors were split 50/50 over whether debt investments offered better risk-adjusted returns than traditional property investments.

But it did suggest investors would allocate more capital to real estate debt in future, with nearly two-thirds (62%) agreeing that "debt strategies will become a much more significant part of institutional real estate portfolios in the future".

Mezzanine was the most favoured type of debt with investors at 40%, while 33% chose senior and 27% whole loans.

The majority (64%) of investors said real estate debt belonged within the real estate allocation, while 29% said fixed income and 7% opted for 'other'.

The survey by KPMG, along with research conducted by IP Real Estate, was used to help generate debate among some of the world's largest real estate investors at the RE-Invest summit.

The event was moderated by Richard Lowe, editor of IP Real Estate; Dietrich Heidtmann, global head of investor relations and capital markets at AXA Real Estate; Isabelle Scemama, head of CRE finance at AXA Real Estate; Matthias Thomas, chief executive at INREV; Richard White, head of real estate at KPMG; and Sven Andersen, partner for corporate finance at KPMG.