Real Estate 25 2021

The annual report on the most valuable and strongest real estate brands

Brand Finance Real Estate 25 2021

Immune from COVID-collapse: China Dominates Real Estate Ranking with 97% of Total Brand Value 

  • Total value of world’s top 25 real estate brands increases by 8% – China dominates ranking with 23 brands
  • Evergrande leads sector for fourth consecutive year despite brand value drop of 2% to US$20.2 billion
  • Greentown enters ranking for first time as this year’s fastest-growing, gaining more in brand value than any other brand – up 52%
  • Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties struggles as COVID-closures ravage shopping malls, dining, leisure, and entertainment venues, brand value down 30%
  • Previous new entrant Joy City retains title of world’s strongest real estate brand 

Real estate brands emerged relatively unscathed from the economic fallout of COVID-19, with the total brand value of the Brand Finance Real Estate 25 2021 ranking increasing by 8% year-on-year to US$164.3 billion in 2021. Chinese brands continue to dominate the real estate sector, also claiming an additional two spots in this year’s ranking. This takes the total number of Chinese real estate brands to 23 out of 25, or 97% of the ranking’s total brand value at US$159.4 billion. The remaining two spots belong to US-based Brookfield Property Partners (down 5% to US$2.8 billion) and CBRE (down 12% to US$2.8 billion) in 19th and 20th, respectively.  

While China was the first country to bear the brunt of the virus, the nation was the only major economy in the world to avoid a contraction in 2020, with its full-year GDP expanding just over 2%. Additionally, China’s output leapt nearly 20% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, the fastest known rate since records began in the 1990s. A combination of high demand, ever-growing population and consistent government intervention has enabled the Chinese property market to thrive – even under the most strenuous of conditions – with real estate investment across the country since returning to pre-COVID levels, and infrastructure and manufacturing investment also rebounding thanks to healthy export growth. 

Evergrande leads sector 

For the fourth consecutive year, Evergrande has claimed the title of world’s most valuable real estate brand, despite recording a marginal 2% decrease in brand value to US$20.2 billion. Financial challenges amidst tightening borrowing limits as the country’s regulators move to minimise risk across the sector could in part explain the brand’s slight drop in value this year. Additionally, the brand’s US$23 billion investment into the electronic vehicle market – with the aim of becoming the world’s largest NEV company – rendered mixed results, with the electric car maker yet to sell a single car under its own brand. Still, with over 870 projects across more than 280 cities in China, Evergrande continues to dominate the real estate space, with considerable market share and thus solid revenues.

While Western countries struggled to cope with the effects of COVID-19, China was able to largely contain the epidemic. Real estate brands in the country have benefited from continued economic growth, which is set to persevere through 2021, while threats of a correction have not materialised. The nation's growth through the pandemic provides both a strong domestic market and potentially weaker international competition in the years to come, which could pave the way for expansion into new markets.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance

Greentown makes ranking debut as fastest-growing brand 

Greentown enters the Brand Finance Real Estate 25 2021 ranking for the first time after an impressive brand value growth of 52% to US$2.0 billion. At the end of November last year, the company had already achieved over 90% of its full-year sales target, following a notable increase in saleable resources and improved project turnover. Additionally, it is anticipated that Greentown’s total contracted sales will amount to a record growth of 20% year-on-year in 2021, with active land acquisition activities supporting further scale expansion, bolstering the company’s positive financial forecast. 

Woes versus Wanda 

A pioneer in creating fully independent commercial zones combining shopping, dining, leisure, and entertainment, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties (down 30% to US$3.3 billion) continued to enlarge its national footprint, entering several cities across China and performing well in 2016 and 2017 – ranking 2nd and 1st overall, respectively. However, as operations continued, inconsistencies appeared between demand and supply levels, leading to adjusted financial forecasts and the year-on-year drop in brand value experienced by the company over the past few years – placing 3rd in 2018, 9th in 2019 and 11th in 2020. COVID brought with it additional challenges for the already struggling business, as shopping malls, dining, leisure, and entertainment facilities were forced to close shop, thus pushing the company even further down the ranking, placing 15th overall in 2021. 

Joy City Jubilation 

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. According to these criteria, Joy City (down 9% to US$2.4 billion) is the world’s strongest real estate brand for the second consecutive year with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 81.3 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA- brand strength rating, up from AAA last year.  

Renowned for its shopping malls in particular, Joy City is viewed as an innovative, forward-thinking, high-quality brand that focuses on enhancing the urban lifestyle. Based on research conducted in the Brand Finance Brand Equity Monitor Study, these attributes contribute to high brand equity scores on metrics such as consumer familiarity and reputation, which are directly related to positive Brand Strength performance.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance