Established in 1981, the Great-West Life Real Estate Fund is one of Canada’s largest real estate segregated funds. The Great-West Life Real Estate Fund (also known as the Canadian Real Estate Investment Fund No. 1 (or CREIF)) invests in a portfolio of high-quality, income-producing properties diversified by type and location. The objective is to provide investors with strong income returns and the opportunity for long-term capital appreciation.
65 Lillian (vivere), Toronto, ON
Watermark Tower, Calgary, AB
Laval Industrial, Laval, Quebec
Creekside Crossing, Airdrie, AB
as of March 31, 2021
in real estate assets *
in total assets *
Source of Return
Compound rates of return
(gross of investment management fees)
Three Month - Q1
Diversification by property type
By property type (millions)
Diversification by region
By region (millions)
Q4 2020 Great-West Life Real Estate Fund Bulletin
The Great-West Life Real Estate Investment Fund concluded it’s 40th year by highlighting the importance of portfolio diversification and a defensively titled investment strategy. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Fund provided resilient income performance and stable property level capital returns, delivering strong relative performance. The Fund announced the return of valuation confidence early in January 2021 as increased levels of investment and leasing improved visibility of market conditions, providing the data required to inform and support property valuations. This is a critical first step in the Fund’s return to standard operations. As of January 11th, 2021, contributions and transfers into the Fund have resumed.
Bayview Village Apartments, Toronto, ON
8400 Lawson, Milton, ON
The Riverside Apartments, Ottawa, ON
The total gross return for the year was 2.54%, inclusive of a 3.82% income return. A negative capital return was realized, largely attributed to the mark to market of the Fund’s debt. Asset class returns were mixed. Strong performance in the industrial (16%) and multi-residential (9%) sectors were offset by a more challenging retail (-9%) and office (-2%) landscape. Income performance faced pressure from Covid-19 related fallout, including government mandated shutdowns and relief measures that provided limited support. Despite these conditions, the Fund ended the year with portfolio occupancy of 92.5% and was able to collect over 97% of rent payable from the period of April through December. An investment in a core, privately held, diversified real estate portfolio continued to deliver strong performance with minimal correlation to other investments and limited relative volatility. For context, in 2020 the S&P/TSX REIT index returned -13.1% while the S&P TSX composite delivered 2.2%. As a measure of direct comparative performance, the MSCI Property Fund Index (PFI) had total gross return of 0.51% for the year.
With uncertainty a central theme of 2020, new investment activity for the year was supressed from typical levels. Two non-core suburban office assets in B.C. were sold in the second quarter for net proceeds of greater than $200M. To aid in the future construction of 580,900 square feet of recently approved additional multi-residential density at High Park Village in the GTA, the Fund formed a strategic JV partnership, realizing an additional $200M in proceeds. The Fund also successfully acquired an eight-acre parcel of land in the GTA, ultimately intended to facilitate the construction of a new generation 135,000+ square foot industrial building.
With vaccines rolling out, the end of this challenging period appears to be to the horizon. Society has adapted admirably in the COVID-19 era, but there remain questions on the longer-term implications for the economy, and real estate. We continue to believe that the Fund’s focus on building an enduring portfolio, with high quality assets located in transit oriented, amenity rich locations, will continue to resonate with tenants, and ultimately deliver attractive returns to investors. This operational focus, together with a strong balance sheet and a tactical capital strategy, will allow the Fund to continue to participate in the economic recovery. 2021 will undoubtedly present new challenges and opportunities. The Fund will continue to build upon its 40-year history in creating successful outcomes for its stakeholders.
The Segregated Funds described in this bulletin are offered through a variable insurance contract issued by The Canada Life Assurance Company.
Please note that unit values and investment returns will fluctuate, and past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.
For IVIC investors: A description of the key features of the segregated fund policy is contained in the information folder.