While many large office occupiers have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the global economy, others are leasing up much-needed space to accommodate expanding operations. Quality office buildings in major cities in the world are seeing consistent demand from both occupiers and investors.
In terms of office occupancy costs, two Asian markets ranked among the top five most expensive in the world as of mid 2012. Hong Kong’s Class A office rent continued to top the world, with Tokyo taking the third spot.
Class A Office Net Rent (US$ per sq ft per year) – Top 5 Cities
|City||Jun 2012||Dec 2011||Jun 2011|
|London – West End||125.65||120.31||124.50|
|Rio de Janeiro||90.40||93.05||85.70|
*Tokyo rents listed are gross rents including operating costs
Meanwhile, individual markets in Asia recorded the lowest capitalisation rates. Capitalisation rate in Taipei was the lowest worldwide at 2.50%, followed by Hong Kong (2.67%) at the second spot and Singapore (3.90%) at the fourth spot as of June 2012.
According to Global Office 2013 Outlook, the following illustrates the current trend and 2013 forecast for key office markets in the Asia region.
In China, Shanghai registered growth in the average Class A office rent, despite rising vacancy due to launch of five new projects in the downtown area. As the average gross yield in Shanghai’s Class A office sector declined to 5.8% in 3Q 2012, the limited number of recent land transactions recently reflected that developers remain cautious about investment for further commercial development. In Beijing - another key office market in China, overseas and domestic enterprises continued to show interest to enter the city as they establish or expand their offices, although the leasing market appeared lackluster compared to the extremely active year of 2011. In 2013, the Class A office sector in Beijing is expected to stay positive with negotiations between landlords and tenants becoming more elastic in the near term and see sustained active investment.
After notable fall in the first half of 2012, Hong Kong’s office rents have seen signs of stabilisation in 3Q 2012 due largely to the solid demand from a range of medium-sized financial companies and mainland enterprises. Due to the third round of quantitative easing in the US, inflationary pressure is expected to push up real estate values in Hong Kong where the local currency is pegged to the US dollar. The average office vacancy rate is expected to hover around at the historical average of 5% by end 2012 and remain low in 2013, except Central/Admiralty where falling demand for top-tier office premises is anticipated to cause increasing vacancy in the district.
As economic growth slowed due to uncertainties in domestic policy, cumulative impact of monetary tightening and slackening of external demand, India experienced contradicting trends in different markets. In Delhi, Class A rents increased by 2% to 7% over the previous quarter in popular locations such as Connaught Place and Nehru Place, while Jasola and Saket registered 4% to 10% drops. Looking ahead, the rents of Class A office space are expected to be stable in almost all Delhi and Mumbai submarkets.
Seoul registered increasing rents and decreasing office vacancy rates to 6.97% in the first half of 2012. Particularly, in the Class A+ office buildings, the office spaces were almost fully occupied with an average vacancy rate of just 0.11%. Low supply, increased rents and a slight decrease in vacancy point to moderate improvement in the Seoul market in 2013. However, new supply will keep strong growth in rent or occupancy in check.
Singapore Class A office rents in the CBD fell in 2012 as the global economic environment weighed down the market’s leasing activity. Seeing the steady lineup of new office buildings completed over the next four years, a substantial amount of secondary space could be released to the market upon lease expiration as existing tenants move to new premises. Singapore’s CBD Class A office rents are expected to continue decline through 2013, which the lowered office rents will improve the market’s competitive edge as a regional hub for business.
In Tokyo, 2012 marked the second-biggest year for new office construction since 2003. As occupiers take the advantage of oversupply by upgrading their office’s quality, the Class A office market sees frequent tenant relocations as well as reducing overall rents. On the sales front, more than half of the total transaction volume in Japan is made up of office property sales. Looking forward, Class A office rents in Tokyo are anticipated to see stabilising signs and increase moderately in 2013.