COMMERCIAL PROPERTY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s office market makes rapid rebound in Q1 2011

CB Richard Ellis says the country’s prime office rates climbed by 40% at the end of Q1 2011.  

Hong Kong has gained ground on the other two financial centers of the world, London and New York, particularly in the recovery period since 2009.

Here’s more from CBRE:

Hong Kong, London, New York: From Recession to Reco rom Recession to Recovery very CB Richard Ellis report highlights contrasting pace of office market recoveries in global financial centres

Office markets in the world’s three top financial centers—Hong Kong, London and New York— have moved at varying speeds in their recovery from the impact of the global crisis financial crisis, according to a new research report by CB Richard Ellis. The report -”Hong Kong, London, New York: From Recession to Recovery”- highlights how Hong Kong’s economy rebounded quickly from the global financial crisis, mirroring the resilience of Mainland China, with growth in the financial sector since 2009 strongly outpacing the two Western cities.

This analysis runs counter to the traditional view that real estate markets in global financial centers move in lockstep and points to the importance of local economic dynamics and market structure as real estate drivers.

“The contrasts in the pace of real estate recovery seen so far in the three global financial centers need to be viewed in the context of the shift taking place in the global economy in favor of Asia,” said Dr. Raymond Torto, CBRE’s Global Chief Economist.

“This shift is likely to continue to drive differences in office market performance in the world’s leading financial centers.”

With a rapid rebound in office demand, Hong Kong’s office market recorded sharply falling vacancy rates through 2010 while prime office rents climbed by almost 40 per cent by the end of Q1 2011. High investment demand, boosted by capital inflows from China, drove down office yields to produce a dramatic uplift in capital values: the CBRE Capital Value Index for prime Hong Kong office buildings rose by 150 per cent in the two years to Q1 2011, surpassing its pre-crisis peak by 35 per cent.

In New York, the impact of the financial crisis on office demand made for a slower market recovery. The Manhattan market witnessed a slow pace of decline in vacancy during 2010, and a significant upturn in prime rents became apparent only in Q1 2011.

The New York office investment market, with its high reliance on debt financing, remained largely frozen through 2009 but thawed rapidly during 2010 as credit availability improved and CMBS issuance began to resume. Capitalization rates have compressed sharply from their mid-2009 peak, reflecting low interest rates and improving economic conditions.

Central London recorded a relatively early rebound in leasing activity and in prime rents, although momentum slackened as the market entered 2011. As in New York, the initial upturn in demand owed much to occupier requirements being reactivated after the downturn and tenants taking advantage of lower rents and generous incentives. London also saw a rapid re-compression of prime office investment yields from mid 2009 with a rise in transaction volumes driven strongly by the city’s success in capturing a disproportionate share of global flows in search of prime real estate.

Hong Kong, London, New York: From Recession to Recovery, written by senior CBRE researchers Peter Damesick, Pamela Murphy and Andrew Ness, identifies an important factor supporting rental recovery in all three cities as the absence of a significant overhang of new development supply after the downturn. All face a squeeze in new office supply for at least the next two years, which should lead to higher rents and pressure on occupiers to pre-lease to satisfy major requirements.

Andrew Ness, Executive Director, CBRE Research Asia Pacific, furthermore noted that the Global Financial Center Index, which is cited in the report, shows that in the period from 2007 up to the present, Hong Kong has clearly gained ground on the other two cities, particularly in the recovery period since 2009. Mr. Ness further commented that “in the context of the strong growth which has occurred in Asia since this date, there have been similar up-ratings in the GFCI ranking of several other leading financial centers in Asia, most notably Singapore, Shanghai and Seoul, and this is indicative of the continued global shift in global financial market activity toward leading Asian centers.”  

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