Research & Forecast Report

COVID-19

INSIGHTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

for APAC Real Estate

for APAC Real Estate

Read​ onforan​ overviewof​ our insights

Asia prime office market rent

Relative to prior period

2020

2021

Beijing

Seoul

Tokyo

Shanghai

Singapore

Hong Kong

Manila

Read on for an overview of the report

LOCATIONS
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LOCATIONS
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COVID-19

INSIGHTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

for APAC Real Estate

Key Takeaways - Q1 2019

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The overall vacancy rate rose 90 basis points to 6.0 percent.

Overall weighted rents rose 2.1 percent to $87.15 per square foot.

The city experienced nearly 2.6 million square feet of closed transactions.

Eight investment sales closed this quarter for a total of nearly $1.2 billion in investment volume.

San Francisco posted approximately 105,000 square feet of negative absorption.

There was over 4.2 million square feet of office space under construction throughout San Francisco.

Investment markets: Big city grit

The property market’s resilience in Asia’s major cities is evident in total investment volumes, which registered only a 3% dip in the 10 largest urban property markets compared to a 13% fall in the overall regional market in the first nine months of 2019. This is a healthy outcome in light of the challenges of the past year. While growth continues to decelerate modestly, low to negative interest rates should help raise total investment volumes by 7% to USD124 billion in 2020.

Office Leasing

INSIGHTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

COVID-19 affected markets across borders, multiple real estate sectors and people in our communities across Asia Pacific. We’re here to help you be enterprising, to navigate the effects of the novel coronavirus and make the most of opportunities as markets in the region start to recover.

 

Colliers is providing you insights and recommendations from across APAC in a single resource, to help you continue to accelerate your success through property.

 

Read on for recommendations from our market leaders and workplace experts.

 

CAPITAL MARKETS & Investment services

China and Hong Kong have started to recover from the effects of COVID-19, but many markets elsewhere in the APAC region are still under lockdown. We previously assumed that activity in APAC real estate capital markets would rebound from late Q2 or early H2 2020. However, the global spread of COVID-19 has resulted in the expected rebound being delayed by three to six months. We highlight current disruption levels and attractive asset classes in the evolving market conditions:

 

  • China: We highlight logistics warehouses, since COVID-19 further boosted online shopping and thus demand for logistics space, as well as data centres, for which demand is surging.
  • Hong Kong SAR: We favour en-bloc and strata-title offices, hotels (for a rebound), and industrial assets (stable, with conversion potential).
  • Singapore: The country’s strong policy response to COVID-19 has won praise. Office and hotel assets are attractive for long-run growth.
  • Japan: Despite rising disruption from COVID-19, over half of the economy is functioning normally. We highlight Tokyo prime offices in a market which favours landlords, and logistics assets due to shortage of quality stock.
  • Australia:​ The weak AUD should support offshore investment once markets reopen, although sales to foreign firms are now subject to regulatory review. We highlight investment opportunities in biomedical precincts and the logistics sector.

OCCUPIER MARKETS

We expect COVID-19 to continue to affect APAC markets in H1 2020, with an anticipated recovery in H2 2020. What does this scenario imply for office occupiers in Asia Pacific? We recommend:

 

  • China: Rising economic activity, but increasing vacancy and decreasing rents in Tier 1 cities provide chances for occupiers to agree favourable long-term leases.
  • Hong Kong SAR: Rents continue to moderate; occupiers can negotiate long-term deals and potentially recentralize.
  • Singapore: Circuit breaker is easing, but with limited supply and low vacancy, we expect office rents to decrease slightly by YE 2020.
  • Japan: Japan is returning to normal, and the Tokyo market still favours landlords with very low vacancy. Tenants should lock in options soon.
  • Australia: Occupiers are returning to work and leasing activity is beginning to pick up.

CHINA

China is probably one of the first markets to start to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and we have already seen a huge rebound in confidence and spending power. Data centers and logistics warehouses have emerged as the strongest sectors, followed by business parks.

 

We recommend:

 

  • Landlords should capture the opportunities in sectors that are expanding, including online services and medical.
  • Landlords: Due to the possible reduction of revenue and capex, tenants might delay their relocation plans and renew contracts; landlords should take the opportunity to retain occupiers.
  • Occupiers with tight capex that are expanding or relocating should consider projects with furnished space or fit-out allowance, as well as flexible workspaces.

RECORD LAND SALE IS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE IN CHINA’S REAL ESTATE MARKET

After shutting down most manufacturing and service sectors for three weeks, China has officially resumed work on Monday (February 24). As the factories rumble back to action, China is also faced with the challenge of striking a balance between virus containment and getting its economy back on track. In the midst of one of China’s most acute economic setbacks and concerns on the lingering effects from the coronavirus, Hongkong Land surprised the market on February 20 with a record land bid of RMB31.05 billion (USD4.48 billion) for a development site in Shanghai’s Xuhui West Bund area.


The site, which was listed for sale in December of last year, is 231,300 square meters and is located in the south of Shanghai’s traditional downtown area between Huangpu river’s west bank and Longhua Middle Road. Reportedly, the site would be fully developed in a few phases by 2027 with a total gross floor area (GFA) of 1.09 million square meters (11.73 million square feet), of which 650,000 square meters would be allocated for office space, 210,000 square meters is planned for retail, and the remaining would be used for a hotel, high-end residentials, affordable housings and long-term lease apartments. Hongkong Land’s record breaking land acquisition is a vote of confidence to the real estate market, as it is a clear indication that foreign investors are still planning to invest in China for the long-term. In open statements, Hongkong Land said: “the land acquisition provides the Group with an attractive opportunity to develop and operate a commercial complex of scale in a prime location in Shanghai, the predominant commercial hub of the Chinese mainland.”


While Hongkong Land’s record high price tag may raise eyebrows, our Research survey in the past has shown that even with near-term political or economic uncertainties, both domestic and foreign investors have held a positive long-term outlook towards China’s economic growth. Based on Colliers Pan-China investment survey published in July 2019, 68% of the respondents expressed their willingness to continue investments into China, as investors are adopting a long-term view to avoid missing out the huge potential demand. Also, in Colliers most recent survey on the coronavirus impact on China’s real estate market, most investors believe real estate valuations will probably be depressed in the near term but should rebound in H2 2020, and the current market weakness should provide an opportunity to hunt for bargains.

HONG KONG

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the resilience of Hong Kong, but it still remains attractive among international and Chinese companies as a platform to seek listing, establish an operational footprint and trade across border with China.

 

Capital Markets:

 

  • Hong Kong’s Initial Public Offerings (IPO) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) activity has remained strong
  • Asia and Hong Kong have seen several new funds raised ready to deploy capital. COVID-19 has only slowed the deployment of capital, not limited its flow

Occupier Services:

 

  • Modern assets tend to have new features which lend themselves to wellness specification such as LEED and WELL certification, which will be attractive to tenants as they return to work
  • Fringe or suburban hubs are doing well as organisations look for alternative options such as ​ core and flex spaces

Valuation and Advisory Services:

 

  • The market is experiencing 2019 pricing meaning valuations needs to come down, or a deal needs to be done to reset market expectations
  • Data centres still provide opportunity for investors as the demand continues to increase and provide stable long-term returns

Singapore

Singapore has been highly commended for the government’s approach in handling the effects of COVID-19. This augurs well for Singapore in terms of attracting talent, businesses and investors. There will be real estate opportunities as businesses affected by COViD-19 will have to reassess their options.

 

While we continue monitoring the evolving situation closely, we make the following recommendations:


  • Office:​ Grade A offices will continue to be in demand, and DCB will also be in demand from a business continuity perspective.
  • Retailers: Take this opportunity to expand offline-to-online strategies, and for landlords to line up marketing campaigns to recapture shoppers as demand returns.
  • Industrialists and landlords: E-commerce and deliveries have created a demand for logistics space. This may result in an increase in demand for retail warehouses and central kitchens.
  • Investment: Sales may be weak in H1 2020, but could see a rapid recovery in H2 assuming trends follow those of SARS in 2003. Investors should focus on long term drivers, which remain most attractive for hotels and office assets.

JAPAN

The effects of COVID-19 have resulted in increased adverse impacts on the Japanese economy. As China is Japan’s largest trading partner, representing 29% of imports and 22% of exports, we expect both demand and supply impacts in coming months. Based on Colliers’ research, we recommend,

 

Office:

 

  • Grade A and B office stock in central locations remain attractive given restrictions in supply; investors should target long-WALE as, in the short term, tenants will delay decision making over COVID-19 uncertainty.

Retails:

 

  • Community retail that had previously been neglected as an asset class will be revised under the semi-lockdown situation due to the low adoption of e-commerce in Japan. We expect capital inflows into these stabilized assets.
  • E-commerce demand will be bolstered in the short-term from wider public health concerns and from more comprehensive delivery channels being established to replace physical retail locations in the long term.

KOREA

Korea’s robust and consistent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in identifying and containing the spread of the virus have largely been successful and it is thought, despite a few isolated clusters of infection, that the situation has peaked and is under control. Most employees have already returned to their workplaces.

  • Office:​ COVID-19 may result in a near-term hit to leasing demand in the Seoul office market at a time when new supply is due to rise. We expect that leasing demand delayed by COVID-19 will materialize in H2 2020, as the pandemic subsides.
  • Remote working: We expect demand for flexible workspace to rise as occupiers look to flex as a useful tool to assist with worker redistribution and social distancing strategies designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Investment: The Korean office investment market has been stabilizing as low interest rates and abundant fund flows continue. As outbound investment activity contracted due to COVID-19, Korean institutional investors are shifting their focus to domestic investment. In addition, we expect that the sale of corporate-owned assets will be active to secure liquidity and cash during the ongoing pandemic.
  • Logistics: We expect demand to continue to increase for cold chain logistics centers from both traditional retailers and online fresh-food sellers as they look for ways to strengthen their fresh food delivery service. Logistics and data centres are becoming increasingly important sectors of the market.
  • Hotels: Most Korean hotel investment deals were transacted under the condition of rental guarantees by hotel operators with master-lease agreements. Hotel operators are still struggling with the lack of foreign tourists and are seeing single-digit occupancy during the week. This could provide an opening for opportunistic investors.

INDIA

The outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated rapidly since March 2020 in India, leading the government to announce a national lockdown from 25 March to 31 May 2020. On 12 May 2020, the central government announced a financial stimulus of approximately INR20 trillion (USD267 billion). The aim of the intervention is to inject liquidity into the financial system, revive the economy, limit the effects of the virus on the labour market and boost confidence at a time when economists are projecting a 3.0% decline in India’s 2020 GDP growth.

 

  • Office: Occupiers continue to reassess their portfolios to streamline office space requirements and adopt a ‘flex & core’ strategy. Market fundamentals will remain unaffected in the long run.
  • Retail: The retail sector has been deeply affected as operations came to a complete halt due to nationwide lockdown of malls, shopping complexes, etc. The sector might see a dynamic shift from the current fixed plus revenue share models to revenue-share deals being majority structured in the near future.
  • Residential: With social distancing becoming the new normal and schools being closely watched, the budding sectors of co-living and student housing may take a backseat, resulting in slower growth rates than previously predicted.
  • Industrial:​ E-commerce companies are gearing up for growth, giving an impetus to warehousing. India is also striving to be competitive to attract industrial facilities of global firms.

Philippines

The Philippine economy grew by 5.9% in 2019, the slowest pace since the 3.7% recorded in 2011.The economic growth potential for 2020 will be clipped by the effects of COVID-19. In our opinion, a coordinated policy and monetary response from the Philippine government and central bank is likely to instill confidence in the property market before the end of 2020, assuming the outbreak has reached its peak.

 

  • Landlords should target traditional and outsourcing tenants considering our expected decline in demand from POGOs; communicate early with tenants regarding flexible lease terms; and emphasise wellness features and certifications.
  • Occupiers should take this opportunity to negotiate long-term deals with landlords and look for new buildings in business hub fringes offering lower lease rates.
  • Condominium developers should highlight property management as it is crucial to the safety and health of buildings and unit owners, and also offer more flexible terms to attract buyers. Developers that responded well to the effects of COVID-19 will stand out as the market starts to recover.
  • Mall and hotel operators should line up marketing campaigns to recapture demand as the COVID-19 health issue wanes.

 

WORKPLACE ADVICE FOR BUSINESS CONTINUITY & PRODUCTIVITY

Cloud Your Workforce

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As telecommuting and remote working become the norm for affected workforces, we look again at how best to “cloud your workforce”, enhance productivity of your people and maximise your real estate.

 

ReadFlex, Core & The Cloud

 

Contact our Expert: Abhishek Bajpai

Managing Director, Corporate Solutions APAC

Enabling Wellness through Tech

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Health and connectivity can both benefit from wellness tech. We recommend to identify key technologies that can support the health and wellness across workspaces, remote workers, and the organisation.

 

ReadHow? Where? WELL!

 

Contact our Expert: Victoria Gilbert

Associate Director, Wellness Consulting, Asia

Flexible Workspace Outsourcing

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In this challenging time as COVID-19 impacts workplace operations globally, we advise how occupiers can engage with flexible workspace operators, as both a near-term business continuity solution and longer-term way of working for enterprises.

 

ReadRecommendations for Flexible Workspace

 

Contact our Expert: Jonathan Wright

Director, Flexible Workspace, Asia

 

Research & Forecast Report

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For​ informationand​ inquiries,​ please​ contact​ us

CHINA

Tammy Tang

Managing Director | China

 

HONG KONG

Nigel Smith

Managing Director | Hong Kong

 

SINGAPORE

Tang Wei Leng

Managing Director | Singapore

 

 

 

PHILIPPINES

Richard Raymundo

Managing Director | Philippines

 

JAPAN

Katsuji Tokita

Managing Director | Japan

 

KOREA

Robert Wilkinson

Managing Director | Korea

 

INDIA

Sankey Prasad

Managing Director | India

 

 

 

ASIA RESEARCH

Andrew Haskins

Executive Director | Asia

 

CHINA RESEARCH

Dave Chiou

Senior Director | China

 

HONG KONG RESEARCH

Rosanna Tang

Head of Research | Hong Kong and Southern China

 

SINGAPORE RESEARCH

Tricia Song

Head of Research | Singapore

 

JAPAN RESEARCH

Mari Kumagai

Senior Director | Japan

 

PHILIPPINES RESEARCH

Joey Bondoc

Senior Manager | Philippines

 

KOREA RESEARCH

Judy Jang

Associate Director | Korea

 

INDIA RESEARCH

Megha Maan

Senior Associate Director | India

 

SINGAPORE RESEARCH

Tricia Song

Head of Research | Singapore

 

OCCUPIER SERVICES

Sam Harvey-Jones

Managing Director | Asia

 

CAPITAL MARKETS

Terence Tang

Managing Director | Asia

 

VALUATIONS & ADVISORY

C K Lau

Managing Director | Asia

 

Andrew Haskins

Executive Director | Research

Andrew.Haskins@colliers.com

+852 2822 0511

Sam Harvey-Jones

Managing Director | Occupier Services

Sam.Harvey-Jones@colliers.com

+852 2822 0509

Terence Tang

Managing Director | Capital Markets

Terence.Tang@colliers.com

+65 6531 8565

CK Lau

Managing Director | Valuation & Advisory Services

ck.lau@colliers.com

+852 2822 0665

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