Hong Kong property investment dives in Q3 as Asia Pacific markets moderate

The Hong Kong protests hit the financial hub’s commercial real estate investment during the third quarter of 2019, with transaction volumes falling 32% year-on-year to US$2.7bn, according to Real Capital Analytics.

Hong Kong deal volumes have also dropped 41% YOY to $13.9bn for the first nine months of the year, yet the city remained one of the Asia Pacific’s most active markets.

“Hong Kong transaction volumes dwindled significantly during Q3, largely due to reduced activity by domestic investors after the political protests erupted in June,” said David Green-Morgan, RCA’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific.

“The demonstrations only exacerbated a softening trend though following an exceptionally strong 2018.”

Asia Pacific CRE investment volumes Q3 2019 (source: RCA)

While Australia attracted the most CRE investment in Asia Pacific during Q3, Singapore emerged as a star performer.

Singapore CRE investment climbed 62% YOY to $2.6bn in Q3, and was up 69% to $7.5bn for the year to date.

Total Asia Pacific commercial real estate deals were down 9% YOY in the third quarter at $30.8bn, as the market faces ongoing trade tensions and slowing economic conditions globally.

Most of the region’s leading markets, including China, Japan and South Korea, recorded declines in transaction volumes over the first three quarters of 2019, while the Australian market was flat.

Australia CRE investment dropped 12% YOY to $6bn in Q3, however the market has held steady with a 1% increase to $18.5bn for the year to date.

“Australia performed relatively well in Q3,” noted Green-Morgan. “It saw large and smaller deals, and the flow of international capital remains strong.”

The Australian market has benefited from renewed confidence following the 2019 federal election and numerous recent interest rate cuts.

This analysis comes from RCA’s latest quarterly Asia Pacific Capital Trends report. Continue reading to see previous quarterly updates.


Australian property investment surges in Q2 2019 as China, Japan slump

Published August 25, 2019

Australia topped the Asia Pacific commercial real estate investment rankings in the second quarter of 2019, as China and Japan property investment volumes fell to the lowest levels in a decade.

Australian commercial property investment reached US$8.4bn in Q2 2019, up 13% compared to the same period in the previous year, according to Real Capital Analytics.

The firm said the Australian market had been bolstered by renewed investor confidence in the wake of the national election and foreign capital flows.

During the same quarter, Japanese commercial property investment levels fell 18% year-on-year to $5.3bn while Chinese real estate capital flows plummetted 39% to $3.2bn.

“Australia’s leading second-quarter performance clearly stands out among the top five biggest Asia Pacific real estate investment markets, as there was a sharp uptick in the consolidation of property ownership over the period and a handful of large domestic deals,” said David Green-Morgan, managing director for Asia Pacific at RCA.

“But the generally dismal picture elsewhere, with the notable exception of Singapore, is less gloomy than it may at first appear because it is being compared with last year’s record-breaking deal volumes in key markets.”

Total Asia Pacific property investment transactions were down 19% YOY to $34.4bn in Q2 2019, with the US-China trade war and global economic slowdown weighing on confidence.

However, RCA noted there may be a bounce-back later this year, having already recorded $10bn in completed deals for Q3 2019 and a further $20bn worth of deals pending.

Investors appear to be betting on safe havens with transparent and liquid real estate markets rather than regional or smaller cities amid the current geopolitical and economic uncertainty.

RCA found that 69% of all capital deployed across Asia Pacific during the second quarter was allocated to the eight largest markets – the highest proportion since 2011.


Beijing takes Asia Pacific CRE crown in 1Q19 amid regional slump

Published May 22, 2019

Beijing jumped to the top position among Asia Pacific metropolitan commercial real estate investment markets for the first time ever, with investments totalling US$4.5bn during the first quarter of 2019.

The Chinese capital leapfrogged to the pole position from seventh place in 2018, thanks to two mega deals worth more US$1.3bn, according to data provider Real Capital Analytics.

“Traditionally, Beijing was considered a government city, more than a major commercial real estate investment target,” said Petra Blazkova, senior director of analytics for Asia Pacific at RCA.

“Cross-border capital flows, however, appear to be changing the nature of the market and the city is becoming more appealing to institutional investors.”

Most Active Metros in Asia Pacific in 1Q19 (image: RCA)
Most Active Metros in Asia Pacific in 1Q19 (image: RCA)

It was a different story for the region though, as Asia Pacific commercial real estate investment slumped 36% to US$30.5bn in 1Q19, compared to the same period the previous year.

The firm said China’s economic slowdown, its trade tensions with the U.S. and the global downturn in demand for consumer products took their toll on property investment across the region.

Blazkova said the markets were comparatively late in the real estate investment cycle and prices looked high from a historical perspective.

“Global interest rates, however, remain relatively low and the count of pending deals is substantial in markets such as Hong Kong, China and India,” she said.

“On balance, these factors signal that the outlook for Asia Pacific’s investment markets for the remainder of the year may be more upbeat.”

In Australia, real estate investment volumes dropped 27% year-on-year to US$3bn, led by a pull-back in cross-border capital flows.

Falling home values in recent years have hurt the country’s housing market, while rising e-commerce is taking its toll on retail, especially discount department stores.

“While the office yield compression in Sydney and Melbourne stopped at or near record lows, more pressure on yields was obvious elsewhere,” the senior director of analytics said.

“The structural changes ahead of the Australian retail sector have started to impact its pricing. Shopping centre yields have moved out by 70 basis points in the last 12 months.”

The slow first quarter result follows a bumper year for the region in 2018, when commercial real estate investments totalled US$159.1bn in Asia Pacific, the second highest on record.

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