The requested news item does not exist. Please return to News
Finance Street rents slow noticeably, a sign that the sky-high office rents may finally be peaking; luxury apartment and high-end villa sales decline significantly after policy tightening
Beijing, 12 January 2017 – "After several months of significantly softer office demand, particularly from foreign firms, landlords accepted both uncertainty in the market and the realities of a slower economy. This helped them feel less anxious about the future, giving them more confidence to deploy flexible rental strategies at the end of the year," said Julien Zhang, Managing Director for JLL North China. Meanwhile, in the retail sector, two new large-scale Wanda malls opened very close to one another in south Beijing, further building up the traditionally underserved retail area. Investors were primarily interested in convertible properties, particularly those that could be turned into office space. Third party logistics demand continued to drive the logistics market. In the residential market, there were immediate signs of cooling following the new tightening measures released at end-3Q16 – luxury apartment and villa sales were down significantly in 4Q16.
Despite the overall softening in demand, domestic finance firms continued to dominate the leasing market, accounting for 46% of Grade A transactions in the quarter. While most of these deals were in Finance Street, almost half were in the CBD, where landlords signed finance tenants to fill modest vacancies. The IT sector also continued to be a strong source of demand. However, many tech firms were increasingly interested in Grade B space due to heightened cost sensitivities. IT demand, which had surged in Wangjing in the last two years, was markedly cooler and demand from this sector shifted to more outlying, low-cost locations.
Three completions bumped up net absorption significantly to 193,495 sqm in 4Q16, up 80.3% q-o-q. However, the majority of take-up came from self-use space. This quarter saw the emergence of the Olympic area as Beijing's next significant submarket: Sinotrans Building A (approx. 74,000 sqm) was completed for self-use by the state-owned logistics company. Construction on Building B (approx. 74,000 sqm) also finished; once permits are approved, the project will enter the leasing market in early 2017. Meanwhile, the A1 Expansion (38,700 sqm) completed in Finance Street and will be occupied by government-related finance companies. These projects added to completions from earlier in the year – and with 2016 marking the start of a supply boom, full-year take-up reached 551,147 sqm, up a remarkable 203.8% y-o-y.
Rents were flat overall q-o-q due to a lack of activity in the leasing market. Landlords catered to different tenants by generally maintaining lower rents to attract foreign tenants or making modest rental gains by accepting more domestic tenants. The net result was slightly slower q-o-q rental growth in the CBD, while noticeably slower q-o-q growth in Finance Street suggested that sky-high rents in the area may finally be peaking.
Sky-high Finance Street rents pushed out foreign firms in 2016; the presence of foreign firms in the submarket dropped 25% from what it was a year ago, while domestic firms in the area cemented their position as the clear majority, according to JLL's survey of Grade A buildings in the area. Similarly, the proportion of domestic companies in the overall Beijing office market rose markedly and crossed the 50%-mark for the first time, as the inexorable march towards a strong domestic-driven market gathers momentum.
2017 Outlook: Managed by experienced landlords, the first high-quality completions coming from the new supply wave will outperform older buildings due to their higher quality specifications. The fast leasing progress of quality new buildings observed in 2016 reveals that pent-up demand for high-quality office space in Beijing remains. "Domestic firms will continue to serve as the primary source of demand as foreign tenants continue to run under greater cost-sensitivity," said Eric Hirsch, Head of Office Leasing for JLL in Beijing. "While Beijing will remain an important base for North China operations, slower growth in the country has reduced urgency in companies' China expansion plans."
It was a busy investment year in Beijing, with more than 20 major deals transacted in 2016. In 4Q16, a Fujian-based retail operator acquired an industrial project in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area for RMB 203 million. Dongbai plans to develop the 58,000 sqm-project into a high-end warehouse to enable smooth entry into Beijing's competitive and thinly supplied warehouse market. Future supply pipeline of warehouses is limited according to JLL data. Meanwhile, Grade A office transactions continued to be limited and deals in the quarter were restrained to Grade B properties and strata-titled assets in non-core areas. For example, Huaxia Insurance followed earlier deals in the year with the 1.53 billion RMB-purchase of World Chamber Center Building 3 in Tongzhou, which is currently under construction. In the retail market, the future of Shimao Gongsan (near Taikoo Li) is unclear following its transaction in mid-2016. While initial plans suggested an exhibition centre to showcase its multiple product lines, no changes have been made yet at the property. Partially due to a lack of tradable assets in the Chinese capital, Beijing trailed Shanghai in distant second, but continued to firmly hold its place as the No.2 destination in China for real estate investment capital by volume in 2016.
2017 Outlook: Capital controls may encourage more domestic acquisition activity. The year holds potential for elevated levels of interest in select domestic opportunities. "The office sector, by far, remains the most popular sector, but due to limited opportunities in the market, many investors are chasing older buildings or underperforming properties with conversion potential to achieve value-add opportunities," said Kevin Qin, Head of Investments at JLL in Beijing. "As pricing expectations between buyers and sellers are likely to continue showing a divergence in 2017, interest in assets with conversion potential is likely to remain high throughout the year. We expect to see continued interest from owner-occupiers, who wish to secure space for their long term expansion."
Trendy retailers or "brands of the moment" popped up at top projects, with landlords hoping to use these tenants to gain a competitive edge in the market and increase footfall. For example, Greybox, a speciality coffee brand under Roseonly, opened its first store at Kerry Center. Meanwhile, Topwin Center bucked the trend of other completed small, centrally located projects which tended to be slow to fill up. In the second half of the year, Topwin, across the street from Taikoo Li, managed to raise its commitment rate to 92% by year-end, only two quarters after opening.
Two new large-scale Wanda malls opened in the suburban market, adding to the 2016 supply boom in south Beijing. Wanda Fengtai (approx. 170,000 sqm) opened successfully, with a large emphasis on creative F&B concepts and an overall stronger F&B and entertainment focus than Wanda Tongzhou. Meanwhile, Wanda Huaifang (approx. 230,000 sqm) opened just some 6 km away on the same day, with a similar mid-market positioning. Traditionally underserved for retail, south Beijing saw nearly 1 million sqm of new supply enter the area in 2016. Also in the quarter, outlier Fun Capital Outlet opened with just 60% commitment, in contrast to the near full-commitment typically achieved at other newly opened suburban projects. Belonging to a new outdoor theme park resort, the mall may have a chance to catch up when the peak tourism season comes in spring – also when a new Marriott hotel is expected to open on-site and attract overnight visitors.
Meanwhile, JLL's latest research outlined in "Foreign F&B Expansion in China: Patterns and Lessons," a soon-to-be-released whitepaper produced in partnership with data collection specialist Local Gravity, reveals that some of the most recent fastest-growing foreign chain stores were in the ice cream, bread, and dessert business. The study also shows strong concentrations of foreign F&B chains in South China, but untapped potential in both East and North China. Furthermore, as the growing middle class in China continues to embrace foreign food, there will be more chances for foreign brands to grow and expand in the market.
Rental growth remained slow, with the Urban and Core markets each growing at just 0.2% q-o-q. Full-year rental growth for urban malls reached only 2.0% this year, the lowest in ten years. This was a result of weaker spending from visitors from surrounding provinces, as well as weaker demand for merchandise from local residents given headwinds from the 3 Os: online, overseas, and outlet shopping. Key properties with a strong reach across the entire city continued to thrive, while others are finding themselves squeezed between these thriving destination malls and the booming suburban market which has now come into its own as a mature alternative for most shopping needs.
2017 Outlook: F&B and kids' tenants are expected to remain major sources of demand. More non-traditional tenants may also appear in the market as landlords seek to differentiate their projects from competitors. However, we note that chasing fads is difficult to sustain, and more long-term solutions such as locating co-working space in malls serves to create a captive audience that will help boost spending. Rental growth will continue to be slow, given that market fundamentals are not expected to change significantly. The year 2017 will be a peak year for new supply as delayed projects from 2016 – comprising approximately 20% of the total GFA for new supply in the coming 12 months – are expected to enter the market by year-end. However, delays from projects scheduled to open in 2017 could also be postponed as a generally slower leasing trend deepens under the weaker retail climate.
Many spaces left vacant in the previous quarter were taken by 3PLs, which allowed net absorption to reach 20,500 sqm in 4Q16, more than doubling q-o-q. Combined with the two fully pre-committed projects in 1H16, net take-up for the entire year totaled 200,900 sqm, the highest figure in the last five years. There was a polarization in demand in 2016: big players remained active in looking for modern facilities better able to meet their requirements. On the other hand, some small tenants were forced to downsize or relocate to low-end or remote facilities to save costs under the slower economy. This trend is expected to continue in 2017.
The single-storey GLP Park Pinggu Phase II project entered the market on schedule, bringing 29,200 sqm of new supply to the market. Despite the vacancy rate dropping at existing projects supported by 3PL demand, overall vacancy rose to 2.8% by end-4Q16, up a 0.4-percentage point q-o-q, as there was no pre-commitment at the new project due largely to its remote location. While chain-linked rents were stable, the new project pulled down overall average spot rents slightly by 0.3% q-o-q as it entered the market with lower-than-average market rents.
2017 Outlook: With the completion of one large future project in Tongzhou Logistics Park postponed, only 3 new projects with a total GFA around 139,000 sqm are expected to enter the market in 2017. Supported largely by 3PLs, leasing demand is expected to be stable, leading overall vacancy to continuously decline to less than 2.0% by end-2017. This is likely to lead to further opportunities for slight rental increases.
The new tightening policy issued towards end-3Q16, which increased the minimum down payment for home-buyers, had an immediate impact on the market in 4Q16. Luxury apartment and high-end villa transaction volumes decreased 48% q-o-q and 33% q-o-q, respectively. Meanwhile, leasing demand for luxury apartments and high-end villas remained stable, continuing the trend from the previous quarter.
Due to the cooling measures, developers were discouraged from launching new projects, while the Beijing government was rumoured to have tightened pre-sales certification for high-priced projects. In the quarter, only 579 luxury apartment units and 181 high-end villas entered the market in 4Q16, down by 67% and 62% q-o-q, respectively. One new serviced apartment project, Damei Oakwood outside the East 4th Ring Road, entered the market with 171 units, while Somerset Shunyi was postponed to 2018. The serviced apartment vacancy rate increased to 11.2% due to low occupancy at the new project.
Although demand was restrained, primary capital values growth for both luxury apartments and high-end villas was stable. Primary capital values for luxury apartments recorded flat q-o-q growth at 1.7%. Meanwhile, the primary capital values growth rate for high-end villas rose 2.5 ppts q-o-q to 7.9%, as landlords at mature villa projects still managed to raise prices. Rents for luxury apartments rose by 1.8% q-o-q and decreased slightly by 0.3% q-o-q for high-end villas. Serviced apartment rents were flat q-o-q.
2017 Outlook: Following the promise made by the Beijing mayor at the end of the year, stating that housing prices will not rise in 2017, we anticipate strict implementation of the cooling policy and possibly even follow-up measures. As such, we do not expect demand and supply to recover rapidly in the high-end market. Three serviced apartment projects are expected to open in 2017, which is likely to drive up market vacancy. However, considering that two of them are far from the core urban area, the new supply is not expected to put much pressure on the market and overall rents are still expected to rise moderately due to increasing costs.
Increased corporate and leisure demand as well as a gradual recovery in the MICE market helped push occupancy up 4.6 percentage points to 71.4%, leading revenue per available room (RevPAR) to climb 3.7% to reach 727 RMB YTD in November 2016. The average daily rate (ADR) remained stable, falling just 0.9% to RMB 1,019 over the same period. The strong demand supported the new supply, allowing overall performance to improve in 2016. The rising occupancy and steady ADR meant that hotels were no longer required to reduce rates to boost occupancy, as guests were willing to spend more for quality stays.
Just five new hotels opened in Beijing in 2016, adding 1,479 rooms to the market. High-profile openings included Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun and Chao Clubhouse, both of which are located in Sanlitun. Strict development restrictions within the city centre are expected to continue to restrain future supply in Beijing. Compared with Shanghai, where round 26 new hotels are expected to enter the market in 2017, just nine new hotels (2,204 rooms) are planned for Beijing. The slow development trend for Beijing is expected to continue over the forecast horizon as the number of new hotels for other fast-growing cities like Shanghai and Chengdu double that of Beijing.
Investors showed more interest in hotel assets in Tier 1 cities in 2016. Although only one hotel was transacted in Beijing in 2016, hotel transactions in China reached 4.1 billion RMB from January to October, 2016. As global private equity firms are drawn to China, the Beijing hospitality market is increasingly appealing as it offers prime assets with strong locations and good returns in a Tier 1 city, which benefits from greater transparency and liquidity. Meanwhile, improvements in lodging fundamentals, a steady flow of visitors, and corporate expansion in Tier 1 markets have also increased investors' appetites in Beijing.
2017 Outlook: The Beijing hotels market will benefit from enhanced intercity transportation and tourism facility development in the future. Ahead of Universal Studios in 2020 and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, several infrastructure upgrades in and around the city will support growth in the hotel sector, including a special railway connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou as well as two new highways linking Beijing to nearby tourism destinations, such as Chongli, Yanqing, and Qinhuangdao. "Overall, we can expect these projects to enhance accessibility in the Jing-Jin-Ji region as a whole, and this will help to promote tourism and generate further hotel demand," said Mandy Li, Head of Hotels for JLL in Beijing. "This all bodes well for the development and future of the hotels market."
– ends –
>>>Read more about JLL Beijing>>>Read more about JLL News>>>Read more about JLL Research
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. A Fortune 500 company with annual fee revenue of $5.2 billion and gross revenue of $6.0 billion, JLL has more than 280 corporate offices, operates in more than 80 countries and has a global workforce of more than 70,000. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 4.0 billion square feet, or 372 million square meters, and completed $138 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2015. As of September 30, 2016, its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $59.7 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, www.jll.com.
JLL has over 50 years of experience in Asia Pacific, with 36,000 employees operating in 94 offices in 16 countries across the region. The firm won 15 awards at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific in 2016 and was named number one real estate investment advisory firm in Asia Pacific for the fifth consecutive year by Real Capital Analytics. www.jll.com/asiapacific
In Greater China, the firm was named ‘Best Property Consultancy in China’ at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific 2016, and has more than 2,200 professionals and 14,000 on-site staff providing quality real estate advice and services in over 80 cities across the country. www.joneslanglasalle.com.cn
+86 (10) 5922 1371
+86 (10) 5922 1387