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Annual retail net absorption reached a record high; Tianjin property market ends year on high note
Tianjin, 17 January 2017 – JLL's 4Q16 property review revealed the following:
Total net-absorption for the year 2016 stood at 266,000 sqm, 91,000 sqm of which was contributed by Bohai Bank Building, a self-use project. Demand was again driven primarily by companies relocating from old, strata-title projects into the new completions. 55% of the total new leasing transactions came from relocation demand in 4Q16, an increase of 19 percentage points from the same time last year. One example of this was Huawei, which leased over 3,000 sqm in the newly completed Grade A project, Vantone Center, after relocating from Tianjin World Financial Center. Professional services and finance companies were the leading sectors, accounting for 32% and 20% of the quarter's transaction volume respectively. XDF.com, an education company, leased 1,300 sqm in the Joy City this quarter.
One Grade A project completed in 4Q16, Yanlord Riverside Plaza, which added about 44,000 sqm to the market. The project's completion brought total Grade A stock to around 832,000 sqm, an increase of 5.7% q-o-q and 36.5% y-o-y and led to an increase in the Grade A vacancy by 1.2 percentage points q-o-q and 4.7 percentage points y-o-y to 52.3%. No Grade B projects completed in the quarter so Grade B stock remained unchanged at 1,850,000 sqm. Given that there were no new completions in the Grade B market, and many newer, high quality Grade B projects saw positive net-absorption in the quarter, Grade B vacancy declined 0.7 percentage points q-o-q to 33.3%.
Grade A rents fell 2.2% q-o-q and 7.1% y-o-y on a like-for-like basis to RMB 4.5 per sqm per day as Grade A landlords have continued to lower expectations amidst the highly-competitive market. While Grade A rents still have a lot of room for further decline, chain-linked Grade B rents fell only slightly, down 0.3% q-o-q and 1.7% y-o-y to RMB 3.7 per sqm per day. While many Grade B projects have already offered their lowest achievable rents, other Grade B projects found room for further decline, pushing rents downwards to prevent tenants from moving to better Grade A projects or cheaper strata-title projects. Capital values in the overall market fell 1.8% q-o-q and 3.8% y-o-y to RMB 19,430 per sqm. Overall market yields increased 10 basis points to 5.8%, given that capital values declined slightly further than rents.
Another 8 projects are expected to complete in 2017, which will add around 468,000 sqm and push the overall market vacancy rate higher to 41.4% by year end. Lv Weiran, Head of Markets for JLL Tianjin, commented, "While the supply pipeline in 2017 appears intimidating, many new projects will complete outside the traditional submarkets and pose less of a threat to existing projects than recent completions, like Modern City. We expect newer, centrally located Grade A projects to maintain high absorption velocity, especially as they continue to lower rents."
Due to strong demand, annual net absorption in 2016 reached a high level, recording nearly 410,000 sqm. This was a slight decline of 16.0% y-o-y, but was still the second highest figure for over a decade. The main drivers were retailers, e-commerce and logistics companies. Notable transactions were Wumart, which leased 10,000 sqm of space in Vailog Xiqing Logistics Park and Toread, a sportswear retailer, which opened a 40,000 sqm regional distribution center in Goodman Xiqing Phase I. Additionally, Sinotrans leased 30,000 sqm of space in Mapletree Tianjin Wuqing Logistics Park.
Six non-bonded projects entered the market, adding 351,000 sqm of space, which pushed up the total stock to about 3.4 million sqm. The bonded logistics market remained quiet. As new projects entered the market in reasonably spaced intervals, the average non-bonded vacancy rate declined to 19.6%, a 5.6 percentage point decrease y-o-y. By end-2016, the Wuqing and Dongli submarkets kept tight vacancy rates and will see no supply enter for the next three years. Space in the TBNA submarket was absorbed by automotive and manufacturing tenants, such as Jaguar, and the vacancy rate declined sharply 30 percentage points y-o-y to 11.6%.
As the overall market vacancy rate declined and demand was robust, net-effective rents in the non-bonded market rose 1.1% y-o-y by end-2016 to RMB 0.91 per sqm per day. Rental values in the northern submarkets of Tianjin increased at a faster pace, rising 3.2% y-o-y.
Looking forward, domestic consumption is expected to increasingly become the main driver of economic growth and will continue to create leasing demand from retailers and e-commerce firms. The lack of large vacant areas in Wuqing is expected to give other submarkets, such as Beichen, Xiqing and Ninghe, the chance to obtain large-sized tenants. "Retailers and e-commerce firms will continue to set up regional distribution centres in Tianjin in 2017 and will not be confined to only northern Tianjin," noted Michael Hart, Managing Director of JLL Tianjin. Seven new projects, totaling 289,000 sqm, are expected to enter the market next year, mainly located in Xiqing and TBNA, and two of them will be warehouses converted from workshops. We forecast that the strong demand and decelerating supply will bring down the vacancy rate and push up rents, albeit moderately.
New stock and strong demand in 2016 pushed up net absorption to 410,000 sqm, an increase of 26.8% y-o-y. This was the highest ever annual absorption figure for Tianjin. F&B, kids, services, and entertainment continued to be the most active sectors during the year, contributing over 60% of the annual leasing volume. For example, Xueersi School opened a 1,000 sqm educational centre in Lucky City after expanding in Delight City and Aqua City in late 2016. Several new F&B retailers entered Tianjin for the first time, including pizza brands Tube Station and Nine Road Pizzeria. The former opened a 200-sqm store in Heping Joy City and the latter opened stores in Lucky City and Lotte Department Store in Galaxy International Shopping Center. Apart from this, domestic fast-fashion retailers, such as Urban Revivo and MjStyle, and technology brands, such as Xiaomi experience and Huawei, also expanded in malls during the year.
By end-2016, six new shopping malls had come onto market, adding about 480,000 sqm of space. One of the new projects, Heping Joy City was converted from a traditional department store, a good example of a retail adjustment to adapt to changing consumer trends. New completions were diverse in terms of location; only 31% of the new retail space came into core submarkets, while the remaining 69% were community malls in suburban areas. Although there was a large influx of supply in 2016, the strong demand pushed down the vacancy rate to 14.8%, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points y-o-y. "During the quarter, we saw the entrance of both centrally-located malls which will cater to white-collar workers and other young fashionable consumers, like Heping Joy City, as well as suburban malls, like SM City Tianjin Phase I, which are positioned as family resorts rather than simply the only retail destination in the area," Sunny Yin, Head of Retail JLL Tianjin, said.
Strong leasing demand led to an increase in net-effective rents to RMB 11.3 per sqm per day, an increase of 2.1% y-o-y on a like-for-like basis. The Old Town submarket became the main contributor to rental growth as Nankai Joy City continued to increase rents at a high rate. Other malls, Lucky City and Aqua City, which previously experienced high vacancy rates, leased large spaces to service and entertainment brands gradually which led to higher foot traffic and spurred rental growth as well.
Looking ahead, five new malls are forecasted to enter the market in 2017. Lujiazui Plaza and TeeMall will complete in core submarkets and will lead to heightened competition in those areas. The entrance of large supply will be accompanied by strong demand from tenants, however, so the vacancy rate will keep stable by the end-2017. "Newly completed projects will focus on filling vacant space with large-sized experience-oriented retailers, which have lower rental affordability, so rents will grow but a slower pace," Ms. Yin added.
Policymakers continued to tighten the housing market in 4Q16 to curb speculation and mitigate economic risk where mass-market prices have risen 21.2% y-o-y. The most recent tightening measures included raising the down payment ratio for first-time local home buyers from 20% to 30% and for second-time local home buyers from 30% to 40%. The new housing policies have yet to significantly impact prices, however, as demand remained robust and most sales in the quarter were transacted under the former policies. Mass market capital values in Tianjin rose 10.5% q-o-q to RMB 14,417 per sqm.
High-end residential market sales volume decelerated to 1,309 units, a decline of 14.2% q-o-q and 38.7% y-o-y, as projects saw higher sales rates in recent quarters leading to smaller unsold inventories. Demand stemmed primarily from local owner-occupiers who could sell their former homes at a large premium and then upgrade into new completions. Speculators make up a relatively small proportion of demand, especially given the recent tightening policies launched in 3Q16 that target speculation.
1,985 new units were launched in the quarter, a slight decrease of 5.5% q-o-q and 33.3% y-o-y. Tianfang International Six, in New Badali – a new residential development area in Hexi District, launched 816 units and sold 506 units at an average price of RMB 36,080 per sqm. Projects in the New Badali submarket maintain an average sales rate of 81% due to robust demand from owner-occupiers and its favourable location and public resources – where Hexi District schools are perceived as being of higher quality. Inventory levels in the overall high-end market declined 21.1% q-o-q and 63.9% y-o-y.
High-end residential capital values continued to accelerate, but at a slightly slower pace, rising 11.6% q-o-q and 53.1% y-o-y. Recent tightening policies have yet to impact the high-end residential market while low inventory levels continue to give developers leverage to raise prices. Capital values rose fastest this quarter in the Haihe Riverside submarket, rising 18.7% q-o-q, where projects along the riverside, namely CITIC City Plaza, sold townhomes in excess of RMB 50,000 per sqm.
Chelsea Cai, Head of Research for JLL Tianjin, remarked, "the recent policy measures have yet to make a noticeable impact on high-end residential prices, which have risen double digits for three consecutive quarters. However, tightening measures have historically had a lagging impact and we expect prices to increase at a much more modest pace in the first half of 2017."
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