Co-working operators buoy office demand amid large supply
Shanghai, April 12, 2018 – CBD landlords held rents steady despite large supply as office demand remained robust. "Co-working operators were a key source of demand and helped support the overall office market this quarter," said Eddie Ng, Managing Director for JLL East China.
According to JLL Shanghai 2018 First Quarter Property Review
Shanghai, April 12, 2018 – CBD landlords held rents steady despite large supply as office demand remained robust. "Co-working operators were a key source of demand and helped support the overall office market this quarter," said Eddie Ng, Managing Director for JLL East China. Retail's supply wave continued with seven new projects completed in decentralized locations. In the logistics sector, vacancy declined further to a frictional level as new supply remained limited and tenants continued seeking space within Shanghai's city limits. High-end residential sales remained subdued amid tight policy and a lack of new supply, but developers remained confident to hold prices flat. Retail transaction volumes overtook those for office asset as investors warmed to the prospects for shopping malls.
Strong demand from co-working operators gives additional boost to landlords amid large supply. Enquiries from co-working operators - including both well-known players as well as new comers - remained strong. Domestic financial services companies and especially those in the asset management sector remained a major demand driver in Grade A space. "TMT companies also continued to look for upgrade and expansion opportunities, especially in the decentralised market," said Anny Zhang, Head of Markets for JLL Shanghai. In addition to established submarkets, we have observed a number of TMT firms moving to Xuhui Bund, which has several new projects approaching completion, such as Dream Center.
Vacancy edges up as CBD sees large volume of new supply. In the CBD, six projects with a total GFA of 375,140 sqm reached completion, including One Museum Place in Puxi and Lujiazui Finance Plaza in Pudong. After seeing 1.6 million sqm delivered over 2017, decentralized market supply took a breather in 1Q18, with three projects totaling 82,000 sqm GFA reaching completion. Vacancy edged up in both the Pudong and Puxi CBDs as new supply entered the market. Vacancy improved in the decentralized market as new supply was limited and demand remained robust.
CBD rents hold steady despite large supply. As new supply continued to enter the CBD market, older projects lowered rents in response to increased competition from new arrivals. At the same time, recently completed high-quality projects with good metro access such as HKRI Centre and China Overseas International Center received strong leasing progress and started to increase rents. Rents held flat in the CBD (up 0.2% q-o-q). In the decentralised market, strong leasing activities and a lower base compared to the CBD permitted rents to rise 1.0% q-o-q.
Sales prices rise as demand remains strong. Five projects with a combined GFA of 252,799 sqm entered the Shanghai market in 1Q18, a quarterly total that doubled the amount of supply launched over all of 2017. Demand remained strong with numerous inquiries in the quarter's new completions as well as in upcoming projects. Submarkets that received particular attention from investors and self-users included Hongqiao Transportation Hub – which benefitted from improving business environment and amenities – and riverfront areas that enjoyed premiums for their river views. Strong demand led sales prices to rise 0.9% q-o-q to 42,864 RMB/sqm.
Leasing demand remained robust, with upgrade and expansion requirements driving up net take-up in core business parks. Six projects with a total GFA of 311,100 sqm reached completion in 1Q18. Despite the large amount of new supply, strong demand allowed average rents to continue rising, up 0.8% q-o-q in 1Q18, or 5.1% y-o-y. Rental growth was mainly driven by the new high-quality projects in Caohejing as well as projects in Jinqiao, where the recent extension of Metro Line 9 helped catalyse office demand. Meanwhile, a number of well-known coworking operators carried out expansion plans in the business park market. For example, WeWork secured a location in the Caohejing submarket.
Huaihai Road transformation continues as demand for Shanghai retail space remains strong. "Huaihai Road continues to be popular with a wide range of international brands, and developers are investing in refurbishment and improvements to existing buildings," said James Hawkey, Head of Retail for JLL China. For example, British fashion retailer Topshop committed to open its first Mainland China store in a three-story Huaihai Road space later this year. Reebok has confirmed a major new flagship apparel store together with a Crossfit gym in the newly redeveloped Huaihai 627. One of Huaihai Road's first modern retailing spaces, Shui On Plaza, is undergoing redevelopment and expected to open by the end of the year. Elsewhere in Shanghai, "New retail" supermarkets such as Alibaba's He Ma Xian Sheng diversified their offers by incorporating more prepared foods in designated "food court" spaces, and landlords of several malls stepped up use of large-scale entertainment concepts to draw foot traffic to upper floor spaces.
Seven decentralized projects deliver 369,000 sqm. The decentralized supply wave continued with seven new completions, including the refurbished urban outlet UMAX in Wujiaochang and retail podium Helen Center in Hongkou. Five new openings were community malls: Colourlife Plaza and Star Mall in Minhang, Oriental Fisherman's Wharf in Yangpu, Kingboard Plaza in Changning, and Sunny Walk in Xuhui. Vacancy slightly decreased to 9.1% in prime areas a result of improved occupancy in repositioned mature projects; Vacancy increased to 9.6% in the decentralized as elevated vacancy in some new openings pulled up the market average.
Rental growth moderates. Open-market ground floor base rents increased by 1.8% y-o-y to RMB 51.2 per sqm per day. Decentralized rents rose 1.1% y-o-y to RMB 20.0 per sqm per day. Rental growth decelerated in both markets, in part due to a slow-down in expansion by F&B brands, following an extended period of rapid store openings.
Net absorption reaches 28,000 sqm despite lack of supply. Limited lettable space in Shanghai's more popular submarkets led net absorption to fall to 28,000 sqm. "Given already low vacancy throughout the Shanghai market, though, this quarter's lower take-up still reflected continued strong demand," said Stuart Ross, Head of Industrial for JLL China. West Shanghai remains popular, but absorption was greatest in East Shanghai and emerging submarkets like Baoshan, where the city's vacant space is concentrated. 3PLs, e-commerce firms, and manufacturing companies remained the market's main demand drivers. 3PLs and manufacturers contributed 20,000 sqm of net take-up in East Shanghai. In particular, there was strong demand from automobile parts companies seeking large spaces for storage of auto accessories.
Vacancy drops 0.5 ppts to 3.9%. No new projects were completed this quarter. Limited vacancy in West Shanghai means that tenants seeking space for relocation or expansion have had to look to East Shanghai submarkets instead. This enabled the Pudong and Lingang submarkets to see respective vacancy declines of 3.9 ppts and 1.4 ppts. Overall non-bonded vacancy fell to 3.9%, remaining at its lowest level in nearly a decade.
Rents continue to grow at a strong space. Rents edged up 0.7% q-o-q to RMB 1.34 per sqm per day in 1Q18. Rental growth was slightly slower than last quarter's rapid increase of 1.0% in q-o-q terms, but strengthened on a y-o-y basis, with growth reaching a three-year high of 2.9%.
Shanghai tourism market continues to show an upward trend. Official statistics show that total visitor arrivals to Shanghai reached 327.2 million in 2017, representing growth of 7.4% from 2016. The increase was largely driven by domestic visitors, which grew 7.4% to surpass 300 million for the first time. The domestic tourism market is expected to grow another 5.0% in 2018 as the emerging middle class continues to spend on travelling. "Continued growth in domestic travel is significant because this is the consumer segment we expect to drive demand for hotels in the coming years," said Ling Wei Tan, Vice President for Greater China with JLL's Hotels & Hospitality Group.
Significant hotel supply expected for 2018. Approximately 7,000 rooms are forecast to come online in 2018, with most of the new supply concentrated in decentralised areas such as Hongqiao, Jiading and Songjiang. As of March 2018, a total of 1,300 rooms already have entered the market, with notable openings including: Bellagio by MGM Shanghai (162 rooms), Shanghai Marriott Hotel Kangqiao (338 rooms), and Hyatt Place Shanghai Tianshan Plaza (150 rooms).
Average ADR rises even as new supply puts pressure on occupancy. Shanghai hotels' average daily rate (ADR) has been boosted as new upscale and luxury hotels are setting their ADR benchmarks higher. "Healthy growth in Shanghai's total tourism and business arrivals is giving hotel operators confidence to pursue high ADR strategies and position their properties for upscale hotel rates," said Angel Chen, Vice President of Hotels for JLL Shanghai. As of February 2018, ADR for five-star hotels was up 2.1% y-o-y even as occupancy edged down by 4.1% y-o-y in the same period. With the decline in occupancy slightly outweighing the rise in ADR, revenue per average room (RevPAR) fell by 2.1% to RMB 607 y-o-y.
Sales rebound as new launches increase. New supply in the mass market surged to 8,635 units in 1Q18, up 227% q-o-q, as developers sped up new launches in the face of rising cash flow pressure. With launch prices limited by government price caps, several of these new launches were well received by homebuyers. Although strict home purchase restrictions and reduced availability of mortgages continued to weigh on homebuyers, mass market sales rebounded to 10,141 units, up 15% q-o-q, as new launches increased. In the high-end segment, sales remained subdued with only 170 units sold in 1Q18, down 7% q-o-q, due mainly to limited new supply, a consequence of government control on sales permits. The high-end segment saw no new launches for a third consecutive quarter.
Primary high-end market prices remain strong. Overall home transaction prices in Shanghai fell 9% q-o-q, mostly due to a larger share of sales taking place in cheaper suburban districts. At the same time, high-end developers held prices firm amid tight policies. That said, high-end secondary prices dipped 0.1% q-o-q as a few sellers cut prices to entice buyers.
Sales market expected to rebound further over remainder of 2018. With the policy stance expected to stay tight for some time, developers are likely to accelerate new launches in the remainder of 2018 to ease rising cash flow pressure. "Sales are expected to continue rebounding in following quarters as new supply increases and price caps on new launches make units more attractive to buyers," said Stephenie Zhou, Head of Project Sales for JLL Shanghai. Meanwhile, Shanghai's government has set a goal of building 200,000 units of rental housing in 2018. We therefore expect to see more favorable policies and incentives to boost investment into the rental the sector in the following quarters.
Shanghai remains top investment destination as nationwide transaction volumes moderate. In 1Q18, total transactions in China increased 9.7% y-o-y to RMB 45.8billion. Shanghai represented 45.2% of total investments, remaining China's top investment destination with 1Q18 investment volumes of RMB 20.7 billion. According to Reeve Wang, Head of Capital Markets for JLL Shanghai: "Declining residential sales and strict controls over loans has constraining developers' cash flow in the early months of the year. That said, many investors are still showing strong interest in deploying capital into Shanghai's property market, and we expect en-bloc transaction volumes to rise going forward, so that there will be a 'low to high' trend over 2018 as a whole."
Office continues to leads Shanghai transaction volumes. Offices continued to dominate the investment market in 1Q18 with transaction volumes of RMB 9.7 billion, or 46.7% of the city's total. The retail sector came in second, with quarterly transaction volumes of RMB 6.5 billion, or 31.6% of the 1Q18's total. The retail environment benefited from a stable economy, improving consumption, and continued rebound in luxury goods sales. Hotel investments followed, accounting for 8.6% of Shanghai's 1Q18 transaction volume. Domestic buyers continued to be the market's most active players, accounting for 75.3% of Shanghai's transaction volume for the quarter.
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