Despite wide expectations of this being a better year than last, 2013 got off to a slow start in the Asia-Pacific, with regional economic forecasts for the year trimmed down from 4.6% to 4.2%. Aggregate office net absorption was also lacklustre, reaching 1.3 million sq m at the end of Q1 2013. Whilst this is below the five-year average, it is up on Q4 2012 levels, indicating that some markets have reached the bottom following three consecutive quarters of decline.
Prime rents remained largely stable across the region in Q1; we believe now is an opportune time for occupiers in some markets to lock in leases before rental growth resumes. This trend is evident in Tokyo, where occupiers are committing to space before rents begin to rise. Tokyo consequently registered the highest net absorption volume in the region in Q1, at 261,000 sq m.
In light of the more balanced global economic outlook, the region’s most vulnerable markets are stabilising. Hong Kong prime rents held steady in Q1 following a year of negative rental growth and subdued occupier demand. Whilst further softening occurred in Singapore, the outlook has improved and we see signs of recovery going forward.
In emerging Asia, momentum in China is waning, as the anticipated economic recovery is yet to materialise. This has made way for the ASEAN markets, which are the new focus of demand growth.
Asia Pacific remains a bright spot in the global economy, drawing companies in search of profitable growth. Looking ahead, we forecast the strongest rental growth in Jakarta and Beijing, where demand is outstripping supply. Markets in India are on the cusp of rental upswing, supported by recovering business sentiment. At the other end of the scale, Kuala Lumpur is expected to show the biggest rental decline in Asia Pacific in 2013, due to persistent oversupply concerns. However, the recent election should help buoy business confidence and we forecast solid rental growth over the longer term.
Source : DTZ (Groupe UGL)