Singapore is ranked as second top real estate investment city in Asia Pacific right behind Melbourne according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific® 2019, a real estate forecast jointly published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PwC.
The cyclical rebound for Singapore is mainly driven by the revival of office rental market. This year, co-working or shared office space operators is the major contributor for the Singapore real estate sectors.
The revival of the Singapore office is observed in the number of deals for the past 12 months. One notable deal is the sales of OUE Downtown office components for SGD 908 million. However, during the survey done by ULI, one fund manager active in the market notes, “It is possible the market is overly bullish towards the office sector, as 2019 could be a challenging year for the Singapore economy and new supply is expected in 2020 and 2021”
The report also shows that the residential market in Singapore continues to be resilient, despite cooling measures in place for several years. Meanwhile, solid economic growth and high visitor numbers have supported rents and yields for prime retail space in 2018, following years of poor performance as Singapore landlords struggle to adapt to new models of retailing. Meanwhile, the logistics market remains plagued by oversupply. This has suppressed rents, although there are signs excess space is now being taken up, with rents are predicted to improve slightly in 2019.
The Singapore REIT market, on the other hand, has exhibited relatively weaker performance in 2018. In the first 9 months, S&P REITS lost 1.2% in local currency terms. Although annual returns were still positive at approx. 6%, it is relatively lower when benchmarked to the broader Singapore’s STI index which returned 10% in the same period.
Smaller REITs in Singapore have been trading at substantial discounts to net asset value (NAV). Market observer has started to foresee more consolidation amongst the smaller REITS which what investors could be looking for – fewer sponsors equal to stronger sponsors.
The Emerging Trends report, which is being released at a series of events across Asia over the next several weeks, provides an outlook on Asia Pacific real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, and trends by property sector and metropolitan area. It is based on the opinions of 350 real estate professionals, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.
• Melbourne (first in investment, first in development) – Melbourne has just managed to best Sydney this year. It offers a constrained office supply pipeline, a good yield spread over the cost of debt and sovereign bonds, a deep, liquid, core market and good prospects for rental growth.
• Singapore (second in investment, eighth in development) – An improvement in Singapore’s office market has caused the city to take second spot in investment rankings, as it continues to rebound from cyclical lows.
• Sydney (Third in investment, third in development) – Sydney remains near the top of the rankings for the same reasons as Melbourne. The city is a favourite of global investors due to relatively high returns and as a safe-haven play. Competition for assets has helped sustain pricing, while low vacancies and growing demand for space suggest rents will continue to rise.
• Tokyo (fourth in investment, fourth in development) – Tokyo’s move to fourth this year is somewhat surprising after last year’s drop, but probably reflects what has always made it a favourite for institutional buyers: cheap finance, attractive leverage, a good spread over interest rates, and a large stock of investment-grade assets.
• Osaka (fifth in investment, sixth in development) – The lack of reasonably priced core assets in Tokyo continues to push investors into regional Japan, where local economies are now increasingly mature and stable. With supply tight in both residential and office sectors, the city is now probably the top market outside the capital.
Leading buy/hold/sell ratings for the various asset classes are as follows:
• Office — buy Ho Chi Minh City and Tokyo, sell Taipei and Auckland.
• Residential — buy Ho Chi Minh City and Bangalore, sell Kuala Lumpur and Auckland.
• Retail — buy Ho Chi Min City and Mumbai, sell Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
• Industrial/distribution — buy Bangalore and Mumbai, sell Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
• Hotels – buy Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh City, sell Taipei and Beijing.
The full report is available here.