Office rents in Central Business District expected to rise in 2018


RobinsonTower
Rental rates for Central Business District (CBD) offices are expected to rise next year, which may push companies to reconsider relocating to regional commercial hubs.

While office rents are expected to ride a growth curve towards the end of 2017, a sustained recovery is expected to occur only in 2018. That however gives companies the value of time to weigh in on the possibility of moving outside of the CBD and into growing regional hubs where they could save on housing and commercial space rental.

Take the upcoming Paya Lebar Quarter for example. Its 840,000 sq ft of office space across 3 towers will be ready for occupation next year and on the other side of the island, Woods Square in Woodlands will offer up 534,000 sq ft of office space by 2019. While this means the companies will have to be situated away from the buzz of the CBD, the decentralisation of office spaces is timely as the government moves towards a new era of self-sustaining regional townships.

WOods SquarePhoto credit: Far East Organization

The limited supply, of less than 1 million sq ft, of additional office space in the prime Central Business District from now to 2020 could mean a projected rental growth. Though Frasers Tower and Robinson Tower will add a combined 823,000 sq ft of new office space to the CBD next year, it is still a long way below the 2.15 million sq ft injected by the Marina One and 5 Shenton Way developments this year.

Positive 2017 outlook for retail and office property sector

Despite falling rents for retail and office spaces, analysts are hopeful for a positive performance from this market segment in 2017.

MarinaOneOfficePhoto credit: www.marinaone.com.sg

The last quarter of 2016 saw office rents falling 1.8 per cent, bringing last year’s decline of rental prices to 8.2 per cent. Rents for retail spaces fell 1.2 per cent in Q4, bringing the total year’s decline to 8.3 per cent. Surprisingly, despite a weakening economy and competition from e-commerce, the demand for retail spaces have picked up. Analysts put the easing of pressure on the retail property market to the development of many flagship stores, large food and beverage clusters and gyms. New retail brands and concepts entering the market meant there were tenants willing to take up larger floor areas in prime spots. That said, almost 169,000 sq metres of retail space will become available this year, and there may still be challenges ahead for this sector.

DuoTower

Photo credit: www.duosingapore.com

In the office property front, following announcements of major tenancy deals such as Facebook taking up prime office spaces in Marina One and similarly Distrii, a co-working operator, at Republic Plaza, the market is beginning to stabilise. New and massive working spaces will however add to the inventory soon, taking Duo Tower in Bugis as an example. It was completed last month and has pushed office vacancy rates to 11.1 per cent. Moving ahead,  property players are expecting office rents to continue softening at least for the first half of the year, though newer buildings such as Guoco Tower and Marina One have enjoyed positive take-up rates last year.

Paint the town red

Marina Downtown to be specific. The plans to invigorate the upcoming Marina Downtown district are in the pipelines, and it sounds exciting indeed. The aim is to shape the area in a such a way it compliments the nearby Central Business District. Akin to the infamous Canary Wharf in London, this new area will have its own transport line, and a good mix of residential homes, commercial offices, entertainment, retail and recreational facilities.

Marina DowntownAmassing 70 hectares, it will extend all the way to Harbour Front, connecting from Marina Bay, to form a new CBD area and as an extension to the existing financial districts in the city centre. With the government’s recent announcement about the Marina Coastal Expressway, properties along this stretch looks set to command higher prices, starting possibly from now. And when everything is complete, one can only wonder how much these properties will appreciate in value.

Mixed developments in this new district could be what investors are looking at eagerly. Marina One and Asia Square Towers are just two of the possibly many integrated residential and commercial projects which may also mean more skyscrapers joining the ranks of those in the city. Despite the existence (and possibly more in the future) of residential private properties in the area, industry consultants are expecting the area to be mainly dominated by commercial buildings. Existing properties have already taken up much of the market slice of residential homes in the area. Properties such as The Sail, Marina Bay Residences and Marina Bay Suites. Thus one of the main challenges the authorities will have could how best to inject vibrancy and life into the area during the weekend.

The Sail MarinaYet unclear how long the development process may be, its a delicate balance between supply and demand. And demand could be dependent on global situations. Will there be more office space than required? Or is it the government’s plan to bring in more businesses and thus tipping the scale in favour of property investors?

No mixed feelings about Mixed-use properties

In comparison with suburban and city fringe homes, properties in the downtown area has been languid for awhile. But that looks set to change as the growing popularity of mixed-use developments return with a vengeance. There are a total of 4 mixed-used properties currently in the planning stage and that includes one which might claim the title of the new tallest building in Singapore.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

These properties are:

Although these projects sound more like shopping malls and offices, which they will have, they will also include hotels and residential units. Their prime location will command high prices for these apartments, and developers are expecting most buyers to be foreigners or those looking for a worthy piece of investment property. But rental yields might also be considerable as these projects are close to the city centre and central business district (CBD) and also provides the prestige of a downtown address.

Tanjong Pagar CentreResidential units at the DUO, which is situated between Rochor and Ophir road, will be put up for sale before the end of the year. The 49-storey residential block will hold 660 studio apartments and one- to four-bedders and penthouses. Just below is the Bugis MRT station of the new Downtown Line.  Marina One is touted to be one of the only developments in the Marina Bay district to have 65,000 sq ft of greenery. Rare in a built-up city like Singapore, and especially in the city centre. It is also twice the size of DUO.

Tanjong Pagar centre might be the tallest feature in Singapore when it’s built. At 290m, its residential units, Clermont Residences, will be up for sale also end 2013. At South Beach, only 190 residential units will be available.

Will the launch of these mixed-use developments inject some fervor into the year-end property market?

New Condominiums to look forward to

Before the cooling measures have hardly had time to, well, cool, the private property market is heating up once again with 17 new condominium launches coming up within the next few months.

With some stellar projects up for offer, buyers might be spoilt for choice. Though some might hold back from jumping into the pool straightaway, as long as the overall sales volume and showflat response hold positive, developers will still be happy with that result.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

The huge number of units from these 17 launches, almost 7, 500 of them, were mainly thanks to the significant number of sites released by the Government via the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme. One of the largest residential properties to be launched will be the Marina One project, developed by Malaysia’s Khazahan Nasional and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings as part of a land swop agreement. Located at Marina South, it will have 1,042 units for sale when it’s launched in October this year.

D'nest condominium.

D’nest condominium.

Some of the prominent launches include:
1. Trilinq at Jalan Lempeng
2. D’nest at Pasir Ris Grove
3. Bartley Ridge on Mount Vernon Road
4. Duo in the Rochor area
5. Urban Vista in Tanah Merah Kechil Link
6. Hillion on Jelebu and Petir Road
7. Hillview Peak on Hillview Avenue

All these new properties will have more than 500 units per project. Response to the upcoming series of new properties might very well be the gauge property developers have been waiting for. Industry players are expecting the take-up rates to slow down, especially for the higher-end luxury projects which are out of the reach of most first-time buyers and upgraders. Suburban condominiums may see healthier sales.