Office and retail rental market: The competition between old and new

GSH PLazaIn the commercial property market, the effects of demand and supply is more strongly felt that ever as many new developments enter the market in line with the government’s efforts to grow and restructure the country’s commercial sector.

The positive outlook and sentiments in the private property market here does not seem to have rubbed off in the commercial sector as office rents fell 3.4 per cent in Q1 and retail rents fell 2.9 per cent – its 9th consecutive quarter of price declines. Prices of office spaces also fell 4 per cent in the first quarter of the year, following the 0.6 per cent fall from last year’s Q4. The numbers do not reflect the 2.5 per cent expansion of Singapore’s economy in the first quarter of the year, largely boosted by manufacturing and other trade-dependent sectors.

MarinaOneOfficeOther than Marina One which found tenants quickly, landlords of older commercial establishments are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the newer offerings and have found themselves having to drop their prices in order to source for more tenants, even as more companies are relocating into cheaper and newer buildings outside of the core central region. Some companies are also exploring co-working options, which decreases the demand for commercial real estate on a permanent basis. New commercial buildings such as GSH Plaza and Guoco Tower will also increase the supply of prime office spaces in the Central Business District (CBD) and as these landlords are already raising their asking rents for Grade A office spaces, property analysts are expecting the country’s economic growth to fuel the commercial property market as the year moves on.

Strata offices available for sale in centre of town

Rarely do office spaces right in the middle of town come up for sale. Retail spaces possibly. Though mostly for rent. But 15 units on the 7th floor of TripleOne Somerset have just become available for sale in the premium Orchard Road area and response is expected to be keen.

111SomersetPhoto credit: 111Somerset.com.sg

Situated near the Somerset MRT station, the development consists of 2 towers of premium office spaces and a retail podium. It is currently undergoing a $120 million renovation to boost the development’s retail offerings, including future medical suites. Recently put up for sale at $41.56 million as an expression of interest, the indicative price for the 15,683 sq ft space stands at $2,650 psf. The floor on sale is also undergoing refurbishment and will be ready by May this year.

Property analysts are expecting investors to jump on this rare opportunity as properties such as these in a prime location are hard to come by. This could be the first time a space with such calibre in terms of potential is made available in the last 30 years. The space can be used as strata office units or medical suites. Most resale units with similar characteristics are in older, ageing buildings, and even then cost a fortune due to its scarcity.

111SomersetOfficePhoto credit: 111Somerset.com.sg

TripleOne Somerset is a 99-year leasehold building with its lease beginning from Feb 19, 1975, and it calls Gucci, Bottega Venetta, Samsonite and Bell & Ross as some of its many tenants. The rental potential of the space is also tremendous, with monthly office rents at around $8 to $8.50 psf and a gross rental yield of 4 per cent.