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.

Mixed use properties – Aiming for perfection in Integration

In the past decade, mixed-use developments have sprung up all over the island, in almost every township and with the most popular ones near town centres and transport hubs. As cities become more crowded and space scarcer, these all-in-one properties are finding favour with buyers and investors as rental yields are often considerably higher.

South Beach
Integrated developments consist of a mix of at least 2 uses – transportation, retail, commercial and residential. They offer the benefits of having conveniences at your doorstop and with an emphasis on a balanced lifestyle. Although it may seem like the lines are blurred, developers are clever about giving residents a sense of exclusivity and most mixed-use properties have their own residential parking area, driveway and serviced-lift lobbies.

Some of the more recent integrated properties include North Park Residences, Kensington Square and The Rise @ Oxley just to name a few. There are a growing number of integrated developments in the city centre as well, near the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard road districts, including Scotts Square Residences and Icon condominium in Tanjong Pagar  Some older properties include serviced apartments connected to malls such as Far East Plaza and Liang Court. There are also quite a few massive integrated developments coming up in the next few years such as DUO Residences in Rochor road, Tanjong Pagar Centre and South Beach.

Icon VillageThough these properties do not come cheap, their potential is considerable and as Singapore progresses into the 21st Century with lesser available land area and increasing population, their value seem very likely to appreciate.

CBD Living on the rise

Despite restrictions in the property market and decreasing sales in the private property sector, more buyers are looking to purchase apartments in the CBD (Central Business District).

Tanjong Pagar CentreLiving just a walk away from the office has its positives. But recent interest has dawned from the promise of change. New mixed-use developments such as GuocoLand’s Tanjong Pagar Centre, will bring live into the sleepy after-hours districts of Shenton way, Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar and change the fact that CBD living often comes with its fair share of inconveniences such as not having schools, supermarkets or shopping centres which open beyond the normal office hours in the vicinity.

Tanjong Pagar Centre will feature Grade A office spaces, luxury serviced apartments – Clermont Residences and other commercial businesses. It will be linked to the Clermont Singapore Hotel. Just a little way off are other residential options – the Marina One residences. This project will go on sale later this year, and prices are expected to start at $2, 800 psf. There are other new private apartment developments in the pipeline, giving this city-nation a new meaning to city-living. Skysuites @ Anson, 76 Shenton and Altez, just to name a few of the many which have come up in the last 10 years.

76 ShentonWith news of the Southern Waterfront development under URA’s draft masterplan 2013, the area looks set to be booming with activity within the next decade. Considering the fact that rental yields now are already at 4 to 4.5 per cent, higher than the island-wide average of 3.8 per cent, it will be no wonder what the future will bring.

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?