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Office rents slowing down (3)

By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)

13:55, February 04, 2013

Against a backdrop of significant decrease in demand, vacancy rates increased to 12.8 percent in 2012, making the first rise of 1.1 percentage points year-on-year after three consecutive years of decline.

While rental growth decelerated rapidly in 2012, there was an overall year-on-year growth of 3.6 percent nationwide.

In Beijing, office rental rates experienced double-digit growth for three consecutive years because of tight supply. Among second-tier cities, Wuhan experienced double-digit growth in office rents for two years in a row, the CBRE report showed.

On the investment side, foreign investors and real estate investment trusts are expected to continue to flock to Asia's prime gateway markets this year, according to a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield.

Blackstone Group LP, one of the world's largest private equity firms, for instance, plans to raise an Asia real estate fund soon, a source close to the company told China Daily.

The real estate fund under Blackstone, together with Ting Hisin International Group, purchased an office tower block in Shanghai last year. The total investment was around 2.3 billion yuan ($369 million). The unit price was around 49,000 yuan per sq m.

Capital value and income appreciation have been on the rise thanks to solid property fundamentals since 2009 and are likely to continue along that trajectory as high occupancy and rent upturn continue to support modest capital value in most markets, the report from Cushman & Wakefield showed.

"The yield interest rate spread for core is at an all-time high in most gateway cities in the region: Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne," said John Stinson, executive managing director for capital markets for Cushman & Wakefield, Asia-Pacific.

"With current fundamentals pointing to steady growth until 2014, we anticipate strong investment activity in the first half of 2013 throughout the region's core markets," he added.

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