SINGAPORE – Commercial real estate investment activity in Asia Pacific moderated 22% year-on-year (YoY) in the third quarter of 2023, recording the lowest quarterly figure since Q2 2010.
According to data and analysis by global real estate consulting firm JLL (NYSE:JLL), investment activity in Asia Pacific fell to US$21.3 billion as investments in office and retail continued to experience sharp contractions, while industrial & logistics and living & multifamily sectors remained resilient.
“Despite a strengthening return to office narrative and low vacancy rates in many markets, investors remain generally more cautious on the office sector. The high cost of debt has also exerted repricing pressures and most markets remain in price discovery mode as investors adjust their targeted returns for acquisitions. We maintain our confidence in the longer-term attractiveness and resilience of Asia Pacific’s commercial real estate but remain realistic that investors are seeking more clarity on pricing and the macroeconomy,” said Stuart Crow, CEO, Asia Pacific Capital Markets, JLL.
Across the third quarter, China emerged as the most active market in Asia Pacific. Investment volumes bucked the downward trend and totalled US$4.7 billion, up 43% YoY from a low base, despite limited participation from overseas investors. For domestic investors and corporate occupiers, industrial & logistics and assets equipped for R&D were the primary recipients of capital. In Hong Kong, investment activity reached US$0.8 billion, up 15% YoY with most transactions consisting of small lump sum deployments involving strata-title assets for owner occupation.
Japan recorded investment volumes of US$4.1 billion, a 3% YoY growth. Industrial & logistics remained an active sector within the market, with two notable portfolio acquisitions made by domestic investors, and listed J-REITs acquired hotel portfolios amid a rapid tourism recovery and rising hotel room prices.
South Korea garnered US$4.2 billion worth of transactions, falling 35% YoY as domestic investors exhausted a large portion of their blind funds, along with shrinking office volumes caused by subdued sentiment amongst global core investors.
Meanwhile, investment volumes in Australia plunged 47% YoY to US$3.8 billion. The investment market remained slow as price discovery continued amid rapid funding cost changes. Re-allocation into industrial & logistics and student housing assets took place with conviction growing in these sectors. Singapore investment volumes declined 11% to US$2 billion, with notable acquisitions in the hotels & hospitality and retail sectors.
“In the region, interest rate hike cycles are nearing their end – the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Bank of Korea are likely to conclude their monetary tightening whilst the Reserve Bank of Australia may have more work to do. Thus, regional fixed rates are now closely resembling floating rates, apart from Japan as it plans to move towards policy normalisation,” said Pamela Ambler, Head of Investor Intelligence, Asia Pacific, JLL.
“As we approach the end of 2023, investors will weigh the elevated cost of capital against an uncertain macroeconomic environment. With the Fed’s upcoming decision on adjusting interest rates, we can also expect investment activity to pick up as the cost of debt eases.”