Resale Strata Offices set to increase in demand and price

Straits TImes 2 Aug
Singapore’s property market is having a slower year but one market segment might be in for significant growth – resale strata-titled offices in the central business district (CBD).

Prices of these properties are poised to climb this year owing to healthy demand, particularly from Chinese buyers, according to property consultancy CBRE.

Chinese buyers are the most active, having invested heavily in office buildings such as Samsung Hub and Springleaf Tower, it said.

CBRE said prices of such office units could rise by 5 per cent to 10 per cent this year, citing limited supply and rising office rents.

The average price for strata office resales was $1,677 per sq ft (psf) in the second quarter, going by caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority. For new sales, the average was $2,073 psf in the period.

Strata offices can appeal to Chinese companies from industries such as insurance and commodities. “These buyers likely have a big base in China where their business is booming, and they want to venture out of China and expand to Singapore.”

As a result of their thriving business back home, such firms may also have pockets deep enough for them to buy an entire office floor in Singapore rather than subdivided units.

One recent resale transaction of strata office space was the sale of the 14th floor of Samsung Hub in Church Street for $39.7 million about two months ago.

This works out to around $3,030 psf for 13,110 sq ft at the 999-year leasehold office tower, which has 30 storeys.

The buyer was a Chinese company believed to be in the trading industry.

The seller is believed to be Arch Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based private equity real estate firm with links to Ayala Group of the Philippines, according to a Business Times report.

Chinese firms also snapped up eight out of 12 floors of office space in Springleaf Tower, put up for sale in the second half of last year. Springleaf Tower is a 37-storey building in Anson Road. The firms were in insurance, shipping and commodities.

The seller of all 12 floors was SEB Asset Management, part of German pension fund manager SEB. Prices ranged from $2,200 psf to $2,400 psf, reports said.

Some companies may prefer to buy completed offices rather than units that are still under construction, so that they can move in immediately.

Buyers of office space also “don’t want to be held ransom to landlords, so they become landlords themselves”.

One main reason is a widely expected spike in office rents in the CBD over the next two years due to a supply shortage.

Analysts predict that prime office rents in the CBD could climb by as much as 15 per cent to 16 per cent this year from last year.

This pace of office rental growth could even be faster than that in major global cities such as London, New York and San Francisco, property consultancy JLL noted in May this year.

The office components of mixed developments such as South Beach near Raffles Hotel, DUO in Bugis and Marina One in Marina Bay could be completed within the next few years.

A similar article on strata office in Business Times (in the first quarter) was found and attached here for reference.

http://www.btinvest.com.sg/system/bti/property_2014/pdf/pg28-29.pdf

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