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Hong Kong still has the world’s priciest office rents

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Rents are rocketing up to USD255.5 psf per year.

Knight Frank’s Skyscraper Index reveals that in Q2 2015, Hong Kong, at US$255.50 per sq ft per year, retains the title of the most expensive place in the world to rent office space in a tower building.

According to a release from Knight Frank, meanwhile, London (10.7%) and San Francisco (8.2%) are seeing the fastest rental growth for high-rise offices in the six months to June 2015, reflecting a buoyant occupier market in gateway cities.

Despite the uncertainties in the stock markets and the devaluation of the RMB, Thomas Lam, Senior Director, Head of Valuation & Consultancy, Knight Frank expects Hong Kong to continue to enjoy moderate rental growth with sustained demand from Mainland Chinese companies.

In 2015, around 40-50% of new lettings in Central involve Chinese firms. Meanwhile, Central’s office buildings are aging, with more than 50% of the district’s Grade-A offices being over 25 years old. For some of them, the need for renovation is seen.

Together with the shortage of new Grade-A offices in Central, such renovation will lead to a long-term impact to the district’s Grade-A office supply. Overall vacancy rates in Hong Kong decrease to 1.7% in September, and Central’s vacancy rate was as low as 1.4%, close to the historic low of 2008.

Here’s more from Knight Frank:

Hong Kong will still have the lowest prime yields (2.9%) among 20 global cities in the world by the end of 2015 as office property prices surged in previous years.
Looking ahead, Thomas Lam expects rents in Central will increase no more than 5% in 2016 and rents will slightly drop 0-5% in Kowloon East with abundant new supply in the pipeline.

Despite the concentration of quality stock and attractive rents in Kowloon East, we believe CBD2 cannot replace Central in the short term because only some firms or operations prefer relocating to Kowloon East. In the long term, the emerging CBDs will serve as complements, rather than direct competitors, to Central.

As some significant projects like CBD2, redevelopment of Wan Chai government offices have already been put in place to provide new office space, Knight Frank research shows that, Hong Kong is likely to face a shortage of office space of around 2 million sq ft (equivalent to an office tower of a comparable size to Two IFC) by 2020.

Thomas Lam remains positive about the long-term outlook for premium and Grade-A office buildings in the city, due to sustained long-term demand boosted by the Mutual Fund Recognition Scheme.


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