With premium office space in Singapore being a third of the cost of Hong Kong, Singapore leads cost-effective office location for regional head quarters.
Hong Kong’s Central has the world’s most expensive rent for premium offices for the fourth year running, according to data from global real estate consultant JLL. The submarket boasts occupancy costs – including rent, taxes and service charges – that are 60 per cent more expensive than New York’s Midtown and nearly 75 per cent more expensive than London’s West End.
JLL’s Premium Office Rent Tracker (PORT), now in its fourth edition, crunches data on the achievable rent in the highest quality building in the premier office districts of 61 cities.
Chris Archibold, Head of Leasing, JLL Singapore, comments: “Singapore stacks up very competitively given that it is a global hub for multiple high value industries and offers a high quality standard of living, yet is cheap, relative to other global hubs. The net result of this is that we are seeing expansion across multiple sectors, including a marked increase in demand from the technology sector.”
According to JLL, the high occupancy costs of Hong Kong’s Central are driven by Chinese firms snapping up Grade A office space, although this demand has decreased in the last quarter. This has led some companies to search for more affordable office locations in decentralised locations.
“Hong Kong is a key financial hub in Asia, and Central is still the most important financial district. But vacancies are low in Central, which has pushed office rents up. Companies are now looking beyond Hong Kong’s traditional core office markets with more than half of all new lettings in the third quarter of 2018 taking place in decentralised locations. Hong Kong East and Kowloon East have emerged as favoured alternatives. Notable tenants who have shifted to Hong Kong East recently include Ernst & Young and Baker McKenzie,” says Denis Ma, Head of Research, JLL Hong Kong.
While Hong Kong East has traditionally been seen as a back office location by multinationals, it is increasingly being viewed as a prime office location.
“Total occupancy costs in Hong Kong East are 64 per cent lower than in Central while Kowloon East is 76 per cent lower than Central. The finance, insurance, real estate and business services sectors have been shifting to Hong Kong East, and now account for about 37 per cent of the tenant base. More tech and legal companies are also relocating from Central to Hong Kong East,” adds Ma.
Districts in cities in Greater China (Hong Kong, Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai) now represent six of the top 10 most expensive premium office markets in Asia. As a result, decentralisation is taking place in many Chinese cities as companies look to make savings, with premium occupancy costs averaging US$338 per square foot in Hong Kong’s Central, US$189 per square foot in Beijing’s Finance Street, and US$131 per square foot in Shanghai’s Pudong district. Meanwhile Singapore made its way into the top 10 for Asian cities, up from 14th place in 2017.
Financial services companies are willing to pay for premium office space
The banking and financial services industry are the top occupiers of premium office space globally, as the leading sector in more than half of the 72 markets covered.
“High-value, high-margin businesses in financial services such as private, corporate and investment banking firms, rent premium office space in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore. While cost remains a key factor, these companies prioritise access to talent and the need for amenities when selecting their next office location. They target premium quality buildings to attract and retain top talent, which also helps to enhance their brand image,” says Jeremy Sheldon, Managing Director, Markets and Integrated Portfolio Services, JLL Asia Pacific.
Corporate occupiers across all industries are seeking to consolidate and streamline their portfolios in strategic locations. There is growing recognition of the role that real estate plays in talent attraction and retention. Hong Kong’s Central is a prime example for its excellent transport connectivity, local amenities, and the quality of digital infrastructure – factors that organisations consider when choosing their next office location.
In its fourth edition of Premium Office Rent Tracker (PORT), JLL compares like-for-like occupation costs across 72 major office markets in 61 cities. The 2018 edition includes a further 18 markets from 2017, where it included 54 major markets in 46 cities of differing function and evolution.
Premium office rents refer to the ‘top achievable’ in units over 10,000 square feet (or approximately 1,000 square metres) in the premium building in the premier office district of each city. In tall buildings, the middle zone is used as the benchmark. The report excludes rents that represent a premium level paid for a small quantity of space or highly prestigious units where a significant premium applies.
Total occupancy costs are calculated by combining the net effective rent with additional costs (e.g. service charges, taxes).
The average total occupancy costs of the top 20 tracked markets in Asia Pacific are as follows:
|Country||Market||Total occupancy cost (USD)|
|1||Hong Kong||Hong Kong, Central||$338|
|2||China||Beijing, Finance St||$189|
|6||India||Delhi, Connaught Place||$142|
|8||Hong Kong||Hong Kong East||$122|
|16||Hong Kong||Hong Kong, Kowloon East||$83|
|19||Vietnam||Ho Chi Minh City||$59|