Market Update Summary - Dec 2019S

Leasing across all sectors remains subdued

The overall leasing market recorded a net withdrawal of 91,900 sq ft, causing the vacancy rate to rise 5.9% across Hong Kong. Vacancy rose in all of the core submarkets of Central, Wanchai/Causeway Bay and Tsimshatsui, while both decentralized markets tightened slightly. While leasing activity remains subdued, there were some examples of expansion in the insurance industry. For instance, FWD reported leased 25,800 sq ft at Millennium City 1 in Kwun Tong, while AIA leased 18,700 sq ft at The Gateway Tower 5 in Tsimshatsui to accommodate expansion requirements.

In Central, net take-up has remained negative in every month since October 2018 as vacancy now reaches its highest point in more than 4 years. Leasing activity was largely dominated by tenants seeking more cost effective options within the submarket. Notably, Huarong (Macau) reportedly leased 20,300 sq ft at One Pacific Place, while Guosen Securities leased 13,500 sq ft in the same building; both relocating out of Grade A1 offices in Central.

The rental decline trend continued in November as rents in the overall market dropped by 0.6% m-o-m. Elevated vacancy led to the sharpest rental decline (-1.3% m-o-m) in Kowloon East, followed by Wanchai/Causeway Bay (-1.1% m-o-m).

The office sales market remained quiet as investor sentiment continued to be impacted by internal and external factors. Among the more notable transactions, a small unit in the mid-zone of Bank of America Tower reportedly changed hands of HK48.8 million (or HKD42,920 per sq ft). The reported unit price was roughly 20% lower than the price paid for a small unit in the mid-zone of the same building that transacted in March 2019.