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What’s The Future Of Retail Real Estate in Hong Kong?

The days when Hong Kong was the envy of the world seem long gone. In fact, after months of ongoing violent protests, rising unemployment, a pandemic, and ensuing government lockdowns, Hong Kong’s appeal is starting to vanish.

Furthermore, the arrival of an unanticipated recession (Hong Kong’s economy shrank 8.9 percent in its worst contraction on record) is alarming both overseas investors and the local business community. Now, the city’s economic and socio-political instability are cooling off its once-flourishing real estate market. And in a challenging market, even real estate assets that once brought high-yield returns could become liabilities.

In May, Bloomberg reported on a failed government auction in Hong Kong where a Kai Tak commercial plot that was up for sale had to be withdrawn. According to the South China Morning Post, the four submitted bids were too far below the government’s undisclosed reserve price. The move came after appraisers had decreased estimates for the land’s value by 20 percent to between $820 million (6.38 billion HKD) and $1.35 billion (10.44 billion HKD).

But that’s far from the only negative real estate news to come out of Hong Kong. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s estimations, Hong Kong’s property prices could end up falling by up to 20 percent. And according to data from Centaline Property Agency, average rent prices are also falling. In March, the average rental fell by 2.3 percent month-on-month to $4.37 (33.9 HKD) per square foot.

Office space has also registered a significant drop. The World Property Journal reports that Hong Kong’s office market vacancy rate reached a 12-year high. Furthermore, International property consultant JLL’s latest Property Market Monitor highlights how Hong Kong’s Central’s Grade A office rents fell 2.7 percent to $13.20 (102.4 HKD) per square foot this May while the vacancy rate reached 5 percent.

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