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Press release

29 JUL 2021

Demand for commercial space in Singapore continues to fall

RICS Global Commercial Property Market Survey, Q2 2021

  • Feedback on demand remains firmly negative for office and retail
  • Industrial use sees less of a decline in demand in comparison

The Singaporean commercial property market continued to see the effects of the pandemic as respondents to the Q2 2021 RICS Global Commercial Property Survey cited a continuation of falling demand for commercial space.

At the headline level, a net balance of -53% of respondents reported a fall in occupier demand which is the ninth consecutive quarterly fall recorded. The underlying tones for this negative outlook come from falling demand trends in the retail and office sectors. While over countries in the region have reported that industrial property is more attractive than other sectors, in Singapore - 18% of respondents reported a fall in demand for industrial space.

Falling demand unsurprisingly saw the availability of leasable space increase according to respondents, with +6% noting more commercial property on the market.

Looking at rents, due to falling demand and the increasing availability of units, it is unsurprising that commercial rents across the three sectors (office, retail and industrial) are expected to fall by 3.8% in the year ahead. Looking in more detail, falls in rent were also expected for prime office (-2.4%) and prime retail (-8%) space, while only a marginal increase is anticipated (0.7%) for prime industrial areas.

Investor appetite for the Singaporean commercial sector continued to dip as -28% of contributors reported a fall in all-property investment enquiries over the quarter. In line with the results for tenant demand and availability, retail space saw the biggest fall in new investment enquiries (net balance -55%), followed up by office space (net balance -25%) and industrial (net balance of -5%).

After 2021 Q1 saw an improvement, the Q2 capital value expectations for the next year cap what has been a difficult period for commercial property – with a net balance of -22% of respondents in Singapore now expecting property to fall in value across office, industrial and retail sectors. Looking more closely, a silver lining provided by respondents predicted improved capital value projections for multifamily (+2%, data centre (+3.5%) and aged care facilities (0.5%).

Tarrant Parsons, RICS Economist, said:

“The latest survey feedback is consistent with a steadily recovering picture across the global commercial real estate market. Although industrials/logistics, supported by rapid growth in e-commerce, remains the only mainstream sector seeing an outright uplift in demand at the aggregate level, the negativity surrounding offices and retail has diminished to a significant degree in Q2.

“As a result, all global regions continue to see headline sentiment indices move further away from the lows hit during the middle of last year.

“While in Singapore, and the Asia-Pacific region more widely, there remains a somewhat more noticeable excess of supply over demand.

“Nevertheless, there are some alternative asset classes which display a firmly positive outlook right across the globe, with data centres, multifamily residential and aged care facilities in particular displaying solid capital value expectations for the year ahead.”

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