As occupants are cautious, rents on Grade-A offices are expected to fall

Wong Xian Yang from Cushman & Wakefield’s research team for Singapore & Southeast Asia said that the Downtown Core accounted the largest portion of the net demand during 3Q2023.
The net office demand was 398,264 square feet. The net demand growth was the fastest q-oq since 1Q2020.

Wong says that financial services and professional services remain the most important demand drivers in the CBD. In the first nine month of 2023, 58% of all new leases were in the CBD – up from only 26% during 2022.

Tricia song, CBRE’s Singapore and Southeast Asia head of research, said that more diversified drivers of demand have helped to compensate for the slowdown in tech.
The most active sectors during 3Q2023, were asset management, private wealth and consumer products.

A tighter market due to project redevelopments has also helped boost occupancy rates from 89.2% during 2Q2023 up to 90% during 3Q2023.

URA headline property rental index showed a dramatic 4.9% jump q-o q in 3Q2023, more than double the 2.3% increase in the quarter before.

URA real estate statistics for 3Q2023, however showed that median rents dropped for the very first time in five years for Category 1 offices, which URA defines to include buildings in the Core Business District (including the Downtown Core) and Orchard Planning Area. They were down by 2.3% on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

The median rents of Category 2 office space, which URA defines as any other office area outside Category 1, fell 4.5% quarterly in the 3Q2023.

JLL also found that CBD grade-A office rents dropped in 3Q2023, marking the end of nine quarters consecutively growing.

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JLL reported that the average gross rents for CBD Grade A office spaces tracked by the company fell 0.3% quarterly to $11.29 psf/month (pm) in the 3Q2023, down from $11.32 pm/psf in the 2Q2023.

URA data show that approximately 0.45 million sq. ft. was removed from the stock in 3Q2023, a result of the redevelopments to Central Square, Faber House and Central Mall.

In 3Q2023, 57 transactions for office strata were recorded in the Central Region. This is the lowest figure since 3Q2020 (47 transactions).

CBRE Research expects the rents of Grade-A offices in the Core CBD area to rise by 1.5% to 2.5% over the entire year. This growth will be faster than projected GDP but still slower than the 8.3% increase in rental growth that is expected in 2022.

In the Central area, however, it is anticipated that rental growth will moderate in future quarters as a result of an increased interest rate regime expected to last longer and global uncertainty.

JLL has predicted that by 2024, the number of offices completed on the island will have reached a record high. Close to 1.9msq ft of Grade A offices is due for completion within the CBD.
The majority will come from the IOI Central Boulevard Towers, which are 1.3msq ft in size, and Keppel South Central, which is 0.6msq ft.

JLL estimates a total of 1.1M sq ft uncommitted as of 3Q2023.

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