Hong Kong ranks as the world's most expensive high-street retail destination with average rent of US$4,327 per sq ft per annum, surpassing New York, Paris, London and Tokyo by a substantial margin, according to the latest research from CBRE. This is the third consecutive year that Hong Kong has ranked top of the global list.
Demand for Hong Kong retail space set to soar
A rising tide of liquidity and the government's latest measures to curb speculative home-buying could combine to drive demand up for retail property investment, say property agents.
"More than 50 per cent of our clients who have been investing in luxury homes tell us they are now interested in retail and commercial properties," said Helen Mak Hoi-lun, senior director of retail services at real estate consultancy Colliers International.
"They think it will become increasingly difficult to invest in the residential flat market because of the new restrictions. Many wanted to sell their properties to mainlanders, who are willing to pay higher deposits and can close a deal quickly, but now they feel they have lost this group of potential buyers," she said.
Mak added that in response to the measures, property investors have turned to retail properties priced at between HK$50 million and HK$100 million, though the market is yet to see a significant rise in sales volumes.
Last month, the government introduced a buyer's stamp duty to be paid by non-permanent residents and companies. It also increased and extended the special stamp duty on flat resales to curb soaring home prices.
The moves came after the third round of quantitative easing measures (QE3) in the United States raised liquidity in the market, which helped fuel property sales, and Mak was upbeat about the effect on retail property.
"Some owners have already marked up the prices, for example, from HK$50 million or HK$60 million to HK$70 million," she said. "With limited supply and abundant cash under a low-interest-rate environment, both prices and sales volume of retail properties should continue to climb."
Mak said the quick sales of shops at the DNA Galleria in Tsim Sha Tsui at aggressive prices reflected the impact of QE3 and the government's new policies on the market.
Raiky Wong Wai-kei, of Centaline, said Hong Kong's retail property sector had been buoyant since the government first imposed the special stamp duty on flat resales in 2010.
He said the fluctuating stock market and continuing retail sales growth pushed up rents, hence supporting prices.