Despite the influx of expatriates, recruited to work in Macau's growing portfolio of luxury hotels and casinos, the serviced apartment market remains small due to executives' lengthier job postings and cheaper property prices. 'Renting an apartment in Macau is not as expensive as Hong Kong. With the majority of expatriates signed on to work in Macau for at least a year, if not more, it makes more sense to rent an apartment without services,' explains Ronald Cheung, CEO of Midland Realty Macau. 'Those that come for a shorter period can stay in any of the hotels. That mid-point of three to six months, somewhere between short stay and long term stay, does not, however, seem to be too common.' Indeed, developers and apartment operators in Macau are dealing with a very different type of expatriate tenant to Hong Kong; not the big housing budget of an investment banker who plans to spend much of his time in the office, but a couple or a family looking to make Macau their home for the next few years. 'Macau's rental market also offers more value for money. It is not expensive to rent a decent sized apartment, so many people tend to do that instead,' Cheung says. Even units at Lot W, one of Macau's very few premium serviced apartment properties, situated in northwest Taipa, are big in terms of size. Each apartment is about 2,830 sqft and is designed around a comprehensive list of facilities that include a shopping centre, private membership club, school, post office, medical centre, 24-hour convenience store, supermarkets and a nursery, all within easy access. MacauLand has also developed large family-style residences at The Manhattan, close to the Cotai Strip. As an incentive to buyers, the company sold the units with a leasing option, allowing owners to lease their properties back to MacauLand, which would in turn sublet the fully furnished flats to casinos and hotels, guaranteeing owners a 5 per cent yield over the course of two years. 'A lot of international investors were keen to invest in property in Macau, but they did not want the hassle of having to deal with tenants and leasing issues. Though the period for guaranteed yields has expired, we continue to offer our leasing and tenancy management services as a value added service to owners,' says Benjamin Kao, a principal at MacauLand Developments. About half of the 175 units at The Manhattan are leased out. The development, which was completed in 2007, offers the choice of three bedroom apartments of 1,600 sqft and four bedroom apartments of 2,200 sqft. Aside from the location, many tenants want to live in developments within walking distance, or a close drive from their workplace. Many executives also seek flats that have quality fixtures and fittings, an English-language concierge service and comprehensive clubhouse facilities. The Manhattan offers 30,000 sqft of recreational space featuring a gym, swimming pool, movie theatre, spa, playground, barbecue deck, among other facilities. 'Macau is much smaller than Hong Kong. There aren't many parks or recreational places, so tenants see their apartment buildings as an oasis and want to have everything right there,' Kao explains. One Central, in the Nape area of Macau, with a direct link to the MGM Grand Macau and in close proximity to Wynn Macau, has become one of the most popular rental properties because of its convenient location and comprehensive clubhouse facilities. The Hongkong Land and Shun Tak Holdings joint venture is a waterfront mixed-use project comprising residences, luxury retail and a hotel managed by the Mandarin Oriental Group on a site spanning 200,000 sqft. The development has seven residential blocks offering about 800 units of one- to four-bedroom apartments. The luxury residential clubhouse features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a landscaped garden. Plans are under way to launch serviced apartments at the property. Despite the lacklustre market for serviced apartments, developers and realtors are optimistic that it will pick up over the next few years. 'There may not be much demand in the market now, but we see more room for growth in the future, especially with the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which could generate more demand from businessmen who wish to be based in Macau,' Kao says. As the sector evolves, developers may also look to building smaller one- to two-bedroom apartments to meet growing demand. 'We will likely see the development of a few purpose-built properties that are designed as serviced apartments, though rents will be cheaper than Hong Kong because of the lower value of property,' Kao says.