Retail properties

Asia's super rich go shopping for retail properties in the West

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 March, 2014, 1:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2015, 4:35pm

Many of the super rich in Asia are drawn to invest in retail properties in Europe and the US because of the discount in pricing they get compared to their hometowns, a survey of 23,000 millionaires by property consultancy Knight Frank showed.

Some 42 per cent of what are called Asian ultra high-net worth individuals (UHNWIs) are more interested in retail property, up from 30 per cent a year ago, according to the survey by the London-based Knight Frank consultancy.

"More and more UHNWIs in Asia, especially in mainland China, are looking for office properties overseas, as the discount is huge when compared with their hometowns," said Thomas Lam, head of Greater China research at Knight Frank.

For example, the commercial value for a grade-A office building in Shanghai would be above 80,000 yuan (HK$101,000) per square metre, which is often double the price of major US cities, said Lam.

Demand for office space in New York and London has increased considerably due to demand from the technology, media and telecom sectors.

"These new technology companies often like to turn their offices into creative environments …desks are [removed] in favour of sofa areas, cafes, chill-out rooms and exercise rooms," the report said. "From a landlord's perspective these unconventional work patterns are secondary to the fact that these companies are taking more office space."

The number of UHNWIs with US$30 million or more in net assets excluding their main residence grew 3 per cent worldwide to 167,669 at the end of 2013. It is expected to rise by 28 per cent to 215,113 by 2023, with Africa growing the fastest at 53 per cent, followed by Asia with 43 per cent growth.

The population of UHNWIs in Hong Kong will grow 37 per cent to 3,502 by 2023.

The report by Knight Frank warned though that prospects for retail properties are mixed because consumer debt levels are high in most developed markets while unemployment remains an issue. Office and logistics real estate are considered safer bets as demand for these properties increases, the report added.