Philippine property market seen to be hottest in Asia
By Riza T. Olchondra
The Philippine office sector is among the most dynamic in Asia and is growing at record levels, according to officials of CBRE Philippines.
The commercial real estate services firm said Metro Manila was leading the country’s office market, with occupancy rates hitting 97 per cent across Central Business Districts (CBDs) in the first quarter of 2013.
In the office rent market, Manila is among the areas where rental growth is accelerating, alongside Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, according to industry data.
High investor confidence brought vacancy levels to hover at an all-time low of 3.21 per cent in Metro Manila from the recorded 3.43 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012 amid economic growth, credit upgrades, cost-effective rental rates, the influx of expanding multinationals and manufacturers, and expatriates moving from renting to buying properties, said CBRE CEO Rick Santos in a briefing on Wednesday.
Combined with the effect of anti-speculation taxes, tighter rules, and sky-high property costs in saturated markets such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore, more property investments are expected to boost Philippine developers, said CBRE vice chairman and global corporate services chief Joey Radovan at the same briefing.
Radovan said that even with the challenge posed by a strong peso, the Philippines remained among the most cost-effective and attractive (with a young and talented labour force) destinations for BPOs and real estate investors in Asia.
Makati City remains the country’s top CBD as it offers the highest quality Grade A and premium office buildings available in the market, Radovan said. Makati largely gained from the expansion of multinational corporations, with the CBD’s vacancy rating down to 5.07 per cent in the first quarter from 5.45 per cent recorded in the previous quarter.
Declining office space vacancy put upward pressure on rent, pushing average asking lease rate up to P890.27 a square meter a month for the first quarter of 2013.
Radovan said vacancy rates in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Ortigas, Alabang, and Quezon City fell below 5 per cent in the first quarter, benefiting from the tightening of supply and increasing rates in Makati CBD.
CBRE research also showed that the growth of hiring for BPO full-time employees (FTE) was highest in BGC, Muntinlupa and Quezon City.