Industrial property demand still going strong

The robust economic growth since the global financial crisis in 2008 has boosted demand for industrial space in Singapore in the last two years.

Some analysts say the industrial property segment has been a star performer with capital values going up by an average of 23 per cent since 2010. And prospects of higher investment yields are driving demand and prices of industrial properties.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed that industrial property prices have bucked the general downtrend and grew by 7.2 per cent in Q1 this year, compared with the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, prices of private residential property dipped marginally by 0.1 per cent on-quarter during the same period. Rentals for industrial premises have also been rising.

Mr Donald Han, special adviser at HSR, said: “In the last two years, rentals have gone up an average of 12 to 15 per cent per annum. This year, in the first quarter, we saw a rental increase of 1.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter – even that is probably not sustainable, we expect rents to flatten in the second quarter and may potentially dip by as much as about 2 to 3 per cent, making the entire year increase not more than 5 per cent.”

Experts say low interest rates and high liquidity in the market have kept industrial property prices on the high.

They add that occupancy rate of industrial properties at above 93 per cent suggests that a price correction is not on the cards yet.

Mr Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills Singapore, said: “For the first quarter of this year, the strength of the price and rental increases will push that momentum into the second quarter.

“We expect to see prices for multi-user warehouse and multi-user industrial space to rise by 6 to 8 per cent of the similar strength to what we saw for the first quarter this year.”

Meanwhile, analysts caution that the demand for industrial properties may soften if economic growth slows.

And this is likely to put downward pressure on prices of industrial properties. Analysts say rentals may also come down but yields could still be attractive at 5 per cent.

Colliers International research director Chia Siew Chuin said: “The higher prices we see now is probably the result of a skew because of higher prices that we have achieved as a result of smaller units for industrial premises sold. The Government has already put subtle measures but they are development guidelines, in a way, to achieve a more stabilised market going forward.”

Analysts do not believe that the authorities will implement measures to cool the industrial property market, which makes up only about one-tenth of property transactions.

They add that any measures may need to be targeted on investors so as to protect businesses that buy industrial property as a hedge against future rental increases.

Source : Today – 7 May 2012

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