China, Singapore seen leading property market recovery after coronavirus pandemic eases, analysts say

By Cheryl Arcibalcheryl.arcibal@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/china-business/article/3079816/china-singapore-seen-leading-property-market-recovery-after?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp&utm_content=3079816 | April 28, 2020 12:09 PM SGT
Investors in China and Singapore are likely to help spearhead a rebound in property transactions and prices in Asia-Pacific markets amid early signs of success in containing the coronavirus pandemic, analysts said.
That may come as early as next month given a rise in enquiries over the past two months, according to Georg Chmiel, executive chairman of Juwai IQI, which operates a property portal. Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia are also expected to recover ahead of markets in Western countries.
Chinese buyers have stepped up searches in February and March from January, with inquiries rising by 24 per cent for Thai real estate and 15 per cent for rising Australian assets, according to data from its portal.
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"Based on current trends, we see that China is coming back already and the most developed Asian countries could be back by May," Chmiel said. The increase in enquiries "is a reliable indicator of future transaction trends."
The view is backed by economic data showing surprise gains in Chinese manufacturing, while policy stimulus revives consumer spending and some Asian governments have eased lockdown measures by allowing more businesses to reopen. Stocks in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan have risen more than 4 per cent so far this month, after losing 21 per cent last quarter.
The coronavirus has so far infected more than 1.9 million people worldwide, and killed at least 119,000. Authorities remain on high alert over infection cases and death from the pandemic as Europe and the US became the new hotspots.
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Chinese domestic property market sprang back to life in recent weeks, helped by a combination of state policy support, incentives from developers and a rebounding economy as sales offices reopened across the nation. Hong Kong could be next down the road, according to Habitat Property.
"I think we will be able to move past the lockdowns and get back to normal faster than all other countries," said Victoria Allan, founder and director of the Hong Kong-based agency.
London and cities in the US are going to be severely hit as a result of how widespread the virus is at the moment, she added.
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These markets, however, may attract wealthy Asian investors least affected by the pandemic measures as they search for bargains among beaten-down overseas properties.
"Typically, international brokers are targeting the US dollar millionaires among Chinese investors, as this group is relatively resilient to crisis," said Jojo Romarx Salas, director of global research at property agency LeadingRE.
Property consultancy Knight Frank has noticed an uptick in interest in properties in France, Spain, and Italy " among the countries hardest hit by pandemic.
"The view from our agents who continue to receive inquiries is that some are using this time to undertake due diligence, to whittle down their prospective property lists and put their time in lockdown to good use," said Kate Everett-Allen, head of international residential research at Knight Frank.
Markets elsewhere in the region, particularly in Singapore, are more resilient amid the health crisis and should rebound quicker.
While residential market in the city state is expected to record a first drop in prices since 2016, the magnitude is small. Investors are likely to focus on opportunities beyond the current "short term" upheaval, according to Colliers International.
"The longer-term fundamentals of the Singapore real estate market remain strong and intact," said Jerome Wright, senior director of capital markets. "We can expect the market to recover as the successful control measures are lifted and industries regain full momentum."
 
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