Melbourne leads CBD markets globally in yield compressions for past three years: Savills

Melbourne leads CBD markets globally in yield compressions for past three years: Savills
Melbourne leads CBD markets globally in yield compressions for past three years: Savills

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The Melbourne CBD recorded the greatest yield compression throughout the past three years across CBD office markets globally, as reported by Savills latest Impacts report. 

In Impacts, Savills global thought-leadership programme, Savills explores the link between office yields and borrowing, and concludes that the relationship has become more tenuous as investors’ profiles have changed and fewer investments have been predicated on finance from bank borrowing. 

According to Savills, a rise in interest rates in any domain (which is looking increasingly improbable) is unlikely to result in a corresponding rise in prime office yields so they are likely to remain stable or continue to fall in many markets. 

Looking at the level of yield compression across key CBD markets globally, Melbourne led the charge, with prime yields falling 174 basis point since 2015, followed by Beijing (-132 basis points) and Berlin (-120 basis points). 

Savills Australia’s CEO, Paul Craig, said that while Australian cities were still off the 3.0 percent mark hit by other CBD markets worldwide, “It would be prudent to assume that yields Down Under will fall in a similar trend in the next five years”. 

“This is even more so the case given the Melbourne CBD’s status as a regional gateway city and the Sydney CBD’s status as a global gateway city,” he said.

CBD prime office market yields are now sub-3.0 percent in Hong Kong (2.43 percent), Frankfurt (2.9 percent), Tokyo (2.9 percent) and Berlin (2.9 percent), in a reflection of the new benchmarks being set globally. Savills report forecasts that the Paris (3.0 percent) and Amsterdam (3.5 percent) prime CBD office markets could see market yields harden to under 3.0 percent by the end of 2019.

“Throughout the past three years, we have seen growing investor demand from both foreign and domestic investors drive yields down to record low levels,” Savills Australia’s Director for Capital Transactions in Victoria, James Girvan, said.

“Investors are drawn to the Victorian capital, not only because of strong demand drivers and nation-leading economic indicators.

“The risk-adjusted return for Melbourne CBD remains among the highest recorded across all office markets globally (according to latest available data from the MSCI IPD).”

Positively, as a result of record low interest rates, and thus record low long-term bond yields, the yield premium throughout the 10-year bond rate remained elevated at 305 basis points, according to Savills data in March 2019.

“We are seeing more and more investors, both domestically and internationally, recognise the investment potential in Australia, which will likely drive yields further down, particularly with interest rates likely to remain low in the short to medium term,” Savills Australia’s Director for Research & Consultancy, Shrabastee Mallik, said.

“We are not only seeing our peers abandoning tightening monetary policies globally, but domestically, there is also a growing consensus that the RBA will likely bring the cash rate down further this year. 

“We are seeing swap markets pricing interest-rate cuts for the remainder of 2019, which will add more downward pressure on 10-year bond rates, keeping the yield premium elevated and in favour of commercial property.

“Based on global data, yields in Australia remain elevated, compared to comparable investment destinations, providing the impetus for foreign investors to invest in Australian office markets. 

“In the past six months, we have seen increasing foreign investor activity in recovering markets like Perth and Brisbane, as they look to capitalise on relatively higher yields.”

Savills Australia’s Director for Capital Transactions in Western Australia, Nick Charlton, said the prime yield differential between Sydney and Perth was at historical highs, with an approximate 170-basis-point spread encouraging international investors to look more closely at counter-cyclical investment opportunities in the Perth CBD office market.

“Investors are confident the spreads are too wide and set to narrow in the short to medium term,” he said.

“Interest in the CBD office market has been further heightened by the prospect of net effective rental growth in prime office buildings forecast to be at 9.0 per cent per annum between now and 2021, with the lack of new stock and tightening vacancy rates, which are now at sub-5.0 percent.”

Mr Charlton went on to say that Perth was “a distinctly two-tiered market”, with the premium and upper A-grade segment behaving very differently to the lower-quality A and B Grade stock, which were seeing persistently high vacancy rates. 

“Investors see this is where the opportunity lies, finding functional, well-designed and well-located buildings that can be re-purposed to capitalise on the lack of new supply and the forecast net effective rental growth,” he said.

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Melbourne leads CBD markets globally in yield compressions for past three years: Savills

Mat Oakley, Head of Commercial Research for UK and Europe at Savills, says: “While the link between real estate yields and base rates has become less strong, it is by no means broken. Investors who look across a multitude of asset classes, particularly those searching for long-term secure income, will reach a point where the yield on sovereign bonds becomes attractive enough to prompt them to choose them above real estate. For the foreseeable future, however, prime offices in the world’s global cities will remain attractive, with competition fierce for the best assets.”

Simon Smith, Head of Asia Research at Savills, comments: “With the threat of a US-China trade war easing and the Fed signalling that it is unlikely to raise rates at the time of writing, we have seen a resurgence in demand for prime offices in Asia-Pac after activity weakened in the latter half of 2018. 2019 is therefore unlikely to see any movement outwards in yields.” 

Savills is a leading global real estate service provider offering the full spectrum of services from strategic advice to managing assets and projects and transacting deals. To learn more about Savills, visit savills.com.au.

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