Real Estate

Emerging Asia—Home to hottest property markets?

This Asian region saw biggest rise in property prices

Southeast Asian cities are seeing the fastest increase in prime property prices across all of Asia, according to independent global property consultancy Knight Frank.

"Developing Asia is seeing a much larger magnitude of growth in its indices than developed Asia," said Nicholas Holt, head of research for Asia Pacific.

He highlighted Thailand's Bangkok, Indonesia's Jakarta, Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia's Phnom Penh as four of the top five cities when ranked by growth in land prices.

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"This is down to the strong growth in the value of prime residential and commercial property over the last two years and the lower price bases these markets were coming from," he added.

Knight Frank classifies prime property as apartments or condominiums and commercial (office) developments.

Knight Frank singled out Jakarta as the stand out market. Its prime residential index showed that prices spiked 184 percent in Jakarta over the past two years, while its prime office index jumped 192.3 percent.

"Transformed over the last 15 years into a relatively open, stable and democratic country, and fuelled by a growing middle class, demand for both high end condominiums and premium office space in Indonesia's capital has shot up over the last two to three years," said Knight Frank.

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Another hotspot is Bangkok, the firm said, where the price of residential development land spiked 190.7 percent over the past two years.

Two Indonesian labourers work next to a giant advertisement board of property in Jakarta.
Adek Berry | AFP | Getty Images

Donald Han, managing director at property consultants Chesterton in Singapore, pointed out that although these developing Asian markets had seen rapid price growth, they were some factors that could inhibit future growth.

"Mature markets are relatively transparent and it's easy for money to come in and out. Then you have your emerging markets - which have some restrictions. In the case of Jakarta you can only buy the right to use and not the right to own if you're foreign," he said.

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"And in the less transparent markets, like Phnom Penh and Yangon, the rules are less clear and in most cases foreigners are not able to buy," he added.

However, domestic demand should help support prices in cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, he said, where strong local fundamentals like a huge population and a growing middle class, has made them more resilient and less dependent on foreign investors, unlike Singapore and Hong Kong.

"Once foreigners stop buying the music stops and the more mature markets tend to correct, whereas emerging markets tend to be more resilient," he added.

According to Knight Frank, the more mature markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo saw the lowest growth, underscoring recent talk of these markets peaking.

"In these mature markets, the lack of prime development land has led to more emphasis on redevelopment opportunities, while given the higher cost of land and in some cases high holding taxes, there is often more pressure to develop quickly," he added.

The firm's recently launched Prime Asia Development Land Index, which analyzes prices across Asia, showed that prime Asia residential and office development prices increased 50.4 percent and 38.3 percent respectively over the past two years.

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Chesterton's Han flagged Myanmar's capital city Yangon as the "pearl of South east Asia" in terms of hot property markets to watch, due to its low ownership rate of 50 percent.

According to Dr Chua, head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia at Jones Lang LaSalle, the Philippines' capital Manila is the market to watch in terms of both office and residential asset prices.

"We have seen some strong gains across South East Asia, where Manila takes the lead in office prices. Outsourcing activities have supported the leasing factitively and investor interest has been lifted as well, driven by cost saving strategies by firms in Asia and Europe," he added.