ASIA – Successive government measures designed to cool overheated Asian property markets have generated "mixed" results, with initial cooling either weak or giving way to rebounded pricing.
Knight Frank pointed in a note this week to recovered pricing in China, continued price inflation in Q1 in Hong Kong, and the at best partial success of a fifth round of measures implemented in Singapore that would be likely to disappoint policymakers.
But it forecast prices in Hong Kong would soften by 10% and in Singapore by 5% over the next year.
Both Hong Kong and Singapore have extended cooling measures previously applied to residential markets to other segments via increases in stamp duties.
In Hong Kong, stamp duty doubled to 8.5% for assets valued above HKD2bn (€198m) following a 23.6% increase in prices last year.
Meanwhile, the Singapore government, which has announced further tax increases for prime residential in 2014-15, has introduced an exit stamp duty on industrial assets sold within four years of their acquisition.
Yet some industry analysts have questioned the effectiveness of the cooling measures adopted to date, especially by the mainland Chinese government.
Diana Choyleva, director of economics consultancy Lombard Street Research, claimed raising interest rates would have been more effective than the administrative measures attempted to date.
"Keeping deposit rates low encourages households to pile into the housing market," she said.
"Unless policymakers mop up this excess liquidity with higher rates, every time they try to ease policy to stimulate the economy, house prices will shoot up."
Knight Frank expects tier-one pricing to appreciate over the next year, though prices could fall in second and third-tier cities.
In the meantime, there is evidence local authorities required to levy a 20% capital gains tax have either held off or abandoned the effort, not least because they rely on the income generated by property sales.
At the same time, buyers anticipating the tax generated an increase in transactions in the Shanghai market in March.
In separate news, Partners Group has acquired a warehouse asset for conversion to prime office near a transport hub in Hong Kong's Kowloon East, an area touted by the government as an alternative central business district (CBT).
Bastian Wolff, a senior investment specialist on the project, said the acquisition was underpinned by the trend for financial services' firms to move to cheaper locations and the demand for large, contiguous spaces in non-central locations.
"There is a lot of value creation with this property," he said by email.
"Our intention is to retain the premises for long-term investment, and the business plan is to revitalise the building for commercial use to capitalise on the trend for businesses to locate their middle and back-offices to this more affordable area in Hong Kong."