August 9, 2008, 7.07 am (Singapore time)

Global commercial property sales halved: study

NEW YORK - World sales of major commercial properties fell 49 per cent to US$306 billion in the first six months of 2008 from the same period last year, as sales in developed countries were hit hard by the credit crisis and slowing economies, a report released on Friday said.

Real Capital Analytics said dramatic shifts in the capital flows for commercial property became evident in the first half of 2008 as Tokyo overtook London and New York as the most active sales market and investors began favouring Asian markets.

Sales activity fell sharply in many developed Western economies while Brazil, Russia, India and China, and most other emerging markets posted gains.

Emerging markets accounted for 25 per cent of all property sales in the first half of 2008, up from 10 per cent in the same period a year ago, according to the report that tracks transactions worth at least US$10 million.

Development sites were the only type of property to see a rise in sales, up 11 per cent and led by a record US$2.3 billion paid for Chelsea Barracks in London.

'However, with new developments in Europe being delayed and new regulations limiting land sales in China, this sector may soon experience the same declining investment other property types have,' the report said.

Overall office sales were down 60 per cent in the first half of the year versus a year ago, and sales of hotels were off 68 per cent.

Sales of shopping centres were down 54 per cent in the first half of 2008. Industrial property, comprised of warehouse and distribution centres, fell 38 per cent. Apartment building sales were off 34 per cent.

Of the 84 countries the report tracks, 35 posted higher property sales in the first half of 2008. All but five were emerging economies.

Indian sales doubled, Brazil rose 40 per cent, Russia was up 19 per cent, while China's previous robust growth slowed to 7 per cent.

Among developed countries, US sales dropped 63 per cent.

UK sales were off 57 per cent and Germany slid 65 per cent. -- REUTERS