Macau’s property market remains subdued in 2020
Macau Year-end Property Review 2019
Macau and Hong Kong, 8th January 2020 – Impacted by the cautious investment sentiment caused by the global economic uncertainty, all property sectors in Macau experienced a significant fall in transaction volume, according to JLL in its Macau Year-end Property Review 2019.
According to the DICJ statistics, Macau’s gaming revenue recorded at MOP 292.455 billion in 2019, a fall of 3.4% y-o-y. The VIP market was under pressure and saw a 17.1% y-o-y fall in its revenue in the first three quarters of 2019, leading to a y-o-y fall of 8.7% in its contribution to the city’s total gaming revenue at 46.7%. The mass market recorded a y-o-y growth of 17.4% in its revenue, offsetting part of the loss in the VIP market.
Macau’s GDP totalled MOP 304.27 billion in the first three quarters of 2019, down 3.5% y-o-y. The expenditure-based GDP showed that the fall was mainly due to the contraction of fixed capital formation and balance of trade, which reduced by 22.1% and 1.9%% y-o-y respectively, together accounting for approx. 64.6% of Macau’s total GDP. The contraction was mainly caused by the decrease in the number of major construction projects and the fall in gaming revenue. During the same period, the other GDP components generally recorded moderate growth. Government consumption expenditure and private consumption expenditure rose by 4.9% and 2.9% y-o-y respectively.
Macau’s total visitor arrivals totalled approx. 39.4 million in 2019, up 10% y-o-y. According to the DSEC statistics, the majority of Macau’s visitor arrivals remained from Mainland China, equivalent to 71.1% of the total as of November 2019, while 46.8% out of which visited Macau under the Individual Traveller Scheme (ITS). Mainland visitors remained the key growth driver for Macau’s visitor arrivals; it increased by 13.2% y-o-y. The number of visitors from Hong Kong also grew significantly by 18.6% y-o-y. As of end November 2019, the total supply of hotel rooms in Macau recorded at 37,200, out of which 24,400 were five-star hotel rooms. The cumulative occupancy rate of hotel rooms in Macau recorded at 91.3%, while the average length of stay of guests was about 1.5 nights.
The labour market in Macau was broadly stable in 2019. According to the DSEC statistics, the unemployment rate maintained at around 1.7% while the overall median monthly income stayed at MOP 17,000 as of November 2019. The number of imported labour in Macau hit a new peak at 196,080 as of end November, up 4.0% from end 2018. The total resident deposit in Macau increased to MOP 657.26 billion as of end October 2019, up 3.4% from end 2018.
“Macau’s gaming revenue contracted in 2019, experiencing a negative y-o-y growth in the last three months of the year. It is mainly attributable to the tightened entry visa issuance policy and heightened security measures carried out by the Macau government due to the 20th handover anniversary. Macau’s gaming revenue is expected to be back to the normal track and the overall economy to remain stable this year after the temporary measures have been removed. However, we expect a similar outlook as in 2019 for Macau’s property market in 2020, in view of the ongoing US-China trade war,” says Mark Wong, Director of Valuation Advisory Services at JLL Macau.
The total residential sales transaction volume in Macau contracted significantly in 2019. According to the DSEC statistics, a total of 7,547 residential sales transactions were registered as of mid-November, a fall of 27.2% y-o-y. We expect the total number of residential sales transactions will be less than 8,000 for 2019 as a whole.
On the supply side, only six projects providing a total of 63 residential units with a total GFA of approx. 3,579.34 sqm were issued with pre-sale permits. According to DSF figures, a total of 1,147 presale transactions were recorded as of mid-November in 2019, accounting for about 15.2% of the total number of residential transactions. Presale residential transactions saw a y-o-y fall in both its volume and its percentage of the overall market total.
In 2019, the capital values of high-end and mass-to-medium residential properties fell by 5.3% and 3.6% respectively, while yields recorded at 1.6% and 1.8% respectively as of end 2019. The number of imported labour in Macau saw a moderate growth in the year, however, the supply of residential units available for lease also increased. The leasing market was broadly stable in 2019. The rental values of high-end residential properties dropped by 2.7% y-o-y while mass-to-medium residential rental values rose by 1.0% y-o-y.
“Macau’s residential property sector experienced a fall in its transaction volume in 2019 due to the external economic uncertainty. Transactions were mainly originated from first-time homebuyers, while developers needed to offer various incentives to boost sales. Though residential supply from the private sector is expected to be extremely limited in the future, the easing of home purchase policy in Zhuhai, Macau’s economic housing units re-opened for application, and the proposed neighbourhood residential projects in Hengqin, will provide a range of homebuying options for Macau people. This is expected to affect the residential demand in the short to medium term,” comments Jeff Wong, Senior Director of Capital Markets at JLL Macau.
In the first 10 months of 2019, a total of 5,217 new incorporations registered in Macau, up 3.2% y-o-y. The overall office market in Macau was broadly stable in 2019. The rental values of the overall office market saw a moderate growth with the lack of new Grade A office supply in the leasing market. During the same period, a few notable leasing transactions were recorded; tenants included PRC-based securities firms, international auditing companies and international insurance companies. We also observed that some gaming corporations started to look for high-end commercial properties for setting up their offices. According to JLL Macau Office Index, the rental values for the overall office market and Grade A office market grew by 6.9% and 1.5% respectively in 2019.
In the sales market, the number of office transactions fell by 38.5% y-o-y to a total of 152 as of end October in 2019, as shown by the DSEC statistics. During 2019, the capital values for the overall office market and Grade A offices were broadly stable while supply remained limited. The overall office vacancy rate maintained at 7% while yields for the overall office market and Grade A office market recorded at 2.9% and 3.1% respectively.
“In view of the economic downturn, office tenants became more cautious on cost control. Grade A office rentals recorded no significant growth. However, the lack of new office supply in core Nam Van and the persistent low office vacancy caused some of the tenants to take up office space in the non-core areas that resulted in a moderate increase in office rentals in other areas,” says Oliver Tong, Head of Leasing at JLL Macau.
According to the DSEC statistics, the total retail sales edged down 0.9% y-o-y in the first three quarters of 2019 to MOP 56.42 billion. The total expenditure by tourists fell by about 10.4% y-o-y due to the weakened Chinese economy and Renminbi. The sales of adults’ clothing and household appliances saw the biggest drop, down 14.1% and 13.0% y-o-y respectively. Watches, clocks and jewellery recorded a 3.4% negative growth, while cosmetics saw a significant 9.3% growth.
In the sales market, a total of 378 retail property transactions were recorded in the first 10 months of 2019, down 32.9% y-o-y. A few notable transactions were recorded in the leasing market, including the high street shop units at the ex-Theatre Peng On on Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro and S. Paulo Commercial and Tourism Centre. Both units were leased at a rental much lower than that offered to each of their previous tenants. According to JLL Macau Retail Index, the overall retail capital values fell slightly by 0.4% y-o-y while overall retail rental values declined by 3.9% y-o-y in 2019. The overall retail yields maintained at around 1.7% as of end 2019.
“Due to the global and local economic uncertainties, we expect retail leasing demand to continue to face pressure in 2020. Macau has been famous as a tourist destination and for its diversity in dining options. Retailers in Macau tend to look for spaces at prime shopping centres for business expansion. Recently special dining operators from China who enter the Macau market for the first time, such as Haidilao, Tai Er and Heytea, have been active in seeking space for their business and has become the key driver for retail leasing demand. Enquires about retail leasing space increased by 50% in the previous quarter. We believe special dining and experiential entertainment operators, such as cinemas, electric vehicle centres and themed experiential entertainment parks, will be more active in 2020 and generate the most demand for retail leasing space in Macau,” says Oliver Tong.
“With the government’s loosening of the mortgage lending ratios for young, first-time buyers, MOP 8 million has become the borderline in terms of property values for residential mortgage lending. Upgraders who are planning to purchase a bigger size unit, however, will now need to get ready a huge lump sum for down payment due to the government’s tight control on loan-to value ratio for non first-time buyers. Currently, for a relatively new, three-bedroom unit, in general it costs over MOP 10 million. Taking a four-person family living in a two-bedroom unit as an example. If they want to upgrade to a newer three-bedroom unit by selling their existing home, assuming they can afford the monthly mortgage repayment, they will still need to have enough funds of about MOP 7 million for settling the 60% down payment, pre-paying the additional stamp duty of 5% and paying other miscellaneous costs, as they can only apply for mortgage lending of up to 40%. We urge the government to review the mortgage guideline to improve the feasibility for existing home owners to sell their properties in the secondary market to increase the residential supply in the private market,” comments Gregory Ku, Managing Director at JLL Macau.
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