China Property Investment Soars 9.5% in 2018 to Record-high as Credit Squeeze Creates Opportunities

HONG KONG, CHINA -  Media OutReach  - 30 January 2019  -  According to Cushman & Wakefield Research's latest Greater China Capital Markets Express report, China's commercial real estate (CRE) investment hit a new record-high of RMB296 billion (approx. US$43.8 billion) in 2018, climbing a formidable 9.5% over 2017, amid the country's clampdown on lending, impact of the prevailing trade frictions with the U.S. and a cooling domestic economy.

Cushman & Wakefield noted active foreign capital demonstrating a clear preference for China's Tier-1 cities in 2018 where investment accounted for nearly 99% of total foreign investment in China, at RMB94.6 billion (approx. US$13.9 billion), more than double the amount in 2017.

China's tough real estate lending environment created some excellent acquisition opportunities as vendors' expectations and supply pipelines softened. Strong end-user leasing demand also boosted the investment case. 

Catherine Chen, Head of Forecasting & Capital Markets Research, Greater China at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Prevailing trade frictions and ongoing economic cooling did little to quench foreign investors' appetite for property in mainland China. In 2018, RMB96 billion worth of investment was led by foreign investors, a 32% share of major transactions. The U.S.-originated component of this totaled RMB14 billion (approx. US$2.1 billion)." 

Chen added, "Foreign capital represented 45% of total investment (foreign and domestic) in the Tier-1 cities, significantly up from the 25% share in 2017. Shanghai was the primary target of foreign capital, recording RMB71.5 billion (approx. US$10.5 billion) in CRE investment in 2018, surging 78% y-o-y. Shanghai's relatively high component of offshore structured assets proved attractive to international investors."

Cushman & Wakefield witnessed cash-strapped developers shift gears and restructure project pipelines to focus on residential developments . Many local players backed away from commercial development or even looked to dispose of commercial project companies to shore up balance sheets.

James Shepherd, Managing Director of Research, Greater China at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Despite recent adjustments to the reserve ratio requirement, it seems unlikely that restrictions specifically on real estate debt are likely to be loosened in any significant way for at least the first six months of the year. Nevertheless, we forecast continued opening-up of the commercial property market to foreign investors and banks."

Shepherd added: " Cushman & Wakefield forecasts that Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong are set to see increased demand through 2019. Beyond core cities of the Greater Bay Area, we also note strengthening interest in cities such as Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Foshan and Dongguan as well as key provincial capital cities.

The report also offers insight from industry experts from various service lines at Cushman & Wakefield, including Gordon Marsden, Regional Director, Asia Pacific Capital Markets , and Sean Zhang, Head of Financial Advisory Services, China .

Click here to view the full report.

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Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with 48,000 employees in approximately 400 offices and 70 countries. Across Greater China, there are 20 offices servicing the local market. The company won four of the top awards in the Euromoney Survey 2017 & 2018 in the categories of Overall, Agency Letting/Sales, Valuation and Research in China. In 2017, the firm had revenue of $6.9 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, advisory and other services. To learn more, visit or follow us on LinkedIn ( )