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Influence Of U.S. Economic Slowdown On Asia's Property Markets

Jul 11, 2008
Across the Asian real estate market, there have been mixed reactions to the global credit crunch and the influence of the US subprime mortgage crisis. Some markets, like Japan, have seen a slowing that is parallel to the US sluggishness, whereas others are benefiting in subtle ways from the situation.

Japan experienced record peak property prices in the third quarter of 2007. However, since then, the markets have been steadily falling, and much of this is attributed to the current credit crunch. The cost of borrowing is getting higher, and is forcing many players in the residential property market in Japan to sell up. The high supply and lowered demand has created quite a sluggish environment in this property market. However, one sector which is happy with the falling property prices in Japan is renters, who are experiencing welcome relief from record high prices in traditionally one of the most expensive rental markets.

In Thailand's property market, results have been conservative but quite optimistic compared to those in neighboring countries. In Bangkok in 2007, growth was subdued, with demand growing only slightly. However, analysts have seen the conservatism in the Thai market as a positive thing, as property valuations become more realistic, and investments become more measured and calculated. The Thai market also has mitigating factors at the moment, including transfer fees and the specific business tax being reduced to nil by the new Thai government, to encourage more spending in the area. Tourism is also a factor in the Thai property market, as the country's geographical location makes it the perfect place for stopover flights which are available at much cheaper rates than their direct counterparts.

Singapore is another country where results of the global credit crunch on property markets are mixed. The market in general is booming, with a recent survey naming it the best country in Asia for property investment. However, REITs have felt the effects of the credit crunch and many are considering mergers. These specialized property investment companies in Asia are traditionally considered the harbingers of the future, with their downturn signaling a depression of the market generally, and their rise showing that a boom is on the way.

India's property market is one which is expected to gain significantly, on the back of the credit crunch. The huge rise in demand for housing in the region comes on the back of an exploding population. Investors from abroad, whose home countries see increased cost of borrowing due to the credit crunch, are starting to look towards India for investment prospects. Analysts Merrill Lynch predict a 700% increase in the value of the Indian property market, as soon as 2015.

Speculation also remains that the credit crunch might come to an end sooner than it was previously thought. Economies naturally strive for balance, and investors from different areas have picked up the slack in Western property markets in recent months.

Earlier this year, one of the signs that the market may be reversing somewhat came when commercial real estate in a number of Asian markets, which had been heading consistently downwards, showed signs of reversal. This was mirrored in the UK and US markets. Also, in the US, regional banks and smaller lending institutions have started to pick up the slack from the major banks, and are now offering credit to those that have the ability to repay, but are not able to get credit at major institutions.

The global credit crunch has spelled bad news for some, but not all, and it seems that it may finally be starting to correct itself.
About the Author
Gregory Smyth is an independent author providing assessment and comments on leading International Property Consultants in Asia and Greater China , especially CB Richard Ellis.
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