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Australian property developers refuse to panic about Chinese cash controls



Australian property developers refuse to panic about Chinese cash controls

Australian property developers are refusing to be panicked by reports that China is tightening controls over the flow of investment funds overseas.

Australian property developers refuse to panic about Chinese cash controls

They insist it’s merely a short-term market adjustment that will do nothing to cut the record levels of Chinese money coming into the country – especially when our falling dollar and volatile sharemarkets both here and in China mean they can levy even more value from Australian residential property.

“The restrictions are just a short-term fluctuation which is the way the Chinese manage their cash flows in and out of the country,” says Tony Crabb, national head of research at agency Savills International. “It won’t be a structural change at all.

We always see Chinese capital like the ‘Whack-a-Mole’ game in fairgrounds, where you hit a toy mole with a mallet and it’ll pop up somewhere else. You tighten restrictions in one place and capital will just rebound somewhere else instead.”

His words follow claims that Chinese property buyers were finding it harder to get their money out of the country after foreign exchange controls were strengthened in response to a record $US108 billion fall in China’s foreign currency reserves in December to the lowest level in three years.

State-owned banks were said to have been blocking or delaying the flow of capital out, with the central bank defending the yuan. Some commentators in Australia felt this could dramatically reduce the number of Chinese buyers of Australian property and have a major impact on our residential market.

But Rick Butler, CBRE senior managing director of capital markets and international investments, says there has been no slowdown in Chinese investment in Australian property, and no signs of any to come.

“We believe it’s only affecting the special visa people with China hoping to shut that end down a bit, the people who put $5 million in or taking loans out of Hong Kong,” he says. “We’ve found the people who want to get money out can get it out in a single moment.”

In addition, he’s never seen such a tranche of Chinese money spent in Australia, with reports that it was Chinese money that bought 71 Macquarie Street at Circular Quay as well as an $80 million site in Macquarie Park. Chinese developer Aqualand bought The Revy building on Darling Island as well as 168 Walker Street in North Sydney, and Chinese property tycoon Dalian Wanda snapped up Goldfields House at Circular Quay.

Successive studies have shown overseas Chinese funds in the Australian residential property market account for only around 2 per cent of buying power; with most coming from Chinese migrants coming to live in Australia, while Chinese students arriving in Sydney and Melbourne for their education are also being permitted to buy for the period they’re here, which can be around 11 years.

“The Australian market is being more impacted by the lending restrictions on domestic investors,” says Crabb. “The Chinese restrictions, it’s a margin thing; it will have barely any effect.”

Chinese developers building here also say the changes haven’t had any impact at all on their business, nor on their confidence. Greenland Holding Group is China’s largest state-backed real estate group, and has more than $1 billion worth of property currently in Australia, including what will be Sydney’s tallest tower, the nearly-sold-out Greenland Centre, as well as Lucent in North Sydney and Omnia at Potts Point, which has only 30 apartments left for sale.

“Greenland Australia hasn’t noted noticeable effect on sales due to these changes,” said a spokesperson. “We don’t see these changes as having any substantial effect on the market and have every confidence in demand remaining robust. Sales and enquiries remain strong from buyers at each of our developments.”

On the Gold Coast, work starts next week on the $1.2 billion, 88-level tower that’s about to put Q1 in the shade, and the developer, China-based conglomerate Forise, also has no hesitation.

Spokesperson for the group, lawyer Tony Hickey, says work will begin at least three months before the proposed 693 apartments go up for sale off the plan as there’s so much confidence in China in the Australian market.

“The advice I’ve had from them, and other significant clients, are that properly approved commercial projects that have gone through all the right channels, or individuals who’ve had their funds approved, will have no problems at all,” he says.

“Just this week, I’ve had clients who’ve transferred over $100 million into Australia. They all believe in the potential here, and that there are going to be no problems.”

That concurs with the findings of Simon Henry, co-founder of, a website that lists homes around the world for Chinese buyers. “We haven’t seen any impact on Chinese property views from the reported tightening of capital controls this week,” he says.

“Inquiries via and property viewing have continued apace, with only normal daily variations. In fact, on Wednesday this week, they were 10 per cent higher than they were on Monday. The macro story here is that China is relaxing its currency controls over time, and – as with any big shift – there will be some bumps or curves in the road during the journey.”

He says that, long-term, China intends to fully liberalise its foreign exchange rules, so that its currency can be freely traded, its businesses can easily operate internationally and cities like Shanghai can become international financial centres on a par with New York and London.

“These changes will increase by many billions the amount that Chinese invest overseas each year, including in property. It’s not publicly known when this will happen, but very credible observers believe that significant changes will begin later in 2016.”

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Commercial Property

Brisbane Start-Ups Drive Growth Of Flexible Workspace



Flexible workspace in Brisbane has experienced significant growth and demand over recent years from local, interstate and international businesses who are opening new operations across CBD and fringe markets.

Queensland has now overtaken Victoria in terms of numbers of start-ups and has the second largest number in the nation, behind New South Wales.

According to the Colliers International Radar Report, Brisbane Flexible Workspace: Market Trends and Outlook, there was over 78,000 square metres of flexible workspace across Brisbane in May this year, representing 2.43 per cent of the total office market. In comparison, Sydney represents 2 per cent of the market.

Flexible workspace in Brisbane consists of serviced offices (62,137 square metres), co-working space (8,860 square metres) and incubator space (approximately 8,000 square metres) which is usually owned, financed and or managed by government and/or not for profit.

“The demand for flexible workspace is being driven by businesses seeking greater flexibility in tenancy size, lease terms and the ability to flourish with like-minded, often tech savvy and forward thinking entrepreneurs and small business operators,” Colliers International National Director of Office Leasing Joseph Dean said.

“But it is not only the start-ups or small operators that take up the space. We see corporates and large companies also looking for alternative workspaces to grow some of their departments that can benefit from collaboration.

“The majority of the activity is in the CBD, where 58 per cent of the flexible workspace is located, but interestingly there has been a rapid increase in serviced offices and co-working space throughout the Fortitude Valley and Southern fringe precincts.

“In terms of the building grade, 60 per cent of the flexible workspace is housed in the secondary grade buildings across the CBD and fringe markets.

“However, there are some fantastic examples of heritage space being meticulously renovated and repurposed as witnessed at T.C. Beirne Building (incubator space backed by the Queensland Government) and Plumridge House (serviced offices) in Fortitude Valley,” Mr Dean said.

Helen Swanson, who authored the report, said interstate consulting firms looking to start up in Brisbane were attracted to the flexible lease terms and sizing arrangements that flexible workspace offers.

“Small Business Labs, an organisation that monitors co-working space around the world, suggests that the number of people renting flexible workspaces will grow globally from just under 1 million in 2016 to nearly 4 million in 2020,” she said.

“From a local perspective, the latest Start-up Muster Annual Report (2016) shows that Queensland has increased its share of Australian start-ups from 16.5 percent in 2015 to 19.3 percent in 2016.

“Federal initiatives expected to support the growth of the sector over the coming years include: backing innovation and FinTech, extending crowd-sourced equity funding; and tax advantages to support investment in start-ups,” Ms Swanson said.

Jock Fairweather, Director of Little Tokyo Two, a co working based company, said there has been an influx of 30-35 year old’s who have worked in a corporate vertical for some time and are wanting to leave and start something for themselves in the same vertical.

“The number of new co-working and serviced office groups is certainly rising.

“However, the focus for most operators is space rental rather than quality of service. The trouble with playing the space rental game is that small operators will always lose out to the larger players.

“For example, WeWork’s fit-out budget is up to 10 times larger than smaller operators. Therefore, if your only offering is space, you can’t win.

“Consequently in the next three years the market will sort out the good from the mediocre. Only those that offer quality service and support will be successful,” Mr Fairweather said.


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Commercial Property

$7.1m Spring Hill Church Splurge




The Presbyterian Church of Queensland has purchased Brisbane Australian Institute of Management’s former Spring Hill head office for $7.10million.

The property at 369 Boundary Street occupies on a 1,456sqm LMR3 zoned site in the heart of Spring Hill, within walking distance to the CBD. Recently having undergone an extensive refurbishment, the property is a high quality corporate office with 1,837sqm of NLA. The sale equated to $3,865sqm of NLA and $4,876sqm on land area.

In September AIM Brisbane announced the relocation of the AIM Campus to 40 Creek Street, Brisbane. AIM’s strategy is to be located ‘where the action is’ so that we can reach as many managers and leaders as possible. It is with this in mind that we have decided to relocate to the heart of Brisbane City Centre.

The transaction was managed by by JLL’s Christian Sandstrom and Sam Byrne.

Mr Sandstrom said the sale was evidence that the owner-occupier market was still very much alive and well in Brisbane, given the strong interest in the property from a range of potential buyers.

AIM brisbane

AIM’s previous Spring Hill headquarters.

“The purchaser had owner-occupied a smaller property in Amelia Street in Fortitude Valley since the late 1980’s, however were seeking larger premises to accommodate expansion,” he said.

“Spring Hill has been host to other owner occupier sales including 41 Raff Street for $4.08 million to a language college, and 400 Boundary Street Spring Hill, to the Seventh Day Adventist Church for $9.35million. The area has seen a substantial rise in interest due to the release of the draft Spring Hill Plan and the substantial refurbishment of the former Queensland Main Roads building which has been transformed into The Johnson Art Series Hotel, due to open this month.”

Located just five minutes from the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, AIM Management House offers seven fully equipped meeting and function rooms, perfect for corporate presentations, product launches, focus groups, interviews, workshops and training. Spacious, well lit and professionally appointed with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, the Brisbane AIM venue can seat between 20 to 170 delegates.

“The buyer was attracted to the property’s quality, large training rooms, ample car parking and likelihood for strong capital growth. Whilst the site is zoned LMR3 with allowable buildings heights up to 3 storeys, under the draft Spring Hill neighbourhood plan the property is earmarked for a greater development outcome up to 10 storeys (STCA).”

He said the property generated strong interest from local, interstate and off-shore buyers throughout the 4-week Offers to Purchase campaign. Given the flexibility of the offering, significant interest was received from developers, investors as well as owner occupiers.

Original article published at by Staff Writer 30/9/16

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Brisbane Service stations show investment potential



High-rise developer Ken Woodley is looking for more service stations to top up his personal Brisbane Investorinvestment portfolio.

With a long-term lease in place, the veteran Brisbane property player recently snapped up a newly-built service station at 2009 Sandgate Rd, Virginia.

The transaction reflects the continuing strong level of investment activity in the retail service station sector.

It is Mr Woodley’s third acquisition of a service station asset after shifting the focus of his investment portfolio from convenience retail centres.

His other purchases include a Woolworths Petrol at Kenmore and a Caltex in North Lakes.

“With shopping centres you’re dealing with multiple businesses and co-ordinating a number of tenants,” Mr Woodley said.

“But with the service stations I’m only dealing with one company for each of them. It’s absolutely trouble free.”
The Virginia service station was purchased on a yield of 5.75 per cent and Mr Woodley said he was achieving returns of up to 7 per cent from his other two assets.

Developed by Evans Long on a high profile 2843sq m site, it is leased to 7-Eleven on a 15-year lease plus four five-year options. The tenant is responsible for all outgoings, excluding land tax.

Savills’ Michael Harcourt, who negotiated the asset’s sale, said the agency’s Brisbane office had been involved with 10 service station investment and development site transactions over the past 12 months totalling almost $25 million.

“Investor demand for blue chip, long term-leased service station assets remains very strong,” he said.

“The lack of available stock coupled with record low interest rates has resulted in substantial yield compression across the country.

“But with the aggressive expansion of major fuel retailers — namely Coles Express, Woolworths, Caltex, 7-Eleven, Viva (Shell), BP and Puma — developers are actively seeking suitable sites to satisfy tenant demand and generate potentially substantial capital returns.”

According to construction activity analysts Cordells, there are 100 potential new or redeveloped service stations in Queensland that have been recently delivered or are in planning and development stage.

Mr Harcourt said the acquisition of the three service station assets by Mr Woodley followed his divestment of two retail convenience centres — Holland Place at Holland Park West in Brisbane’s inner southeast for $3.4 million, and the Sherwood Court in the city’s southwest for $3.9 million.

The sale of the site for the Virginia service station in October 2014 for $1.75 million to Evans Long also was negotiated by Mr Harcourt. It was sold with a lease agreement in place with 7-Eleven.

Mr Harcourt said the completed service station appealed due to its high-exposure main road location underpinned by a secure long-term lease.

“It is in a very prominent left-hand inbound location adjoining Virginia Golf Course on Sandgate Rd, one of the main arterial roads in Brisbane’s northern suburbs with an average of over 54,000 passing vehicles each day,” he said.

“The combination of the high-profile positioning, strategic inner Brisbane location, new construction and long-term lease presented a prime service station investment proposition.”


Article originally published by Phil Bartsch, The Courier Mail, 27/5/2016

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