Asia property markets lead 2009 activity

Seven of the 10 most active real estate markets in the world in the past year were found in China, led by Beijing and Shanghai. The three most active global buyers were all Chinese development companies.

China has proved itself one of the most resilient property economies globally in the past year with its property markets and buyers leading the real estate activity rankings for 2009.

Beijing and Shanghai topped the top 10 list of most active real estate markets in the world during the past 12 months closing almost $40 billion of transactions, a review of Real Capital Analytics data has revealed.


However, it’s not just Chinese markets that are leading the real estate charge – so too are China-based buyers, with the three most active buyers all China-based developers. 

Poly Real Estate Group, a state-owned real estate development and property management company held by China Poly Group, snapped up 34 properties worth $5.7 billion, according to New York-based data provider RCA. That was followed in second place by Shanghai Greenland Group, which acquired 26 properties valued at $4.6 billion, and Hangzhou-based residential developer Greentown China Holdings, which bought 14 properties for $3.9 billion.

The Blackstone Group and AREA Property Partners are the only private equity real estate firms that made it into the top 10 buyers list, coming a respective fourth and ninth position.

Blackstone bought 16 properties for $3.8 billion, while AREA acquired 1,171 assets spending $2.7 billion, RCA said. In September, AREA joined forces with RREEF Alternative Investments and Europa Capital to buy three landmark office assets and 944 bank branches from Spanish bank BBVA in a sale-leaseback transaction.

Among the markets deemed most active, London’s metropolitan area came third, with almost $18 billion of transactions followed by Tokyo on $15.8 billion, Hangzhou with $11.3 billion, Paris on $8 billion; Seoul on $7.5 billion; Suzhou on $7.1 billion; Tianjin with $7 billion in trades and Hong Kong on $6.4 billion. The New York metro area just scrapped into 11th position with $6.2 billion of transactions in the past year. Only transactions above $20 million were recorded.

When it came to selling though it was the Europeans who were out in front, led by troubled UK development and investment company British Land.

British Land sold 37 properties valued at more than $6.4 billion, followed by French real estate investor Icade, which sold 106 assets for $3.4 billion. New York-based bank Morgan Stanley was the third most active seller, disposing of $3 billion of assets involving 32 properties, with Macquarie Group in fourth place selling 129 assets for $2.9 billion.

Global property transactions are down significantly from their peak of more than $300 billion in 2007. However, in its latest quarterly review RCA noted the growing influence of China in relation to transaction volumes. With $220 billion of properties trading globally in the year to the end of the third quarter 2009, China accounted for roughly 40 percent of that volume, racking up $45.5 billion of acquisitions.

RCA said much of that followed a surge in buying development rights in China, with $45 billion of rights acquired in the third quarter alone. “A whopping 17 markets [in China] have seen at least $1 billion in acquisitions, and more than 100 Chinese companies have done deals for at least $100 million,” the report said.