Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/09/2014 -- We believe the South Korean real estate sector will remain stable over our medium-term forecast period, with increasing supply adding to the sense that it is a 'buyer's market' at the moment. After a troubling few years, we are seeing some signs of economic improvement, and note that the Bank of Korea's neutral monetary policy will boost stability in the sector. We point to efforts to rebalance the economy towards higher value manufacturing as having a long-term impact on the industrial sub-sector. The South Korean commercial real estate sector is dominated by real estate investment trusts (REITs), indicating its developed nature. REIT activity is only likely to increase, and, in tandem, so is the extent to which South Korean real estate concerns are active overseas, notably in the UK and the US, but also elsewhere in Asia.
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South Korea's traditionally strong manufacturing sector has been buffeted by global economic headwinds over the past few years, as it is export-dominated. We are broadly positive towards government efforts to rebalance the industrial sector towards more value-added industries, eg innovative IT products and bio-science, and believe this will have long-term upside for the industrial real estate sector.
After a challenging few years, the South Korean consumer story is beginning to look up, and this will have an impact on the country's retail sector and thus the retail real estate segment. As households remain highly indebted, we do not see a quick return to growth in retail, but rather feel that over the longer term, neutral monetary policy and an increasingly healthy economy will contribute to an improving outlook for retail real estate. South Korea is highly internet-literate, and, although online retail could threaten traditional retail outlets, we note the existence of extremely modern, high-concept retail spaces in the country.
We likewise now have a fairly positive outlook for the office segment, boosted by future economic growth in South Korea's strategic location in East Asia. Although vacancy rates will remain an issue in some areas, over the short term at least, we do see healthy demand in key business areas.
On a city-by-city basis, we highlight Seoul, with its three globally famous business districts, as remaining the main driver of office real estate in the country, charging the highest rental rates by a significant margin. The capital will also remain the key driver of growth in the retail space, because of its size and cultural importance. Meanwhile, we see a rebalancing of the traditional manufacturing city of Daegu and the port city of Busan towards more high-tech, value-added industry, as illustrating the long-term new direction of industrial real estate.
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