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Economy

Survey pegs Tokyo as best investment market for 2016

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A woman talks on a cellphone in an office building in Tokyo. Investors see a lot to like in the city's real estate market.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Property market players see Tokyo as the Asia-Pacific region's best bet for next year, according to a survey released on Thursday by global consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers.

     The annual report, "Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2016," ranked Tokyo at the top of 22 cities, awarding it 3.66 points on a scale of 1 to 5. Most investors see the city as Asia's top gateway market, with the most "depth and liquidity."

     Sydney placed second with 3.52 points, followed by Melbourne with 3.43, Osaka with 3.39 and Ho Chi Minh City with 3.21. "[Property] demand in 2016 continues to focus on core assets as institutional investors look to place new money and other funds flock to the safety of gateway cities," Orca Capital founder Ariel Shtarkman, who was involved in the survey, told reporters.

     In contrast, Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, which garnered a score of 2.89, and Guangzhou, which scored 2.84, were near the bottom of the list. Beijing ranked 14th with a grade of 3.02, while Hong Kong placed 15th with 2.99. The combination of China's slowing economy, devaluation of the yuan and stock market collapse in mid-2015 weighed on investor sentiment.

     PwC polled around 350 real estate professionals, including institutional investors, property developers, bankers, brokers and consultants. The survey was conducted with the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization.

     As for capital flows, the survey noted Asia outflows will continue to accelerate next year, driven by sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and insurance companies. "The main contributor to this trend is China, where institutional, corporate and private capital is buying mainly in Australia, Japan and the U.S.," said KK So, Asia-Pacific real estate tax leader at PwC.

     Most respondents pointed out that an expected U.S. interest rate hike, China's slowdown and regional currency volatility are key risk factors for the real estate market. "Investors," So said, "are increasingly opting to take profits and exit from deals made in recent years."

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