Hong Kong remained the world’s highest-priced office market last year, according to CBRE Group’s latest survey. European markets showed the most consistent growth in prime office rent last year, mostly due to a lack of supply, with Northern Ireland’s Belfast (up 25 percent year-over-year) leading the way among the 121 cities surveyed.

Four of the top five fastest-growing (prime office rent) markets were in Europe, with Stockholm, Berlin, and Dublin joining Belfast on the list. Chicago (downtown), with rent growth of 19.9 percent, was the top market in the Americas and was number two on the global list. Hong Kong (West Kowloon), with a rent rise of 9.3 percent, was the top growth market in Asia.

“We expect the global economy to pick up momentum with growth boosted by fiscal expansion in the U.S.,” said Richard Barkham, global chief economist, CBRE. “Growth was underpinned by positive monetary conditions in Europe and increased government spending in China, both of which are expected to continue.”

CBRE tracks office rents for prime office space in 121 markets around the globe. Of the top 50 “most expensive” markets, 20 were in the Asia Pacific region; 19 were in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and 11 were in the Americas.

Europe, Middle East, and Africa
Europe has seen the strongest rent increase due to low supply and high demand. Stockholm, Berlin, and Dublin experienced significant rent growth. However, rents in London’s West End fell by 6.3 percent as activity waned in the wake of the Brexit referendum. In Istanbul, rents fell by 11.1 percent, largely due to political instability in the area.

Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific region led the list of most expensive prime office rents with seven of the top ten most expensive markets—Hong Kong (Central), Beijing (Finance Street), Hong Kong (West Kowloon), Beijing (CBD), Tokyo (Marunouchi/Otemachi), Shanghai (Pudong), and New Delhi (Connaught Place–CBD).

Prime rent growth in the Asia Pacific region averaged 1.8 percent and was strongest in gateway cities. Hong Kong (West Kowloon) led the way at 9.3 percent due to strong demand from Chinese companies for premium locations and very tight supply conditions. Technology startups have played a key role in the fastest-growing markets in the Asia Pacific region, such as Bangalore, Sydney, Bangkok, and Auckland.

In the Americas, three markets—Chicago (downtown), Seattle (suburban), and Seattle (downtown)—showed double-digit growth in prime office rents year-over-year, due to a lack of new construction in Chicago and technology growth in Seattle.

Several markets dependent on the oil and gas industry experienced lowered prime office rents, including Calgary (downtown and suburban), Houston (downtown), and Denver (downtown).

Largest Annual Changes Prime Office Rents
(In local currency and measure)

Top Five Increases

Rank Market % Change
1 Belfast, U.K. 25.0
2 Chicago (downtown), U.S. 19.9
3 Stockholm, Sweden 17.3
4 Berlin, Germany 17.0
5 Dublin, Ireland 13.7


Top Ten Most Expensive Markets
(In US$ per square foot per annum)

Rank Market Prime Rent
1 Hong Kong (Central), Hong Kong 264.27
2 Beijing (Finance Street), China 178.89
3 Hong Kong (West Kowloon), Hong Kong 162.69
4 Beijing (CBD), China 156.09
5 London (West End), U.K. 146.14
6 New York (Midtown Manhattan), U.S. 144.37
7 Tokyo (Marunouchi/Otemachi), Japan 127.21
8 Shanghai (Pudong), China 116.99
9 New Delhi (Connaught Place–CBD), India 105.49
10 Moscow, Russian Federation 101.47