John Hitchcox, founder, yoo

Asian expansion for John Hitchcox’s yoo as demand for luxury homes grows

London-based property firm yoo is embarking on a series of luxury residential projects as demand across Asia for high-end homes keeps real estate prices booming.

Developments in Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines have been unveiled at the Mipim conference in Cannes, France this week.

Research shows that luxury real estate is defying regional pressures on pricing, while a report from Knight Frank says that branded apartments continue to add value for developers.

The first Japanese yoo project will be a nod to founder John Hitchcox’s (pictured) early London developments and is located in the Niseko ski resort on Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. Partnering with Apex Property, yoo, which was founded by Hitchcox and designer Philippe Starck in 1999, have developed an interior scheme for LOFT, a ski chalet consisting of four luxury loft-style apartments.

The cliff facing pads boast panoramic views of the picturesque Mount Yotei. Each apartment features three bedrooms and three bathrooms and will be designed in collaboration with Riccardo Tossani Architecture.

yoo’s debut in The Philippines will see 134 beachside residences, penthouses and a hotel developed on the island of Boracay and set within 16,000 square metres of picturesque, palm tree-lined beach.

The Aqua Boracay project, with partners Century Properties, comes as Boracay is named “Best Island in the World” by Travel + Leisure, an international travel magazine.

In Hong Kong, yoo Residence will be a 31-storey residential tower of 144 units overlooking Causeway Bay. The development, with Couture Homes and ITC Property Group, is in a rare residential-only area of a district known for its quirky fashion boutiques and colourful nightlife. 

Back in 2010, yoo launched iLiv@Grange, a 16-storey residential development in central Singapore. However, yoo founder John Hitchcox believes the time is right for more focused expansion across Asia as buyers move to snap up branded luxury homes.

Global research conducted by Knight Frank shows that property developers can increase profits by up to a third by building “branded homes”.

The report found that branded property boasted an average value increase of 34 per cent  above non-branded counterparts, although the amount of increase ranged from 5.7 per cent in Jakarta, 45 per cent in Puerto Rico to as high as 120 per cent in locations such as Dubai.

Researchers said that cutting edge design holds great appeal to aspirational buyers, whilst the promise of communities of like-minded homeowners are an added bonus for buyers.

Meanwhile, recent data from Jones Lang LaSalle shows a continued surge in luxury residential values across Asia. Average capital values were up 5.0 per cent in 2012.

Hitchcox says: “Continued volatility across global markets is again pushing investors towards real estate. It’s why capital values have remained solid in the face of cooling measures imposed on property markets across Asia. Demand for luxury homes has grown and developers are bringing in brands in a bid to differentiate their product and offer buyers the X-factor many now seek.

“Asian buyers seek incredibly sophisticated designs and the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality means that buyers demand homes that truly reflect their lifestyles and passions. It’s a market we are getting to know very well and we will be looking to take the yoo brand into other new territories over the coming year.”

Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, says: "Evidence from the development of the luxury consumer goods market confirms the importance placed on brands in these markets as a means of confirming provenance, security and trust. It seems likely that as global wealth creation expands, the demand for high quality residential development property in key global centres will undoubtedly rise."

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