Demand for EC units slowing down

The Executive Condominium (EC) market seems to be facing some resistance from buyers. The pricing sweet spot in recent launches of Signature @ Yishun and The Criterion seem to be around  $750 to $780 psf respectively.

The most recent public housing policy changes include a higher income ceiling of $14,000, up $2,000 from the previous $12,000 for ECs. This may have an effect on the crossover pool of buyers who may well be able to afford private condominiums and may weigh in their options between both housing types. 20 per cent of the buyers for Signature @ Yishun fell within those with monthly household income above $12,000. Though more significant impact probably comes from the Mortgage Servicing Ratio and other loan restrictions.

Signature@YIshunThe Criterion is a 505-unit development built by City Developments and Signature at Yishun, a 525-unit project by JBE Holdings. That may also have thinned out the demand a little, as both are situated in Yishun and there are many points for comparison. Buyers may also be holding out in wait for the massive 12,000-unit BTO launch in November.

Although the sales may not be as fast and furious as before, with units being sold out within the launch period as buyers now tend to take their time in making comparisons and coming to a decision, the response will still be comparable.

Upcoming EC launches buyers can look forward to include Wandervale in Choa Chu Kang Drive and Parc Life in Sembawang.

Are foreign buyers shying away from Singapore properties?

Foreign buyers seem to be holding back from buying homes here in Singapore. The largest fall were from Indonesian buyers, from 112 down to 39 units in the last quarter. Chinese, Malaysian and Indian buyers make up the rest of the buying clout, though there has also been a decline in all segments.

Private home prices have fallen 1.3 per cent in all regions – 1.3 per cent in the central regions, 1.5 per cent in the city fringes and 1.6 per cent in the suburbs. An accumulation of various factors could have impacted the market:

White Sand HKPhoto credit:

Singapore is often compared with Hong Kong, for its size, population and infrastructure. Why then are property prices in Hong Kong skyrocketing while Singapore properties fight to garner foreign buying interest? One of the main factors could be the proximity of the country to China. Mainland Chinese buyers make up the bulk of the foreign buying pool here and Hong Kong is inevitably closer. Should they wish to travel far out, they often look at countries such as Australia, New Zealand or even the United Kingdom and United States. The yuan has also weakened and with the Chinese economy slowing down, Chinese buyers may also be more selective about their choices.

The Indonesian property market is flourishing and in fact, more buyers, even Singaporeans have been buying into the market. Jakarta and Bali are a few of the cities where buyers’ interest have peaked.

How then can Singapore continue to attract foreign buyers and will mere policy changes affect a change?

Luxury apartment market remains quiet

While luxury property buyers find similar properties in Singapore cheaper and more affordable than those in Hong Kong, the market for high-end apartments above 2,000 sq ft remains quiet. In the third quarter of 2014, 162 luxury condominium units were sold and this year, only 112. Most of the properties sold were in the prime districts of 9 to 11.

Palms Sixth Avenue 1Property analysts say the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) is one of the main factors affecting the change as it increases the total quantum price considerably. And as most luxury property owners are the highly affluent with sufficient holding power, they are unlikely to succumb to asking prices which are not suited to their liking. Buyers however are now looking for better deals as they see the property market as weakening. The buyer-seller tussle may continue while everyone keeps an eye on interest rates and global economic changes.

However, the landed home market in the prime districts are still doing well. 30 houses have been sold in the third quarter thus far, with the total sales numbers coming up to $266.3 million. And Malaysian and Indian buyers still have the strongest showing in the local market. Some of the projects which did well in 2015 include Leedon Residence, D’Leedon and Palms @ Sixth Avenue. Resale properties which fared similarly include Goodwood Residences, Urban Resort Condominium and St Regis Residences. Recently, a townhouse at Bishopgate Residence also sold at $21 million and Chinese buyers are coming back into the fold.


Has private property market reached stability point?

Has the private property market possibly reached a point of stabilisation? Figures of late seem to show that while there are slight fluctuations either ways of the scale, the market seems to have somewhat levelled.

Prices of completed private properties seem to have stopped declining and August showed a only a 0.6 per cent fall according to the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI). Property analysts have put the slight decline mostly to the increase in completed units in the central regions, the possibility of buyers waiting for post-election policy changes, and the lull in property transactions in the Hungry Ghost month.

Stevesn SuitesSmaller apartment units seem to have fared well though, with prices rising 0.5 per cent in July. Vacancy rates of rental units have risen while rental rates dipped island wide. As long as foreigner labour and immigration policies remain tight, the leasing market may remain weak, especially as the number of completed units are rising in the next couple of years. Resale properties in districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 have suffered a hit with a 23 per cent fall in transactions in August.

The next 2 years might be a time to watch for small apartments under 506 sq ft which were purchases for investment purposes. While sellers may not yet be pressured to sell as interest rates now remain low, as the number of these units rise upon completion of many developments launched last and this year, and interest rates fluctuate, the situation may be different come 2017.



Quality of life in quality homes

The number of private residential properties out there have blossomed, and with the options so far and wide, how do you narrow down your choices?

Location is often one of the first considerations for time-conscious buyers, but there should also be some leeway, depending on a balance of affordability and other factors such as age of the property, to consider quality of life and the lifestyle you’re in search of.

There are now a good many more properties offering waterfront living, or high-rise units with scenic views of the city of greenery than before. Take the 147-unit Riverbay apartments for example. Though not a massive development, its smaller size provides an exclusivity and quiet, especially with its view overlooking the Kallang River. Located at the fringe of the city, it also offers lush greenery and is close by the Kallang Park Connector. Other pros include the provision of a number of schools nearby including St. Andrew’s Junior and Secondary schools and Junior College, and the Stamford American Internationl School.

Suites@OrchardAnd if it’s stylish interiors and city-centre-living you’re looking for, then set your sight on properties in district 9 – Orchard and River Valley. Properties in this areas are pricier, but they do come with many pluses such as quality interiors, fittings and finishes; and are just a quick walk away from the Orchard shopping belt and MRT stations. Near the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, in fact just next to the Plaza Singapura shopping mall, is Suites at Orchard – a 10-storey project with a range of units ranging from one-bedders to penthouses.

But if it’s resort-style living you are after, then looking East would not be such a bad idea. Take Palm Isles in Flora Drive for instance. It is situated close to Changi beach, though they already have resort living down pat right on their doorstep with dip pools, spa pools, lounge pools and lap pools all in its midst. The development also offers one of the few landed houses within a private property compound – 28 three-storey homes featuring 3,757 sq ft Garden Homes and 3,014 sq ft Garden Terraces.

Though choices are aplenty, and it is wise to shop around till you find a unit you like, narrowing down on the kind of lifestyle you want will help you be a step closer to your dream home.

HDB’s new sustainable homes

Mention public housing to non-Singaporeans and they may baulk at the idea of living in one as it usually means rundown, cramped living spaces in sometimes unsavoury neighbourhoods. But Singapore can be said to have made its global with the standards of public housing, in which most of Singaporeans now live.

The Housing Development Board (HDB) has begun humbly but continued to strive in improving the standards not only of homes but of living in Singapore’s many HDB flats and neighbourhoods. They launched a Roadmap to Better Living in 2011 and in it, are plans to include building eco-friendly and sustainable homes and communities; to bring a complete live-work-play-learn environment to residents.

In their HDB Awards this year, a few winners stood out :

SkyTerrace@DawsonAs part of HDB’s Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) plans, SkyTerrace@Dawson stands in one of the first mature estates to benefit from the board’s rejuvenation efforts. It in infused with roof gardens, sky terraces and incorporates a “loft concept” in units under the multi-generation living scheme. These unique units with their high ceilings and full-length windows will take you to cosmopolitan cities of Manhattan and the likes. Its prime central location near town and good schools are definitely a plus as well.

Or perhaps it’s waterfront living you prefer? Waterway Woodcress in Punggol is built right next to the Punggol Waterway and features unblocked views, a garden plaza and communal spaces, amidst hidden carpark facilities and recycling amenities such as a rainwater harvesting system which is used to wash corridors and for irrigation. Further down south into the centre of the island, is Hougang Capeview which also boasts waterfront views. It stands between Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Pinang, and is accessible to MRT stations such as Sengkang, Hougang and Kovan.

As HDB continues to roll out its roadmap, Singaporeans can look forward to better homes and public housing lifestyles in upcoming launches in Punggol Northshore, Bidadari and Tampines North.

12,000 new HDB flats to launch in November

Come November, HDB applicants will have 12,000 new units to choose from. As an effort to allow more applicants to benefit from the new housing policies which were announced in August, the Housing Board has decided to merge the last 2 major launches of HDB flats, one of which was originally planned for September, to allow for this massive combined offering in November.

Out of the 12,000 units to be launched, 7,000 will be BTO (build-to-order) flats in Bidadari, Punggol Northshore, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Sengkang. Another 5,000 units will be made available under the Sale-of-balance-flats (SBF) scheme.

BIdadari HDBMain changes in housing policies which may apply to the upcoming launch include:

Market analysts are however expecting the 2,130-unit Bidadari launch to be oversubscribed by up to 5 times and with units costing 20 per cent more than other BTO flats, perhaps even up to $400,000 for a four-room unit. Likening it to Bishan, which was also built on cemetery ground, Bidadari is situated near the Potong Pasir MRT station and will have a park and lake in its midst.

But considering Bidadari is a new estate, and future launches may be slated for this area, buyers may hold back in wait rather than rush to be first, unlike launches in mature estates.

A possible supply glut in Australia property market

Economists are beginning to see possible cracks in the Australia property market as an onslaught of new homes threaten to cause a supply glut by 2017. The property market has been booming for awhile now, with most homes overvalued at 20 per cent. Partly boosted by the central bank’s series of 10 interest rate cuts since 2011, buyers have been snapping up units in one of the world’s most expensive property markets.

GreenSquareProperty prices in Sydney alone have risen 46 per cent in 3 years, with a 24 per cent average rise in the whole of Australia. The latest property offering is Green Square in Sydney, which will yield 10,000 new apartments, adding to the 213, 000 new homes which will be made available across the country. Perhaps some of the reasons for the possible glut could also be the lack of a corresponding rise in income and population growth. Confidence and capital spending have thus reflected this. Tighter lending rules have also effected a 13.1 per cent drop in investor loan growth.

Though buying will not cease or fall immediately, analysts are advising buyers to proceed with caution and to consider their mortgage options for the long term as banking rates will fluctuate and holding power will no doubt be what differentiates the wise investors from those in for a quick buck.