Fall of private home rents put dampener on market

Hana CondoFor the 6th month in a row, private home rental rates have fallen with an even sharper 1.3 per cent drop last month. In the HDB market, rental prices have however edged up by 0.2 per cent. The overall decline in rents is smaller in this market, at 3.7 per cent for the entire year of 2016. In the private property market however, for the whole of last year, rents have fallen 6.2 per cent and in a year-on-year comparison with January 2013, almost 20 per cent.

Not in particular good news for those who have been counting on rental yields to help with their multiple property mortgages. Plus a probable interest rates hike this year, the market could be looking at more sellers putting their property in auction sales or banks being more active in their mortgage auction sales. This could however work in the favour of buyers who have been looking for a home to live in. The closing price gap between private housing and higher-end resale public housing may also cause some contention and competition, with location and floor area possibly being the deciding factor for many.

KatongRegencyNot only has rental rates fallen, so has leasing volume. The number of condominium apartment leases fell to 3,691 last month, down 2.2 per cent from November’s 3,775 units. Last December’s leasing volume however is 17.1 per cent higher than in the same period in 2015. Overall, the rental market is weakening and investors can no only rely on rental yields to help tide them over.

Private resale property market to cruise on status quo

2016 proved to be a roller coaster year for the private home market, as prices fluctuated throughout the year but never quite settled into an upward swing. Price increases lasted hardly a quarter before turning the opposite direction and movements differed between regions as well.

SeletarParkResidencesAcross the board, resale private home prices rose 0.1 per cent. Most of the increase were for properties in the prime districts. Prices here rose 1.8 per cent while falling 0.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburban districts respectively. Location continues to rule buyers’ decision-making process and prime district home prices remained stable despite the year-end lack of market activity.

As the rental market continues to wane and competition from completed properties put further pressure on rental prices, more private condominium unit owners may be pushed to sell this year as they come to the end of their 4-year holding period, after which they will have to foot their sellers’ stamp-duty bill. Buyers of resale units could have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations in these cases.

NathanResidencesThe number of private apartment units sold have been falling as well, with 484 units sold as compared to the 618 sold in November. Though the numbers are higher than the 453 units sold in December 2015, it is still a far cry from the 2,050 in April 2010 – a 76.3 per cent fall in fact. Property analysts are expecting prices and sales volume to maintain their current levels, though 2017 could be more a year of keeping the status quo than quick recovery.

Sparks of hope in property market

Despite the prolonged property lull, analysts are hopeful that a few sparks of recovery will begin to rejuvenate the market this year. The office sector may boost the commercial market while high-end luxury homes will hold up the residential property segment.

dleedonAs far as regions go, the core central region is heating up in terms of foreign interest in both residential and commercial properties. The sliding private home prices, by 11 per cent since 2013, have brought investors back into the luxury homes market. Currency valuation will however continue to play a part in the movement of investment money, and Singapore will still have to compete with other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai for investors’ attention.

Compared to other major cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London however, apartment prices here have fallen and will become more appealing to foreign buyers as the potential for yields in the medium term is considerable, especially as these specific market segment is expected to perform well this year.

skylineorchardboulevardThe collective sales market is another to watch in 2017, as developers are expected to collaborate to build up their store of land sites for long term yields. There might also be acquisitions of smaller developers by larger ones in order to participate in the government land sales programme. Property prices are expected to remain stable but depending on a property’s rental yields as a means of investment or profit could become less attractive as investors find it more difficult to find tenants in an increasingly competitive market.

Hong Kong’s property prices expected to rise further

As one of Asia’s, if not the world’s, most expensive cities to live and work in, it comes as no surprise that the real estate in Hong Kong is one of the world’s costliest.

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Photo credit: www.onekt.com.hk

Despite the Hong Kong government‘s repeated attempts to cool the market, with implementation of stamp duties and laying down of other purchasing restrictions, property prices in Hong Kong have continued to climb. And things could be heating up even more this year as even Mr Li Ka Shing, the country’s richest man, predicts the market still have room for property prices to climb further. In November last year, private property prices reached a peak unseen since 1979 when the data was made available by the city’s rating and valuation department.

Although there has been some political unrest, mostly civil, in the city and interest rates have been on the rise, there is still space apparently, for slight rise in prices this year. It will not be a smooth ride up, but there will be increments made nonetheless. China Overseas Land and Investment for example has listed the prices of their latest private residential development in the former Kai Tak airport area for almost 20 per cent higher that the same which were sold in August. In a city where liveable land is scarce, developers have been known to pay exorbitant prices for land sites, for example the record ids for sites in the same Kai Tak airport area for US$1.8 billion or S$2.58 billion.

 

Resale HDB market looking at a year of stabilisation

Transaction volume and prices of resale HDB flats dipped once more last month, following a rise in November. Prices of resale HDB units fell 0.3 per cent in December and 13.9 per cent fewer transactions were recorded in midst of the usual year-end quiet. A total of 1,364 resale flats were sold last month.

bishanloftecLarger units such as the executive flats and 5-room flats saw a bigger price decline of 0.9 and 1 per cent respectively. Prices of rarer 3-room and 4-room units dipped only 0.1 and 0.2 per cent. The steeper decline for the bigger flats could be due to declining private property prices, which may steer some buyers towards that direction. Smaller HDB flats are priced much lower than the same in the private property sector, thus the pool of buyers for these units are considerably more stable though now that singles can apply for 2-room flats directly from HDB, the pool could have diminished slightly.

5-roomhdbPrices of resale HDB units in non-mature estates fell the hardest at 1.2 per cent year on year, possibly due to competition from the rising number of private residences in the suburbs. In mature estates on the other hand, prices have risen 1 per cent. Overall, with prices fluctuation within the 1 to 2 per cent range, analysts consider the market stabilised after years of gradual decline since 2013. The market could be reaching a zero per cent change soon and with the current market levels remaining unchanged, buyers are beginning to take the opportunity to snap up units in the resale market when a suitable deal comes up. Resale transactions may rise up to 15 per cent this year.

Status quo for landed property market this year

Though figures from the last quarter indicated that landed home prices have risen 0.9 per cent, that was following a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3. Property analysts are careful not to yet call it a market rebound as 2017 may pose a difficult year for the economy.

bishopsgateThe landed housing market may continue to feel the pressure this year as cooling measures remain and the economic outlook seems uncertain. In a year-on-year comparison with Q3 of 2013, prices have fallen 14.8 per cent. Overall landed home prices fell 4.4 per cent last year and 4.1 per cent in 2015. The lowered prices could however have been a factor in bringing buyers back. Should sales volume and landed home prices continue to stabilise, the price index may inch up albeit gradually.

There were several considerable transactions in the detached landed house segment and this could have boosted numbers in Q4. One notable sale was for a property in Bishopsgate, at $26.8 million and a couple of others in Holland Park and White House Park at $25.5 million each. Though the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework implemented in 2013 has limited buyers for private properties across the board, it has more effect on the higher-priced property segments as investors here may have more financial commitments.

whitehouseparkDespite a muted landed housing market last and possibly this year, landed homes remain much sough-after and investors in these segments may be bolder in their attempts to close deals this year.

Will property market bottom out soon?

Hopes of a market rebound may be reignited as the bottom of the cycle seems to be in close reach. While private home prices have fallen by 0.4% for the 13th consecutive quarter, the rate of decline of private home prices have been reduced from the 1.5% in 2016’s Q3.

cairnhillresidencesIn 2016, private home prices fell only 3%, the slowest since 2013. Since the third quarter of 2013, home prices have fallen 11.2%, with a 4% fall in 2014 followed by a 3.75% fall in 2013. The projected fall in home value this year is 2% to 3%. While home seekers and investors may be drawn back into the market with the lowered property prices, analysts are not expecting them to splurge.

highlandresidencesIn Q4 of 2016, non-landed private home prices fell 0.7 per cent, led by city fringe properties with a 2 per cent drop. Prices of units in the core central region remained unchanged while suburban home prices fell 0.3 per cent. Units in the core central region have suffered a 1.9 per cent fall in Q3, thus the fact that sales volume have increased while prices remained unchanged could be a good sign for the year ahead.

Landed property prices posted a surprising rise of 0.9 per cent after a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3 while in the resale HDB flat market, prices fell 0.1 per cent.

How to make your rental unit shine

Though the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has reminded property investors in their Financial Stability Review released late last year of the increase in vacancy rates and declining rental market, there are still ways to ensure the best yields from the properties you have invested in.

lagunagreenFinding yourself a reliant property agent is of course the first step, and experienced agents can often advise you on how to make your property more appealing to tenants, what to look out for when selecting a suitable tenant and what the current market sentiments or pricings are like. But putting in the behind-the-scenes work will also get you the results and the little things do make a difference.

As more tenants are taking their search online, making an online presence, and a good one, will at least help to bring in the views. The reach of social media and online platforms where expatriates often visit could be extensive. On occasions, you may even consider online advertising. And providing a 360-view of your unit will also provide tenants who search online with a more comprehensive idea of what you are offering. This helps save time for both landlords and tenants.

loyanggardensBefore taking any photographs, some home-staging will go a long way. The rise of Airbnb (though not yet legalised in Singapore) means tenants now have more options or are used to more elaborate visuals of the units they potentially select. Taking care of tiny details such as cleanliness, lighting, placement of plants or quality of furniture and utensils all play a part in making the tenant feel comfortable and could be just what gives them the final push to sign on the dotted line.