Reduced BTO flats = Increased resale flat demand?

 

The number was 16,900 and now it is 15,000. The Housing Board has revised the number of new BTO (build-to-order) flats to be offered this year as the resale HDB flat market has shown signs of stabilising.

In the previous year or two, the increased supply of BTO flats has meant that more who qualify to apply for a flat directly from HDB have been able to secure one fairly successfully, which has reduced the demand for resale flats. Recent launches have even been undersubscribed for some segments – three-room flats in Sembawang and four-room flats in Bukit Batok. Second-timers have also been more successful in securing units in this year’s BTO launches and the pool of available units in the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) has been growing.

BIdadari HDB

Photo credit: HDB

Prices of resale HDB flats have fallen 7.4 to 12.4 per cent since its peak in 2013. But the last quarter has indicated once more, a rising demand  for resale HDB flats, partly due to the lowered prices and the sense of the market bottoming out.

The next HDB BTO sales launch will be later this year in September, with 4,860 flats up for offer in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore, both of which are increasingly popular spots for young couples and families.

 

Singapore home prices down last quarter

 

Across the board, property prices have dipped again last quarter, but resale HDB flat prices may be stabilising. Following the first quarter decline of 1 per cent, resale HDB flat prices dipped only 0.4 per cent last quarter, possibly signifying a bottoming out of this market.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Nudged by the lowered mortgage servicing ratio cap from 35 to 30 per cent and reduction in the number of new BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance flats) units, HDB resale flat prices have fallen for a few quarters now. Property analysts are expecting a stabilising of the market, or at least a rise in demand for resale units as HDB plans to increase the income ceiling for BTO flats, which may replenish the pool of potential resale HDB flat buyers.

Private home prices are however expected to fall further this year, especially as resale HDB flat prices have fallen so quickly the gap between private suburban homes and the former have widened. Some HDB upgraders may think twice about selling their HDB flat to purchase a private condominium unit and others may turn to resale flats instead of private homes. The expectation of a rush of new private apartment units to hit the market in the later half of this year may have also put a damper on market prices.

In the first quarter, private home prices fell 1 per cent, and the fall remained steady in the second quarter at 0.9 per cent. Moving ahead, prices of private non-landed homes are expected to fall 4 to 6 per cent by the end of the year.

 

Seller’s Stamp Duty packs a punch

 

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) have been hogging property news for some time now, but the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) has packed quite a punch of its own as well.

SeascapeThe Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) is seldom mentioned, but ever since its implementation in 2011 to curb property speculation, it has collected up to $70 million in non-landed property transactions. February 2015 marked the record high in SSD collected. One of the biggest losses for the seller was a unit at the Seascape condominium at Sentosa Cove which sold in May with a $5.43 million loss. Another unit at Four Seasons Park incurred a $2.64 million loss as well.

How does the SSD work? For properties purchased after 14 January 2011, should the property be sold within the first year, the SSD comes up to a whooping 16%, then lowered to 12%, 8 % and 4% after the second, third and fourth year. Should you sell after the fourth year, the SSD will no longer apply and you will be saved from having to pay any additional seller’s stamp duties.

Though tough, industry analysts consider the SSD an effective tool in curbing property “flipping” and consider it mild when compared to the ABSD which is levied on foreign home buyers and Singaporeans purchasing second and subsequent properties. These do not have a time limit, and unless the regulations are amended in future, will continue to take a fair bite out of profits.

Australian properties getting pricier

 

When the property cooling measures kicked in for the Singapore property industry, many investors turned to overseas properties. Properties in Australia, the United Kingdom and Malaysia were particularly favoured by Singaporean buyers as these were the more popular overseas education spots for local students.

Sydney Mosman FlatBut it seems the property prices in Australia are gaining momentum. For 10 quarters in a row, prices have risen, led in particular by a leap in home prices in Sydney. Across the board, prices have risen by 1.6 per cent but in Sydney, prices have been reported to grow by 13 per cent on a yearly basis. Australians are seeing this as a threat to the affordability of their city and once again broaches the topic of immigration.

Banks’ interest rates are however considerably lower now, down to 2 per cent in May this year. Has this allowed or enticed more to secure a loan and how will this eventually affect the industry when rates start rising and might there be a danger of the rehash of the United States’ property bubble here? The Australian authorities have already tightened the loopholes in their foreign investment policies and foreign property buyers now have to abide by stricter rules under the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board. Ultimately, it may be up to the policy makers to steer the market in a direction which balances on the knife edge between economic growth and nationalism.

Sentosa Cove units fetch high prices once more

 

There was a time when luxury properties on Sentosa fetched luxurious prices. That time was more than 2 years ago. The property cooling measures have hit home since their implementation over the past couple of years however, and sales number sand prices have dropped with the imposed additional stamp duties and loan restrictions.

TheOceanfrontBut there may be light yet in the horizon. Recent sales of 2 units at The Oceanfront condominium apartments in Sentosa Cove luxury enclave have soared above the $2, 000 psf range despite their lack of a waterfront view and their low-floor  Previous sales, which were few and far in between, have gone as low as $1, 190 psf. That was a $463 psf loss on a $1, 653 psf second-storey apartment at The Coast. Considering the fact that most mass-market homes on the mainland are already going at the $1,000 psf range, prices have declined substantially since its peak in 2008.

Will investors with deep pockets continue to pick up deals on the island, especially as prices dip? And will those who have already purchase units on this exclusive waterfront-living enclave continue to hold off on selling in wait of prices rising in the future? How much more will prices be able to rise and will the competition with units on the mainland only become fiercer?

Renting out your private condo apartment

 

Many property owners here rely on property rental to help them with their mortgages and oftentimes, the rental option is regarded as a long-term financial aid. What then should you as a home owner who is looking to rent out your private property or even just a room in your home be watching out for? And as a tenant, do you know what you should or should not do?

DuchessResidencePublic housing or HDB flats fall under the jurisdiction of the Housing Development Board (HDB), which has clear rules and guidelines for property leasing. But private properties are often left to the discretion of the market, tenants and landlords, with some areas which though seemingly grey, should be quite glaringly clear.

What is not allowed?

  • Short-term rentals. Though concepts such as Airbnb have been around for sometime, it sadly may not yet work within Singapore’s legislative system for property rentals. URA’s lease and subletting rules currently states that rentals need to fulfil certain requirements, with the time period being a minimum of 6 months.
  • Partitioning of a unit into smaller units. It is not uncommon to find landlords or sometimes a master tenant putting up false walls or partitions in order to sublet the unit.  The maximum number of residents in a private residential property is 8, regardless of the size of the property.
  • Leasing to tenants without proper papers. Landlords should always make it a point to check and keep a copy of the tenants’ passport and work permits or employment passes as the onus is on the owner of the unit to ensure that the unit is rented only to legal workers. A quick check on the ICA website will allow you to verify your tenants’ validity and authenticity.
  • Subletting of properties by master tenants. As landlords of a property, always be vigilant and do frequent checks on your property to ensure the clauses in your tenancy agreements are not flouted.

And for tenants, be aware that your landlord should pay for the condominium’s maintenance fees. For both sides, a reliable agent who will be able to advise and help you with the proper paperwork and help your keep a lookout for blind spots is an invaluable asset.

 

 

Private property prospects for the next 2 years?

 

The Singapore General Election may be coming up in the next year and a half, and that leaves most wondering about possible policy shifts and how that would affect the country’s economy. Since the last election, immigration and loan policies have changed rather substantially, both of which have impacted the property industry in a number of ways.

Melrose VilleOn the financial front, the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework has been effective in slowing down property demand. With the likelihood of interest rates here rising in tandem with US rates, it seems unlikely that this policy will be removed or relaxed anytime soon as it aims to help households and borrowers build a clearer structure around their long-term financial stability.

A decrease in immigration numbers have also affected the property rental industry, with vacancy rates possibly hitting 10 per cent at the end of 2015. Coupled with a growing number of completed new units made available within these 2 years, the supply could majorly outweigh the demand. Property experts suggest that the only way to slow down the property prices and demand decline is to reduce the speed and quantity of new properties, and an adjustment of the TDSR. There is no sign of change for the moment, but would next year bring about a fresh wave of changes?

Future new private homes in 2 estates

 

Toa Payoh is well known for its attractiveness as a mature HDB estate, well chocked with amenities and commanding considerable prices for the resale HDB flats. However, the private condominiums in its midst are far and few in between

TreVistaTreVistaBut that might soon change as a private residential site near Braddell MRT station has been put on sale which might yield new 99-year leasehold properties in the future. Since the Government Land Sales Programmes (GLS) is planning to reduce the number of plots going up for sale, bidding for this prime site was keen, with 14 bidders going in with the highest coming from Evia Real Estate and their partners, Maxdin and Gamuda at $345.86 million. Selling prices of the new property is expected to range between $1,450 psf and $1,550 psf.

Just like Jurong and Lakeside, developers are expecting pent-up demand for private condominium apartments in Toa Payoh to work in their favour. The newest launch here, which has been for sometime now, is Trevista.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Another popular site which went up for sale under the GLS programme is one at at the Sungei Pandan waterfront at West Coast. With the possibility of yielding up to 600 homes in an area near the Westgate and Jem shopping malls, the Science centre and the future high-speed rail terminal in Jurong East, this 99-year lease term site is expected to fetch $370 million at auction. Nearby properties such as Waterfront @ Faber, Infiniti and Hundred Trees, have all fared well with some having sold out.