Slowing down of property market slowdown

The first quarter of 2015 has proved to be a slow one for the property industry. But the slowdown has lost some speed. Compared to the previous quarters, the decline for both private and public housing was at around 1 per cent for the past three months.

Property prices and sales have been slowing down since mid-2013. In the resale HDB flat market, prices have fallen for 7 consecutive quarters and private property prices have fallen 6 quarters in a row. What will the rest of the year hold for these market segments?

Northpark Residences1For the private property sector, property analysts are predicting:

  1.  A further dip in prices as the number of unsold units are on the rise.
  2. Continued fall in rental prices as more completed new homes enter the fold. The decline in the first quarter of the year was 1.7 per cent; rental prices fell 1 per cent in the last quarter of 2014.
  3. As interest rates rise, home owners and developers may be pushed to lower prices further to secure deals. The competition between resale and new properties may also heat up.
  4.  A 5 to 8 per cent fall in private home prices for the year as buyers delay their market entry, possibly waiting for prices to fall further before making a buy.

In the HDB resale flat market, the prospects seem slightly more positive:

  1. HDB resale prices are expected to fall at a slower pace of 4 to 7 per cent and perhaps even stabilise.
  2. But as more new BTO (build-to-order) flats and ECs (executive condominiums) are completed this year,  flat owners may feel the imminent pressure to sell their existing flats at lower prices in order to move into their new units.

A fall in home prices seem inevitable this year, but the good news may come in the form of increasing sales and reaching a balance between sellers and buyers in terms of home prices.

Waterfront living in Penang

Mixed-use properties have always been popular with property investors, and when you throw waterfront living and resort charm into the mix, the popularity index may just shoot up the charts.

The Light Waterfront Penang

Photo credit: IJM Land

Waterfront properties are not only increasing in numbers locally, but also across the border in Malaysia. In Penang, a new waterfront mixed-use development is being planned for about 5 kilometres away from George Town, spanning more than 750 metres. With a shopping mall, residential blocks, hotels, convention centre and an office tower, it looks set to be a self-contained township on its own. The residential property linked to this development is named The Light Waterfront Penang and will boast 1, 177 private condominium units and villas. Most of these units have already been completed and sold.

Despite recent news about a possible supply glut in the Iskandar development, specific areas still hold their worth in terms of property investment. Foreigners who are hoping to invest in properties in Malaysia are governed by certain rules but with sufficient knowledge at hand and experienced agents or agencies by your side, it is possible to find something worth your time and money.

Resale HDB flats in prime locations command high prices

Even though the resale HDB flat market seems to be following the general downhill trend of the property market over the last year or so, bigger and newer units in the town’s hottest locations are still bringing in big bucks.

Of the 20 five-room HDB flats which sold at over $900,000 this year, as compared to just one in the same period last year, 14 were from the lauded Pinnacle @ Duxton. The other sales came from units in Bukit Merah and Queenstown.

View from PInnacleAs units at the Pinncale@Duxton were only recently released into the market, after their statutory five-year MOP (minimum occupation period), part of the increase in sales could be accounted for by these units. At their time of launch in 2004, five-room units were only priced between $345, 100 to $439, 400. Prices have since more than doubled. With their astounding views (for a public housing facility) and close proximity to the CBD (Central Business District), chinatown and city centre, the reasons for their expensive price tags could hardly be disputed.

Most of the other flats which sold in Strathmore Avenue and Holland Drive, were also newer ones which came under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). These flats were newly built in order to house owners of older flats nearby which were scheduled to be demolished. Many of these owners were luckily enough to secure a new flat at almost no additional cost, and now are able to sell at a profit.

Other areas with a higher ratio of newer resale flats include the less mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang. Here, the units may not command as high a price due to their far flung location and higher number of sellers. But that said, it could be early days yet and in years to come, another tune may be sung.

Offers galore in blossoming EC market

Executive condominium launches in the recent months haev proved attractive to the buying crowd, especially after years of quiet on the ground.

But with 7 more launches planned for the later part of the year, will the market be poised for a saturation point? Or will buyers welcome the competition and options? Most of the new launches will be near existing EC sites in the North and North-east regions, which could mean stiffer competition for the developers.

Westwood ResidencesOne project which may however prove promising is the Westwood Residences in Boon Lay. Together with Lake Life EC, they could the only 2 executive condominiums in Jurong since 2010. The rarity, coupled with the pent-up demand could means buyers may be willing to pay slightly higher than average prices for units here as compared to ECs elsewhere. Property experts are expecting the median prices for ECs launched later this year to hover between $750 to $770 psf.

Currently, the average selling prices for ECs are at around $800 psf. But buyers have not been particularly responsive to this pricing level and with the introduction of thousands of new units over this and next year could bring the competition higher and prices lower. The dip in resale HDB and private condominium prices since the high in 2013, would also mean that ECs have to priced realistically in order to entice HDB upgraders and buyers.

As the market segments react to one another, the EC being hybrid between private and public properties, may also find themselves having to price themselves appropriately between these two market segments.

 

Cluster landed homes – The next goldmine?

Landed homes have always been known to be one of the most expensive properties in land-scarce Singapore and understandably so. And most would think that properties with individual land titles will always be a step ahead of leasehold properties. But apparently strata landed properties, or more commonly known as cluster landed homes, have seen the fastest price rise over recent years.

The four types of landed properties in Singapore are:

  • Leasehold non-strata landed homes
  • Freehold non-strata landed homes
  • Leasehold strata landed homes
  • Freehold strata landed homes

Casa FidelioAnd the last one on the list above have seen speedy rise in value of 77.3 per cent from 2004 to 2008. And the third on the list have been even more popular since 2009, with the fastest rise in capital value of 20.1 per cent a year. This could be due to the fact that most of these cluster homes have been built in the last decade or so, and have better floor planning and a larger floor area due to the fact that they are often built up to at least two storeys. Some older freehold landed properties may come with a land deed, but often extensive renovation have to be done, which raises the cost for the buyer.

Hillcrest-VillaPhoto credit: MCL Land

Examples of the price rise in freehold cluster housing properties can be seen at the Casa Fidelio in Siglap. In 2004, a terraced house cost only $760,000 and by 2008, it was sold for $1.18 million. In 2007, the launch of the Hillcrest Villa in Bukit Timah also pushed prices of cluster landed homes up by almost $1.5 million. Though landed properties are one of the highest profit-earning tickets out there, the cost of such properties in today’s market will require a healthy bank balance and deep pockets. What options are there out there for buyers who wish to invest in such properties? 

 

New properties on a fresh new ride

And hopefully it will be an upwards ride.

May 2014 was a good month for the new private home market. Mostly due to the large number of properties launched, 1,487 units were sold. But after that huge spike, sales have held steady at around 300 to 400 units sold per month, with December’s showing a little lower due to the festive season.

KingsfordWaterbayThe numbers have however increased significantly in March this year, from 390 units sold in February to 613 last month. The results are promising, but there has been a few recent launches of new units at previously launched developments and also a release of pent-up demand after the Chinese New Year festivities, which could account for some of the positive vibes.  Most of the sales came from Kingsford Waterbay with 155 units sold and Sims Urban Oasis with 107 units sold. New launches are pulling out all the stops to get buyers’ attention. Competition will be high as more launches are planned for the year, thus getting first dibs with the buyers’ pool is crucial for developers.

Suburban properties are often priced below city fringe and central district properties; at 22 per cent lower than city fringe and 43 per cent lower than central region homes. Lower quantum prices seems to be the factor helping to close deals, as the property cooling measures do not work in favour of most middle-income buyers. The Skywoods and Symphony Suites projects seemed to stacked up better, but sales at Northpark Residences and Botanique @ Bartley may very well give them a run for their money soon, looking at the response from the public.

The outlook for the market this year seems spotted, with possible glimmers of hope but also tough restrictions which may put a damper on sales volume and prices.

 

The private home gentle wave

It’s an up and down ride for the private non-landed property market for more than a year now. Across the board, non-landed resale home prices dropped 6.2 per cent last year. Prices of homes in the central districts dipped an average of 7 per cent last year, though there were good months when some segments managed to bounce back slightly before falling again. That could mean that things were mainly level though there are outliers.

Duchess ResidencesResale private apartment prices fell 0.2 per cent last month, with a 3.9 per cent fall compared to the same month last year. But some city fringe properties bounced back with an average price rise of 0.4 per cent. Part of the yoyo-ing in prices could be due to the Chinese New Year period in February and buyers were just coming back into the fray in March.

The second quarter of this year would be a crucial point in almost determining how the rest of the year will flow, at least up to just before the Hungry Ghost month. Though the ride has been more a gentle wave of price fluctuations rather than a roller coaster ride, property experts are however not expecting a drastic change in prices unless there are major policy changes or a major interest rates hike.

The year could be a relatively quiet one with bright sparks and dull moments along the way, but the basics of good location and lowered total quantum prices will still move units.

Penchant for Penthouses

Although the luxury property market seems to be falling behind as property cooling measures take bite, penthouses which are few and far in between are attracting the right customers.

At the exclusive Ardmore Park district, the one-and-only penthouse at Le Nouvel Ardmore recently sold at $51 million, apparently the highest recorded since the global financial crisis. Measuring at 13, 875 sq feet, that translated to about $5,000 psf. Considering news of a recent high-end property resale at a loss of $15.8 million just broke not too long ago, industry players are understandably happy about the recent progress.

Le Nouvel Ardmore in the exclusive Ardmore Park area. Image by Wing Tai Holdings Limited.

Le Nouvel Ardmore in the exclusive Ardmore Park area. Image by Wing Tai Holdings Limited.

Prime district condominiums are all in the millionaire range and penthouses are even higher on the price charts, mostly because of the floor area. One of the largest sale of penthouses in recent years was one at TwentyOne Angullia Park which sold for $42.9 million in 2013. Other high-end apartments include The Marq on Paterson Hill, The Orchard Residences and the Ardmore Park condominium. At The Marq, four-bedders start at $20.5 million ($6, 850 psf) which makes for a higher per square foot price than the $51 million penthouse at Le Nouvel Ardmore, but with a more palatable quantum price.

Are the buyers coming back into the market, slowly but surely? What will entice them back quicker and what are they looking for in a property? Property experts expect properties which are already completed will be a much higher draw for this high-end luxury property customer base as they often prefer to invest in the tangible.