Private resale home prices stabilising

With minimal fall in prices over the previous couple of quarters, could this be a sign that resale private property prices are stabilising? Could buyers be getting used to the current home prices and are coming back to pick up deals before a possible rise? Will the predictions of a 4 to 8 per cent drop in property prices this year continue on its track or will buyers buck the trend?

Botanique@BartleyThe NUS Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) has indicated a 2.2 per cent fall in resale condominium prices over the last 12 months. But since the first quarter of 2015, the fall has been more gradual and marginal, considering the expected 5 per cent year-on-year fall in prices per month in the last quarter of 2014. The next couple of months could be the watershed for the property market. A slow and small drop in prices could indicate a possible bottoming out of the market.

Part of the reason for last month’s 0.1 per cent fall in April could also be due to the high transaction volume. The recent new property launches of Botanique at Bartley and Northpark Residences may also have had a trickle-down effect on the resale market, in particular properties in the proximity of these 2 launches. Another promising bit of news is the 0.4 per cent rise in the prices of small apartment units up to 506 sq ft. A much untested market, particularly in the suburbs, as more commercial businesses move out of the central region and into the heartlands, the demand for these units may change in the next few years.

More singles going for new BTO flats

With a major sales launch by the HDB putting out more than 9,000 new BTO flats yesterday, the response from applicants has been strong, especially for 2-room flats and units in specific HDB estates.

ClementiCrestSince July last year, when singles became eligible for new BTO flats, albeit with restrictions, the demand for new 2-room HDB flats has been overwhelming. This may have pushed the authorities to release more 2-room flats this round. For flats in Punggol, where HDB launched their new smart-tech flats, there were 1.4 applicants for each 2-room unit. In Sembawang, the response was even more fervent with 2.1 applicants for every 2-room unit.

Over at Clementi Crest, the only new launch in a mature estate, the response was understandably higher with 2.5 applicants for every 5-room unit. There were only 156 units available. The main attraction could be its proximity to the Clementi town centre and Clementi MRT station.

Will the policy shifts eventually change the landscape for resale HDB flats, in particular the 3- and 4-room flats? Previously, demand for these smaller units could be said to have come mainly from singles and smaller families as well as Permanent residents. Resale flats selling under HDB’s sale of balance flats scheme were not as popular as before, with only 19 applicants for 127 units in the popular mature estate of Queenstown and 29 applicants for 3-room flats in Toa Payoh.

The next new BTO flats launch will be in August, at Punggol Northshore and Bidadari.

 

Peak prices at The Pinnacle

Since December last year, many HDB flat units at The Pinnacle @ Duxton have reached their minimum 5-year occupation period. Home owners who have sold their units here have found themselves $500,000 or more richer.

With a view and location not even many private condominiums can boast, it is no wonder a 5-room HDB flat here could go for $1.06 million, a small sum considering the potential it holds. To date, 59 resale units have exchanged hands with 42 sold at an average of $857,230 and 17 at $983,092. This, considering the flats were originally purchase at $345,100 to $439,400, is a considerable profit gain.

Pinnacle@Duxton HDB Flats will go on the resale market in a few years' time. Will this mean a spike in resale HDB flat prices since they are conveniently located near the Central Business District? Photo courtesy of HDB.

Pinnacle@Duxton HDB Flats is finally on the market as resale HDB flats. Photo courtesy of HDB.

Many of those who have sold are planning to upgrade to a private property in the suburbs. Some have spotted properties in Jurong, harnessing the potential it may have when the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail Terminus is completed.

Many house hunters targeting a unit in this area are young professionals who wish to live nearer to the CBD (central business district). There is also no lack of hip eateries and boutiques in the area of Duxton hill, Neil road and Keong Saik road. With competition so high in the area, will sales of these HDB units affect the asking prices of private properties nearby? Or will prices here continue to rise as they are still considerably lower than private properties in the proximity?

 

Smart and kind HDB homes?

HDB is launching a new type of high-tech flats or smart flats at Punggol Northshore. And they are rather kind on the pockets too, with prices starting at $28,000 for a 2-room flat (after subsidies).

These 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-room flats at Punggol Northshore will be launched tomorrow and will feature the infrastructure to install smart systems such as energy consumption monitoring systems or alarm and alert systems for the elderly.

Punggol-northshore.jpg;wae44a5d811a611cfaPhoto credit: HDB

The smaller, and markedly lower-priced 2-roomers may be just the thing for singles and the elderly living alone. Sized at 36 sq to 45 sq m, singles who apply for one alone qualify for the Additional Housing Grant of up to $20,000 and Special Housing Grant of $10,000. That’s a total of $30,000 off the $88,000 price tag of a new 2-room HDB flat at Punggol Northshore. Previous launches at Sembawang and Yishun consisted of even cheaper 2-room flats starting from $10,000 and $15,000 after grants have been applied.

But these new smart-tech HDB flats could be the new way to go for future HDB flats moving forward. And the launch at Punggol Northshore is situated near the waterfront and boasts of a seamless connection to the LRT, these coupled with the fact that the 4- and 5-room HDB flats are cheaper than resale flats nearby at $130,000 and $170,000; the response for this launch could be more than positive.

 

Waterfront living in Iskandar – UMCity Medini Lakeside

Aptly named UMCity Medini Lakeside, the new development in Nusajaya, part of the Iskandar project in Malaysia, is developed by United Malayan Land (UM Land). Despite recent news about a possible supply glut in the Iskandar regions, in particular Southern Johor, the Malaysian developer is upbeat about the response to this new project as most of the existing developments are high-rise residential areas. One of the most recent launches in the same area was the RM2.5 billion River City @ Danga Bay.

UMCityMediniLakesidePhoto credit: UM Land

UMCity Medini Lakeside is situated next to a lake in Medini, and will feature 3 serviced apartment blocks, an office tower and a retail mall. Unlike residential units, serviced apartments may have an upper hand in terms of the extra values in service and maintenance. The units sold are “guaranteed” a 6 per cent annual return rate and investors will receive free stays at these apartments and similar brand apartments outside Malaysia. The 3 apartment blocks will be managed under the Shama Medini, Ozo Medini and CItadine Medini names. Nearby, there is another serviced apartment block, the 310-room Somerset Medini Nusajaya.

With all that building and construction activity going on in the Iskandar region, the next question might be how the government plans to bring businesses and internally or externally import a suitable population into the area. In the U.S and China, there have already been examples of ghost towns which are built up with hardly anyone living in them. How then would the authorities be able to combat this possibility and what have they already done to ensure a smooth passage to their desired goal or a bustling hub?

More data for Private home buyers

Private property buyers will no longer have to grasp at thin air in their attempt to make sense of which way the market is leaning in terms of prices, sales volume and even incentives offered by the developers or sellers.

iProperty Transacted PRices

Photo: iProperty’s transacted property price trends data is provided online

Starting from June 5, buyers or anyone who wants to do their market research can now access the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) website. Data will be published weekly. That would also mean much more transparency in the marketplace, including information provided to banks in order to allow them to better gauge applicants’ loan limits and also loan amounts which take into consideration value benefits such as cash rebates, legal and stamp duties absorption, rental guarantees and furniture vouchers.

Improvements will also be made into transparency of showflat depictions by developers. Previous complaints about obvious differences between showflats and the actual unit have not fallen onto deaf ears. Now, the Housing Developers (Snow Unit) Rules which will be in force starting from July 20, will keep everyone on the right track. Showflats ready for viewing before July 20 will however be exempted from the rules, though developers are required to made clear the differences between the showflats and the actual unit.

How will these new rules change the playing field? Will it be easier or more difficult to secure loans from the banks once these rules are put in place and enforced? Will that in turn affect the buying power of the already restricted purchasing crowd?

Small private condominium units popular again

 

NeemTreeIt seems the 2 most recent new condominium launches got buyers all hot and happy, snapping up 526 units at the 920-unit Northpark Residences and 254 in Botanique at Bartley. Most of the buyers were HDB upgraders, with private buyers and foreigners making up one third.

Contrary to previous figures which showed a dip in interest in smaller units, the studio, one- and two-bedders went the fastest at Northpark Residences. The average selling prices were between $1, 300 and $1,400 psf. Smaller units may be increasingly in demand, and perhaps upcoming launches may expect to see a similar trend.

Over at Botanique @ Bartley, the median selling price was at $1,290 psf. Close to 85 per cent of its units sold were below $1.2 million in total quantum price. Some of the other launches which continued to sell well were Sims Urban Oasis and City Gate.

Were these bigger developments more popular with buyers? A much smaller new property, the 84-unit Neem Tree in Balestier, seemed to have trailing in the wake of these 2 larger launches. They have yet to sell any of the 24 units they put out for sale. Property experts have read this recent leap in new property sales cautiously, as most of the sales were from only 2 launches which were priced to suit buyers’ current expectations of lowered prices.

Jurong will have more ECs

When Westwood Residences in Jurong comes up, Lake Life will not be the only new executive condominium (EC) in the Jurong district. Applicants will have better news as prices are expected to hover around the lower end of their price expectation.

Westwood REsidencesWestwood REsidences

Photo credit: thewestwoodresidences.com

Developers are gradually becoming more attuned to buyers’ pricing sweet spot and are more likely to price new units within their affordability range. If response at Lake Life EC was anything to go by, this new executive condominium and its fresh new prices may well be hot property. However, second-timers with a subsidised flat or EC will need to take note that the latest regulatory change will mean they will be subjected to a resale levy of $40 to $50 psf. Upgraders and first-time applicants will however enjoy a discount or subsidy.

Developers, Koh Brothers and Heeton Holdings have indicated an estimated price of $800 psf. The original price range was $790 to $840 psf. Bookings for the new EC units at the 480-unit Westwood Residences will commence on May 30 but show flats will be open by this weekend. The property will lie in the exclusive area of Westwood and just a few bus stops away from the Boon Lay MRT station. It also lauds itself as the first bike-themed development, with a focus on sports and lifestyle related offerings such as an aqua gym, bicycle garage and outdoor mini velodrome.