Private home sales – Will the decline continue?

The property market has been softening. The decline seemed inevitable, especially as completed new private homes flood the market in the upcoming year or two.

Not surprisingly, shoebox apartments saw the largest dip in sales as the number of units are somewhat saturated. Buying power is also now lower and buyers who were initially looking at these units for investment may no longer be able to get the loans they need.

 

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Rental issues such as the age, functionality and location of resale units now have to compete with the newer and sometimes faster property models. In the central districts, the decline in rents and sales of apartments were most evident. This could be due to the number of unsold high-end properties in these areas. Even suburban condominiums are feeling the heat as many expatriates shun them as they often do not provide the convenience and exclusivity they desire.

Whether the effect will transfer to the HDB resale market also awaits to be seen. As HDB upgraders who are moving to their completed units will have to let go of their HDB units within a specified time period, many may be in a hurry to let go of their units and possibly at lower prices than before as the market gets competitive. Pair this up with a diminishing market for smaller units as singles are now able to purchase new flats from HDB directly, as well as a smaller pool of permanent residents, the property market seems to be in for quite the turn this year.

Even as more new property launches are promised, how private home sales fare the next quarter may set the mood for the rest of the year.

Commonwealth – Properties not so common

Considered on the city fringe, just a little way off Alexandra which is an area popular with expatriates, Commonwealth may see renewed buyers’ interest as new private condominiums enter the mix.

The latest launch is Commonwealth Towers on Commonwealth Avenue. It will be officially launched on May 1 and is expected to be priced at $1, 600 to $1, 800 psf, it is relatively more expensive than similar properties in its vicinity, such as Queens condominium, Alexis, The Metropolitan, Ascentia Sky and The Anchorage private apartments. These are older residential developments and units are available on the resale market. Rental demand has been strong, though property experts are expecting competition to heat up once the newer condominiums are up and running.

The AnchorageAccording to URA figures, rental prices at the Queens averages at $4.32 psf per month. Sale prices were at $1, 350 psf. The Alexis commanded even higher prices at $6.65 psf and units sold at an average of $1, 939 psf, possibly because at 2 years old,  it is much newer than the Queens which was completed in 2002. Also, a third of the 293-unit The Alexis are shoebox apartments and are easier to rent out.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoHowever the tightening foreign workforce rulings and immigration regulations may prove challenging for landlords looking to rent out their property especially with the rise in new units in the Redhill and Tiong Bahru area. Competition will always be present, but good location, providing attractive rental conditions and ultimately good timing may beat all that.

New launches expected but at staggered timings

The market is somewhat dense with many units unable to leave the sales shelves. But the buying crowd is expecting new launches to whet their appetite. And perhaps this is the indirect way to help move existing properties as new properties provide grounds for comparison. A few more choices may just help the buyer make up his mind.

Though, developers are also equally wary about providing too many choices. This may tilt the market the way of the buyer and sellers may find themselves cannibalising on one another’s properties. Instead, the consumer can look forward to a steady flow of new property launches over the second quarter, but at staggered timings.

The Sorrento condominium

The Sorrento condominium

In Q1, only 7 new properties were launched. Q2 may see as many as 11 new launches. Starting the ball rolling is The Sorrento. Sales began over the weekend at $1, 380 to $1, 600 psf. It’s situated on West Coast road and has an offering of 131 units of one- to three-bedders.

And if you’re looking for something to do on 1 May, the labour day holidays. You can visit the showflats of Commonwealth Towers. This massive 845-unit project is developed by Hong Leong Holdings. Response at its preview last Sunday was indicative of its potential, drawing a crowd of 1, 500. Selling prices are expected to be around $1, 600 to $1, 800 psf.

Commonwealth TowersMost of the other projects expected to enter the market are in the city or at the city fringe districts. They include The Crest, Highline Residences, Amber Skye, Kallang Riverside, Pollen & Bleu, Marina One, Waterfront@Faber, Bijou and Coco Palms. Industry analysts are already expecting this second quarter to fare much better than the last, with 500 to 800 new private home sales.

Property measures not hurting Malaysian property sales

And more are flocking to the local label of the new Puteri Cove Residences. This new luxury condominium is developed by local property developers, Pacific Star and DB2, with sea and harbour-view units up for offer, local investors seemed to have taken a liking to this new property.

Puteri Cove Residences. Photo by Pacific Star Singapore.

Puteri Cove Residences. Photo by Pacific Star Singapore.

450 of the 600 residential, 56 Soho and 340 serviced property units were sold within a week of its launch. Upon its targeted completion in 2017, this mixed-use development will also include a waterfront promenade housing eateries, retail stores, commercial businesses and clinics. Located strategically between the Second Link at Tuas and the Woodlands Causeway, it’s poised to have a brisk flow of traffic. Units consisted of one- to four-bedders between 600 to 4,100 sq ft. Prices ranged between RM 1, 180 (S$457) to RM 1, 580 (S$612) psf.

Most buyers were Singaporeans, followed by Malaysians and Indonesians. And with talks in the way between Singapore and Malaysia to improve transport infrastructure, such as the Kuala-Lumpur  expressway and a train system between Singapore and Johor Bahru, investors in the know are looking at long-term profitability. Will new Iskandar region properties continue to woo Singaporean investors?

Properties near primary schools gets the spotlight

Especially those near clusters of well-know primary schools. Such as Nanyang Primary School, Anglo-Chinese Primary, Singapore Chinese Girls’ primary, Methodist Girls’ Primary and Raffles Girls’ Primary. No prizes guessing where this cluster hails from.

The Bukit Timah area has long been known as the prime district due to its proximity to schools and exclusive addresses and many huge landed properties. But quite a number of high-rise private condominiums have begin to come up in its midst, and parents eager for higher chances in the balloting for spaces in these schools now have options of moving nearer to their primary school of choice.

Cluny Park ResidenceStretching mainly across prime districts 10 and 11, properties along the main Bukit Timah stretch attract the most number of eyeballs, closely followed by those nearer newton and at the other closer to Upper Bukit Timah. Properties on the main stretch include Cluny Park Residences and The Siena. The latter has an added advantage with its proximity to the Botanic Gardens MRT Station.

Near Newtown, where ACS Primary is situated, cluster landed development, The Glyndebourne offers the option of serviced landed housing while the Robin Suites which will be completed in 2016 will attract savvy parents who have their children’s future well-planned ahead of time. The latest property to come up near the Upper Bukit Timah area is KAP Residences, taking over the King Albert Park McDonald’s, placing it near MGS.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

A comparison of prices across these areas will show that the main stretch commands the highest prices as it is not only near a number of primary and secondary schools and junior colleges, but also  eateries and other amenities. Transport options are more apparent as well. Prices at The Siena and Cluny Park Residences range around $2, 323 to $2, 704 psf, though older condominiums may only go for $1, 700 to $1, 800 psf.

68% drop in private home sales

In comparison to 2013′s Q1 home sales figures, the chasm is deep. And so are moods in the real estate market.

Private home sales have been on the decline for some time now. And recent figures are not exactly uplifting. Buyer sentiments are pessimistic, as the loan curbs implemented last year takes its toll on buyers and sellers alike.

Hillford Retirement Home
It has become much harder for buyers to secure loans, with the Money Authority of Singapore’s Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework in place. Buyers can no longer loan as much as they would like, which may place them just out of reach of their target property. The lack of new property launches this quarter has also dampened the mood somewhat. And property developers have been slow in introducing new units into the market as they are now accutely aware of a softer market.

Some properties nevertheless have beat the odds and continued to enjoy brisk sales. Topping the list is the 281-unit The Hillford in Jalan Jurong Kechil. Since its launch in January, units have been completely sold. Next up are a couple of neighbouring properties in Sengkang – Rivertrees Residences and Riverbank @ Fernvale. Most of the units went for an average of $1,000 to $1, 100 psf. Industry analysts are wondering if this could signify that buying power for suburban private properties will now hover around this ceiling.

Rivertrees condoThe rest of the year may see a tussle of prices between new and resale properties. As developers cut prices to make sales, resale home sellers may be forced to face the competition head on.

Jurong private properties in demand

For those who are not used to living in the west, the lure may not be strong. Not yet perhaps. But as it changes from the industrial, remote ‘wild west’ into a well-greased regional commercial and education hub, many have seemed to change their minds.

LakevilleThe 695-unit Lakeville at Jurong West Street 41 has sold so well last weekend that the developers, MCL Land had to release 50 additional units to its original release of 150 units. Most buyers were Singaporeans, and they purchased mainly two- and three-bedders. A total of 180 units were sold thus far, at an average of $1, 300 psf. J Gateway, which was the last westside property launched since Lakeville, sold at an average of $1, 480 psf.

Despite constant reminders that the property market may be on a downturn, the response has buoyed the mood of the real estate market. This could however be due to the lack of private properties, especially new ones, in this neck of the woods. New amenities such as the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital, and new commercial properties promises of more jobs, and better services, which could drive up rents of both HDB and private properties in the area.

Commonwealth TowersSlightly more inland, Commonwealth Towers, which will be linked to Queenstown MRT station, could be the next property to watch. This 99-year leasehold property will likely be launched in May, with mostly one- and two-bedders in its massive 895-unit development. If nearby condominium prices are anything to go by, buyers could be looking at prices of between $1, 300 to $1, 700 psf.

Rent out your property quickly

As one of the best means of passive income, property rentals are one of the first physical investment returns most beginner investors are drawn to. But as the number of homes entering the market increase, picking up speed towards 2016, it might be prudent for property owners to take steps right now to prime themselves for when the competition truly gets tough. How can landlords pull ahead in the weakening rental market?

Property analysts are predicting a two to three month average waiting time for landlords when previously it may have taken only a month or two before finding a suitable tenant. It is very much the tenant’s market now and many are taking it online in their search for home rentals.

Online property search engineOnline searches make it easier for the tenant to look at similar units within the same development and make more efficient price comparisons. This also means price points are a crucial deciding factor. Holding on to prices may mean a longer waiting period which also translates to larger income losses Though going too low may seem unsavory, easing up on prices slightly while offering longer lease terms may help you secure profits more quickly.

It might be futile comparing rental prices to what it was a couple of years back, simply because new properties are springing up all over, and the newer, swankier, though smaller unit nearby may be more attractive to tenants. Providing working, good condition fittings and appliances could also be what helps you seal the deal.

City Square Residences near Little India used to go for $1000 psf in 2009. Now it is going for as much as $2,500 psf. So perhaps the adage “Spend money to make money” may not be so far from the truth here. Sprucing up your unit with light renovation touches or simply giving your appliances an overhaul may score you a tenant sooner than later. And not forgetting, the personal touch always works. Meeting your tenants and building a good relationship makes for a better rental process for both landlord and tenant.