Singapore’s property districts: Where do you belong?

Though small, Singapore’s 28 housing districts and 26 (and growing) HDB towns each have their own unique and distinct atmosphere. Each have their own history, good eats and exclusive hideouts or communal features. How do you choose which district or estate you belong to?

Grandeur8Many older estates such as Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh have their identity rooted in times preceding even World War II. These matures estates have well-established amenities and their transport options have grown over the years. Each will have their own MRT station and bus interchange providing inter-town and shuttle buses; schools, shopping mall, medical facilities such as polyclinics, sporting and recreation amenities as well as parks and libraries.

Some larger townships are built around a regional commercial hub, such as Woodlands and Jurong. Woodlands for example is laid out in a circular shape, with each part of the town connected to major highways and to the town centre. HDB flats and many private condominiums dot the estate and its proximity to the Causeway also makes it a prime leasing spot for Malaysians working in Singapore.

Queenstown HDB flatPhoto credit: HDB

And there are also Satellite towns, Queenstown being the first and Tampines joining its ranks later on. Queenstown was developed by the former Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1952 and was named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation. These towns, much like the other mature estates, are chock full of property-investment opportunities as buyers tend to look to these towns for leasing opportunities.

Outlying townships such as Punggol, Sengkang and Sembawang, previously considered remote and unpopular, are all coming into their own with Punggol leading the way into the 21st Century.

Thus, depending on your lifestyle preference, with the variety available within our small nation, there will always be a spot in Singapore which suits you.

Banking on Shophouses

Who would have knew half a century back that the humble shophouse would be worth millions today. As their numbers decreased and rarity grew, so did their value. If a few millions would have gotten you baulking a few years back, the most recent $10.8 million, approximately $3,750 psf, for an Ann Siang road shophouse would have you out of your seats by now.

AmoyStreet ShophouseForeigners and wealth funds are increasingly looking into investment opportunities in these rare commodities, especially those in the central business district (CBD). Shophouses’ popularity amongst the rich and affluent have leapfrogged in the past couple of decades despite rental prices having stayed stagnant. As some of these wealth funds are under pressure to utilise capital and expand portfolios, foreign purchases of shophouses in District 1 and 2 have picked up over the past couple of years. 99-year leasehold shophouses are now going for close to $3,000 psf.

Though the commercial leasing market has been on the downhill slide, tenants are still more willing to fork out say $18,000 for a renovated shophouse unit as compared to the higher rents in Grade A offices or shopping malls. It comes as no surprise then, that 2 shophouses in Pagoda street wold for $24.2 million at around $2,800 psf; and another 6 units in Amoy street went for $20.25 million or $2,411 psf to a Chinese and a Spanish investor respectively. The continued interest in this market segment will continue well into the year and next, as prices have risen by 10% despite a fall in transaction volume last year.

 

Increased supply beginning to affect private resale condo prices?

There has been talk about private non-landed home prices being affected by the onslaught of new completed homes flooding the market this year. Could the supply-glut effect be already taking hold of the market as resale completed condo prices fell 1 per cent in March?

Bentley ResidenceFebruary and January were positive months for the private resale property market as prices rose 0.5 and 0.2 per cent respectively. Though the fall in March may seem a bit of a letdown, an overall dip was registered in all market segments. The largest decrement was for the non-central regions, where a 1.4 per cent fall was recorded.

Property analysts are expecting a 3 per cent fall in private home prices this year as the supply of completed homes continue to be met by competition from new launches and competitive pricing from developer-sold projects. Resellers of completed or older resale condominium units may face increase competition from developers who are now pricing newly-launched units are more palatable pricing. Buyers have also become more selective and are more likely to pay only for location. The total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework also limits the amount they can loan, thus putting a bit of a dampener on investment- or upgrading-based property purchases.

As the middle of the year approaches quickly, the next quarter will likely show the market response more clearly as more new launches are planned. How will the consumers react to the competition for their attention. Will sales volume increase significantly or will prices fall in the heat of battle?

It’s an EC world

Executive condominiums are some of the hottest properties on the buying public’s radar this year. These rare hybrid private-public homes straddle the 2 markets in the best way possible. While they begin their journey as public housing, thus allowing qualifying buyers to make use of government subsidies and loans to secure a usually cheaper-yet-comparable alternative to private condominium units, they graduate after 10 years to the private property market and their values more often that not appreciate considerably.

WandervaleECOne of the first ECs to be launched this year include Wandervale and The Visionaire. The Parc Life will soon be launched. Even though the nearby 1-327-unit Sol Acres EC might have been competing for buyers , 320 out of the 534-unit Wandervale EC in Choa Chu Kang has been sold.  Most of the units popular with HDB ugpraders and young families were the 4-bedders. 82 were sold in total. Prices averaged at $755 psf with a 3-bedroom apartment starting at $655,000 and the larger 4-bedders going for more than $896,000.  The Wandervale’s proximity to the Choa Chu Kang MRT station could have added to its popularity.

Besides The Parc Life, other EC launches in the works include Treasure Crest in Sengkang, Northwave in Woodlands and another in Choa Chu Kang.

HDB flat and private condo rental prices evening out

The difference between renting a HDB flat and a private condominium unit used to be $1,000. Today, the difference stands at only $500. The gap between HDB flat and private property rental prices have narrowed considerably, due not to the rise in HDB flat rents but in the drop in private apartment rents.

Qbay ResidencesIn the past, renting a suburban condo would cost you $3,100 to $3,300 a month. Now, it is possible to rent a suburban unit at $2,700. HDB executive flat and 5-room flat rental prices have remained around the $2,200 to $2,400 range for the past 5 years now.

HDB flatMuch of the rental drop comes from the sudden increase in supply of new private condominium units, with more landlords now jostling for the same or shrinking tenant pool. Many HDB upgraders will also join the HDB rental pool as they seek to rent out their HDB flats.

Property analysts are putting it up to the shrinking apartment sizes. The psf rents have remained the same, but tenants are now getting less floor area than they used to for the same amount of money. They are however picky about location and may be willing to accept a smaller-sized accommodation in a central located as opposed to a larger one further away from their workplace or town.

As the gap narrows, will the HDB flat rental market take an indirect hit as tenants opt for private properties over public housing?

Property market showing signs of awakening

Sturdee-ResidenceAlthough property prices have been falling, the show of interest from the buying public has never really waned, instead they are now simply more aware of their options and have become more selective in their investments.

Signs that the market lull might be broken soon have come from the positive take-up of units in 2 recent launches at The Visionaire Executive Condominium (EC) and The Sturdee Residences. 158 units were sold the 632-unit The Visionaire EC at a median price of $811 psf while prices averaged at $1,550 psf at the 305-unit The Sturdee Residences. Buyers at the private residential project have gone mainly for the smaller one- and two-bedders though 3 of its 8 penthouses have already found new owners. Two of the 1,830 sq ft penthouse units were sold at $3.2 million each.

Gem REsidencesThe Parc Life EC and private residential project Gem Residences will launch this weekend. Private condominium Stars of Kovan is expected to launch next month. The latter is a mixed-use development consisting of 390 residential units, 5 strata terraces and 46 shops. Prices are expected to range between $1,550 to $1,600 psf. E-applications for Parc Life have already exceeded the 660 units available and there is hope that uptake will be on the uptick at both these projects.

Tiong Bahru Living it up

HighlineResidences2Without a doubt, most Singaporeans, expatriates and even visiting tourists will consider Tiong Bahru to be one of the hippest districts in town. Well, that makes almost everyone, really.

Tiong Bahru has achieved a world ranking in Vogue’s Global Street Style Report: 15 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World, coming up 4th in the list, quite a feat for a little township in this small city-state. Designated a Heritage Conservation Area by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), it is much-loved for its pre-war architecture, quaint boutiques, eateries and cafes, its eclectic mix of housing options and just a general air of debonair.

Besides the shophouses and first-born HDB flats (it was Singapore’s first public housing estate), new private apartments are also coming up in its midst, providing options for more to enjoy the enclave’s gently vibrant atmosphere.

HighlineResidences1One of these new-kids-on-the-block is the Highline Residences, a 500-unit condominium inspired by the High Line in New York City and designed by award-winning architect Mok Wei Wei of W architects, which offers a good mix of one- to 4-bedroom apartments as well as dual-key units and penthouses. Developed by Keppel Land, the property is located just 5-minute’s walk away from Tiong Bahru MRT station and just a few stops away from the Orchard road shopping belt and the Central Business District. The upcoming Havelock MRT station nearby will be completed by 2021 and will add more transport options to the already-well connected area.

As far as city-fringe bohemian living goes, Tiong Bahru’s residents will be living it up for awhile.

 

 

Private home prices dip for 10 consecutive quarters

The delicate balance between population growth, economy growth and housing provision is not an easy one to strike. And Singapore as a young nation, will have to learn quickly as land is limited but the number of completed units to enter the market in the next couple of years is set to reach 23,000.

Cairnhill Nine CapitaLand

Photo credit: Cairnhill Nine by CapitaLand

Private property prices have been dipping for 10 consecutive quarters now, and the market will be under even greater pressure in the months ahead as supply continues to increase while demand remains stagnant. Rental prices are expected to fall even faster than sale prices and the global economic situation does not seem to be helping. Prices have fallen 9.1 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and non-landed suburban properties in the OCR (outside of central region) fell the hardest.

Part of the reason for the falling figures could be the cutback on land sales by the government and the consequent lack of new launches. Only 953 units were launched in Q1, but property players are expecting the momentum to pick up as the year moves on.

It the first quarter’s numbers were anything to go by, with sales rising 7.2 per cent to 2,847 units, volume may have increased across both the new and resale private home markets.