Right time for luxury (property) shopping?

With the current property market lull, developers are offering many larger-sized luxury properties at discounted prices. Prime central district properties have also seen less activity as foreigners are buying fewer condominium units possibly due to the higher stamp duties and taxes levied on them. Could this be the right time to suss out a good investment deal?

Twin-Peaks3

Photo: Twin Peaks condominium on Leonie Hill

In fact, many developers are looking at doing bulk sales on their unsold stock in order to prevent paying the penalties such as  the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD). Property funds may be the most likely buyers, though individuals or groups of individuals eyeing specific projects could also jump on the opportunity.

City Development Limited (CDL) for example has been trying to sell one of the two 24-storey towers at Gramercy Park and OUE is doing the same with their Twin Peaks development. Prices for Gramercy Park, a freehold condominium project, is expected to hover around $2,600 psf and will be ready for occupation by the Q2 of this year.

Though almost 92.9 per cent of their 174 units have been sold by last year, they still have a number of unsold stock to sell by 2018. Developers can file for extension of their Qualifying Certificate (QC) which allows them a bit more time to sell their stock. But developers will also have to weigh the charges and ABSD against the discounts they are able to provide buyers with bulk-buy offers.

 

Private condominium prices hold steady

The fall in completed private condominium prices was gentler last year at 3.5 per cent, compared to the 5.7 per cent from the year before. Prices are expected to hold steady this year as a dip in supply of properties in this sector bring prices to a plateau.

Jewel CDL

Photo: Jewel @ Buangkok

Demand for smaller apartments of up to 500 sq ft in size, have been weakening as their numbers, especially in the suburbs, have been on the rise in the past couple of years. Investors have found them more difficult to rent out in the dulling leasing market and those outside the central region or further from regional business hubs may find themselves competing for the same tenant pool. Tenants now prefer units with larger floor spaces with just slightly higher rents.

Sale prices of completed private properties within the central regions however have fallen more sharply as they usually come with a higher total quantum price. Compared to the many newer properties which have found a sweet spot with their total selling price, units in these central or prime districts see fewer overall transactions.

As the volume of unsold completed condominium stock diminishes and with the fewer launches expected this year due to cutbacks on land supply, resale properties could expect a happier year ahead.

When investing in properties overseas …

There are a number of things to look out for when investing in properties. And even more so in properties overseas. It may be familiar ground if you know your stuff, but otherwise it could be a rather risky affair.

Balmain ColgatePhoto: Apartment in Balmain, NSW, Australia.

Every country’s investment environment varies, sometimes quite drastically, and while brochures and presentations may look sleek and professional, the ins-and-outs of the local economic infrastructure may speak the same language. Thus finding out more about the legal and tax systems of the country in which the property is located would be one of the first and most important steps. The Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) has good advice for investors in their consumer guide for foreign property investments. Some countries have restrictions on the type of property foreigners can purchase, and also on whom they can eventually sell it to and the about of taxes or stamp duties they have to pay. In Australia for example, foreigners purchasing property have to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board; whereas in Cambodia, where the market is just opening up, the restrictions are not as limiting.

Similar to how you would plan for any major investment, doing the groundwork and sums will help you financially. It is wise to know what your options are should there be a need to sell, and how long it would take you to do that would depend on the political and economic situation. Make the effort to find out the developer’s track record, and even take a trip down to look at the properties. After-sales property management could sometimes make or break your bank account and familiarising yourself with the legal systems of the country could ensure you are well-covered in unexpected circumstances. Having a solid point-of-contact in the country, such as a property agency or management agent could also reduce the risk and make the investment experience a smooth-sailing one.

Fewer launches More sales

Despite property developers rolling out fewer new property launches last year, sales of new private homes rose 2.9 per cent from 2014, to ring the tills at 7,529 transactions in 2015. The number of new homes launched last year was in fact 8.2 per cent lesser than that of 2014. Buyers may have realised that property prices are stabilising and will not decline much more, and thus are returning to the market to pick off already-better deals.

The Trilinq
Photo: The Trilinq

759 new private property units were sold in November alone last year, buoyed by the launch of The Poiz Residences. In December, there were 384 transactions recorded, 154 more in a year-on-year comparison with December 2014. Though 2013’s peak saw 14,948 new home sales, almost double that of last year’s, the signs are more positive than expected. Property investors may also be picking up real estate as the stock market remains volatile. Perhaps declining property prices have also managed to strike a chord with investors. At The Trilinq for example, which first launched at prices of $1,545 psf in 2013, have since trimmed their prices to $1,329 psf.

Market activity this year will await to be seen as the interest rates hikes and loan restrictions combined, and the reduction of land sites sold this year, may deter buyers and lower demand. Industry analysts are however remaining positive, projecting 8,500 new private home sales this year. They are expecting lower overall quantum prices to be the draw of this years’ property market.

Home prices along Downtown Line go to town

As expected, the newly completed Downtown MRT stations have brought much cheer not only the commuters but also to owners of properties in their vicinities.

The SkywoodsPhoto credit: Skywoods.com.sg

Since the Downtown Line began operating some of its stations last December, prices of properties near these stations have already seen an increase in interest, units sold and also rental prices. Private apartment prices have risen from $1,523 psf to $1,592 in the last quarter, up 4.5 per cent from the previous quarter. Out of the 18 stations now operating include long-awaited ones along Bukit Timah and Upper Bukit Timah such as Tan Kah Kee, King Albert Park, Sixth Avenue, Beauty World, Cashew, Hillview and also Bugis, Little India and Rochor stations along Rochor Canal and Sungei Road.

The price increase can be observed at private apartment projects such as Eco Sanctuary, where 9 per cent more units were sold by December. The development is now 91 per cent sold. Kingsford Hillview Peak condominium also saw a 3 per cent increase in sales and The Skywoods almost doubled their in the number of units sold.

With the effect MRT stations have on property prices, it would not be surprising to find prices of homes along upcoming Downtown and latest Thomson-East Coast line appreciate in the near future.

Australia’s property and housing market feels the chill

Tighter loan restrictions and a supply glut – these issues may not be affecting only Singapore’s property market. It seems in Australia, the same has threatened to shake the markets.

SYdney PropertyPhoto: Sydney

Property prices which were soaring, especially in major Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, have now come down, as the approval for multi-unit properties have fallen 12.7 per cent last November. Developers of high-rise, multi-unit properties have found it harder to secure approvals as a supply glut looms in the near horizon.

The banks have also tightened their lending, and new regulations have made it more difficult for foreign investors to pick off large number of properties. This in turn has affect the construction industry in Australia, and have come at an most unfortunate time as the government has hoped it will plug the hole left behind by the lagging mining industry.

That said, there are still many considerable new properties which are highly valuable. Most importantly, they need to fit well with the investor’s or buyer’s needs and portfolio. Factors such as financial feasibility and longevity, short- and long-term leasing potential and margin of development of the district will continue to guide investors in making their purchasing decisions.

A stable year for Singapore’s property market?

Resale HDB flat prices have fallen only 1.5 per cent last year, as compared to 6 per cent the year before. Industry experts are not expecting prices to fall much more this year and in fact last quarter saw a 0.2 per cent rise in HDB resale flat price index. But that may not mean a sudden rebound of HDB flat prices as the options available to home buyers have now increased, especially as private home prices have fallen and more are now eligible to purchase new BTO flats directly from HDB.
Poiz Residences2Photo: Poiz Residences

HDB has announced that they will be rolling out up to 18,000 new flats this year, 3,000 more that last year. Private properties are now more affordable as developers have caught on to buyers’ affinity to total quantum selling prices. Last year, private property prices dropped 3.7 per cent overall, and a 0.5 per cent fall was registered last quarter of 2015.

The number of new property launches in the 4th quarter propped up new property prices with launches such as Principal Garden, The Poiz Residences and Thomson Impressions. Prices of new units in the city fringes fared well with no price changes. Landed property prices however fell 10.4 per cent over the last 2 and a half years, with prices falling 4.4 per cent last year alone.

Property analysts are watching the market closely as they are expecting the interest rate hikes to put a strain on those servicing home loans, especially as the property cooling measures concurrently remain.

Suburban private home prices waver


Parc EleganceNovember saw a 0.6% fall in private home prices, pulled down mainly by falling figures in the shoebox apartments segment. These units sized below 506 sq ft fared 1.2 per cent better in October than in November.

Property analysts are expecting some selling action in the months ahead, particularly in the non-central suburban private home segment as the surge of completed units and increased interest rates may force the hand of investors who have overstretched themselves. However, the number of sellers may outweigh the number of buyers as competition toughens up.

Properties in the central regions or prime districts of 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 could have fared better as well, with a 4.5 per cent fall in prices in a year-on-year comparison. That is a drop of 13.1 per cent from the peak in May 2013. Industry players have reasoned that properties in the central regions are generally larger in size, which means they also have a higher total quantum price, which makes them harder to find buyers for. Foreign buyers are also expected to pay a 15 per cent ABSD (Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty), which may have turned some investors off the Singapore property market.

The Boutiq Killiney

Photo: The Boutiq Killiney

As the target audience for the central and non-central regions are quite different, sellers and buyers alike may need to alter their expectations of the market in 2016. In the central regions, some sellers may be ready to let go of their properties as the economy slows, but prices are not expected to fall drastically as the owners usually have the holding power to hang on to their properties till the price is right. In the non-central regions however, where owners and buyers are usually salaried workers, pricing may be more dependent on external forces such as the overall rate of economic growth, employment and mortgage rates, rental potential and debt ratios.