International property markets to watch

Many of the hottest international properties are in cosmopolitan cities such as London, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Shanghai. But in cities which are just on the brink of breaking into the ranks of the big guys, the potential for growth could be immense.

Cambodia PRopertyPhoto: The Bay in Cambodia by architect firm Ong & Ong.

Though some may find investing in these emerging markets riskier, the lower costs now as compared to the potential yield make for an exciting landscape. In countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam, you may now find more developers building private residential condominiums and commercial properties such as shopping malls, shops and office blocks. The level of affluence in the local context is increasing, and foreign investment interest has been on the rise for some time now.

Though the political and economic environment in these emerging markets may not be as stable, investors have been able to get a glimpse of the potential these markets hold over the past 5 years. The rise in property prices and sales volume have been steady and yet prices remain affordable.

Considering Singapore’s relative proximity to Vietnam and Cambodia, and the rising number of Singaporean developers with good track records entering the market, buyer’s may be more willing to take the plunge.  In Cambodia, a 5 to 8 per cent net yield could be expected. The construction industry there is benefiting and by 2018, an additional 12.9 million sq ft of properties is expected to enter the market.

 

Melbourne’s Twin Peaks

As if the property scene in one of the loveliest Asia-Pacfic cities could not get more exciting enough, add towering twin 80-storey residential blocks and with almost 2,000 retailers in arm’s reach and there is buzz upon buzz.

QueensPlaceMelbourne‘s central business district (CBD) will be welcoming at least 819 new private apartments in just one tower alone of the 2-towered Queens Place, a landmark residential project right in the city centre atop Flagstaff Hill, the city’s highest point. Talk about cream of the crop.

Interspersed between residential units within the 80 floors of block 1, which has been launched in Stage One of the project, are commercial and retail spaces. With prices starting from A$429,000, there are a variety of units available including one-, two- and three-bedders, penthouses and sub-penthouses. Demand from local buyers have been positive and the project certainly presents itself well to overseas investors.

Photo credit: South East Property

This sparkling new gem also boasts amenities such as private lobbies, pool, spa, sauna, wine cellar, library, private gardens, private bars and dining rooms, and even poker and mahjong rooms. It’s prime location puts it within 2-minutes walk away from major shopping malls including Emporium, Myer, David Jones and Melbourne Central, and also the numerous offices nearby. Without doubt it would command considerable resale and rental yields especially with a rising Australian property market.

The project is marketed exclusively by South East Property in Singapore and Malaysia, in collaboration with Colliers International.

From New York to Sydney – Investing in Foreign properties

While the number of new properties coming up in Singapore may tilt the scale towards supply and give buyers an upper hand, in other major cities around the world, a decline in supply has moved property prices up the charts.

MelbourneProperty_CollinsStreetIn New York, the number of available properties, especially those in popular districts, have been on the decline. There has reportedly been a 20 per cent fall in the number of available listings, now standing at 5,654 which is much lower than the 10-year average of 7,047. This has placed the median selling price for a Manhattan apartment to just below the record-setting US$1 million (S$1.4 million) mark. Though that may not seem much, considering Singapore condominium apartments are selling at similar prices, the amount of space you get is much lesser. If it’s space you’re looking at, buyers may have to look outside of New York and into the suburbs. Needless to say, the lack of available properties below the US$1 million mark has made competition all the more heated, and buyers now find themselves having to stretch their budget to get the apartment they want. Landlords and sellers now have the upper hand.

Sydney_opera_house_2010

At the opposite end of the globe in Sydney, Australia, property prices have been climbing steadily for the past quarters and now stand at an average of A$785,000. But prices in Sydney may have reached its peak as prices only grew 0.1 % last month. Over in Melbourne, the average prices stand at A$580,000 and prices have rise 2.4 %.

Are there opportunities in both cities for investment and is the time now?

Rising property market – Vietnam

With a communist government, most would not have considered Vietnam potential ground for a thriving real estate market. Their property market suffered a severe blow about 4 years ago when property bubble burst, leaving banks in debt and buyers and developers defaulting on their loans.

hungvietmoi

Photo Credit: Phuoc Thanh Construction

But 4 years on, the government has injected stimulus into the real estate sector of up to US$1.4 million and has also restructured their banking sector to ensure history does not repeat itself. In fact, they have gone even further to relax rules on foreign investment money coming through their borders. Foreign firms, individual buyers as well as Vietnamese who have left the country during the war in 1975 – the Viet Kieu, are now able to purchase properties in Hanoi. And response has been overwhelming. One developer, Vingroup, reported a whooping 112 deposits on apartments within 2 hours of their launches specifically targeting foreigners and Viet Kieu.

Most foreign firms are keen to purchase properties to house their foreign staff. Intel and Samsung, which are situated in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park, are just a couple of the many international firms snapping up properties. Average prices of high-end apartments in the southern commercial hub go up to as much as US$1,800 per sq m. In the capital, prices are around $1,600, a number familiar to the property players before the last housing crisis. With a market value of US$21 billion, Vietnam’s real estate sector still has a way to go compared to Singapore’s US$241 billion, but that difference could be what most attracts investors.

High turnout at High Park Residences Launch

The sales gallery for High Park Residences was filled to the brim as 8,000 people came to view and 500 deposits were made for the 1,390 units. The previous prediction for the number of units to be developed in the site near Thanggam LRT station and the new Seletar Mall was only 1,130 but the developers, CEL Development, Heeton Homes and Kim Seng Heng Realty, had planned for a higher number of smaller units in order to churn out a larger number of new homes.

HIghpark ResidencesMost of the sales were for the two-bedders which are sized between 53 to 68 sq m (up to or smaller than the size of an older resale three-room HDB flat) and priced from $398, 000 for the record-setting smallest 36 sq m studio apartment in District 28. There were also three-bedders available at 81 to 92 sq m, and various other unit configurations such as four-, five-bedroom apartments, 10 semi-detached houses, 4 bungalows and 9 commercial units. But at the weekend launch, affordability was the key word, with most units under $400,000 being snapped up quickly.

Though the quickest sales were of these smaller units, property analysts are hopeful that the area will be developed for families in the future and as it will be some time before the next private residential property enters the market in this area, High Park Residences may hold its place in terms of demand and pricing for some time.

Resale private apartment prices remain level

Last month’s resale private non-landed property prices remained flat, which could be a sign that the market is bottoming out.

The back-and-forth quick-step between sellers and buyers is a dance familiar to market players, but they are expecting further falls in prices of 3 to 6 per cent, especially in the suburban resale property market. In the Central regions and prime districts, prices have fallen considerably since its peak in 2013, and thus it’s not surprising to find a rise in resale volume of late. Investors who have been on the lookout for prospective buys will be quick to jump on these units.

SimsUrbanOasisIn the suburbs, it is another picture altogether as prices have held relatively steady despite the property cooling measures. But the sheer number of new units entering the market, combined with the weakening leasing market, may bring an about-change soon. In addition, the per sq foot prices of newer condominium units have increased, due to their smaller sizes. What this could mean for the market is an expected further fall in prices as resale units will have to compete with the newer developments and the total quantum prices become more important for buyers.

But the industry could well expect and enjoy an increasingly positive resale volume as up to 6,000 resale units are projected to change hands this year.

 

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.

What makes a property tick – Exclusive address and prime location

Though the prognosis for real estate this year may not seem positive, some properties may still sell well. With bigger mass-market condominium projects slashing prices to bring in the sales, smaller developments with lesser units at a prime location and an exclusive address may take the cake this year.

Cluny Park ResidenceA recent million-dollar condominium at the Cluny Park area has garnered strong interest from buyers with thickly-padded pockets. With only 52 units for sale, the freehold Cluny Park Residence has already sold 20 – 6 two-bedders and 14 four-bedders. The project slated for completion in 2016 only has two- and four-bedders and is designed by SCDA Architects, the same people behind The Marq on Paterson Hill and Botanika at Holland Road.

Developers are upbeat about the ultra-rich still buying up properties with well-thought-out concepts, attractive locations and a strong potential for development in the area. In other words, those looking for long-term investments will still be on the lookout and may purchase whenever they come across a project worthy of their money.

Surprisingly, bigger units were the draw. A 754 sq ft two-bedder at Cluny Park Residence is going at $2.3 million and up to $8.3 million for a 2,842 sq ft four-bedder penthouse. The next exclusive mixed-use project to be launched is likely to be Ascent @ 456 on Balester Road this weekend. Prices for its 28 three-bedders of 689 to 829 sq ft are expected to be between $900,000 to $1.2 million and may be perfect for the beginner investor.