Commercial properties – Promising future?

As the noose tightens around the residential property market, investors may consider shifting their focus onto commercial properties, in particular office spaces. Q3 figures have shown that selling prices and rental of office spaces have been growing at a record pace.

In land-scarce Singapore, the growing number of businesses means the demand for office space will continue to rise. And as space decreases, prices increase. In Q3 alone, office space rental prices rose by 1.6 per cent. Part of the reason could be that major buildings such as the NOL Building and Havelock II have been undergoing renovation and thus the office space crunch has led to businesses having to look for alternative spaces within a short time period.

Havelock 2 OfficeDespite luxury properties in the downtown and CBD areas faring poorly of late, Grade A office rents in these areas have been travelling the opposite direction – upwards. Office spaces in the central region have been more in demand than rentals in other regions despite the higher rental prices. Central districts office rentals have risen 2.8 per cent while those at the fringe of the city have risen 1.9 per cent.

Retail space however, is another creature altogether. As most retail space income comes also from the tenant’s sales and margins have been narrow due to higher operating and labour costs. And with the introduction of many more mixed-use developments come 2016, supply may overtake demand and reduce the rarity of these spaces. Especially as online shopping takes off in a big way locally, retail spaces, unless in high traffic areas or exclusive trendy enclaves, may find themselves fighting for the same audience.

City Fringe wins once more

From Marine Parade to Novena to Kampong Glam, areas surrounding the busy city centre and central business districts are some of the best spots for property investments and this has hardly changed over the years.

The mixed-use development DUO at Ophir road was one of the latest offerings late last year. This year, another similar residential-cum-commercial project join their ranks – the City Gate on Beach road. But before these giant developments came into play, the Concourse Skyline condominium apartments were already in place. This 360-unit property was priced at $1, 590 psf at its 2008 launch. Despite 101 of its units remaining unsold, existing units have gone for as much as $2, 075 psf in the last quarter of 2013.

CIty GateWith the large number of incoming units from City Gate, which is targeting a price range of $1,900 to $2, 000 psf, these remaining units at the Concourse Skyline may be up for some fierce competition. Developers, Hong Fok Land, may experience some pressure to lower prices in order to meet the “All sold” status.

City Gate will sit on the site of the former Keypoint and will feature 188 commercial units and 311 apartment units ranging from one- and two-bedders to the increasingly popular dual-key units. Penthouses will vary in size, from 484 sq ft one-bedders to 1, 819 sq ft four-bedders. The wide variety of units will draw buyers with different intentions in mind, but with such a prime location, the only thing that might stop consumers in their tracks is the strict loan limits.

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.

Investment money take overseas trips

Overseas properties are looking particularly attractive to investors from within Asia. Higher yields are one of the draw factors.

Areas which are pulling in crowds are the US and Europe. Commercial buildings such as offices, development sites as well as hotels are hot on the property investors’ lists. As Asia, the Americas and Europe go through different stages of the property cycle, higher returns are evident outside of Asia especially with the currency within Asia strengthening and low interest rates. The number of overseas investment opportunities are also on the increase, making the overseas market more competitive.

Oxley Royal Wharf

Photo credit: Oxley Holdings Limited.

In terms of residential developments, Oxley Holding‘s first London project is garnering a great deal of investor interest. Most of the studio apartments going at £235, 000 (S$495,000) have been sold at the 811-unit development, Royal WharfThe Royal Wharf project, situated near the Thames Barrier Park, will consist of 3, 385 homes, 10,000 residents who will be serviced by schools, shops, offices and leisure amenities. It is also near a future transport line, the Crossrail line, which will provide timely links to Heathrow airport and Bond Street.

Both the London and Singapore launches welcomed a big response. Mr Richard Oakes, the sales and marketing director of the project manager Ballymore says that despite Londoners’ usual lack of enthusiasm for property launches, a long line of 300 had queued for this particular project.

Paint the town red

Marina Downtown to be specific. The plans to invigorate the upcoming Marina Downtown district are in the pipelines, and it sounds exciting indeed. The aim is to shape the area in a such a way it compliments the nearby Central Business District. Akin to the infamous Canary Wharf in London, this new area will have its own transport line, and a good mix of residential homes, commercial offices, entertainment, retail and recreational facilities.

Marina DowntownAmassing 70 hectares, it will extend all the way to Harbour Front, connecting from Marina Bay, to form a new CBD area and as an extension to the existing financial districts in the city centre. With the government’s recent announcement about the Marina Coastal Expressway, properties along this stretch looks set to command higher prices, starting possibly from now. And when everything is complete, one can only wonder how much these properties will appreciate in value.

Mixed developments in this new district could be what investors are looking at eagerly. Marina One and Asia Square Towers are just two of the possibly many integrated residential and commercial projects which may also mean more skyscrapers joining the ranks of those in the city. Despite the existence (and possibly more in the future) of residential private properties in the area, industry consultants are expecting the area to be mainly dominated by commercial buildings. Existing properties have already taken up much of the market slice of residential homes in the area. Properties such as The Sail, Marina Bay Residences and Marina Bay Suites. Thus one of the main challenges the authorities will have could how best to inject vibrancy and life into the area during the weekend.

The Sail MarinaYet unclear how long the development process may be, its a delicate balance between supply and demand. And demand could be dependent on global situations. Will there be more office space than required? Or is it the government’s plan to bring in more businesses and thus tipping the scale in favour of property investors?

Tipping Point for New Property Launches?

1,600 new homes will be out in the market this week. But will those pricing above the $1,400 psf mark hit the sweet spot for home buyers?

Property analysts are predicting September might be the month where telltale signs of the market’s true response to recent home loan restrictions will show. Since the first two months after implementation of new rulings are usually a little uncertain as adjustments are made and buyers hold back in wait of what may come, the third month is a good test of the actual market sentiments.

Onze Tanjong PagarSome delectable offerings are already available, and more will be launched in the upcoming weeks:

Launched last Thursday, the 56-unit Onze@Tanjong Pagar  is a mixed-use development with 13 other commercial units for sale. Apartments are going for $2, 200 to $2, 500 psf. The Glades in Tanah Merah sold at $1, 400 to $1, 600 psf with 726 units of one to four-bedders ranging from 500 to 1,450 sq ft.

GladesThe Skywoods at Dairy Farm were the most affordably priced of the lot, at $1, 250 psf. Will buyers head straight for this development since it is within a price range which most home loans can cover, just like what the experts predict? Or will location still take priority? Originally slated to sell at $1, 300 psf, The Skywoods is an example of recent private condominium launches where prices were dropped to help interested buyers qualify for a home loan. What does this ultimately mean for Singapore’s home prices and property market? Is it a cure or merely a stop-gap?

My HDB Story by Smith

[Blogger Special] Blogger Meryl Loh has been living in her cosy HDB flat for almost 17 years. She believes that even though Singaporeans are moving towards private housing, many others still choose to make a HDB flat their home. Read Meryl’s story on her blog.

Meryl Loh Blog1
For years, The HDB has been providing quality yet affordable homes for generations of Singaporeans! HDB (Housing Development Board), also known as public housing, is no stranger to us living in Singapore. Viewing down from a top level, block of flats can be spotted almost everywhere across the island, giving a unique landscape. Though having more Singaporean moving towards private housing, many of us (about 80%) still choose to stay in HDB and there’s definitely reason(s) why so..

I have been living in my current place (New Upper Changi Road) since Primary One, that’s like 17years already!

Previously was living in Khatib, which was quite a nice environment. One of the most memorable event back then was my six years old BIG birthday celebration! Why do i describe it as big? My mum actually arranged to help invite all my neighbors’ kids over to our place (some are my kindergarten classmates, and some are my mum’s housewives friends.) I remember how happy i was seeing how busy my granny, my mum and some of the kids mothers were cooking all our favourite dishes, seeing how playful yet helpful the kids were blowing party balloons and preparing the table. i felt like a little princess, all i did was getting myself changed and doll-up and snapping pictures with my presents! HAHA. This is one great things living in a HDB, we get to have a lot of neighbour friends, play with their kids, and they are usually very understanding and helpful when we need one another. Life is simple but happy like that.

My dad had a job offered at Singapore Changi Airport back then so my parents decided to move over to Bedok. Partly, also because for a much comfortable living space, from a 3-room flat to a current 4-room flat, with my bro having his own room and me sharing another with my sister.

My block can be found and seen on google map, wasn’t difficult to locate at all!

Meryl Loh Blog2Neighbourhood was much quieter here even though we live here for a much longer period, probably there are lesser kids here.. BUT we love this place because its super convenient and accessible to our needs. Dad has his direct bus to work, market was less than 5mins walk away, and our (siblings and i) primary and secondary schools were just next to our block!

Here’s the map of my neighbourhood, as you can see.. everything my family and i need  is within walking distance for us, sports complex, marketplace, schools and bus stops to both Bedok and Tanah Merah train stations (heading to town was 23mins away); It’s super convenient! This explain why we live here for so many years and won’t be moving house again unless exception..

Meryl Loh Blog3
Of course my house may not be the best spot and surrounding facilities might not suit your preference.. but fret not, there are so so many other locations out there, there have to that one particular place that you will like or suits your needs, that one area that you prefer most!

So, how and where to start your search? Look for iProperty.com of course! The one-stop service for everything we need to know and need to find! Me too, am looking at iProperty.com for some future planning as i  will be moving away from my family a few years later so as to build my own family. It’s better to plan ahead and set ourselves a direction, yea?

About iProperty.com.sg:
iProperty.com Singapore is the country’s leading property website. They have the largest database of listings that cover hdb flat, property for rent, private apartments, condos, landed property, commercial property, newly launched projects and even overseas property. Ultimately, known as a smart search engine for property. Whether we are looking to buy a home or property for sale, their network of real estate agents who are subscribed to their service will be on hand to help us navigate the property market. We can also search for specialist agents using their property agent directory or developers using their property agent directory.

For more information, check out their;
Website: http://www.iproperty.com.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ipropertysg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iProperty_SG

This post was originally published at Meryl Loh’s blog.

Soho – Home, office or both?

When you see a new property advertised as a Soho, what are you expecting to get? The term Soho is commonly used to refer to Small Office, Home Office. So are they residential or commercial property? Developers have been marketing both homes and commercial units under the label “Soho” and have drawn some flak as a tactic to boost sales.

The Siena at Pasir Panjang.

The Siena at Pasir Panjang.

However the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has responded to say that “Soho” is a marketing term and does not necessarily describe the type of property sold. Soho units have sold particularly well as buyers are drawn by the flexibility in the use of space in these premium properties. Far East Organization, for example, sells their Soho brand properties with a ceiling height of 3.35 to 4.8m and some can even choose to have their units come with a 5 sq m loft platform. Buyers have the option of using part of their home as an office but could also keep it entirely as a live-in area.

The upcoming The Siena in Pasir Panjang is one such Soho property. A 99-year leasehold project developed by Far East Organization under their specialized Far East Soho brand, units will range between 538 and 980 sq ft. Other Soho units available in the market include those at The Cape, 16 @ Amber and The Hillier, just to name a few. Some commercial developments also have Soho units for sale, including PS100 at Peck Seah Street in Tanjong Pagar and the new mixed-use development, Southbank at North Bridge Road, managed by the Hong Kong-listed property developer Xpress Group.

 

PS100 at Peck Seah Street in Tanjong Pagar.

PS100 at Peck Seah Street in Tanjong Pagar.

Soho buyers are often willing to pay for the luxurious space and design features which they come with. A 2- bedder Soho at The Cape costs around 1,900 psf, one at 16 @ Amber range from $1, 599 to $1, 687 psf. And at the 528-unit 99-year leasehold The Hillier, a Soho unit is priced at approximately $1, 400 psf. Commercial Soho units are much more expensive. At PS100, an office unit could cost you $3, 000 psf.

As new projects come up, more property types and options are made available (e.g Soho units, dual-key apartments). What would you consider paying for or sacrificing when you are property hunting and does it always boil down to price?