Private property market – The road ahead

The outlook for private properties seems a little vague for the moment. Though the market seems to be enjoying a respite, with prices maintaining its current level, and prices have risen slightly over the past two months, property experts are expecting an overall fall of 3 to 4 per cent in the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) this year.

Buyers looking out for good deals are picking up units across both the central and non-central regions. Recent increases in the SRPI could be due to the rise in number of transactions especially in the central regions with 0.6 and 0.2 per cent increases in June and July respectively.

WoodhavenThe rental market, however, has remained weak, especially in the suburbs. And as rents begin to fall in the central regions, many tenants are making quick comparisons and opting to move into more centrally-located properties instead. For example, a private 2-bedroom condominium unit in Woodlands is being rented out for $2,000 a month, which is comparative to leasing a 3-room HDB flat.

But for buyers and investors who are considering purchasing private properties, investing in bigger resale or new properties may be preferable as smaller units will be facing fiercer rental competition once many of these units reach completion next year.

Property – To buy or not to buy now?

Since the implementation of property cooling measures by the government agencies, property prices have fallen at a gradual pace and seem to have currently reached a plateau. Some may have been waiting for an opportunity to hop into the property buy-sell train, but others may be concerned about whether they should sell now or later.

How do you decide if the time is now or later?

The WaterlineThere are a few fundamental questions to ask yourself:

  • Need or want?

Of course, owning a home of your dreams is the ultimate desire for most. And so it is a want. But you will need to evaluate your situation very honestly – do you absolutely need a new place? Or could it wait? Are you hoping to merely flip a property for profit, or have the ability to hold out for the best deal? If you answer is “Need”, then you have to a few other considerations to take care of.

  • What’s in the piggy bank?

Do you have enough left in your savings and monthly earnings, after setting aside sufficient funds for your monthly bills, every day expenses and insurance to manage the risk of buying a home? Besides having enough to make your monthly mortgage, most people may not realise the need to have an amount within your savings for very real and unforeseen situations such as periods of unemployment or health issues.

  • Are there advantages or pros? 

Is the price on the property you are hoping to buy right? If there is room for negotiation, which is why an experienced real estate agent is a boon, and the mortgage calculator helps you compare rates and tells you that the interest rates are prime, then perhaps the time truly is now.

Singapore – An Island city and her Sea view homes

With Singapore being a island city, it is no wonder properties with a sea view, or better still, just next to the sea, are a popular choice. Some of the more common spots for these seafront properties include Pasir Ris, East Coast, Keppel Bay, Sentosa and though not as common – Sembawang.

Bunglows By the Sea Wak HassanPhoto Credit: Fragrance Group

Not as well known as the other districts, Sembawang is a well-kept secret on the Northern end of the island. The Sembawang park area overlooks quiet stretches of the sea and the Johor Straits. Perhaps its distance from the city centre has deterred some buyers from calling this area home. But those who have since bought properties in district 27 have many good things to say about it.

It is quiet, hence provides a sense of exclusivity, where the view seems like it is almost all yours. Landed homes in the Bungalows By The Sea in Wak Hassan Drive have yet to be fully sold despite landed property prices having fallen in recent times. Prices of a bungalow here is at around $610 psf for the built-up area. But land sizes are big, thus the price of a bungalow here could come up to $6 million. The other landed properties in the vicinity include The Shoreline Residences which have been fully sold.

Next up - The Nautical in Sembawang.

The Nautical in Sembawang.

Nearby, there are private non-landed properties for sale, including The Nautical and Skypark Residences which is an EC (executive condominium). Will Sembawang become the next seaside town to watch? Perhaps so, though it will take some time to fill it with amenities and residents. But the wait might very well be worth it.

Resale property prices slide further

The private property market seems to be going the way property analysts have predicted in the beginning of the year. Over the last 6 months, prices of completed private property have fallen 1.9%. The steepest fall was in the beginning of 2014, at 3.7%. Though the decline has continued, the fall has been lighter in the quarters following.

Maysprings condoSince the implementation of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) in June of 2013, property prices have fallen at varying speeds over the past 2 years. A total of 42,606 new homes are expected to be ready for occupation within these couple of years and up to 96 per cent of the land sold this year are expected for future non-landed homes. It may become a tussle for prices and buyers, between new and resale properties.

As rental demand also continues to dip, prospects for the property market seems to have dimmed slightly, though select properties will still hold potential. Property experts have explained that the dip in prices in the resale market may have been due to the ability of individual to be flexible with prices. New properties which are being sold by developers have the means to stick to their guns in terms of pricing. The scale for rental supply and demand is likely to continue leaning towards the former.

Move further away for better property deals

No longer are buyers limiting their sights to properties in familiar districts or estates. They are now willing to move from one end of the island to another if the draw of a property and its potential value in appreciation is strong enough.

This could be certainly be seen from the weekend turnout at the High Park Residences launch. Situated in Sengkang, a district only a few were willing to move to a decade ago, the Fernvale Road show suite of this latest mixed-use development in Sengkang was swarmed with interested buyers from all over Singapore; a sign that buyers are now more savvy about property investment and keen on purchasing properties with long-term goals in mind.

High Park 2Previously monopolised by public housing, Sengkang is slowly rising up as a popular new town with young couples and families. Private condominiums have also entered the district with gusto and buyers are snapping up units at resale and new private apartments in the area. Some of the properties in the area include Riverbank, La Fiesta and Rivertrees Residences.

High Park Residences will boast a mix of commercial, recreational and residential units. Out of their 1,390 units, 1,100 have been sold, with all the one-plus-study, bungalow and commercial units snapped up. With the Thanggam LRT station and Seletar Mall nearby, it’s no wonder this new kid on the block was popular with buyers.

The many pluses of a Brownstone

Say Brownstone and most would think of the infamous (and also notoriously expensive) townhouses in America built in the 1800s.

But here in Singapore, a similarly named The Brownstone is a executive condominium (EC) in Canberra Drive. Response however was just as keen as it would have been if it were a brownstone townhouse in New York. Part of the attraction came from its proximity to the upcoming Canberra MRT station. Both the EC and the MRT station are planned for a 2019 completion date. The Brownstone will also feature a unique brown, sandstone-textured facade and jetty-like balconies.

The Brownstone ECThe 638-unit EC received 300 applications over the weekend of its launch and considering how the competition in the EC market has heated up since there are quite a few currently available for application in the market. Prices are expected to start at $599,000 for a 732 sq ft two-bedder to $1.3 million for a 1,711 sq ft penthouse. Other ECs launched recently include Westwood Residences on Westwood Avenue and The Vales at Anchorvale Crescent.

Buyers are often partial to executive condominiums as they are a hybrid between public and private housing, which means government grants can be applied to the initial purchases of these units, and after 10 years, they will become private properties. More often than not, their values would have appreciated by a considerable amount by then.

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.

Singapore home prices down last quarter

Across the board, property prices have dipped again last quarter, but resale HDB flat prices may be stabilising. Following the first quarter decline of 1 per cent, resale HDB flat prices dipped only 0.4 per cent last quarter, possibly signifying a bottoming out of this market.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Nudged by the lowered mortgage servicing ratio cap from 35 to 30 per cent and reduction in the number of new BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance flats) units, HDB resale flat prices have fallen for a few quarters now. Property analysts are expecting a stabilising of the market, or at least a rise in demand for resale units as HDB plans to increase the income ceiling for BTO flats, which may replenish the pool of potential resale HDB flat buyers.

Private home prices are however expected to fall further this year, especially as resale HDB flat prices have fallen so quickly the gap between private suburban homes and the former have widened. Some HDB upgraders may think twice about selling their HDB flat to purchase a private condominium unit and others may turn to resale flats instead of private homes. The expectation of a rush of new private apartment units to hit the market in the later half of this year may have also put a damper on market prices.

In the first quarter, private home prices fell 1 per cent, and the fall remained steady in the second quarter at 0.9 per cent. Moving ahead, prices of private non-landed homes are expected to fall 4 to 6 per cent by the end of the year.