Last GLS site of the year drew 14 bids

Perhaps because it was the last land plot for sale under the Government Land Sales (GLS) scheme for 2016, or that the 22,195 square metre site is situated near both the Commonwealth and Queesntown MRT stations in an area which has not seen new private home launches for awhile, but the latest Margaret Drive site saw an active bidding war between 14 developers with MCL Land lodging $238.38 million as the highest bidder.

queenspeakcondoThe highest bid is almost 8 per cent higher than the second highest of $220.9 million that came from Allgreen properties, and 14.5 per cent higher than the price of the land site on which Queens Peak condominium will stand. The site was originally on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) reserve list but was triggered for sale when the minimum bidding price was met. A developer had originally committed to bid at least $184.758 million.

Commonwealth TowersCompared to the $483.2 million and $562.8 million previous wining bids on the neighbouring Commonwealth Towers and Queens Peak residential developments, the $238.39 million for this new site could yield 300 highly affordable units in the future. Property analysts deem the bullish bids as a sign that developers are keen to add new sites to their development lists, and truthfully, land is not easy to come by in this tiny island.

 

Chinese top buyers of Singaporean properties

Foreign interest in local properties have not waned despite rising prices and supply over the past half a decade. Their appetite have not diminished, if at all. Transactions may have shrunk slightly due to the additional costs involved in foreign-purchases of properties in Singapore, put in place by the series of property cooling curbs rolled out since 2011, but they buyers are back in the market in search of potential sites and units, in particular buyers from mainland China.

skyline-residencesIn a year-on-year comparison, foreign property transactions were up 11.8 per cent and this excludes purchases by permanent residents. Besides the Chinese, other major buyers hail from Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States. Each group have their preferences as the numbers show. Chinese buyers mostly favoured suburban properties while Malaysia and Indonesian buyers went for core central region units. 68 per cent of Indonesian buyers and 40 per cent to Malaysian buyers purchased homes in the prime districts while 58 per cent of transactions from the Chinese were for homes outside of the core central districts. Most Indonesia buyers are willing to pay $2,000 psf and above for prime properties while Chinese buyers usually went for properties priced between $750 to $1,700 psf.

Marina ONe iprop watermarkThe Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) may have been a deterrent at one point in time, but as the government made clear that the measures are here to stay, acceptance is beginning to truly sink in and buyers are willing to spend the additional amounts in exchange for long-term capital gains. Buyers from the United States are exempt from the ABSD due to a free-trade agreement and this has raised the number of buyers up from 1.1 to 7.3 per cent over the past 5 years.

 

3 City fringe properties exchange hands for $190 million

3 residential properties in the city fringes – owned by 1 group of 3 investment holding firms and sold to 3 different developers fetching $190.5 million in total. Quite the sale, it seems. These 3 sites, situated in Grange Road, Cuscaden Walk and Hullet Road, were launched for sale in October for $185 million and from the interest it drew before the sale closed on November 2, developers and investors seem upbeat about the future of high-end luxury residential projects and serviced apartments or hospitality-based properties in Singapore.

urban-suitesThe luxury property market may have shrunk slightly in the past 3 to 4 years, but buyers are coming back into the market, after letting the effects of the additional buyers’ stamp duty sink in. Despite the authorities being unlikely to budge on the property cooling measures for now, interest is once again growing, with central region properties sales on the rise this last quarter.

The site on Hullet Road with a total strata area of 18,428 sq ft was sold to Hullet Development for $38.2 million. The consortium led by Mr Patrick Kho of Lian Huat Group have plans to build a high-end development in the site, leveraging on its location right in the centre of town. The biggest of the 3 sites on Cuscaden Walk with a land area of 21,560 sq ft, was bought by a consortium led by Sustained Land for $103.8 million. The other plot on Grange Road was purchased by Roxy-Pacific Holdings for $48.5 million.

boulevard-vueThese new sales may ultimately see the introduction of some choice luxury apartment units in and about town, by the time they are launched or built, the market may or may not provide a suitably soft landing for these new properties.

Properties up north gaining popularity

Up north in what was once woodlands is the growing township of well, Woodlands. The estate is groomed to be to the next Regional commercial and business hub where HDB flats, private condominiums and industrial buildings and regional offices reside, all in this area so close to our neighbouring Johor Bahru and where this rural outpost used to be densely populated with only rubber trees.

BellewoodsECTogether with the Seletar Regional Centre and the Punggol Creative Cluster, the Woodlands Regional Centre will form the North Coast Innovation Centre. The region will be efficiently serviced not only with the Woodlands MRT station and bus interchange, but also the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line which is prepped for operation as early as 2019.

Some of the condominiums which have come up in Woodlands include Northoaks, The Woodsvale and the Bellewoods and Northwave executive condominiums (EC). The latter two being ECs, are rather prime properties as they hold the benefit of being both public and private housing,  Bellewoods EC, situated at the intersection of Woodlands Avenue 5 and 6, do not lack in the suite of amenities and facilities of any other private condominium. It has a clubhouse, indoor gym, tennis court, swimming pool, playground, jogging trail and waterside dining pavilion.

NorthwaveECAwarded the Highly Commended Best Executive Condo Development (Singapore) at the Southeast Asia Property Awards and with a TOP (temporary occupation permit) date of 2017, the 99-year leasehold EC consists of a mix of 2- to 5- bedders in all its 561 units. As it was launched prior to the resale levy rule implemented in December 2013, buyers who have previously purchased a subsidised HDB, DBSS or EC flat are also exempt from paying a resale levy which could be a huge plus as it could save them up to $55,000.

Property market slowdown reflected in stamp duty collected

In 2014, the property stamp duty assessed was at $4.11 billion. This year, the total amount for the period ending March 31 was 28 per cent lower at $2.96 billion. Property prices and transaction volume have also fallen since the peaks of 2009 and 2013.

TheOceanfrontThe real estate market here has hit a number of speed bumps over the past 3 to 4 years and with the various cooling measures in place, buyers and investors have shied away from this previously almost-surefire means of investment. Introduced almost 5 years in December 2011, the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) has gradually taken effect on the market, perhaps in particular the luxury property sector which used to attract mostly foreign investors. With the 15 per cent ABSD imposed on them, and 7 to 10 per cent on Singaporeans, many may have thought twice about buying a second or subsequent property as the additional monies to be paid are considerable.

Much of the ABSD assessed came from share transfer from bulk purchases by non-Singaporean entities or shareholders who may have to let go of unsold units before they are hit by the Qualifying Certificate (QC).

marinacollectionBut with the current financial and economic climate hazy at best, the future of other investment products fairly volatile, and local property prices having fallen to affordable quantum levels, could more buyers be picking off units to secure more stable future yields?

 

October’s new home sales up 128 per cent this year

With more that 1,252 new private homes sold in October, new home sales have risen 145 per cent from the 509 units sold in September and 128 per cent in a year-on-year comparison with 2015 when 549 units were sold.

thealpsresidences4The sudden spike may have been due to pent up demand after the slower months of the June school holidays and Hungry Ghost month in August, plus the launch of major projects in the later part of Q3. The 2 new property launches which garnered most of the sales were The Alps Residences in Tampines and Forest Woods in Serangoon Central. Each sold more than 300 units which made up 55.7 per cent of October’s sales. Other projects which consumers actively seemed out such as Stars of Kovan, The Trilinq and Kingsford Waterbay all sold only 30 units each, though understandably as these are much older launches.

Property analysts put the sudden rise in sales, a 15-month record high in fact, to the affordable prices put out by developers. Despite the slower economic outlook, consumers know a good deal when they see one and are willing to invest in what they consider to be long-term investment-worthy properties. Forest Woods is situated close to the Serangoon transport hub – the MRT station, bus interchange and NEX shopping mall – which could account for its popularity.

forestwoodsForest Woods was the top seller last month, with 364 units going at an average of $1,078 psf. Smaller units were purportedly gaining traction with buyers once more. Shoebox apartments, though aplenty in the market, remain affordable and property analysts report a direction change from investors who have turned their attention from riskier financial products back to the more stable property market.

 

China authorities set limit on property loans

As the property market in China continues to soar, the Chinese government has set about implementing rules in further attempts to slow the market. Though they have put some gateways in place, those with stronger spending power may easily overcome those hurdles. Perhaps to speed up the cooling process, the authorities have placed a limit on the number of new home loans issued by banks.

hongkongpropertyUp to 35 per cent of bank loans in the first half of 2016 were from home loans and by August, the numbers have jumped to almost 71 per cent. Even as home prices rose, and rapidly, more were jumping onto the bandwagon, perhaps in fear of prices rising even further.

With a national population of more than 1 billion and growing, the government has a huge task in managing housing and an ageing population. While the property industry has boosted China’s economy, helping it to grow by 6.7 per cent this year, should property prices continue to rise, the country may be facing a diminishing capital reserve while struggling to manage credit risks and a possible sudden collapse of the property market with sudden fall in home prices which may put many out of a home, in debt and the banks in big trouble.

Within the country, 21 cities have already set their own property cooling curbs such as limiting the number of multiple property purchases to clamp down on property speculation and increasing the down payment. As the regulations change, more mainland Chinese are looking for property investment opportunities outside of China and Hong Kong is one of the first places they focus on. As more countries savvy up to the purchasing practices of the Chinese, such as Australia and Singapore, their eye-line may shift to emerging South-east Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Rents down but sales of some projects up

Home rental prices have been slipping with a 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent fall in the private non-landed apartments and HDB flats markets respectively.

Cairnhill Nine CapitaLandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

But perhaps the decline in rent has increased rental volume. There was a 8.2 per cent increase across the board in rental volume with 3,686 units leased this October as compared to 3,408 from the same month last year. On the same year-on-year comparison, rental prices were however down by 4.5 per cent.

The increase in rental volume may also be reflected in the sales volume this quarter as stronger home sales may have lifted earnings for some developers. CapitaLand for example saw a 28.4 per cent rise in net profit in Q3. Locally, their private residential projects, The Nassim and Cairnhill Nine, have boosted sales, together with their new projects in China – namely Riverfront in Hangzhou, New Horizon in Shanghai and Vermont Hills in Beijing.

nassimhillcapitalandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

In Singapore, they have sold 206 units in the second quarter, and a total of $1.24 billion in total sales value in the first 3 quarters of the year. With the happy increase in number of launches within the last quarter, sales volume may hit a positive note and ring in the festive year-end cheer come end December.