Waterfront living in Iskandar – UMCity Medini Lakeside

Aptly named UMCity Medini Lakeside, the new development in Nusajaya, part of the Iskandar project in Malaysia, is developed by United Malayan Land (UM Land). Despite recent news about a possible supply glut in the Iskandar regions, in particular Southern Johor, the Malaysian developer is upbeat about the response to this new project as most of the existing developments are high-rise residential areas. One of the most recent launches in the same area was the RM2.5 billion River City @ Danga Bay.

UMCityMediniLakesidePhoto credit: UM Land

UMCity Medini Lakeside is situated next to a lake in Medini, and will feature 3 serviced apartment blocks, an office tower and a retail mall. Unlike residential units, serviced apartments may have an upper hand in terms of the extra values in service and maintenance. The units sold are “guaranteed” a 6 per cent annual return rate and investors will receive free stays at these apartments and similar brand apartments outside Malaysia. The 3 apartment blocks will be managed under the Shama Medini, Ozo Medini and CItadine Medini names. Nearby, there is another serviced apartment block, the 310-room Somerset Medini Nusajaya.

With all that building and construction activity going on in the Iskandar region, the next question might be how the government plans to bring businesses and internally or externally import a suitable population into the area. In the U.S and China, there have already been examples of ghost towns which are built up with hardly anyone living in them. How then would the authorities be able to combat this possibility and what have they already done to ensure a smooth passage to their desired goal or a bustling hub?

Small private condominium units popular again

 

NeemTreeIt seems the 2 most recent new condominium launches got buyers all hot and happy, snapping up 526 units at the 920-unit Northpark Residences and 254 in Botanique at Bartley. Most of the buyers were HDB upgraders, with private buyers and foreigners making up one third.

Contrary to previous figures which showed a dip in interest in smaller units, the studio, one- and two-bedders went the fastest at Northpark Residences. The average selling prices were between $1, 300 and $1,400 psf. Smaller units may be increasingly in demand, and perhaps upcoming launches may expect to see a similar trend.

Over at Botanique @ Bartley, the median selling price was at $1,290 psf. Close to 85 per cent of its units sold were below $1.2 million in total quantum price. Some of the other launches which continued to sell well were Sims Urban Oasis and City Gate.

Were these bigger developments more popular with buyers? A much smaller new property, the 84-unit Neem Tree in Balestier, seemed to have trailing in the wake of these 2 larger launches. They have yet to sell any of the 24 units they put out for sale. Property experts have read this recent leap in new property sales cautiously, as most of the sales were from only 2 launches which were priced to suit buyers’ current expectations of lowered prices.

Rise in private condominium rental

Could the market be turning on its heels, headed up the charts? Vacancy rates have been falling as the number of rental properties finding tenants have been on the rise.

Property analysts are however not positive about the numbers. They have attributed it to statistics more than the actual market sentiment. Rental rates have instead fallen 1.7 per cent in Q1, which could show that the number of new occupant-ready properties entering the market last and this year may have shaven a chunk off the property rental pie. From now to 2018, almost 67,300 new units will flood the market, giving a possible indication of how the market will react in the months or even years to come.

AstoriaParkCondoLocation nevertheless still has the ability to bring rental prices up a significant notch. At the Astoria Park condominium near Kembangan MRT station for example, rents have risen for the first 3 months of the year. Older condominiums may have a battle at hand as newer properties offer fresher facilities; though the proximity to amenities, transport nodes and schools may put the former right back on the tenants’ maps. Landlords of older developments may also have an upper hand in their option of coming down on prices since they may have purchased the units at a lower cost.

As more new residential properties come into the fold in the months ahead, the symbiotic relationship between rental and sale prices could become more obvious and things may seem a lot clearer then.

 

New properties on a fresh new ride

And hopefully it will be an upwards ride.

May 2014 was a good month for the new private home market. Mostly due to the large number of properties launched, 1,487 units were sold. But after that huge spike, sales have held steady at around 300 to 400 units sold per month, with December’s showing a little lower due to the festive season.

KingsfordWaterbayThe numbers have however increased significantly in March this year, from 390 units sold in February to 613 last month. The results are promising, but there has been a few recent launches of new units at previously launched developments and also a release of pent-up demand after the Chinese New Year festivities, which could account for some of the positive vibes.  Most of the sales came from Kingsford Waterbay with 155 units sold and Sims Urban Oasis with 107 units sold. New launches are pulling out all the stops to get buyers’ attention. Competition will be high as more launches are planned for the year, thus getting first dibs with the buyers’ pool is crucial for developers.

Suburban properties are often priced below city fringe and central district properties; at 22 per cent lower than city fringe and 43 per cent lower than central region homes. Lower quantum prices seems to be the factor helping to close deals, as the property cooling measures do not work in favour of most middle-income buyers. The Skywoods and Symphony Suites projects seemed to stacked up better, but sales at Northpark Residences and Botanique @ Bartley may very well give them a run for their money soon, looking at the response from the public.

The outlook for the market this year seems spotted, with possible glimmers of hope but also tough restrictions which may put a damper on sales volume and prices.

 

The private home gentle wave

It’s an up and down ride for the private non-landed property market for more than a year now. Across the board, non-landed resale home prices dropped 6.2 per cent last year. Prices of homes in the central districts dipped an average of 7 per cent last year, though there were good months when some segments managed to bounce back slightly before falling again. That could mean that things were mainly level though there are outliers.

Duchess ResidencesResale private apartment prices fell 0.2 per cent last month, with a 3.9 per cent fall compared to the same month last year. But some city fringe properties bounced back with an average price rise of 0.4 per cent. Part of the yoyo-ing in prices could be due to the Chinese New Year period in February and buyers were just coming back into the fray in March.

The second quarter of this year would be a crucial point in almost determining how the rest of the year will flow, at least up to just before the Hungry Ghost month. Though the ride has been more a gentle wave of price fluctuations rather than a roller coaster ride, property experts are however not expecting a drastic change in prices unless there are major policy changes or a major interest rates hike.

The year could be a relatively quiet one with bright sparks and dull moments along the way, but the basics of good location and lowered total quantum prices will still move units.

Penchant for Penthouses

Although the luxury property market seems to be falling behind as property cooling measures take bite, penthouses which are few and far in between are attracting the right customers.

At the exclusive Ardmore Park district, the one-and-only penthouse at Le Nouvel Ardmore recently sold at $51 million, apparently the highest recorded since the global financial crisis. Measuring at 13, 875 sq feet, that translated to about $5,000 psf. Considering news of a recent high-end property resale at a loss of $15.8 million just broke not too long ago, industry players are understandably happy about the recent progress.

Le Nouvel Ardmore in the exclusive Ardmore Park area. Image by Wing Tai Holdings Limited.

Le Nouvel Ardmore in the exclusive Ardmore Park area. Image by Wing Tai Holdings Limited.

Prime district condominiums are all in the millionaire range and penthouses are even higher on the price charts, mostly because of the floor area. One of the largest sale of penthouses in recent years was one at TwentyOne Angullia Park which sold for $42.9 million in 2013. Other high-end apartments include The Marq on Paterson Hill, The Orchard Residences and the Ardmore Park condominium. At The Marq, four-bedders start at $20.5 million ($6, 850 psf) which makes for a higher per square foot price than the $51 million penthouse at Le Nouvel Ardmore, but with a more palatable quantum price.

Are the buyers coming back into the market, slowly but surely? What will entice them back quicker and what are they looking for in a property? Property experts expect properties which are already completed will be a much higher draw for this high-end luxury property customer base as they often prefer to invest in the tangible.

More favour fixed home loan rates

With the property market still proving a little dicey this year, more buyers are opting for fixed home rates in the wake of possible higher interest rates this year.

Backed by the strengthening US Dollar, and the Sibor (Singapore Interbank Offered Rate) and Swap Offer Rate at their highest in five years; home buyers are understandably iffy about the financial difficulties they might eventually face. The three-month Sibor rate has reached 1 per cent last week, comparable to the boom in 2008.

Tropika East private property in district 14.

Tropika East private property in district 14.

Fixed home loan rates are locked in for a specific period of time (usually two to five years) and banks and brokers alike are reporting up to 80 per cent of their clientele showing interest and taking up fixed rates. Though the rates may be higher, the risk of fluctuating interest rates are reduced. It all takes detailed financial planning and a good understanding of one’s capabilities. How soon do you estimate being able to pay of bulk of your loan? How financially flexible do you need to be?

Location and rental potential seems to have trumped floor area and will properties with a lower total quantum continue to take the front of the race as the market leader?

Encouraging response from recent property launches

Over the weekend, show flats at two new condominium launches were packed to the rafters with eager buyers and those shopping for a good deal. Affordability and proximity to transport seemed to be the biggest crowd pleasers at these two developments.

Northpark Residences saw more than 70% of their 430 units sold with most of their buyers being Singapore citizens. Prices averaged at $1,300 psf. A 431 sq ft studio apartment for example, went for $612,000 while five-bedders with an average floor area of 1,432 sq ft sold at approximately $1.89 million.

Botanique @ Bartley2At the Botanique at Bartley, most of their units, about 70%, were all priced below $1 million. Definitely wallet-friendly for the middle-upper class household in Singapore and also more plausible for those who need a home loan. And they boasted the options of turning two- and three-bedders into dual-key apartments. Situated in the midst of quite a few schools such as the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (PLMGS), Maris Stella High School and the Australian International School, the property was quite the hot target for local and foreign buyers alike. Although only 300 units were put up for sale over the weekend, almost half have been sold. The most popular units were the one- and two-bedroom apartments starting at $598,000 for one-bedders and $798,000 for two-bedders.

If the weekend response and sales were anything to go by, the next few months may not be such dull ones. Is it time the property market picked itself off the floor, dust off and hit the road running? Will the positive effect rub off on older properties in close proximity to these new launches?