HDB Resale flats – More affordable now?

Have prices of resale HDB flats reached an acceptable level? Prices and sales volume have been falling, and with the time it has taken for the property cooling measures to sink in, are resale flats now more affordable?

As more executive condominiums (ECs) and Build-to-order (BTO) flats hit the market, owners of existing HDB flats who are upgrading or getting keys to their new flats, in particular second-timers, are pressured to sell their flats within a stipulated time period of 6 months. This, plus the fact that a substantial period of time of steady but gentle decline of resale flat prices may have instilled confidence in buyers who may either see the market as stabilising, with slight or no further chances of price drops.

Bellewaters ECHow much as price really dropped? In a year-on-year comparison, prices have dipped 6 per cent since April last year, and an 11 per cent drop when matched against the peak in 2013. Property analysts are expecting prices of resale flats in non-mature estates to fall a little further of 6 per cent whereas those in mature estates are expected to hold their own for the rest of the year. Three-room and four-room flats also saw a 0.3 per cent price rise while five-roomers and ECs fell 0.8 and 2 per cent respectively.

In the first quarter of the year, the rate of decline in HDB resale flat prices have been the lowest since the fall in 2013, at 1 per cent. This be a signifier of a stabilising market, though 2015 may be the year to watch in terms of future market trends. With the possible General Elections coming up next year, it could also be the calm just before the storm, whichever way the wind blows.

 

Slowing down of property market slowdown

The first quarter of 2015 has proved to be a slow one for the property industry. But the slowdown has lost some speed. Compared to the previous quarters, the decline for both private and public housing was at around 1 per cent for the past three months.

Property prices and sales have been slowing down since mid-2013. In the resale HDB flat market, prices have fallen for 7 consecutive quarters and private property prices have fallen 6 quarters in a row. What will the rest of the year hold for these market segments?

Northpark Residences1For the private property sector, property analysts are predicting:

  1.  A further dip in prices as the number of unsold units are on the rise.
  2. Continued fall in rental prices as more completed new homes enter the fold. The decline in the first quarter of the year was 1.7 per cent; rental prices fell 1 per cent in the last quarter of 2014.
  3. As interest rates rise, home owners and developers may be pushed to lower prices further to secure deals. The competition between resale and new properties may also heat up.
  4.  A 5 to 8 per cent fall in private home prices for the year as buyers delay their market entry, possibly waiting for prices to fall further before making a buy.

In the HDB resale flat market, the prospects seem slightly more positive:

  1. HDB resale prices are expected to fall at a slower pace of 4 to 7 per cent and perhaps even stabilise.
  2. But as more new BTO (build-to-order) flats and ECs (executive condominiums) are completed this year,  flat owners may feel the imminent pressure to sell their existing flats at lower prices in order to move into their new units.

A fall in home prices seem inevitable this year, but the good news may come in the form of increasing sales and reaching a balance between sellers and buyers in terms of home prices.

Offers galore in blossoming EC market

Executive condominium launches in the recent months haev proved attractive to the buying crowd, especially after years of quiet on the ground.

But with 7 more launches planned for the later part of the year, will the market be poised for a saturation point? Or will buyers welcome the competition and options? Most of the new launches will be near existing EC sites in the North and North-east regions, which could mean stiffer competition for the developers.

Westwood ResidencesOne project which may however prove promising is the Westwood Residences in Boon Lay. Together with Lake Life EC, they could the only 2 executive condominiums in Jurong since 2010. The rarity, coupled with the pent-up demand could means buyers may be willing to pay slightly higher than average prices for units here as compared to ECs elsewhere. Property experts are expecting the median prices for ECs launched later this year to hover between $750 to $770 psf.

Currently, the average selling prices for ECs are at around $800 psf. But buyers have not been particularly responsive to this pricing level and with the introduction of thousands of new units over this and next year could bring the competition higher and prices lower. The dip in resale HDB and private condominium prices since the high in 2013, would also mean that ECs have to priced realistically in order to entice HDB upgraders and buyers.

As the market segments react to one another, the EC being hybrid between private and public properties, may also find themselves having to price themselves appropriately between these two market segments.

 

Resale HDB flats – Sales go up as prices do down?

2014 saw a record low number of HDB resale flats exchanging hands. It could be due to the effects of the property cooling measures, in particular the TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio) framework set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore,  just starting to kick in. Buyers were more wary and more careful in weighing their options while sellers were still unwilling to lower prices. The tussle was just beginning.

SeaHorizonECBut this year, it seems one side is starting to give, slightly; especially for those who need to sell their current flat within the stipulated time of collecting the keys to their new flat, or face forfeiting their deposit. Prices of resale HDB flats have dropped 0.8 per cent in March this year, and the number of transactions increase from 1,148 to 1,349., As the number of new BTO (Build-to-order) HDB flats which will be launched this year decrease, buyers may also begin turning to resale flats to fulfil their needs. Prices of four- and five-room flats fell the most at 1.1 per cent and prices have been dropping since a year ago.

Property experts continued to stick to their forecast of a 5 to 6 per cent drop in resale flat prices this year, and hope for a higher sales volume than last year. It all depends on how the market fares from now till June, just before the traditional lull period of the Hungry Ghost Month.

Prices of rare HDB flats such as ECs (executive condominiums) remained high however, in fact showing a rise of 1 per cent last month.

Will adjusting HDB income ceiling help “Sandwich class” own a home?

As earning power climbs, the combined household income for an increasing number of families now fall just above the income ceiling for public housing. This puts them just out of reach of a new HDB flat yet still quite a distance away from being able to afford a private property, especially as inflation and the financial stress of providing for a family kick in.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

The combined household income ceiling for a new HDB flat currently stands at $10,000 while the same for an executive condominium (EC) is $12,000. The income ceiling was last raised in 2011, from $8,000 to $10,000 for HDB flats and $10,000 to $12,000 for ECs. Over the last five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of couples and families falling into the “sandwiched class” of middle-income households in Singapore. Especially as Singaporeans now tend to marry late in life, when the husband and wife’s earning capabilities are at a certain level which puts them just beyond qualifying for a new HDB flat might be facing the most headaches.

Is there a way around it as public housing was originally aimed at helping those in need. But since there might always be a section of the population who will find public housing out of reach and private housing too much of a financial burden or risk, will raising the income ceiling really help elevate their circumstances only to be a burden to yet another group of citizens? What other options are available for these middle class families? Will they be looking at resale HDB flats as the only viable and affordable option?

Lowered condominium prices scores sales

Two property launches over the weekend signaled a drop in new developer-launched private non-landed property prices. Kingsford Development’s 1,165-unit Kingsford Waterbay at Upper Serangoon launched at median prices of $1,050 to $1,180 psf. With those prices in mind, buyers snapped up 140 units over 2 days, a considerable success.

Over at GuocoLand’s 1,024-unit Sims Urban Oasis, prices ranged from $1,295 to $1, 595 psf. 29 sales were secured over the weekend, bringing the total to 170 units sold since 14 February. Developers’ spirits are buoyed by consistent daily sales. Most of the buyers were young Singaporean couples and upgrades.

KingsfordWaterbayProperty launches coming up in the next few months include Northpark Residences in Yishun and Botanique at Bartley. The former has its proximity to the Yishun MRT station and the attached shopping malls as a unique selling point; the latter might be a little tougher to market as the area is already saturated with a number of newer and resale apartment developments. But property experts still expect demand to be present, though perhaps it will be strongly dependent on pricing.

The next quarter might be the right time to gauge the markets’ response to changing market trends and it might be a close competition between new properties, resale non-landed properties and executive condominiums.

Resale DBSS flats in demand

With four-room resale DBSS HDB flats at The Premiere @ Tampines going for $570,000 to $590,000, a marked rise from its original $278,000 to $410,000 price tags, interest in newer DBSS launches may continue as resale units just became available last year. Units at The Premiere were the first to come on the market.

The Premiere at Tampines

The Premiere at Tampines

The Design Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) was suspended in 2011 due to the high prices of flats at The Centrale 8 in Tampines. But since its suspension, majority of units at the existing DBSS projects have been successfully sold. At Pasir Ris One, only 53 units are left, with 88 per cent sold, and owners will be receiving their keys in about a months’ time. Trivelis in Clementi only has 28 units left and is ready for occupation. Lake Vista in Jurong West and Parkland Residences in Upper Serangoon have been fully sold.

Property experts are however aware that the earlier of these DBSS developments were launched when property prices were considerably lower, thus allowing for a higher profit margin. Newer projects may have been launched at higher prices. Coupled with the MSR (Mortgage servicing ratio) cap, this may mean a lower yield for future DBSS resale unit sales. With executive condominiums (ECs) and BTO flats covering the needs of most families, the role of the DBSS may not be as relevant today as before.

But demand seems to be quite positive as there will still be buyers who do not mind paying a bit more for units at a good location and with all the interior fittings and finishings done at no extra costs.

Resale HDB flats – The 2015 outlook

Across the board, property prices dipped slightly last year, and it was the same in the resale HDB flat market. The last month of 2014 showed a 10 per cent fall in prices, and the Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, has mentioned an estimated single-digit drop in prices this year.

SeaHorizonECResale flats in mature estates are however holding their own. Prices remained resilient mainly due to the rarity of units in these saturated estates and good locations. In non-mature estates such as Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong East, Jurong West, Punggol, Sembawang, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun; resale flat prices fell 0.9 per cent in December, while a rise of 0.2 per cent was reflected in the mature estates sales figures.

The price decline was mainly attributed to stricter mortgage servicing ratio limits and a tightening of immigration  policies. Singapore permanent residents are now required to wait 3 years before being allowed to purchase resale flats.

But it were the larger four- and five-room flats which experienced the fall more than three-room resale flats whose prices remained level. And on the higher end of the public housing spectrum, executive flats prices rose 1.8 per cent. As a rare commodity, a hybrid which crosses smoothly from public to private housing, executive condominiums are much sought after. Though the recent close launches of a few EC projects are the same time may have reduced the percentage of uptake per development.

Industry experts are expecting sales to remain low in the first 2 months of 2015, and pick up after the Lunar New Year, perhaps even a slight rebound in the later half of the year.