Release of new land sites in H2 may not satisfy developer demand

After holding back for the past few quarters, 16 new land sites will be released under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in the second half of this year. That is in addition to other private land sites which might go on sale as well during the same period.

CUscadenResidencesDespite this ramped up supply of land plots, property analysts expect continued aggressive bidding from developers as they seem to be on the hunt for resources to replenish their land banks and especially as the demand for new homes has grown steadily in the last few months. As the nation’s population continues to grow, the authorities also recognise the need to keep up with the demand for new private housing in the years ahead.

The 16 sites from the GLS programme can potentially yield up to 8,125 private homes. And yet, analysts still consider this allocation inadequate in meeting developer demand. The sites most likely to draw the most number of bids are those in Jiak Kim StreetFourth Avenue and Cuscaden Road due to their locations. New record high bids are expected for these sites.

With  the possibilities of more joint ventures between developers and funds, the potential for higher bids for limited land plots may very well drive land prices up. Could that mean eventual increases in property prices, even if not now then sometime in the future? How would that then affect the market then?

En bloc sales take centre stage this year

Yet another former HUDC estate has been put up for collective sale. Serangoon Ville situated in Serangoon Ave 1 has been made available for en bloc sale and the selling price is expected to be between $400 million and $430 million. The costs will be high for this land site as an additional $200 million to $220 million is required to intensify the land and to refresh the land lease by 99 years. The estate was privatised only in 2014 and has 69 years of lease left.

SerangoonVillePhoto credit: Google Maps Singapore

Property players and watchers are expecting developers to bid efficiently for this land site that averages out to be $720 psf per plot ratio, particularly since recent sales of ex-HUDCs such as Eunosville and Rio Casa were closed successfully and above asking prices. Currently, Serangoon Ville houses 7 blocks of 244 apartment units, including some maisonettes, with sizes ranging between 1,625 sq ft and 1, 733 sq ft. One redeveloped, the 296,913 sq ft plot could potentially yield 750 to 900 units.

2 other former HUDCs – Tampines Court and Florence Regency – are already in the process of putting their estates up for sale. The latter is planning to commence signing of their collective sale agreement in July this year. This year’s healthy new home sales has possibly boosted developers’ confidence in the market’s stabilisation and future recovery.

But with the number of private land sites being sold and private estates sold en bloc, one cannot but help to wonder how Singapore’s real estate sector will look like in 3 to 4 years’ time. Add the Bidadari township into the mix, the market might be seeing a huge entry of public and private housing within the next 5 years. Rents have been sliding due to the increased number of completed and available properties in the recent couple of years, how will the market react then?

Meyer road freehold condo up for en bloc sale

Abracadabra The Albracca? This 11-unit Meyer road private residential development could very well disappear soon should their collective sale asking price of $62 million to 65 million be met.

TheAlbraccaWorking out to be between $1,262 to $1,323 psf, the freehold site near Tanjong Rhu is currently home to the 10-storey The Albracca whose units range from 1,658 to 3,972 sq ft. Should the sale be successful, each owner will stand to receive between $3 million to $7 million.

The collective sales market has been red hot this first half of the year. 4 en bloc transactions have been successful thus far, and their combined value come up to $1.5 million which already surpasses the $1 billion combined total of the 3 deals from 2016. The successful deals in H1 of this year include One Tree Hill Gardens in district 9, former HUDC estates Rio Casa and Eunosville and the mixed-use development in Bukit Timah, Goh & Goh Building.

THeLineTanjongRhuZoned for residential use, the 23,400 sq ft site could potentially yield 65 new apartment units averaging 750 sq ft each. The location of the site could be the selling point of the property as it is situated near Katong Park MRT station which will be ready by 2023. Property analysts are expecting developers to actively go for this site as the asking price of $62 million to $65 million is rather affordable considering recent prices land plots have been going for.

2 more HUDCs try their hand at en bloc sales

On the back of successful collective sales this year, 2 more private residential developments are trying their hand at the process. Tampines Court and Florence Regency are both previous HUDCs, similar to the 2 other properties which sold recently – Rio Casa and Eunosville.

TampinesCourtThe lack of land sites made available under the government land sales (GLS) programme may be the reason behind the success of these recent en bloc sales. Developers’ hunger for land has been reflected in the the high prices paid for recent en bloc deals, and the latter could also be precisely what is bolstering the courage of residents of Tampines Court and Florence Regency.

There are a total 18 HUDC projects built since the 1970s and all have been privatised, with 9 sold thus far, including Shunfu Ville and Raintree Gardens last year. Shunfu Ville could essentially be what got the en bloc ball rolling and more successes were recorded this year. Rio Casa sold for $575 million and Eunosville for $765 million.

RioCasaHUDC HougangFlorence Regency is situated in H0ugang and has a land area of 389,000 sq ft. While it is still in the early stages of the en bloc process, Tampines Court on the other hand already has secured consent from 82 per cent of its residents. The asking price is currently set at $960 million for the 702,000 sq ft plot. At the moment, the property holds 432 maisonettes and 125 apartments. This is however not their first attempt at the collective sale process. The first attempt at $408 million was in 2008 and the second attempt in 2011. Property analysts expect home owners to seek higher prices following recent successes, but also warn against pricing too high as it may discourage developers from bidding.

Success of collective sales continues

2017 continues to be a good year for the collective sales market with Shunfu Ville given the go-ahead from the Court of Appeal last week and the sale of One Tree Hill Gardens site for $65 million this year.

OneTreeHillGardensThe Lum Chang Group has purchased the latter freehold landed residential development site near Orchard Road at $1,644 psf. Its proximity to Orchard Road makes it a prime site that is rare also because of its freehold status. It is of sizeable land ratio and developers have expressed considerable interest. The site was initially put up for sale at $72.8 million. Despite the $7.2 million shortfall, individual owners of the 6 maisonettes and 7 apartments will still receive $4.3 to $9.1 million depending on the size of their units.

Under a 2014 masterplan, the freehold site is zoned for 2-storey semi-detached residential use within a 39,063 sq ft land area. What it could potentially yield are 8 semi-detached houses, 5 bungalows or 10 semi-detached homes and 3 bungalows. With such landed properties near Orchard Road a scarcity, the freehold homes will no doubt receive much interest from investors and high net-worth buyers.

venturaheightsWhile the market is still tender from the previous years of slow growth, developers are beginning to replenish land stock and collective sales may be their means to the ends as the government has recently cut back on the release of land plots. Though price-sensitivity continues to rule developers’ bids, the collective sale market will be active this year especially with more home owners enquiring about en bloc sales and the sale of Eunosville and Rio Casa last month.

Another HUDC estate tries for collective sale – Rio Casa

HUDCs certainly seem to making the news this year as yet another HUDC estate tries for an en bloc sale. Earlier last month, Braddell View became the last HUDC to be privatised and Shunfuville successfully completed their en bloc journey in May last year.

RioCasaHUDC HougangThis time, Rio Casa, formerly called Hougang N3 is trying their hand at the collective sale game. The process was surprisingly easy as 80 per cent approval was achieved within 3 weeks. Bidding is expected to hover around $450.3 million for the 286-unit site. If successful, each unit owner will receive $1.5 million which is approximately $586 psf. The property has about 73-years left to its lease and the new owner will have to fork out $57.5 million for a new 99-year lease. In addition, $141.5 million will be required for site-intensification.

Kingsford WaterbayThe site should be quite desirable as it features 200m of riverfront and greenery views with schools such as Holy Innocents’ Primary and High Schools and CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity nearby. With the recent uptick in buying sentiments and the competitiveness in the Government Land Sales segment, developers may pay for the site despite its slightly pricier tag. There are considerations however, as the site is not near any MRT station and the nearby Kingsford WaterBay has unsold units remaining. It is still however early days and the Hougang area has a deep potential for redevelopment which may very well happen in the decade ahead. The tender for the site closes on May 23.

Sparks of hope in property market

Despite the prolonged property lull, analysts are hopeful that a few sparks of recovery will begin to rejuvenate the market this year. The office sector may boost the commercial market while high-end luxury homes will hold up the residential property segment.

dleedonAs far as regions go, the core central region is heating up in terms of foreign interest in both residential and commercial properties. The sliding private home prices, by 11 per cent since 2013, have brought investors back into the luxury homes market. Currency valuation will however continue to play a part in the movement of investment money, and Singapore will still have to compete with other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai for investors’ attention.

Compared to other major cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London however, apartment prices here have fallen and will become more appealing to foreign buyers as the potential for yields in the medium term is considerable, especially as these specific market segment is expected to perform well this year.

skylineorchardboulevardThe collective sales market is another to watch in 2017, as developers are expected to collaborate to build up their store of land sites for long term yields. There might also be acquisitions of smaller developers by larger ones in order to participate in the government land sales programme. Property prices are expected to remain stable but depending on a property’s rental yields as a means of investment or profit could become less attractive as investors find it more difficult to find tenants in an increasingly competitive market.

Will current property bright spots continue to shine in 2017?

Private home prices have continued to fall in 2016, and while that may have coloured the market atmosphere somewhat grey, bright spots are beginning to shine through the gloom, with 3 sectors performing particularly well this year.

Miro condo on Lincoln Road, just off Novena at the City Fringe districts.

Miro condo on Lincoln Road, just off Novena in the city fringe.

The luxury residential property, commercial office and collective sales segments have all shone this year. And industry players are no doubt hoping that the positive streak will continue in 2017. In this year alone, 3 en bloc sales were closed. Only 1 such transaction was recorded for 2015 and none in 2014. Even for the private home market, sales volume has risen 9.8 per cent this year despite 10.8 and 10.7 per cent fall respectively in sale prices and rents in 12 consecutive quarters.

Some property analysts however consider the fall in property prices a good thing, as this has enticed more buyers back into the market. Buyers who may have previously stayed away from the market due to the increased stamp duties and fees implemented by the authorities in the past few years to attempt to cool the market, have now returned and are now swiftly closing transactions.

2 RVG condo apartment in River Valley

2 RVG condo apartment in River Valley

In the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, private home transactions were already 42.6 per cent higher than the total in 2015. 2,601 deals were sealed in the Orchard, River Valley, Bukit Timah and Novena areas as of mid-December. With more land allocated under the Government Land Sales (GLS) scheme and developers on the lookout for smaller prime location sites, the market may see a lot more activity quite soon.