Weekend in the East – Pasir Ris

It’s almost the weekend. And when we think weekend, the mind often goes straight to the eastern districts with its breezy, relaxed atmosphere and sunny skies. Besides the popular East Coast and Marine Parade hot spots, there are also lots to see and do in the country’s edge of Pasir Ris.

The PaletteIn Malay, Pasir Ris translates to “White Sand” and this coastal town has long be lauded for its tranquility, almost like a secret tucked away in the quietest part of the island. But not to be mistaken for exclusion from the usual conveniences of city living, it is well-served by trains and buses and has a buzzing town centre and a few malls to boot. Add the revamped Lorong Halus Wetland, Sungei Tampines River and Sungei Api Api, Pasir Ris Park and it’s akin to having our own “The Hamptons” of our own. A countryside in an island city.

Private condominium apartments in this area include Seastrand, NV Residences, Coco Palms and The Palette. One of the latest executive condominium (EC) offerings, Sea Horizon, is also in its midst. With the infusion, of these private residential properties in the area, it is not surprising that HDB flats in the area and the surrounding district of Tampines are also gaining popularity with buyers.

 

EC’s potential attracts buyers

Most who qualify for an executive condominium (EC) are likely to apply for one when weighing the potential of an EC against a private condominium. And that perhaps fulfils the purpose of these public-private housing hybrids, which is to help citizens make a progressive step into the private property market. EC’s are public housing which become private housing after 10 years. This means buyers are able to enjoy the perks of a private residential apartment including the facilities and the eventual potential appreciation in value in the open market as a private property. There is an income cap however, at $12,000 in gross household income and the minimum occupation period (MOP) of 5 years still apply as they are essentially public housing provided by the Housing Board (HDB) on the onset.

The Vales

Their popularity has risen immensely, reflected in the often-sold-out launches. At the Forestville and Sea Horizon ECs by MCC Land and Hao Yuan Investments, up to 95 per cent of their units have been sold. Both properties are expected to receive their temporary occupation permits (TOP) by 2016.

The 653-unit Forestville executive condominium is situated in Woodlands, an upcoming regional business hub, and near the future Woodlands South MRT station. Schools in this area include the Singapore American School, Innova Junior College, Singapore Sports School and Republic Polytechnic. Across the island in Pasir Ris, just two bus stops away from Pasir Ris Central, the 495-unit Sea Horizon prides itself in being the only EC with a sea view.

It will be an exciting market to watch as there are quite a few new ECs being launched in this half of the year, including Westwood Residences, The Brownstone, Sol Acres and The Vales.

Lower sales in new private homes market

The lack of new private condominium launches last month could be the main reason for the fall in number of new private homes transactions. That and fresh mentions of the General Elections plus competition from the executive condominium (EC) sector could have siphoned some attention away from the new properties already out there. Sales numbers for new properties were down 42 per cent from May.

Sol AcresDevelopers and buyers may be holding out in wait of political and policy adjustments which may in turn drive prices up or pull them down. Announcements of a slower-than-expected economic growth in the last quarter may have also affected buying sentiments. There could also be a sense of the scale tilting towards supply over demand.

Recent private home launches include The Botanique at Bartley, Lakeville in Jurong. Suburban home sales dropped 48 per cent while city fringe sales numbers fell 23 per cent. July however may prove a happier month with the launch of a number of new properties including The Brownstone, The Vales in Sengkang and Sol Acres in Choa Chu Kang. This long weekend, High Park Residences in Fernvale is also expecting an extension of the 18,000 strong turnout at their show flats in the past two weeks.

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.

Jurong will have more ECs

When Westwood Residences in Jurong comes up, Lake Life will not be the only new executive condominium (EC) in the Jurong district. Applicants will have better news as prices are expected to hover around the lower end of their price expectation.

Westwood REsidencesWestwood REsidences

Photo credit: thewestwoodresidences.com

Developers are gradually becoming more attuned to buyers’ pricing sweet spot and are more likely to price new units within their affordability range. If response at Lake Life EC was anything to go by, this new executive condominium and its fresh new prices may well be hot property. However, second-timers with a subsidised flat or EC will need to take note that the latest regulatory change will mean they will be subjected to a resale levy of $40 to $50 psf. Upgraders and first-time applicants will however enjoy a discount or subsidy.

Developers, Koh Brothers and Heeton Holdings have indicated an estimated price of $800 psf. The original price range was $790 to $840 psf. Bookings for the new EC units at the 480-unit Westwood Residences will commence on May 30 but show flats will be open by this weekend. The property will lie in the exclusive area of Westwood and just a few bus stops away from the Boon Lay MRT station. It also lauds itself as the first bike-themed development, with a focus on sports and lifestyle related offerings such as an aqua gym, bicycle garage and outdoor mini velodrome.

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.

 

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.