Higher future demand for ECs?

Recent news of the income ceiling for new HDB and ECs (executive condominiums) flats possibly being raised have brought about a wave of questions from the market. Will this increase competition for new BTO flats? How will the resale HDB flat market be affected? Will the private property sector see lower or higher demand?

Since ECs and mass market private homes often go after the same pool of buyers, raising the income ceiling for ECs may mean increasing competition for the latter. With the higher income ceiling of $14,000, buyers who were previously ineligible for executive condominiums may now find themselves able to purchase these unique public-private hybrid properties, drawing them away from the private property market.

Sol AcresECs are considered public housing and buyers are able to take advantage of available housing grants for this property type. After 10 years, they become private property, which considerably ramps up their sale value. Buyers who have previously had to turn to private properties at much higher prices, and who are now eligible to apply for ECs will no doubt be in glee. The difference between an EC and a private property is about $300 psf and buyers comparing private homes and ECs in the same vicinity may come up with savings of up to $250,000. Not an amount to be scoffed at.

One recent EC offering, Sol Acres, have since sold 294 units. Upcoming EC launches are expected to give pricier private mass market homes without the calling cards of a good location, a run for their money. Prices of ECs usually stand at around $800 psf whereas private homes go from $1,000 psf and up.

 

Raised Income ceilings for HDB and EC flats

In the months ahead, the HDB market may see some significant changes.

In his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a raise in income ceilings for new HDB flats as well as ECs (executive condominiums). The income ceiling for HDB flats could be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 and for executive condominiums, from $12,000 to $14,000. Just four years a, the income ceiling for ECs was raised to $12,000 but apparently income levels have risen since then. The government are also making it easier for lower-income households to purchase 2-room flats. The Special Housing Grant (SHG) will be raised from $20,000 to $40,000, giving them the financial support they truly need.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

And to promote stronger familial ties plus cater to the growing group of young families who prefer to live near their parents, a new Proximity Housing Grant will help buyers who wish to live near their parents or married children secure their new flat.

This could be good news for buyers and home-seekers, as more applicants may then find themselves eligible for a new BTO flat or EC. But will there be more applicants now vying for available units. And how will this move  possibly affect the resale HDB flat market?

 

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.