Choa Chu Kang’s Executive Condominium Future

With 11 bids for an EC (Executive condominium) site in Choa Chu Kang, it looks like the estate may be looking at 490 new homes in the next 5 years. The avid response could be due to the huge decrease in land supply this year and the possibility of the government further reducing the supply of land in the next year. In 2012, 6 EC sites were released in the second half alone; whereas this is the only EC site release by the government in the first half of  this year.

The BrownstoneCompared to last year’s EC site sales in Choa Chu Kang, the current site went for lower bids, and selling prices are expected to hover around $800 psf. The previous sites which were sold last March and September last year are however, closer to the Choa Chu Kang MRT Station.

Though there are 7 EC properties waiting in the wings for their big debut, and despite news that the EC vacancy rate was at 14.1 pre cent in Q2, developers are positive about the potential earnings from these public-private hybrid properties and are confident about the uptake. In Q2 alone, there were 2, 232 unsold EC units.

But if sales at last weekend’s launch of The Brownstone EC were anything to go by, the developers have little to worry about. 185 units were sold in the weekend alone, making it one of the most-sold EC launches this year.

 

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.

HDB resale flats – Market recovery soon?

The number of HDB resale flats which exchanged hands in the last 2 months have increased by more than 8 per cent. A sign property analysts are taking as a positive.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

With a consecutive 2-month rise in prices, at 0.1 per cent in June and 0.2 per cent in May, the HDB resale market seems to be showing signs of bottoming out and a turn for the better may come quite soon. In the months prior, when the property cooling measures just began to take effect, it were the four- and five-room flats which suffered the biggest hit in price drops. But recent market figures seem to show that prices in these segments have risen by 0.3 and 0.5 per cent of late, followed by a 0.7 per cent in executive flats (EC) prices as well. The three-room HDB flats segment however have seen a 0.2 per cent fall in prices.

In the year ahead, as the government reduces the supply of new BTO flats, buyers may have to turn to the resale market instead, which may in turn positively affect the number of sales and prices. However, the rebound, though happening, may be slow as buyers may be more selective of their choice of units and there may be more put into the market as BTO flats reach completion and those who have secured a new flat may be pressured to sell within a stipulated 6-month period of getting the keys to their new units.

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.

 

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.