Why property cooling measures are here to stay

ABSD, SSD, TDSR, QC – These abbreviations related to property cooling measures implemented over the course of 5 years have taken root in the local real estate and construction industry and despite a much quieter market, may not go away anytime soon. And with good reason.

Aeon MelbourneThe demand for properties in other major Asia-pacific countries and cities such as Hong Kong, China, Australia and Japan have not seem to wane, reflected by soaring home prices in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and various top-tier cities in China. And this is despite their governments placing more restrictive regulations in place in efforts to curb investment outflow and property speculation. But perhaps it could be the case of too-little-too-late. And it also goes to show that investors are still looking for markets to hedge their funds and the pool of willing China investors looking to take capital out of their country agains a depreciating yuan.

CasaAerataIn Singapore, despite a gradually decline in home prices, the market has remained resilient and a untimely lifting of property curbs may result in a quick and unrecoverable increase in property speculation. In fact, despite the series of property curbs instrumented since 2013, the property cycle seems to already be reaching the bottom, which could only mean a turnaround possibly within the year. Last year, resale volume rose 28 per cent and total sales increased by 16 per cent from 2015, indicative of a recovering, or at least stabilising, market.

Re-zoning Geylang – Fewer residential properties

At first instance, this proposal may not sound promising, but it may actually bring good news for owners of existing condominiums in Geylang. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has recently announced a re-zoning of residential areas in Geylang for commercial use.

Rezi3TwoWhile this means that there may not be as many private residential properties in the area, the value of those which have already been built may appreciate as offices and businesses eventually move into the area. This proposal by the URA could be seen as mainly to facilitate the balancing of residential and commercial activities in the district. The over-building of residential properties in the red-light district could have a reverse effect and introducing more commercial properties and maintaining a suitable amount of residential properties in the area may in turn increase the rental yields and value of properties in its proximity.

With Geylang’s prime location putting it close to the city centre, Aljunied MRT station and the Singapore Sports Hub, rental yields here are already 1.5 per cent higher than those in other districts. With the area mostly made up of smaller land parcels, the likely tenants would be boutique developers and small businesses, with the possibilities of niche eateries and shops.

Some residents have however raised concerns over this re-zoning move as more commercial spaces here may mean an increase in the illegal and disruptive activities normally associated with this infamous district. What are the pros and cons of purchasing property in Geylang and does one outweigh the other?

Glimmer of hope for Private resale homes?

Although the total number of private resale homes sold were lower in October than September, prices have begun to rise slightly. According to latest data, non-landed private home prices rose 0.4 per cent in last month. In suburban districts often popular with buyers such as Bishan, Toa Payoh, Little India, Geylang and Queenstown, prices rose 0.6 per cent. Transactions and prices of prime district properties however remained quiet, falling in fact by 0.3 per cent.

Okio Residences in Balestier.

Okio Residences in Balestier.

Have overall property prices fallen sufficiently? And have they reached the lowest point of the property cycle? If so, how long will this low point last? Private property prices have been low for quite some time now, maintaining a steady level in terms of pricing and transaction volume for almost half a year. The government has said that they will not relax the cooling measures anytime soon, perhaps in fear of a huge and quick rebound which may bring prices up even higher than before the curbs were put in place. They could also be giving the measures a bit more time to sink in, to further bring down home prices and getting the industry and public used to these measures.

Property experts are expecting prices to decline even further in the short term. Would this be the best time to invest? And how would you go about investing? Is it best to move away from residential property into commercial property? Or are there certain property types with hidden long term value?

More looking to rent private property

Immigration rules have shrunk the pool of foreign workers here in Singapore, and that also meant a lower demand for home rentals. Closely linked to this are the prices and sales of private homes,  which have been on the decline for sometime now.

But the market is starting to look up as the previous quarter saw a increase in demand for private rental homes. The growth is expected to continue into the second half of the year. Though figures are somewhat positive, the number of vacant rental units available in the market also means tenants will have more to choose from and competition will be fierce.

Shore-Residences-Amber-Road.jpgTenants seemed to favour the city fringe areas, as rental budgets have been largely reduced, and price-conscious expatriates are now more stringent with their spending. The Rest of Central Region districts received the most loving from rental home seekers, including areas such as Bishan, Toa Payoh, Little India, Queenstown and Geylang. New private condominium developments in these areas have accounted for renewed interest. Slightly further west, Ascentia Sky, Waterbank at Dakota and The Interlace all in the Alexandra, Depot road region meant up to 2,500 new units, some of which no doubt will join the rental pool. In the East, Waterview in Tampines, Vacanza@East and The Shore Residences will be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

The Loft at Nathan, situated in River Valley on the city fringe.

The Loft at Nathan, situated in River Valley on the city fringe.

Landlords of high-end apartments may continue to see a lack of movement in the rental front. And units are already expected to add to the mix, with the completion of Suites @ Orchard and Loft@Nathan next year.