Rental market bodes well for HDB flats

The rental market has been on the downhill slip as a fresh crop of completed new private homes hits the market this year. Competition for an increasing limiting tenant pool will prove to be tough for private property landlords, but HDB flat rental prices are holding out well despite the softening rental market.

Paterson SuitesCore central region private apartments seem to be suffering the most with the global finance, oil and gas sectors in turmoil. Expatriates working here and their families have been moving out of the country, scaling the tenant pool for luxury and high-end prime properties down even further. For example, a 3-bedder in a 1,600 sq ft unit in Paterson Suites which would have tenanted at $7,000 in January is now offering $5,800 in rent.

Serangoon HDB flatPrivate property rental prices fell 1 per cent in March, while HDB flat rents fell just 0.1 per cent. Changes in immigration policies have reduced the foreign workforce in Singapore and those remaining may have to work around a smaller housing allowance, hence many private properties may be out of their rental budget. HDB flats are a fair and affordable option. For locals or HDB upgraders who have to rent a home while waiting for their new BTO flat or condominium to be built, private units often prove to be too expensive as well. Will the positive rental yields for the HDB flat market boost the sales figures for this sector?

 

 

Tengah – A whole new world

Just when you think Singapore is running out of space, there is news that a whole new town will be built in the west side of the country. Announced in Parliament earlier this week by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, the new town nicknamed “Forest Town” –  Tengah will be around the size of Bishan and bordering Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Jurong West HDB estates.

tengah-new-town

Photo credit: HDB

Apparently mooted as early as 1991, Tengah will be an industrial park that blends nature with industries from the nearby Jurong Innovation District. In the planning are 55,000 new homes. With the buzz that has been rallying around the west – new condominiums and HDB flats in Lakeside, Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang – and a general rejuvenation of the Jurong regional industrial and business district, new property hot spots may spark new interest in previously underrated districts while areas which are already popular may burn even brighter.

HDB MasterplanPhoto credit: HDB

Across the island, part of the plans to rejuvenate Singapore include a new creative cluster in Punggol, a new waterfront Northern Growth corridor that embraces Woodlands and Sembawang and also a second regional business district at Jurong Lake. The government also has plans to rejuvenate older towns such as Toa Payoh, Pasir Ris and Woodlands.

As infrastructure and commercial opportunities expand over the next 1o to 20 years, the property market may gradually witness a more seamless flow of demand and supply over most districts.

Resale HDB flat prices down 0.1%

March saw a very slight 0.1 per cent fall in prices for the resale HDB flat market, mainly for 3-room and 4-room flats. This is following a 0.2 per cent rise in February and a year of stagnant prices.

Analysts are not expecting resale flat prices to go anywhere anytime soon as the slowing economy and continued property cooling curbs continue. Buyers seem to be favouring slightly smaller 4-room flats over 5-room units and any spike in the price index could be occasional and non-indicative of the overall market outlook.

21c0a7bf81e440299d0bd4b956642daaResale flats in mature estates have always been  popular with buyers, but even this market segment has been hampered by global and local uncertainties. There is good news however. Sales volume of resale HDB flats have risen in March despite the fall in prices. There were 451 more units sold in March than the 1,200 in February. The launch of new BTO (build-to-order) flats in February may have also taken some attention away from the resale market, though the latter will always find a place in the consumers’ radar as some buyers may not be willing or able to wait for new flats to be built or they may prefer living in locations other than those in which new flats are being launched or built.

The A-Bi-Cs of mature HDB estates

Bishan and Bidadari. Both mature estates and both in popular demand. The only difference might be that Bishan is more established while Bidadari is a new foundling in the already-mature estate of Toa Payoh.

The recent buzz around the centralised Bidadari estate has prompted many to call it the “next Bishan”. How exactly do these 2 estates compare?

BidadariPhoto credit: HDB

As far as history goes, Bishan was one of the first model HDB towns 30 years back. And now Bidadari, which means “angel” or “fairy” in Malay, seems to be taking its place as the next big thing. Both B-word towns have good city-fringe locations and are built on land which were once cemeteries. Bidadari will have the luck of having Bishan run its course with the stigma of living on cemetery land. Buyers of today are no longer as affected by this fact.

Even though property agents and analysts say they are unsure how resale prices and infrastructure in this new estate will pan out, the initial response is very positive. Both its November 2015 and February 2016 launches were about 23 times oversubscribed despite the more expensive sales tags. Its proximity to the city centre plus the 3 MRT stations (Potong Pasir, Bartley and Woodleigh) serving it, Bishan makes up for the difference only by its direct access to its own shopping mall, park and amenities such as sports facilities, library, community centre, offices and business facilities. The Bishan MRT station is also an interchange station between the North-South and Circle MRT lines.

Bishan HDB estatePhoto credit: HDB

Resale HDB flats in Bishan can go up to $730,000 for a 5-room flat. While the new BTO flats in Bidadari were launched at prices between $544,000 and $625,000, they look set to reach possibly higher resale prices once they are available in the resale market.

 

How deep is the property market well?

Property prices in Singapore have been falling since 2014, 10 consecutive quarters to be exact. In the first quarter of this year, HDB flat prices have stabilised at 0.1 per cent while private property prices have dipped 0.7 per cent. In 2015, HDB flat and private property prices fell an average of 0.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

Kingsford WaterbayPhoto: Kingsford Waterbay condominium 

HDB flat prices have begun to stabilise of late, though some property analysts are still expecting a further drop in the second half of the year as 25,000 new BTO flats reach completion this year. A good 30 per cent of these new-flat buyers are upgraders and home owners, not investors, which means they will be looking to sell their existing HDB flat in order to finance their new flat. This will bring a new slew of units into the resale HDB flat market. Though the demand for resale flats has not waned much, the rise in supply may put the ball in the buyers’ court.

 Photo: Clementi Gateway BTO flats

Similarly in the private property and EC (executive condominium) market, buyers will need to time their upgrading manoeuvre in order to manage cash flow, thus some may be in a rush to let go of their existing unit which could put further pressure on the market which will be seeing 21,906 new private condominium and 4,561 EC units enter its midst this year. How will the property sector perform in this crucial second quarter of 2016?

Property DIY – Buy and sell Resale HDB flat on your own

Ready and planning to buy or sell your HDB flat? Finding a good agent is the next big step, and an important one. But if you have the energy and time to do it yourself, the option and resources are available.

Queenstown-HDB
HDB regularly runs resale seminars in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil to educate buyers and sellers about the resale process. On their website, they have a clearly mapped out 9-step process complete with links to resources. Sellers could also do the marketing and selling of the flat themselves but engage an agent only to assist with the paperwork.

The entire resale transaction, minus the open houses and home viewings, commonly takes between 6 to 8 weeks. Before all that, sellers and buyers are advised to check their eligibility to sell or buy a flat, plan their finances and either approach banks or apply for a HLE (HDB loan eligibility) letter before looking for a flat. HDB also has an online tool that helps you compute a rough estimate of your loan type and amount.

HDB websiteUpon finding a flat you wish to purchase or when someone is ready to purchase your flat, the seller will then need to grant the buyer an OTP (option to purchase) which costs up to $1,000 and the ball is then in the buyer’s court whether or not to exercise the option within 21 days. If the buyer wishes to purchase the flat, both parties are required to submit resale applications via HDB’s e-Resale service. There are additional legal, administrative, insurance and valuation fees to consider in the entire process. Agent or DIY, having a firm idea of what is required will only be helpful in making the entire resale flat search and purchase process a smoother one.

 

Fewer resale flats entering HDB market

A good number of new HDB flats have reached or will soon reach the end of the minimum occupation period (MOP), and despite the expected slew of relatively new resale HDB flats entering the market, the situation is contrary.

CIty View Boon KengPhoto: City view @ Boon Keng (credit: Hoi Hup Realty Pte Ltd)

Some units in prime locations and prime developments such as the Pinnacle @ Duxton and City View @ Boon Keng may have fetched record prices, but most owners are not in a rush to put their units up for sale as the resale market is currently slow.

In 2010, 1,338 units were sold within a year of reaching their MOP, about 13.7% of the number of newly eligible flats. By last year, there were only 388 such transactions, at about 6%. Though private property prices have fallen, the gap between public and private housing remains considerable; and with a slowing market, resale flats may not be able to command the prices of before.

Pinnacle @ Duxton was awarded the 2011 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence. Image by HDB.

Pinnacle @ Duxton. Image by HDB.

The upperhand-tussle between buyers and sellers have been ongoing for the past 4 to 5 years, and the undercurrent uncertainty of late have not aided the situation. It may be a matter of “who blinks first” as buyers and sellers both wait out this iffy period. More flat owners are instead beginning to sublet their flats after meeting the MOP. The next big move which might shake things up would be possible changes to the property cooling measures.

Rental market’s little dipper

The stars may be a little misaligned for the property rental market this year, as rental volume and prices were down last month for both the private condominium and HDB flat segments.
Wateredge Condo RentalPhoto: Water Edge condominium

Suburban property sales and rental prices have already been sliding this year thus the market remains on edge as there will be about 21,000 new private residential units coming onto the market this year, most of which will be in the suburbs. Most of the rental transactions registered this year were lease renewals instead of newly-signed leases. Private property leases fell 17.5 per cent from the 3,389 units in January to 2,797 in February.

The HDB flat rental market is not spared either, with rental prices falling for the 6th consecutive month now. There was a slight increase in January but that may have just been a general pickup from the post-festive period in December. 5-room flats suffered the largest fall in rents, with a 1.8 per cent drop while 4-room flats saw a 0.1 per cent rise. 3-room flats and executive flats rental prices dropped 0.6 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

Sengkang ECPhoto: Executive condominium in Sengkang

With the pendulum swinging in the way of tenants, landlords may find themselves having to contend with competition from newer units and also having to match in terms of pricing, lease periods and amenities provided. Tenants are more likely to go for shorter leases even if rents are slightly higher rather than having to commit to a long lease period.