Mortgage cap continues to limit resale HDB flat market

One of the more impactful property cooling measures implemented in recent years have been the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework and the mortgage servicing cap for HDB flats, which limits the percentage of one’s gross income which can be used to service a loan for a HDB flat to 30 per cent.

SengkangHDB

Resale flat prices have been deflating for 2 years now and looks like it will be flatlining this year. Since its peak in April 2013, resale HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent and many transactions are now closed sans Cash-over-valuation (COV). The second half of last year did however see a slight increase in prices. With the selling prices of recent transactions quite transparently and clearly reflected by HDB, buyers are now more aware of the current market climate.

The number of transactions in January fell 121 units from December, and prices fell 0.5 per cent. But this may be due to the busyness which January brings for buyers and sellers and property analysts are not overly worried about the HDB market as prices and sales volume are only expected to remain level this year. The stability may be a good thing this may be the much-needed rest period before a market rebound.

 

DBSS flats fetching profits

DBSS – these 4 letters have previously caused quite the debate about whether these HDB flats are priced so high the only ones winning are the developers. Since 2011, the Design Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) has been suspended.

CityViewBoonKengPhoto: City View @ Boon Keng DBSS HDB flats

Now, it seems buyers of these previously-launched private developer-built HDB flats are reaping in the profits, with recent reports of a 5-room DBSS flat at City View @ Boon Keng selling at $855,000. The unit is slightly above the mid-point of a 40-storey block and has a floor area of 109 sqm. The unit was originally priced at $627,000 in 2008. That makes a profit of $228,000.

Though the $288,000 profit is only a third of the launch price (the project previously launched at prices between $349,000 to $727,000), it is quite a reasonable sum considering the current dulling market.

With unblocked views of the Kallang river, card-access lift lobbies, bay windows, it’s city-fringe location and walking proximity to the Boon Keng and Bendemeer MRT stations, it’s easy to see how these units could have fetched such high prices. And more units might enter the market soon as they reach the end of their MOP (minimum occupation period).  In fact, industry players are expecting resale prices to possibly reach the $1 million mark, similar to HDB units at Pinnacle @ Duxton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resale HDB flat prices stabilising

HDB resale flat prices fell a mere 1.5% last year, buoyed by a 0.2% rise in the last quarter of 2015.

Skyline Bukit Batok HDB BTO FlatPhoto credit: HDB

With the lowered prices of resale HDB flats, there may be an increase in sales volume this year as buyers have found many of these sans-COV (cash over valuation) resale units more affordable. Price-wise, property experts are looking at a 1 – 2 per cent movement, with prices staying quite stagnant this year. More young couples and upgraders may also be moving into the private property market as the total quantum prices of units have come down to a much more palatable level.

According to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, resale flats are mostly selling at market value, with prices comparable to that of 2011. Some of the property cooling measures which have been implemented since that which have taken effect, and which may continue to do so include the mortgage servicing cap of 30 per cent, the 25-year maximum loan tenure limit, and a 3-year waiting period for permanent residents before they are allowed to purchase resale HDB flats. Demand may also have waned as singles are now able to purchase new 2-room BTO flats directly from HDB and 18,000 new flats are to be rolled out this year with the first launch in February.

Though this may point to the market bottoming out by end of 2015, two consecutive quarters of price increase is required before a clear sign of a market rebound can be confirmed.

Resale HDB flat prices expected to stablise

It seems like 2016 could be the year when things stand still. Good for some, and a little less ideal for others. But either ways, it may be a good time for the dust to settle, for the market to finally take stock of the property cooling measures and interest rate hikes, to balance the supply and demand scale, and for the authorities to closely monitor and plan their next steps.

HDB mature estatePhoto credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Prices of resale HDB flats have stayed the same last November and December, perhaps signalling a stabilisation of the market. There was a slight 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent rise for 3- and 4-room flats, but a drop of 0.4 per cent for 5-room flats and ECs (executive condominiums). Flats in mature estates are still in demand, with a 0.2 per cent rise in prices, though in comparison, prices fell the same percentage in non-mature estates.

It has taken resale HDB flat prices some time to fall a narrow margin, thus a soft landing could be said to have been achieved considering last year only saw a 1.3 per cent drop in price index. Property experts are expecting prices to hold at their current level for the rest of the year despite HDB’s announcement of their intended launch of 18,000 new BTO flats this year, as the target audience for both flat types are different, with those searching within the resale HDB market most likely requiring a HDB flat in the short term. New flats typically require 3 to 6 years to build.

 

A stable year for Singapore’s property market?

Resale HDB flat prices have fallen only 1.5 per cent last year, as compared to 6 per cent the year before. Industry experts are not expecting prices to fall much more this year and in fact last quarter saw a 0.2 per cent rise in HDB resale flat price index. But that may not mean a sudden rebound of HDB flat prices as the options available to home buyers have now increased, especially as private home prices have fallen and more are now eligible to purchase new BTO flats directly from HDB.
Poiz Residences2Photo: Poiz Residences

HDB has announced that they will be rolling out up to 18,000 new flats this year, 3,000 more that last year. Private properties are now more affordable as developers have caught on to buyers’ affinity to total quantum selling prices. Last year, private property prices dropped 3.7 per cent overall, and a 0.5 per cent fall was registered last quarter of 2015.

The number of new property launches in the 4th quarter propped up new property prices with launches such as Principal Garden, The Poiz Residences and Thomson Impressions. Prices of new units in the city fringes fared well with no price changes. Landed property prices however fell 10.4 per cent over the last 2 and a half years, with prices falling 4.4 per cent last year alone.

Property analysts are watching the market closely as they are expecting the interest rate hikes to put a strain on those servicing home loans, especially as the property cooling measures concurrently remain.

2016 – Property cooling measures to stay

Remember those days of astounding COV (cash-over-valuation) prices? Those days may be but a shadow of the current market environment today. More than half of resale HDB flats sold now are selling at prices close to market value and prices are now comparable to those of 2011.

Tampines HDB flatPhoto: Resale HDB flat for sale in Tampines.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however said that it may be too early to lift the property curbs, most of which were implemented in 2013, during the peak of the property market. Since then, HDB resale flat prices have fallen about 10 per cent, according to the HDB resale price index.

Some of the most impactful measures include the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework. For HDB loans, the mortgage servicing ratio was tightened to 30 per cent of the loan applicant’s gross income.

With the property cooling measures here to stay, this year’s resale flat prices may remain level, with some fluctuations should there be economic or interest rate changes. HDB’s announcement of their expected 18,000 new BTO units this year may dilute demand for resale HDB flats, though prices are not expected to fall much as most buyers will be those who do not wish to or are unable to wait 3 to 4 years for the new BTO flats to be built. The motivating factors for selling or buying a resale unit may be what lays the foundation for the final transacted price.

Are new HDB BTO flats truly affordable?

The next HDB sales launch will be in about 2 months’ time. Considering the response from the November mega-launch, the February launch will be greeted with much cheer as 4,150 BTO units from Bidadari, Bukit Batok and Sengkang will be offered this time round.

Bidadari HDB mapPhoto credit: HDB

The Bidadari flats received the most number of applicants in the most recent sales exercise. Even though the 5-room flats here were price at $544,000 (excluding grants), they were oversubscribed with 259 applicants vying for 151 units. Despite Bidadari’s history as a former cemetery, it is the only mature estate in November’s launch and its prime location added to its popularity. There were also 2-room flexi units offered in the exercise and were well-received as always. A number of these short-lease 2-room flexi flats were kept aside for senior citizens and they can make use of HDB and CPF grants to purchase them.

But these Bidadari flats were not the most expensive of new BTO flats launched. In May, 5-room BTO flats launched in Clementi cost between $576,000 to $725,000. Even then, there were almost 14 applicants to one unit. Have Singaporeans truly become more affluent or are they simply getting used to property prices here, even public housing? Prices of the next BTO launch will be watched closely, especially as the economy is expected to slow down considerably next year.

 

Decrease in property launches next year?

Large fresh batches of completed homes will be entering the market next year, which may in turn increase the supply of available private homes and decrease consumer’s demand. Add the Federal Reserve’s rate hike which was just announced yesterday, the market is expected to remain quiet in 2016. The authorities are picking up on these changes and have announced that they will be holding back on the release of land sites for sale in the first half of 2016.

As most of the completed new private homes flooding the market next year will be outside the central regions, that is 55% in the suburbs, suburban private properties might be feeling the crunch in terms of rental competition and sales volume. The total number of private homes reaching completion next year will be a whooping 22,351. Property experts’ have previously projected the market requirement of only 8,000 to 10,000 new units per year. The numbers have almost doubled over the last 4 years, with a total of 70,000 private homes were launched within this time period. Add public housing and the numbers are substantial reason for worry.

Although the government will still keep the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme going in order to keep the property and construction industry going, they will only be releasing 16 sites in the H1 of 2016. Some of the confirmed sites include a residential site in Sembawang,  an executive condominium (EC) plot in Anchorvale Lane which may yield 640 units, a mixed-use plot in Bukit Batok West and a rare plot on Martin Place near River Valley road. The last of the 4 confirmed sites may be of particular interest to developers hoping to snag a prime plot which could yield potential high-end residential units.

Developers and buyers could also be interested in a few other mixed-use sites, in particular one on Holland Drive.