Reduced BTO flats = Increased resale flat demand?

The number was 16,900 and now it is 15,000. The Housing Board has revised the number of new BTO (build-to-order) flats to be offered this year as the resale HDB flat market has shown signs of stabilising.

In the previous year or two, the increased supply of BTO flats has meant that more who qualify to apply for a flat directly from HDB have been able to secure one fairly successfully, which has reduced the demand for resale flats. Recent launches have even been undersubscribed for some segments – three-room flats in Sembawang and four-room flats in Bukit Batok. Second-timers have also been more successful in securing units in this year’s BTO launches and the pool of available units in the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) has been growing.

BIdadari HDB

Photo credit: HDB

Prices of resale HDB flats have fallen 7.4 to 12.4 per cent since its peak in 2013. But the last quarter has indicated once more, a rising demand  for resale HDB flats, partly due to the lowered prices and the sense of the market bottoming out.

The next HDB BTO sales launch will be later this year in September, with 4,860 flats up for offer in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore, both of which are increasingly popular spots for young couples and families.

 

Singapore home prices down last quarter

Across the board, property prices have dipped again last quarter, but resale HDB flat prices may be stabilising. Following the first quarter decline of 1 per cent, resale HDB flat prices dipped only 0.4 per cent last quarter, possibly signifying a bottoming out of this market.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Nudged by the lowered mortgage servicing ratio cap from 35 to 30 per cent and reduction in the number of new BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance flats) units, HDB resale flat prices have fallen for a few quarters now. Property analysts are expecting a stabilising of the market, or at least a rise in demand for resale units as HDB plans to increase the income ceiling for BTO flats, which may replenish the pool of potential resale HDB flat buyers.

Private home prices are however expected to fall further this year, especially as resale HDB flat prices have fallen so quickly the gap between private suburban homes and the former have widened. Some HDB upgraders may think twice about selling their HDB flat to purchase a private condominium unit and others may turn to resale flats instead of private homes. The expectation of a rush of new private apartment units to hit the market in the later half of this year may have also put a damper on market prices.

In the first quarter, private home prices fell 1 per cent, and the fall remained steady in the second quarter at 0.9 per cent. Moving ahead, prices of private non-landed homes are expected to fall 4 to 6 per cent by the end of the year.

 

Future new private homes in 2 estates

Toa Payoh is well known for its attractiveness as a mature HDB estate, well chocked with amenities and commanding considerable prices for the resale HDB flats. However, the private condominiums in its midst are far and few in between

TreVistaTreVistaBut that might soon change as a private residential site near Braddell MRT station has been put on sale which might yield new 99-year leasehold properties in the future. Since the Government Land Sales Programmes (GLS) is planning to reduce the number of plots going up for sale, bidding for this prime site was keen, with 14 bidders going in with the highest coming from Evia Real Estate and their partners, Maxdin and Gamuda at $345.86 million. Selling prices of the new property is expected to range between $1,450 psf and $1,550 psf.

Just like Jurong and Lakeside, developers are expecting pent-up demand for private condominium apartments in Toa Payoh to work in their favour. The newest launch here, which has been for sometime now, is Trevista.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Another popular site which went up for sale under the GLS programme is one at at the Sungei Pandan waterfront at West Coast. With the possibility of yielding up to 600 homes in an area near the Westgate and Jem shopping malls, the Science centre and the future high-speed rail terminal in Jurong East, this 99-year lease term site is expected to fetch $370 million at auction. Nearby properties such as Waterfront @ Faber, Infiniti and Hundred Trees, have all fared well with some having sold out.

 

 

 

Rare landed public housing – HDB Terrace Houses

Who knew public housing was not always high-rise and towering 50-storey blocks.

HDB terrace houses are a rare commodity in modern Singapore and there are only 258 of these on the island. Two storeys, mostly in mature estates, and commanding high prices – most may not even have realised these gems were in their midst.

QueenstownHDBTerracePhoto credit: Queenstown.org.sg

A recent sale of a Jalan Bahagia HDB terrace house at $958,000 may rise eyebrows but considering the rarity and floor area of the unit (241 sq m), and recent sales of resale HDB units at the Pinnacle @ Duxton have already been closing on the $1 million mark, it is quite a steal indeed. It sold at a mere $370 psf and with 60 years or more left on its 99-year lease. In comparison, private properties in the vicinity sell at $2,200 psf. Earlier in the year, another such unit sold at $1.06 million. Previous sales include a 85 sq m unit which went for $760,000 in January; a 104 sq m unit at $875,000 in February and a 81 sq m unit for $708,000 in March.

Built decades ago by HDB’s predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), these rare landed public housing units reside mostly in Jalan Bahagia in Whampoa, and Queenstown. Although the land can be taken back by the government anytime, and it is not a freehold private property (where the deed belongs to the home owner), these units are nevertheless much sought-after properties and provide the space and luxury of a private property at much less. Taking into consideration that there are an increasingly number of 99-leasehold private properties, being able to get your hands on one of these rare HDB terraced units is quite a coup indeed.

HDB resale prices – Upwards soon?

With property prices on the decline since almost a year ago, have HDB resale flat prices finally bottomed out?

Buyers seems to have caught on with the price drop and have been back on the hunt for units as the number of transactions in May this year indicated a 20 per cent rise compared to the same month last year. Prices have also shown a 0.2 per cent increase in March and have held steady in April.

Resale 5-room HDB flat on King George's Avenue with asking price of more than $700,000.

The property cooling measures rolled out by the government seem to have finally taken full effect since their implementation over the past couple of years. Since its peak in 2013, HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent.  Property analysts are expecting resale HDB flat prices to reach it’s bottom by the end of the year. Minister for National Development, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, has previously mentioned a possible single digit fall in HDB flat prices this year.

How long the lower prices will be maintained is largely dependant on policy changes and buyers’ sentiments, but also on the private property market and the options made available to the buying public. It could be that the prices may remain stable for awhile with the number of sales transactions increasing as buyers take advantage of this window of opportunity.

 

More go for Clementi HDB flats

HDB launches in mature estates have always been popular with applicants. And in their May launch this year, applicants are heading straight for the new BTO flats in Clementi. The application rate for 5-room flats in this HDB estate was at 13.1 per unit. 2,047 buyers vied for just 156 units. All this despite the Clementi flats being the priciest ones of the entire launch. 5-room units had price tags starting from $566,000. Property analysts have however expected such fervent response as the new flats were situated close to the MRT station and other amenities.

ClementiCrestHDB

Photo credit: HDB

But waterfront units at Punggol Northshore received quite a bit of attention as well, as the new town sees more development and potential growth. These flats featured the latest products by HDB – smart-technology HDB homes. Although not quite reaching the 13.1 rate for the Clementi flats, the 2.8 application rate for the Punggol flats (double the 1.3 rate for the last Punggol flat launch) already showed an marked increase in interest for flats in this area.

Overall, the recent launch had an application rate of 3.7 per cent, making it the most oversubscribed launch since July last year. Since HDB has reduced the number of launches this year, could future launches have similar reactions? How will that change the demand for resale HDB flats in the areas or estates surrounding the launch?

More singles going for new BTO flats

With a major sales launch by the HDB putting out more than 9,000 new BTO flats yesterday, the response from applicants has been strong, especially for 2-room flats and units in specific HDB estates.

ClementiCrestSince July last year, when singles became eligible for new BTO flats, albeit with restrictions, the demand for new 2-room HDB flats has been overwhelming. This may have pushed the authorities to release more 2-room flats this round. For flats in Punggol, where HDB launched their new smart-tech flats, there were 1.4 applicants for each 2-room unit. In Sembawang, the response was even more fervent with 2.1 applicants for every 2-room unit.

Over at Clementi Crest, the only new launch in a mature estate, the response was understandably higher with 2.5 applicants for every 5-room unit. There were only 156 units available. The main attraction could be its proximity to the Clementi town centre and Clementi MRT station.

Will the policy shifts eventually change the landscape for resale HDB flats, in particular the 3- and 4-room flats? Previously, demand for these smaller units could be said to have come mainly from singles and smaller families as well as Permanent residents. Resale flats selling under HDB’s sale of balance flats scheme were not as popular as before, with only 19 applicants for 127 units in the popular mature estate of Queenstown and 29 applicants for 3-room flats in Toa Payoh.

The next new BTO flats launch will be in August, at Punggol Northshore and Bidadari.

 

Smart and kind HDB homes?

HDB is launching a new type of high-tech flats or smart flats at Punggol Northshore. And they are rather kind on the pockets too, with prices starting at $28,000 for a 2-room flat (after subsidies).

These 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-room flats at Punggol Northshore will be launched tomorrow and will feature the infrastructure to install smart systems such as energy consumption monitoring systems or alarm and alert systems for the elderly.

Punggol-northshore.jpg;wae44a5d811a611cfaPhoto credit: HDB

The smaller, and markedly lower-priced 2-roomers may be just the thing for singles and the elderly living alone. Sized at 36 sq to 45 sq m, singles who apply for one alone qualify for the Additional Housing Grant of up to $20,000 and Special Housing Grant of $10,000. That’s a total of $30,000 off the $88,000 price tag of a new 2-room HDB flat at Punggol Northshore. Previous launches at Sembawang and Yishun consisted of even cheaper 2-room flats starting from $10,000 and $15,000 after grants have been applied.

But these new smart-tech HDB flats could be the new way to go for future HDB flats moving forward. And the launch at Punggol Northshore is situated near the waterfront and boasts of a seamless connection to the LRT, these coupled with the fact that the 4- and 5-room HDB flats are cheaper than resale flats nearby at $130,000 and $170,000; the response for this launch could be more than positive.