Bukit Batok – Growing fame

The birth of a new town often means going through some growing pains, the largest factor being time. A township takes time to grow, to iron out uncertainties and for residents to grow familiar with their surroundings and to make the place home. But ultimately, more often that not, townships come into their own and begin to grow and mature into attractive and popular entities.

RegentHeightsBukit Batok is once such estate. Sharing district 23 with Choa Chu Kang, Diary Farm, Hillview and Bukit Panjang, there are areas of unfounded quiet, and yet with the bustle not far off with pockets of businesses just a short distance away. Catching such a growing township at the right time could mean more value for money in terms of property sizes and prices, with the light of promise not too far away as the township matures and more amenities, transport convenience and commercial opportunities arrive.

Some private condominiums already in her midst include Hillview Regency, Guilin View, Parkview apartments, Regent Heights and The Jade. Not to mention the abundance of HDB flats, some older resale units with considerable floor areas going for much less in comparison to similar units in older, more mature estates.

BukitBatokHDBAnd now with the Downtown MRT line in force, the Hill View, Dairy Farm and Bukit Panjang estates are just a quick 5 to 10 minute ride away, not to mention a much shorter travel time to the city centre. Are Bukit Batok properties ripe for picking?

High demand for bigger units in mature estates

Senja HeightsAccording to response from applicants for the latest HDB sales launch of BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance) flats, bigger units in mature estates seemed to be most hotly contested.

3,770 BTO flats were rolled out in last week’s launch, with units available in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Panjang and Sembawang. In addition, 5,170 SBF flats were also available for selection across 29 HDB estates. The units in Bedok and Ang Mo Kio were most in demand as these mature estates have well-developed infrastructure and some buyers who have lived there most of their lives prefer to move within the estate.

bedoknorthwoods

Photo credit: HDB

Will this mean a corresponding demand for resale flats of similar size in the same estates? It is debatable as prices of larger resale flats have already been falling as demand waned. As the availability of new units direct from HDB, and options of going into the private property market beckons, HDB upgraders will have quite a few pros and cons to weigh. While private homes within the same price range may be quite a lot smaller, rental and future value appreciation of selected private properties may entice buyers. On the other hand, upgrading within the resale HDB flat market may get you a larger unit though not necessarily with future sale benefits. Rental demand however could still be high should the unit be near a MRT station, school or other amenities.

HDB’s May launch includes units in mature estates

bedoknorthwoodsUp to 8,940 new BTO (Build-to-order) and SBF (Sale of balance) flats will be made available in HDB’s latest launch. Most action may be seen in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok, both mature estates with well-laid-out amenities. Analysts are expecting subscription rates of up to 5 times the number of units available. The other estates with new BTO units available are  Sembawang and Bukit Panjang while SBF units are available in most other estates, numbers varying.

Sembawang East Creek1Without doubt, flats in mature estates tend to have a more established resale value. But Minister for National Development, Mr. Lawrence Wong, is encouraging young families to consider flats in non-mature estates, stating that “a ‘non-mature’ estate today can become a ‘mature’ estate tomorrow” as the government is working hard to instate regional commercial hubs, transport and other public amenities into these newer towns in order to connect the residents to the workforce better.

He cites the difference of up to $100,000 between a 3-room flat in Sembawang and a similar unit in Bedok. In fact, 2-room flexi units could be priced as low at $4,000 with grants taken into account. 2-room flats are now available for senior citizens and also singles, though the latter are only allowed to apply for those in non-mature estates.

AngMoKioCourt

Photos credit: HDB

Applications for May’s launch will close next Monday on May 30.

Shunfu Ville finally sold en bloc

After many turns in the collective sale route, the Shunfu Ville estate in Bishan has finally been sold en bloc. $638 million for 358 units. As one of the few remaining HUDC (Housing and Urban Development Company) estates in Singapore, this has been a long but fruitful wait for many of its owners who will each reap an average of $1.782 million from the sale. Back in its launch days, each unit was sold at approximately $230,000.

ShunfuVilleQingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group is the proud new owner of the estate. Though the price seems steep, the potential use of the plot of land this size is even steeper. The Shunfu Ville land area is almost equivalent to that of up to 3 similar land plots offered under the the government land sales programme.

Privatised in 2013, owners of the ageing estate have found maintenance increasingly difficult and expensive and 81 per cent came to an agreement to seal the deal last Thursday. The reserve price was lowered from $688 million to $638 million.

NaturaLoftMeasuring at 408,927 sf qt, Qingjian has plans to build up to 1,000 apartment units and a number of terrace-house units on this 2.8 plot ratio land. This may mean an injection of even more private condominium units into the Bishan and Upper Thomson districts. The developer also has another project, Natura Loft, opposite Shunfu Ville.

 

Rational decline in private home rental prices

Instead of a wild and dangerous free fall, the price decline in the property rental market has been encouraging in its lack of acceleration.

Property analysts say the “sawtooth” pattern in the fall of rental prices is understandable and manageable. There was a spike in rental volume in March due to the influx of foreign talents after the Chinese new year festivities, followed by a level performance in April which indicated a higher rental volumes for both the private property and HDB rental markets though leases signed now tend to be shorter than 6 months.

TheSoundCondoRents in the Outside Central Region (OCR) fell 0.1 per cent in April while that in the core central region (CCR) remained unchanged and in the rest of the central region (RCR) rental prices rose 01. per cent. In a year-on-year comparison however, rental prices have been falling, with a 3.9 per cent dip for HDB flats in mature estates and 5.4 per cent for private condominiums.

The rental volume was however 10.5 per cent higher than in 2015 despite a 10.3 per cent fall from March. Many new completed units were included in the 3,953 units were leased last month. The continued influx of completed new homes entering the market this year may dilute the tenant pool even further and resale units may find it even tougher to secure tenants as the year moves on.

Resale HDB market sees rise in sales

The number of resale HDB flats exchanging hands in April rose by 10.3%, a positive sign despite prices remaining level. The last time sales volume exceeded the 1,800-unit mark was in October 2012. 1,828 units were sold in April this year.

Though property analysts are wary about calling this a market rebound, the increase in transactions could mean an eventual decrease in the number of resale flats available. Depending on how far the price gap between private property and resale HDB flats goes, the diminishing stock of resale flats in the market may entice buyers to purchase sooner rather than later. And the increase in rarity could also mean the increase in prices.

Serangoon HDB flatFor the moment however, the buyers may still have the upper hand as most are buying only after having waited for prices to fall. The cash-over-valuation prices are almost all gone, and with the purchasing process adjusted, buyers are less likely to fork out additional monies above the valuation price. In addition, data pertaining to resale flat prices can now be more easily accessed, thus buyers are seldom willing to succumb to sellers’ high asking prices.

HDB flat prices have stagnated for almost a year now, though the fluctuation either ways has not been drastic. Last month for example, 3-room flat prices rose by 0.6 per cent though 5-room flat prices fell by 0.9 per cent. This could be an indication of what the buyers are now looking for. As the population and policies shift, the property market will also need to adapt quickly to their changing needs.

Singapore’s property districts: Where do you belong?

Though small, Singapore’s 28 housing districts and 26 (and growing) HDB towns each have their own unique and distinct atmosphere. Each have their own history, good eats and exclusive hideouts or communal features. How do you choose which district or estate you belong to?

Grandeur8Many older estates such as Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh have their identity rooted in times preceding even World War II. These matures estates have well-established amenities and their transport options have grown over the years. Each will have their own MRT station and bus interchange providing inter-town and shuttle buses; schools, shopping mall, medical facilities such as polyclinics, sporting and recreation amenities as well as parks and libraries.

Some larger townships are built around a regional commercial hub, such as Woodlands and Jurong. Woodlands for example is laid out in a circular shape, with each part of the town connected to major highways and to the town centre. HDB flats and many private condominiums dot the estate and its proximity to the Causeway also makes it a prime leasing spot for Malaysians working in Singapore.

Queenstown HDB flatPhoto credit: HDB

And there are also Satellite towns, Queenstown being the first and Tampines joining its ranks later on. Queenstown was developed by the former Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1952 and was named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation. These towns, much like the other mature estates, are chock full of property-investment opportunities as buyers tend to look to these towns for leasing opportunities.

Outlying townships such as Punggol, Sengkang and Sembawang, previously considered remote and unpopular, are all coming into their own with Punggol leading the way into the 21st Century.

Thus, depending on your lifestyle preference, with the variety available within our small nation, there will always be a spot in Singapore which suits you.

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?