HDB Resale flats – More affordable now?

Have prices of resale HDB flats reached an acceptable level? Prices and sales volume have been falling, and with the time it has taken for the property cooling measures to sink in, are resale flats now more affordable?

As more executive condominiums (ECs) and Build-to-order (BTO) flats hit the market, owners of existing HDB flats who are upgrading or getting keys to their new flats, in particular second-timers, are pressured to sell their flats within a stipulated time period of 6 months. This, plus the fact that a substantial period of time of steady but gentle decline of resale flat prices may have instilled confidence in buyers who may either see the market as stabilising, with slight or no further chances of price drops.

Bellewaters ECHow much as price really dropped? In a year-on-year comparison, prices have dipped 6 per cent since April last year, and an 11 per cent drop when matched against the peak in 2013. Property analysts are expecting prices of resale flats in non-mature estates to fall a little further of 6 per cent whereas those in mature estates are expected to hold their own for the rest of the year. Three-room and four-room flats also saw a 0.3 per cent price rise while five-roomers and ECs fell 0.8 and 2 per cent respectively.

In the first quarter of the year, the rate of decline in HDB resale flat prices have been the lowest since the fall in 2013, at 1 per cent. This be a signifier of a stabilising market, though 2015 may be the year to watch in terms of future market trends. With the possible General Elections coming up next year, it could also be the calm just before the storm, whichever way the wind blows.

 

Resale and New HDB Flats – Price gap narrowing?

Have the price tag on new BTO HDB flats truly gone down, as the Minister of National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan has promised? Or are prices of new flats still considered high? What about resale flats?

WestRockHDB flatA recent survey has shown that most still think new HDB flats cost between $300,000 and $400,000 for a four-room unit. That is almost $100,000 more than the actual average of $295,000 for a new flat. Resale four-room HDB flats can easily range between $320,000 to more than $500,000 depending on location and floor area.

The average price of a new 3-room HDB flat currently stands at $186,000. But perhaps buyers have been using resale HDB flats as a gauge of value and have been expecting new BTO flats to cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

Since most of the individuals surveyed were willing to pay about 20% more than the actual prices of new HDB flats, what does this indicate about the resale HDB flat market? Are buyers getting used to the higher prices of public housing? Should the authorities work to keep new and resale flat prices as what they are? Is public housing truly affordable and has enough been done to keep the market just so?

Photo credit: HDB

 

 

Resale HDB flats in prime locations command high prices

Even though the resale HDB flat market seems to be following the general downhill trend of the property market over the last year or so, bigger and newer units in the town’s hottest locations are still bringing in big bucks.

Of the 20 five-room HDB flats which sold at over $900,000 this year, as compared to just one in the same period last year, 14 were from the lauded Pinnacle @ Duxton. The other sales came from units in Bukit Merah and Queenstown.

View from PInnacleAs units at the Pinncale@Duxton were only recently released into the market, after their statutory five-year MOP (minimum occupation period), part of the increase in sales could be accounted for by these units. At their time of launch in 2004, five-room units were only priced between $345, 100 to $439, 400. Prices have since more than doubled. With their astounding views (for a public housing facility) and close proximity to the CBD (Central Business District), chinatown and city centre, the reasons for their expensive price tags could hardly be disputed.

Most of the other flats which sold in Strathmore Avenue and Holland Drive, were also newer ones which came under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). These flats were newly built in order to house owners of older flats nearby which were scheduled to be demolished. Many of these owners were luckily enough to secure a new flat at almost no additional cost, and now are able to sell at a profit.

Other areas with a higher ratio of newer resale flats include the less mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang. Here, the units may not command as high a price due to their far flung location and higher number of sellers. But that said, it could be early days yet and in years to come, another tune may be sung.

Offers galore in blossoming EC market

Executive condominium launches in the recent months haev proved attractive to the buying crowd, especially after years of quiet on the ground.

But with 7 more launches planned for the later part of the year, will the market be poised for a saturation point? Or will buyers welcome the competition and options? Most of the new launches will be near existing EC sites in the North and North-east regions, which could mean stiffer competition for the developers.

Westwood ResidencesOne project which may however prove promising is the Westwood Residences in Boon Lay. Together with Lake Life EC, they could the only 2 executive condominiums in Jurong since 2010. The rarity, coupled with the pent-up demand could means buyers may be willing to pay slightly higher than average prices for units here as compared to ECs elsewhere. Property experts are expecting the median prices for ECs launched later this year to hover between $750 to $770 psf.

Currently, the average selling prices for ECs are at around $800 psf. But buyers have not been particularly responsive to this pricing level and with the introduction of thousands of new units over this and next year could bring the competition higher and prices lower. The dip in resale HDB and private condominium prices since the high in 2013, would also mean that ECs have to priced realistically in order to entice HDB upgraders and buyers.

As the market segments react to one another, the EC being hybrid between private and public properties, may also find themselves having to price themselves appropriately between these two market segments.

 

Resale HDB flats – Sales go up as prices do down?

2014 saw a record low number of HDB resale flats exchanging hands. It could be due to the effects of the property cooling measures, in particular the TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio) framework set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore,  just starting to kick in. Buyers were more wary and more careful in weighing their options while sellers were still unwilling to lower prices. The tussle was just beginning.

SeaHorizonECBut this year, it seems one side is starting to give, slightly; especially for those who need to sell their current flat within the stipulated time of collecting the keys to their new flat, or face forfeiting their deposit. Prices of resale HDB flats have dropped 0.8 per cent in March this year, and the number of transactions increase from 1,148 to 1,349., As the number of new BTO (Build-to-order) HDB flats which will be launched this year decrease, buyers may also begin turning to resale flats to fulfil their needs. Prices of four- and five-room flats fell the most at 1.1 per cent and prices have been dropping since a year ago.

Property experts continued to stick to their forecast of a 5 to 6 per cent drop in resale flat prices this year, and hope for a higher sales volume than last year. It all depends on how the market fares from now till June, just before the traditional lull period of the Hungry Ghost Month.

Prices of rare HDB flats such as ECs (executive condominiums) remained high however, in fact showing a rise of 1 per cent last month.

Condominium prices wavering

It may be a year of fluctuations for the private non-landed property market. Condominium sales have been slow, though it picked up slightly in February.

Both new and resale private condominiums were affected by the market slowdown, much of it attributed to the TDSR (Total debt servicing ratio) framework set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). But some property analysts are also connecting the dots between the lowered Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) prices of resale HDB flats. When COVs were high, potential HDB upgraders were able to leverage on these to leap into the private property market by using the COVs as part of the cash down payment for their new private homes. With the lack of this financial impetus, more are finding themselves in between an rock and a hard place when it comes to scaling up.

Sims Urban OasisWeaker buyers may find themselves having to hold back for now while those with the financial abilities will still be able to well afford what the market currently offers, and perhaps even more so as prices have been coming down for sometime now.

There has however, been a shift of interest from newer units to resale ones, in favour of larger floor area. HDB buyers have been purchasing units with an average of 926 sq ft in size, while private buyers leaned towards units averaging 1,119 sq ft in size. The sweet spot of affordability is now between $1.28 million to $1.46 million for private buyers and $950,000 to $1,09 million for HDB upgraders.

More foreign private home buyers

The number of Singaporean buyers of private properties have fallen last year. Possibly overshadowed by the increase in number of foreign buyers since rules have changed for Permanent Residents (PRs) buying HDB flats. New PRs must now wait 3 years before they are able to purchase from the public housing market. The rules have been in place since August 2013.

Marina ONe iprop watermarkThe percentage of PRs purchasing private properties in Singapore have risen from 15 to 18 per cent in 2014. But the number of Singaporean buyers have dipped almost by half. In 2013, 16, 789 homes were sold to Singaporeans while in 2014, Singaporeans only purchased 8,707 private homes.

Most of the foreign buyers were made up of Chinese nationals, Malaysians, Indonesians and Indians. 229 units were sold to Chinese nationals in the last quarter of 2014, up from 214 units in the third quarter. With the launch of the Marina One Residences, which is a joint venture between Malaysia and Singapore governments, Malaysian buyers were also active in the private property scene here. Over the course of last year, some 119 units were purchased by US citizens and 58 by Britons.

The number of PR and foreign buyers have remained steady for the past couple of years. Should this be a promising sign for the road ahead? And how can local private property buyers leverage on this?

Could lower resale HDB flat prices be a good thing?

Although HDB resale prices have dipped 0.6% last month, sellers could  turn the seemingly negative into a positive as this may mean that more buyers will see the market as flattening and be willing to purchase from the resale market instead of applying for a new one directly from HDB.

As HDB has been active in rolling out a massive number of new BTO and EC flats in the past few years to comply to demand from citizens, especially young families and multi-generational families. Even singles now have an option of buying new 2-room flats directly from HDB. Previously they could only purchase from the resale market. The increased supply of HDB flats has meant that more families and young couples have been successful in securing their new HDB flat, leaving less buyers for the resale market.

DoverHDB flatBut may sellers find themselves unable to raise their asking prices by too much as most buyers will be restricted by the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) line which banks now have to toe. Loans will now be capped at 30 per cent of the gross monthly income. Part of last month’s drop in sales volume and prices could be due also to the Chinese New Year festive season.

Industry experts are expecting prices to drop further or maintain its status quo at least for awhile more. Any rise will be short-lived and a temporary anomaly. It may only be a question of how soon the buyers will return to the market. Are they waiting for prices to lower even further? What will make them change their mind and give them the push to purchase now?